Media Monitoring
Summary of News on East Timor as Reported by the Media

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  • The Roots Of Violence: Can They Be Pulled Out? (Talitakum/12-17/4/01)
    If what Father Juvito do Regio says is true, the main factor for violence in this country is due to the mentality of people. Because of that, the people's mentality must be changed. Another dominant factor for the emergence of violence, according to Joao Da Silva or better known as Joao Becora is the wide social disparity among the Timorese. This factor was also acknowledged by Police Colonel Paulo Martins, the Director of the Timor Lorosae Police Academy.

    Another reason is also the demand for justice for crimes against humanity that occurred during colonial rule [of the Portuguese and the Indonesians]. Such acts of violence could be due to the fact that reconciliation is being carried out without fair justice for the people. This was acknowledged by Juvencio Martins, 40, a diplomat candidate for Timor Lorosae's future Foreign Ministry. Juvencio said if "the people perceived that there was no justice, then they could resort to violence [to address the wrongdoings of the returnees]".

    Moving away from the factors mentioned, one possible consequence of violence is that the psychology of fear takes over the minds of the Timorese and could limit their participation in social activities. This was stated by Father Juvito do Rego Araujo, the Director of Radio Timor Kmanek. Nugroho Kacasungkana, from Yayasan Hak, said violence was committed because there often was no alternative to address wrongs committed against people. He stressed that violence was not in the culture of the Timorese people.

    The long period of colonialism under two colonial masters Portugal and Indonesia with two differing systems of government made people greet independence as freedom and freedom to do whatever they pleased. Thus the meaning of independence is somewhat confused. Florenco Amaral de Jesus, 28, the coordinator of the anti-violence group ANTIK said the emergence of violence was mainly caused by the wide social disparity seen in the country. "There are many here who are using money to create political disturbances and social unrest to further their political agenda," said Florenco. One of the groups accused of instigating violence is the CPD-RDTL. Reacting to this charge, Antonio Aitahan Matak, the coordinator of CPD-RDTL said the main reason for the recent spate of violence in Dili was due to discrimination [by the other political parties] on the presence of CPD-RDTL. On the charge that CPD-RDTL instigated the violence, Aitahan Matak said: "It's just like a dog barking at the moon!"

    The concentration of a large part of business activities in Dili also has caused the capital to be highly urbanized. This in turn causes a struggle to develop for very scare resources thus giving rise to violence. This was put forward by Father Ricardo, the rector of the seminary in Fatumeta. The clashes of two rival gangs, Kaladi and Firaku, have also contributed to incidents of violence. But when we seriously analyze the situation, there seems to be no end to the causes. They start from land disputes, political rivalry, economic problems, the non-recognition of sacrifices made by the clandestine movement and ethnic problems. The question now is whether justice can be meted out in addressing these problems.

    Alexander S Nicholas, the deputy principal legal adviser to UNTAET said his unit was working hard to ensure that laws were in place in a functioning legal system. But he refused to comment on why people decided to take the law into their own hands because of the slow legal system.

    Joao Becora said one way to prevent violent incidents was to ensure that there was enough work for the Timorese people. "Manual work can be done by the Timorese, why do we need to have foreigners doing them?" he asked. Joao Becora also said the implementation of laws, not in accordance with Timorese culture, also contributed to violence. He said this would be brought up with Xanana Gusmao, the CNRT/CN President. The legal system in the country must be strengthened said ANTIK's Florenco Amaral de Jesus. He said the slow administration of justice and the large backlog of cases to be heard could cause people to take matters into their own hands in order to seek redress.

  • East Timor "Flexible" In Talks Over Timor Sea Dispute, UN Mission Says (UN News/12/4/01)
    A high-level United Nations official in East Timor today said that the UN mission and the territory's transitional administration were "flexible" in the negotiations with Australia over a Timor Sea dispute, but that the strength of East Timor, given its small size, was in international law. Returning from the second round of negotiations on the Timor Sea with the Government of Australia, Cabinet Member for Economic Affairs Mari Alkatiri today described the talks as a "setback." He said that the position of the UN mission (UNTAET) and the East Timor Transitional Administration (ETTA) was that if the territory applied current international law, 100 per cent of the resources of the cooperation zone in the Timor Sea would belong to East Timor. "But since there is an overlapping of claims, international law advises that a solution be found through negotiations," Mr. Alkatiri said.

    At the talks, which were held in Melbourne, Australia, from 4 to 6 April, the ETTA/UNTAET delegation was led by Mr. Alkatiri and Peter Galbraith, Cabinet Member for Political Affairs and Timor Sea. The delegation also had an informal meeting with the Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin. This meeting was "the most fruitful of all negotiations," according to Mr. Alkatiri, who said he could not elaborate at this point. The next round of talks has been set for the end of April or beginning of May. UNTAET said in a statement issued today in Dili that the talks were expected to be more political, rather than technical.

    According to the statement, UNTAET and ETTA believe the deadline for a political solution to the dispute should be 15 July, when the campaign for the 30 August elections starts in East Timor. By then the Transitional Cabinet is expected to be dissolved. "A future treaty governing the resources of the Timor Sea should be signed by independence day," UNTAET officials said.

  • We Still Have Timor Role To Play: Reith (The Canberra Times/11/4/01)
    The Australian military commitment to East Timor 'has some time to run', Defence Minister Peter Reith said yesterday. Briefing journalists, he said there was no timetable under consideration for a withdrawal of Australian personnel. 'Progress is being made on the East Timor Defence Force which is an important part of the answer to what is going to happen in East Timor, ' Mr Reith said.

    He indicated that no consideration would be given to changing Australia's presence in East Timor until after the country's first election since it was separated from Indonesia, due later this year. 'Part and parcel of our approach to that matter relates to the effectiveness of the East Timor Defence Force to be able to provide the security needed,' he said. 'Obviously they will be keen to assume responsibility for all these matters themselves. 'Then again they are also a small state with limited resources and I'm sure they will continue to appreciate the security so far provided.'

  • Portuguese Aid Chief Heads To Dili (Lusa/11/4/01)
    The head of Portugal's aid mission for East Timor, Rev. Vitor Melicias, begins a weeklong visit to the territory Thursday to participate in Easter celebrations and oversee the formal transfer of fire brigades established with Lisbon's help to Timorese authorities. A Catholic priest, Melicias will be accompanied by the leader of Lisbon's Muslim community, Abdool Vakil, in a mission of good will and reconciliation to East Timor's Muslim minority. During their stay, the Portuguese delegation will visit the ruins of the mosque in the eastern city of Baucau, which was burned down in recent rioting.

  • Washington Reminds Indonesia That Military Aid Depends On Timor Trials (AFP/11/4/01)
    Washington on Wednesday reminded Indonesia that a resumption of US military aid to Jakarta was dependent on the prosecution of members of its armed forces and militia responsible for the 1999 Timor violence. "If the Indonesian government does not fulfill these requirements, the US government is prohibited by law from making available military equipment or training to Indonesia," a US embassy press release issued here said.

    The embassy release said that the legislation passed by Congress in 1999 in reaction to the Timor violence, called the Leahy amendment, required Indonesia to "demonstrate a commitment to accountability by cooperating with investigations and prosecutions" of Timor atrocities. The amendment also required Indonesia to "cooperate with the UN Transitional Administration (UNTAET) in East Timor, and facilitate the return of refugees to East Timor, " it said. "The US looks forward to the positive tangible response from the Indonesian government that will enable both countries to begin exploring the reestablishment of the military ties that are important to both countries," it added.

    Jakarta has named 22 military men, government officials and milita as suspects in the 1999 violence, but has yet to bring them to trial, raising concerns about its sincerity. The UN Human Rights Commission has warned that if the trials do not go ahead in Indonesia, it will convene an international crimes tribunal. The embassy release said that the only part of the embargo that had been lifted, in September 2000, was that covering spare parts for C-130 Hercules, which were "invaluable to address humanitarian emrgencies."

  • Indonesian Military Responsible For Violence, Says Dunn (AAP/11/4/01)
    Jakarta - A report accusing the Indonesian military of planning the violence in East Timor over the period of its independence vote should be made public, its author James Dunn said today. Mr Dunn was commissioned in October to submit an independent report on the issue to East Timor's fledgling judiciary on the condition that it eventually be released publicly. He said the report had not been released by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) since he submitted it in late February.

    This was understandable because negotiations for the return of East Timorese refugees from Indonesian West Timor was still underway, he said. "I for one wouldn't want to be an obstacle to the completion of the return of refugees," he said. "But a gross injustice has been done to the people of East Timor and it can't be ignored. When I agreed to the commission of the report, one of the conditions I wanted was that it should be made public."

    Mr Dunn said his report accuses the Indonesian military, particularly special forces unit Kopassus, of organising the East Timorese militia and conducting the violence. "They set up the militia, they provided the money, weapons, (the violence) was not a spontaneous response from pro-integration Timorese," he said. Mr Dunn, an Australian consul to East Timor before it was occupied by Indonesia in 1975, said he had made seven reommendations to UNTAET which he refused to reveal. An UNTAET spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

  • South Korea To Open Mission In East Timor In June (BBC/13/4/01)
    Seoul - South Korea will open its mission in East Timor in June to strengthen communications with the UN transitional administration and provide consular protection for Koreans stationed there, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday [13 April]. "The opening of the mission carries a meaning that Seoul joins the international community's efforts in helping East Timor become an independent country advocating democracy and the market economy," the official noted.

    Two officials will be stationed at the mission, he said. "The ministry recently tapped councillor Choi Byong-ku of its embassy in Israel as a representative of the mission." The official title of the mission will be "Mission of the Republic of Korea in East Timor." At present, over 400 Korean soldiers are stationed in East Timor as part of the UN peacekeeping forces. After winning independence from Indonesia, it is currently under the rule of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

  • Gusmao Security: Enter His Ex-Jailers, And The Yard (SMH/16/4/01)
    East Timor's leading independence fighter, Mr Xanana Gusmao, will soon be protected by an all-Timorese bodyguard including several of his former Indonesian police jailers who will be trained by experts from Scotland Yard. Police sources in Dili said at the weekend that a crack British "Close Protection" team drawn from Scotland Yard is due to arrive to train their East Timorese counterparts as bodyguards. Brazilian military bodyguards now protect Mr Gusmao and Mr Jose Ramos Horta, the transitional administration's Cabinet member for foreign affairs.

    A senior police official who asked not to be named said the Timorese bodyguard unit would include several former Timorese-born Indonesian police officers, part of the unit that guarded Mr Gusmao during his imprisonment in Jakarta. Mr Gusmao, a former commander of the Falintil independence guerillas, was captured by Indonesian security forces in 1992 and sentenced to 20 years jail for "inciting rebellion" and "undermining national stability."

    Following the landslide vote for independence on August 30, 1999, Indonesian president B.J. Habibie granted Mr Gusmao his freedom and he returned home later that year to a hero's welcome. He was not the only one to return. Several police also opted to return to Dili to claim their East Timorese citizenship following the ballot. They are now among the more than 500 East Timorese police undergoing advanced training in the new UN-administered Timor Lorosae Police Service.