Monthly Archives: July 2010

Families of victims still seeking justice

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 07/21/2010


The provision of justice for many victims of the gross human rights violations strewn throughout Indonesia’s rumble-tumble history remains unfulfilled with weak sanctions for individual perpetrators, a human rights group says.

The failure to sentence even one person for gross human rights violations exposed through investigations sent the wrong message that such acts were permissible, Indonesian Association of Missing Persons chairman Mugiyanto said.

For me, that is the most important purpose of the court process,” he said during a recent discussion held by the KBR 68H radio station.

Indonesia’s list of unsettled human rights violations include the Trisakti tragedy, the Semanggi I shootings in 1998, the Semanggi II shootings in 1999, the bloody incidents surroundings the referendum vote in East Timor in 1999 and the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib in 2004.

The fact that only a few, if any, individuals have been prosecuted for these crimes shows how the culture of impunity prevails in the country, Mugiyanto said.

He highlighted the formation of the Commission of Truth and Friendship’s (KKP), which produced report regarding the gross human rights violation in Timor Leste two years ago. Though several Indonesian army officials implicated in the violence faced the Indonesian ad hoc human rights high court, none were imprisoned.

Mugiyanto said that the formation of the commission was based more on appeasing mounting pressure from the international community to bring the case forward into the international forum.

This would cause shame to the Indonesian government who prided themselves for democracy and human rights, he said.

The needs of the victims were not addressed,” he said. “There’s was no sense of justice.”

The rights violations took place around the time of a referendum on the political status of East Timor, now Timor Leste, then still part of Indonesia.

The rights violations peaked during the announcement of the vote for independence in September 1999.

Indonesia’s armed forces and police supported pro-Indonesian militia in attacking pro-independence Timorese, the commission’s had report concluded.

In August 2005, the Indonesian and Timor Leste governments formed the KKP to find conclusive truth regarding the 1999 incidents. The commission finished its report in 2008.

A report commissioned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that up to 1,500 civilians died because of ill-treatment, torture, rape, and murder.

However, the KKP report has limited power. Former KKP commissioner Agus Widjojo said the commission’s mandate ended in writing recommendations to the government.

The recommendations were handed to the government and the application of those recommendations have entered the domain of the government’s responsibility,” he told The Jakarta Post.

However former Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda said the aim was to enact a non-judicial approach to reconciliation between Indonesia and Timor Leste.

We uncovered the truth but it would not be followed up by appropriate legal processes,” Wirajuda said, adding that the approach taken was the best option for building a stronger friendship between the two countries.

Wirajuda also said this approach would have been less costly and less time consuming than prosecuting the individual guilty parties.

Just look at what happened with Cambodia in the case of Pol Pot. It became very expensive and wearisome,” he said.

Sanctions between the two nations were unnecessary because both countries had expressed sincere commitments to not repeating similar incidents. “It’s a question of process, which is not necessarily black and white.” (gzl)Families of victims still seeking justice

Earthquake Strikes Dili, Timor-Leste

At approximately 19.50hrs on Tuesday 20 July, an earthquake registering 4.6 on the Richter Scale hit 10 km (5 miles) WNW of DILI, Timor-Leste. The quake caused people to flee from the entrance of Timor-Leste’s largest hotel the “Hotel Timor” in central Dili.

Fearing the building may collapse hotel guests ran from the building like deer – some carrying children and others gripping their laptops as they sought safety outside the multistory building – on of the few large building in Dili.

The earthquake struck quickly and subsided quickly. Many people checked theri relatives and friends by telephone – “are you fine? Where are you? Do you feel any shaked? Please be stay out from big trees and maintain courage ok?” said Sica to her relative.

Some people didn’t feel the quake and surprised then asked, “what happened?”. Others responded “earth quick man. I’m so worried to be caught in this building.”

According to the United States Geological Service the earthquake struck 10 km west north west of Dili at a depth of depth +/- 32.6 km (20.3 miles).

East Timor Needs to Sort Itself Out First

via Joyo News


July 15, 2010

EAST Timorese Deputy Prime Minister Mario Viegas Carrascalao yesterday rejected an Australian proposal to process asylum-seekers.

Mr Carrascalao said East Timor had too many problems of its own to deal with Australia’s as well.

“Timor Leste is not a colony of another country. We have sovereignty and our people have rights to decide for themselves what they want,” he said.

“We don’t want another country to dictate to us. We’re already independent and won’t be a puppet of any other country.”

Julia Gillard is negotiating with the government in Dili about her plan to establish a regional refugee processing centre in East Timor to handle asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia by boat.

The migrants generally pay Indonesian people smugglers to arrange the dangerous trip to Australian waters in unseaworthy boats, and many die or need to be rescued each year as they try to make the crossing.

East Timorese MPs voted on Monday to reject Ms Gillard’s proposal, and several government and opposition leaders have expressed strong objections.

But President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao have not ruled out the idea, and Ms Gillard says she is determined to win their approval.

Opposition within Mr Gusmao’s government appears to be growing, however, with Mr Carrascalao echoing fellow Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres’s earlier rejection last week.

“My personal opinion is that I am against the proposal as our people have many problems to be solved and that’s enough for us. Don’t find more problems from another country which will trouble our development,” he said.

“Australia is a big and vast country. There should be a place for the refugees there.”

East Timor’s parliament rejects PM’s refugee plan

Date: 12/07/10 15:01:51


Smith explaining asylum hub to Indonesia, Timor’s Dilemma

East Timor rejects PM’s refugee plan

July 12, 2010 – 9:54PM


A rejection by East Timor’s parliament of Australia’s proposal to
establish an offshore processing centre for asylum seekers is not
necessarily a reflection of its government’s view, Foreign Minister
Stephen Smith says.

East Timor’s parliament passed a resolution on Monday to reject the
Australian government’s proposal to locate a regional processing centre there.

But just 34 of the 65 members of East Timor’s parliament voted
unanimously on the issue.

“It’s the reflection of the view of the members of parliament
assembled, it is not a reflection of the East Timorese government,”
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters in Perth.

Australian officials had held “productive discussions” in East Timor
on Monday, Mr Smith said.

“So the East Timorese government’s position on this remains unchanged.

“I think it is important not to over-interpret the resolution passed
by the East Timor parliament.

“It is not a reflection of the government of East Timor’s decision.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced last week she wanted to set up
a regional processing centre and had discussed the matter with East Timor.

She drew criticism for the fact she had discussed the issue with East
Timor’s President Jose Ramos Horta but not its Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmao before announcing the policy.

Ms Gillard said earlier on Monday she wanted to act quickly to
establish the centre.

“Well, I will be doing this as quickly as possible,” the prime
minister told reporters in Adelaide.

“I’m determined to get it done. I announced it last Tuesday, and I
have been determined each day since to get it done.”

But Ms Gillard said people needed to be realistic.

“This will take some time. We will be focused on it,” she said.

“I’m focused on it now. And there is a dialogue with East Timor now.”

Ms Gillard declined to answer journalists’ questions about the East
Timor parliament’s resolution as she attended a book launch in Sydney
on Monday evening.

The news from East Timor will be more fodder for Opposition Leader
Tony Abbott, who has continued to attack Ms Gillard’s proposal.

“The prime minister is lost somewhere in the Timor Sea,” Mr Abbott
told reporters in Canberra.

“She said that the government had lost its way. It hasn’t found its
way – it’s wandering around the region in search of an offshore
processing centre.”

Mr Abbott called on the federal government to use the Nauru facility
built for immigration detainees by the Howard government as part of
its so-called Pacific Solution.

Labor won’t consider Nauru because the tiny Pacific island country
hasn’t ratified the UN refugee convention.

The only country Ms Gillard wouldn’t talk to was the one country
“apparently willing to host (a centre)”, Mr Abbott said.

“The one country where Australia actually paid for a centre is the
one country Julia Gillard’s too proud to talk too.”

Mr Smith will go to Jakarta later this week to discuss Labor’s
regional plan and process.

He said he would receive a report on the discussions held by
Australian officials in East Timor in a few days and would then
discuss it with his East Timorese counterpart, Zacarias da Costa.

“We are very much at the beginning of the process.”

Smith explaining asylum hub to Indonesia

July 12, 2010 – 5:29PM


Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has defended his decision to visit
Indonesia ahead of East Timor as he explains the government’s plans
for a regional approach to asylum seekers.

Mr Smith will meet with Indonesian officials in Jakarta this week to
discuss Labor’s plans for a regional processing facility if it wins
the coming federal election.

The foreign minister said he spoke to his Indonesian counterpart
Marty Natalegawa on the day the plan was announced and agreed to
discuss it further during his visit, which had been scheduled “for some time”.

“This is a matter we need to consider and discuss in detail and we
will,” Mr Smith told Sky News on Monday.

He defended his decision not to visit East Timor, where the facility
may be built, ahead of Indonesia.

“We have an agreed process with East Timor,” Mr Smith said.

“That process, in terms of getting officials together, starts today in Dili.”

ABC Correspondents Report

Timor’s Dilemma

Sara Everingham reported this story on
July 11, 2010 08:00:00

ELIZABETH JACKSON: This week the tiny nation of East Timor found
itself caught up in the domestic politics of its much larger neighbour.

Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her asylum seeker
policy and floated the idea of sending asylum seekers to a processing
centre in East Timor.

The country’s top political leaders appear to be considering the idea
more out of concern for asylum seekers than any desire to help the
Australian Government.

But East Timor’s leaders have their own domestic politics to consider
and that could bring the Australian Government’s idea unstuck.

Sara Everingham has this report from Dili.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The streets have been flooding here in Dili after
unseasonal weather brought torrential rain.

Eight years since independence East Timor’s infrastructure is still developing.

This week the people struggled to go about their daily business. Yet
Australia, one of the most affluent countries in the world, has
placed the East Timorese in the position of helping others when
they’re still struggling to help themselves.

Julia Gillard said she’d had discussions with East Timor’s president
Jose Ramos-Horta about the possibility of Timor hosting a regional
processing centre for asylum seekers.

She’d spoken to him only the previous night and her announcement
might have been miscalculated and presumptuous.

The prime minister Xanana Gusmao has been critical of Australia of late.

In a recent speech he said pre-independence Australia had shafted
East Timor and post-independence implied Australia has been
duplicitous in its attempts to help the fledgling country.

The speech was really about his anger over the development of gas in
the Timor Sea.

His push to get more spin off benefits for his people has been thwarted.

His angry rhetoric has been building.

And this is all coming from the person with the executive powers to
act on any potential agreements with Australia over a regional
processing centre.

So it’s probably not all that helpful that he knew nothing of
Gillard’s announcement, as he made clear this week.

REPORTER: What do you make of Prime Minister Gillard’s failure to
contact you to discuss her plan?


SARA EVERINGHAM: The analyst Hugh White believes the announcement was
ill advised.

Considering Timorese politicians have difficulty agreeing on much if
the only thing they seem to agree on is their lack of love for
Australia, Hugh White thinks there’s not much chance of Gillard’s
proposal getting off the ground.

Clearly the opposition in government and parliament is mounting.

Even East Timor’s deputy prime minister Jose Luis Guterres thinks the
idea will sink.

JOSE LUIS GUTERRES: We have been with so many (inaudible) problems in
Timor. We have so many issues that we have to deal with. Then having
another- bringing another problem, another issue, to the country, I
don’t think it’s wise for any politician to do it.

SARA EVERINGHAM: On Thursday East Timor’s parliament condemned
Australia’s proposal.

Despite the opposing voices the top political leaders say they’re
open to this on humanitarian principles.

But these could be based in part on more self-interested motives.

East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta has also been pushing for
Australia to accept Timorese guest workers to fill labour shortages,
although he’s ruled out doing any deals.

In the Australian Paul Cleary writes that Jose Ramos-Horta sees
himself and his country as being guided by humanitarian convictions
and that playing a role in an international program could afford East
Timor a certain status and exposure on a global level.

But with these international political gains could come some domestic
political losses.

On the streets of Dili this week there was little support for the plan.

(Man speaks)

“How can we accept more people?” this man asks. “We don’t even have jobs.”

“Australia is a big country, it’s a rich country”, another man says,
“They can provide better conditions for asylum seekers than us”.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The people of Timor appear sympathetic but not yet
convinced given the struggles they face.

But Jose Ramos-Horta seems to be counting on this sympathy.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: My personal sentiments are not mine alone. If you
ask a Timorese person in the street how he or she look at people who
flee violence, extreme poverty, they share the same sentiment as I do.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And this sympathy extends as far as providing decent
conditions for asylum seekers.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: They should have freedom to move around in this
country. If there are children, children should be able to go to
school. If there are some women who need to go to see the doctor in
our main hospital in Dili or any other person, they should be able to
travel freely.

They would be given documents to travel freely within the country.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But others are concerned those conditions have not
yet been properly delivered to the Timorese.

The prime minister Xanana Gusmao’s wife Kirsty Sword Gusmao told
Fairfax papers this week the Timorese might not welcome their
government being distracted from urgent problems such as health and education.

She’s worried about the ramifications for a country still trying to
stand on its own two feet.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Sara Everingham with that report from Dili.

Greens Supporting Timor-Leste’s clean energy future

Blog of Bob Brown

Monday 12th July 2010, 1:09pm

Bob met with the President of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos Horta, when he was visiting Australia in June. The two met over breakfast in Government House and Bob gave the President a Green’s Policy Iniative that aims to support Timor-leste in its desires to develop its own energy security.

The Greens policy commits to supporting Timor-Leste’s desire to see a gas pipeline to connect the Greater Sunrise field to Timor-Leste, which would assist the young nation to develop its own fuel source and related industries.

This policy recognises that Timor-Leste is one of the poorest nations in the world. 82% of households do not have access to electricity and 98% use firewood as their primary source of energy – which is leading to major problems with deforestation and erosion. The policy also responds to concerns that Timor-Leste currently plans to burn highly polluting waste oil in a power station because they do not have access to their own gas resources.

The Greens clean energy commitment will:
Vote with the Timor-Leste Government in the Sunrise Commission and Joint Commission to direct the Greater Sunrise developer to take the pipeline to Timor-Leste.
1. Fund the urgent establishment of a TAFE training facility to train Timor nationals in the skills needed for the pipeline development period and for the skills required for establishing a gas processing industry as well as rolling out and servicing renewable energy facilities.
2. Provide $5 million a year over 10 years to fund household power and lighting in 50,000 households across Timor-Leste. The initiative will also fund solar power technician training to install and service the systems.
3. Also released during the visit of Jose Ramos-Horta were the results of an opinion poll of the Australian public on the Greater Sunrise issue. The Galaxy Poll was undertaken of a representative sample of the Australian community on 18 20 June 2010. The question asked was:

Australia and East Timor have been sharing the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea since 2002. A new gas well is due to be opened soon by an Australian oil and gas company. The company says the gas should be processed on a floating LNG facility rather than piped to land because this is cheaper and easier for them. The East Timor Government says the gas should be piped to Timor for development because this would help to provide energy, create jobs and alleviate poverty. Who do you think the Australian Government should support, The East Timor Government, or the company?

The result was that the majority of Australians (52%) believe the Australian Government should back a proposal to have gas from a new well in the Timor Sea piped to Timor-Leste for processing.

This option is preferred by a factor of almost two to one over the alternative plan, which is to process the gas on a floating LNG facility.

Gillard to pursue East Timor also Govt lacks asylum seeker timeline

The Age


July 11, 2010

JULIA Gillard has promised to ”pursue with determination” talks to convince East Timor to accept a regional refugee processing centre.

Despite plans by East Timor’s parliament to send a strongly worded statement voicing its disapproval about the plan, Ms Gillard yesterday said she remained determined to continue holding talks with Dili.

”I will pursue with determination the dialogue with East Timor,” she said.

The comments follow widespread confusion about Ms Gillard’s intentions. She raised the issue with East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta on Monday, announced the idea in a speech on Tuesday, was forced to admit on Wednesday that she had not discussed the plan with East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, denied she had a specific location in mind on Thursday, before confirming that East Timor was her focus on Friday.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith appeared to reject suggestions that the Lombrum centre on PNG’s Manus Island – used by the former Howard Government – could be reopened as another possible site for the centre. He said although he had briefed his PNG counterpart Sam Abal about the proposal, he had made it ”crystal clear” PNG’s position was to ”not take the matter any further at this stage”.

However, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor had earlier said Australia would be prepared to hold talks with PNG or another country that had signed the United Nation’s refugee convention.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the Government of peddling misinformation by suggesting there had been no international involvement under the previous Howard government’s pacific solution.

”When we introduced it (offshore processing) basically a third of the people who were processed at Nauru were processed by the UNHCR and the place was run by the International Organisation for Migration,” he said.

”To suggest there was no international involvement in that exercise is blatantly not true, and to establish that as some sort of difference in what they are doing is just nonsense.”

Meanwhile, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said her state had the capacity to take incarcerated people smugglers along with Queensland, after Western Australia claimed it was carrying an unfair burden. She said the NSW and federal governments were in talks over funding arrangements.

Govt lacks asylum seeker timeline

July 11, 2010 – 6:43PM


Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor can’t say when a regional asylum seeker processing centre might be built, if Labor win the coming election.

The federal government wants boat people arriving in Australian waters to be processed in East Timor, but Mr O’Connor said there was no timeframe for actually establishing the infrastructure.

“There’s no timeline but there is a determination and focus of this government … on ensuring that we have a regional solution to this problem,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

Mr O’Connor couldn’t even guarantee the centre would be built during Labor’s next term in office, should it retain power.

“There’s a guarantee that we will work relentlessly to pursue this option,” he said.

Government officials will travel to East Timor this week to continue discussing plans for such a centre.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had already spoken to his counterpart Zacarias da Costa about it.

“We have decided in the first instance our officials would deal with it and then he and I will have a further conversation… to progress the matter,” he told ABC TV.

“We will be sending officials to East Timor in the course of this week to start a detailed discussion.”

Mr Smith also clarified that East Timor was the only country Australia had approached to host a regional processing centre.

“We haven’t opened up, and are not proposing to open up a conversation with another country,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison continued to spruik the coalition’s own refugee policy.

He denied asylum seekers would be charged for their stay in detention if the Liberals and Nationals were elected.

Mr Morrison said the coalition’s policy had “evolved” since the former Howard government’s Pacific Solution.

“We’ve made no announcement that we’d be restoring the detention debt policy,” he told Network Ten, referring to the controversial arrangement that saw detainees accumulate massive debts that usually couldn’t be repaid.

Mr Morrison also suggested the United Nations’ convention on refugees be tweaked to make it more contemporary.

“This was a document drawn up in a very different world,” he said.

“We would always be party to a constructive conversation about how the convention can be improved.”

But prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside suggested a Bill of Rights be drawn up to protect detained asylum seekers.

“A Bill of Rights would certainly provide some ability to prevent the excesses that we saw in the details of what went on in detention centres during the Howard years,” he told Network Ten.

As for when the issue will actually be put to punters, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown tipped an August 21 or 28 poll.

Senator Brown said the election date would be at the top of Ms Gillard’s agenda for Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

“I think either this week or next week she’s likely to go to the governor-general’s office asking for an election,” he told the Nine Network.

However, Centrebet primary analyst Neil Evans said August 28 was now well ahead of August 21 and the odds for September 4 had also shortened.

August 28 has firmed from $1.85 to $1.70, while September 4 is $4.25 from $6.

Minister for Justice Lucia is Formally Made Suspect in Maternus Bere Case

Minister for Justice Lucia is Formally Made Suspect in Maternus Bere Case

Translation of Centre for Investigative Journalism Timor-Leste article
(Tetum to Portuguese)

Written by CJITL Editor-Friday, 09 July 2010

Dili Flash, Thursday 8 July 2010:


Lucia Brandao Lobato, Minister for Justice has been officially
notified by the Timor-Leste Prosecutorial authorities as a suspect
because of her suspected involvement with the release of former
Laksaur militia leader, Maternus Bere.

The Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato appeared in the company with her
lawyer Sergio Hornay to give her statement regarding her involvement
in the release of Maternus Bere on 30 August 2009.

During this interrogation process the Minister had to comply with her
legal obligations to answer numerous questions regarding her
involvement in the case.

Shortly after giving her statement to the Prosecutorial Authorities,
Lucia Lobato told journalist that she was the one who released him,
but that the decision had been made by the President of the Republic
(PR) Jose Ramos-Horta, because Horta had already promised to Jakarta
before 30 August 2009 that Maternus Bere would be handed over to the
Indonesian government.

“As a political leader who released Maternus Bere, I take
responsibility for my actions, but other political leaders must also
accept responsibility,” stated Lucia.

“I have already asked the Prosecutorial Authorities to also take
statements from President Horta, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao as well
as the Prosecutor General of the Republic, because they were all
involved, but in the end it was the Minister of Justice alone that has
had to answer, that is unjust,” Lucia pointed out.

Lucia Lobato received the notification letter on 22 June 2010
notifying that she had been made a suspect in the case of the release
of Maternus Bere from Becora Prison.

“I want to say that the accused states that I took Maternus Bere out
of jail, this I do not accept, because everyone was involved,”
affirmed Lobato.

Sergio Hornay as defense counsel to the Minister for Justice, Lucia
Lobato confirmed that high level figures should not wash their hands
of this case, but that it is in everyone’s interest that everyone take
responsibility and not just his client. (CJITL Editor)