(International news reports and extracts from national media. UNMIT does not vouch for the accuracy of these reports)
UNMIT celebrates International Peacekeepers Day – Timor Post, Diario Nacional and Televisaun Timor-Leste
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) celebrated the 60th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping on Thursday (29/5) in Dili.
The celebration was attended by PR José Ramos-Horta, PM Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste Independence Proclamator Francisco Xavier do Amaral, the Special Representative of Secretary-General (SRSG) Atul Khare, other senior leaders of Timor-Leste and the diplomatic corps.
During his speech, SRSG Atul Khare paid homage to those lost their life in keeping the peace.
“It is always difficult to come to terms with the loss of a beloved one. But when the families mourn for a spouse, father, brother, or son who died in a far off land that many of them never visited, it is simply unimaginable. I pray for peace to all those who died in the service of the United Nations for the cause of peace and stability of Timor-Leste and for courage to their bereaved families and friends,” stated SRSG Khare.
President José Ramos-Horta told the gathering he was happy to join the ceremony to celebrate the 60th Peacekeepers Day in Timor-Leste.
“It is 60 years since the United Nations began sending men and women, the blue berets, to many nations.
Today is the day to give tribute to all the peacekeepers in the world, especially those who are in Timor-Leste, along with civilian staff and Timorese staff who, during the popular consultation, died and suffered as UN peacekeepers,” said PR Ramos-Horta.
The ceremony included songs and performances by school children and local musicians, and the reciting of poetry. Prayers were offered by representatives of the main religious groups.
Mario Carrascalão: asking the Government to cancel MAF-Indonesian MOU – Televisaun Timor-Leste
PSD Member of Parliament Mario Carrascalão is asking the Government to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests-Fishery (MAF) and the Indonesian Government.
Last Monday in National Parliament Mario said the MOU was a secret agreement that will not be beneficial for the population.
“We ask this MOU to be cancelled because they signed it in secret. There should not be a law that is created only for the interest of the Government. We do not agree at all with them to sell the land to Indonesia, as stated in the MOU that TL will give a concession to Indonesia for two years to use 100,000 hectares of land,” Mr. Carrascalão said.
In response to this, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture said the agreement was not secret because at that time journalists were invited to the signing.
“This agreement is not secret. We just want to say that on 15 January 2008 when we signed the MOU, it was witnessed by many journalists as well broadcast on TVTL that the Ministry of Agriculture had signed an MOU with a company named "GT. Leste Birotec,” explained Lourenço Borges Fontes.
He added that this agreement may be cancelled if there has been no activity from the time of the signature up to now.
PM Xanana: the Government has no authority to regulate international market prices – Diario Nacional Televisaun Timor-Leste
After attending the weekly meeting with President Horta in Farol on Thursday (29/5), Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão said that the Government has no authority to regulate prices because they depends on the international market.
“Suppose the price in the world is regulated, the price of rice in the nations which produce the rice is marked down, the price of petrol is regulated, and you do not need to ask me because everything will decrease by itself. Timor Leste a small country which is dependent on the fluctuations of foreign countries. If the price increases in the foreign countries, we will suffer the same thing in our country. So it is not for Timor Leste government to normalize the price because this crisis is affecting all nations in the world”, said PM Xanana.
TL pays homage to UN Peacekeepers – Radio Timor-Leste
TL gives homage to UN Peacekeepers who sacrifice their lives for UN missions in conflict nations including TL (Horta).
We give our homage to all UN members who had sacrifice their lives in the service of peace in conflict nations around the world. Sergio Vieira de Mello and his compatriots died in Baghdad (Iraq), because of UN efforts to maintain peace and stability in the world,” said PR Horta during a briefing after the celebration of the 60th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping in Balide, Dili on Thursday (29/5).
Government: to take 3% of petroleum funds as social subsidiary – Radio Timor-Leste
Prime Minister Xanana said that the government will take 3% of petroleum funds to give subsidize social programs.
“The food crisis is an issue around the world, not only in TL. The government should allocate funds to respond to needs of society,” said PM Xanana during ameeting with President Horta in the government palace yesterday (29/5).
MSS: plan to have department to protect children rights – Radio Timor-Leste
Minister of Social and Solidarity Maria Domingas Alves said on Thursday (29/5) in Delta Nova, Comoro that the Ministry of Social and Solidarity will create a new program and plan to establish a department to protect child rights. The department will focus on runaways, children who need protection from abuse within the home, and those who are facing violence.
Fr. Martinho: Peace stops violence – Diario Nacional
The Director of Peace and Justice of Baucau Diocese, Fr. Martinho Gusmão said that only peace could stop the violence in the world, especially in Timor-Leste. The observance of the 60th Anniversary of UN Peacekeeping was important to build unity and peace in the world, as UN missions to Timor-Leste have shown over the last few years.
“With this kind of ceremony we could work hard to build peace. Peace can not stand alone – it is always side by side with justice and unity to determine the destiny of the people and this country,” said Fr. Martinho at the ceremony of UN Peacekeepers Day in Balide, Dili on Thursday (29/5)
Pardon to Rogerio: MPs ask PR Horta retract his statement – Suara Timor Lorosa’e
Members of the National Parliament are asking President José Ramos-Horta to withdraw his statement concerning the pardon of former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato in which he said that many of the Rogerio’s family died in the fight for the country's liberation.
“The president should give a pardon based on his authority and not because someone's family died during the struggle,” said CNRT MP Natalino dos Santos on Thursday (29/5) in the National Parliament.
The big impact [of the president’s pardon] is setting a bad precedent to the nation – there is no legal basis on which to give a pardon based on family members who died during the war.
President Ramos-Horta did not comment on the request even though journalists have been questioning him about the pardon and his recent statements
Indonesia-Australia ties: What went wrong? – The Jakarta Post, 30 May
CANBERRA (JP): As the Timor crisis deepened in 1999, relations between Australia and Indonesia soured, and then deteriorated seriously, sharply and unexpectedly in September-October.
After a decade of seemingly positive and broad-based expansion, developing into what some came to regard as an emerging 'special relationship', these two months witnessed unprecedented recrimination and antagonism.
Although an open, formal rift was avoided, the cooling of relations was reflected in public statements made at the highest level.
President Habibie referred in the Indonesian parliament to Australia's unwelcome 'interference in Indonesian affairs', while Prime Minister Howard spoke of the need to assert 'Australian values' in the region rather than kowtowing to the policies of neighbors, referring (implicitly) especially to Indonesia.
At the heart of the matter was the crisis in East Timor. The extensive and almost instantaneous coverage by the international electronic media of the tragic events in Timor, together with its tendency to highlight isolated and extreme reactions in both countries, heightened the sense of crisis.
It contributed to emotional responses. Australian unions boycotted Indonesian ships and Garuda passengers were harassed, the Indonesian flag was burnt and the Indonesian Ambassador could not enter his office for over a week.
In Indonesia, in response, there was an almost continuous demonstration outside the Australian embassy, seemingly (if TV shots were to be believed) verging on violence.
Australian offices were attacked and Australian citizens threatened. At the nadir of the relationship in early October 1999, Indonesians saw Australia -- seemingly too enthusiastically -- take the lead in the formation of a multinational force, UNAMET, to restore order following the post referendum militia rampage in Timor.
But many Indonesians saw Australians zealously entering 'their territory'(as most Indonesians regarded East Timor then), and behaving in a militaristic and bellicose fashion -- the armed Australian soldier standing over the defenseless Timorese youth, for example.
How and why was the relationship so easily and quickly derailed? And where do we go from here?
Answers to these questions are important, not just for Australia and Indonesia but, more broadly -- since the two countries are the dominant powers of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia respectively -- for the harmony of the region.
It was not just the Australian actions which angered many Indonesians. Australia's style was unpalatable. Indonesia expected its neighbor to show some understanding of Jakarta's predicament (at least that of a weak civilian government), and to help calm the situation.
But instead Australia appeared to take the lead in condemning Indonesia. The voice of Australia -- its media, its politicians and its people -- appeared more strident than any other. Even liberal-minded and sympathetic Indonesian figures, such as Sarwono Kusumaatmadja and journalist Wimar Witoelar, saw Australian reactions as 'arrogant' or 'insensitive', its words and actions smacking more of a colonial power than an understanding neighbor.
Conversely, in September, Australians watched each night on television the abuse of a poor and innocent people, whose only 'crime' was that they clearly and decisively voted for Independence.
Why couldn't the all-powerful Indonesia military assist these people and control the violence, Australians (and indeed the world) asked.
Why was the government in Jakarta so seemingly two-faced in response to international criticism?
The immediate cause of tension -- a process of decolonization, strongly opposed by elements of the Indonesian military and equally strongly supported by large sections of the Australian public, and by their government -- which erupted in violence, was as difficult a problem as most neighbors will ever face.
In one sense, it was a credit to the leaders of both countries that diplomatic relations remained open, despite many calls from their domestic constituencies for radical action.
But beyond the immediate rift, ill-informed recriminations and the proliferation of stereotypes revealed that there is still a fundamental lack of understanding of national characteristics and political processes in each country -- a lack of understanding which was all too easily manipulated by mischievous elements on both sides.
Among these caricatures of each other, Indonesians often view Australians as white, racist, rich, arrogant, and possessing an unrivaled propensity to lecture other countries.
On the other hand, many Australians continue to view Indonesia (even after fall of the Soeharto) as corrupt, brutal, militaristic, authoritarian, and maintaining an iron grip on a reluctant non-Javanese citizenry in the eastern provinces.
Like all caricatures, there is an element of truth in these views. But as generalizations they are seriously distorted. Many Australians, especially in the media, failed -- or didn't want -- to recognize, the broad-based improvements in Indonesian living standards since the mid 1960s, across both socio-economic groups and its far-flung regions.
Australians have also tended to pay scant attention to deep historical and cultural sensitivities. Having never been a poverty stricken colony, never been invaded by a foreign power, and never had to fight a protracted and bloody war of Independence, most Australians don't have the historical perspective to understand Indonesian sensitivities on key issues.
Flag-burning, for example, arouses little passion in Australia, yet for most Indonesians it is a highly provocative action.
With a hard-fought Independence achieved just two generations ago, destruction and defamation of national symbols by a neighbor is quite shocking to many Indonesians.
The fact that Australians are predominantly rich and white, and are culturally disposed towards frank and blunt expressions of opinion abroad -- mirroring the style of domestic debate -- further complicates the issue. These misperceptions work in both directions, however. It is true that Australia maintained a discriminatory immigration policy until about 1970 (the so-called 'White Australia Policy'), and that for the first 180 years of European settlement the treatment of aboriginal people was disgraceful.
But things have changed much in Australia over the past 30 years. Australia now has an open, non-discriminatory immigration program, matched by very few countries.
The resulting societal transformation has been rapid and Australia is arguably one of the world's most vibrant multi-cultural societies.
Its generous refugee program has few parallels, certainly in this region. It is true that this 'multiracialism has been strongly criticized at home -- the 'Pauline Hanson' factor.
But the immigration program continues to attract bi-partisan political support. The One Nation party is now in decline and never captured vote’s ona scale comparable to similar parties in the U.S. and Europe.
It is also true that Australia's aboriginal community (numbering about 250,000 persons) have unacceptably low living standards. But there are many ‘positive discrimination' programs and the community's problems are openly acknowledged and debated within and outside government.
In addition, Australia continues to be one of the major donors to Indonesia, including a generous scholarship program. It strongly supported the international financial rescue effort in the wake of the economic crisis and, despite fiscal austerity at home; the real value of aid has been broadly maintained.
Australia's per capita income is now below both Singapore and Hong Kong, neither of whom provides aid to Indonesia.
The Australian press is often seen as a complicating factor in bilateral relations. It is easy to understand Indonesians' anger here: in recent times, the extraordinarily rude and ill-informed television interview with the Indonesian ambassador on a commercial network, and the 60 Minutes team crassly walking into a 'minefield' by asking queuing East Timorese how they would vote in the referendum.
More generally, many Australian journalists, with their single-minded focus on human rights, East Timor, and corruption, have failed dismally to present a balanced picture of the complexity of Indonesia.
There is no doubt that, rightly or wrongly, the murder of five journalists in Balibo in late 1975 has contributed to this press hostility towards Indonesia. But, while Indonesian dismay is quite understandable, here too the issue is not amenable to sweeping generalizations. There have been some very fine Australian journalists in Indonesia, particularly in the print media.
Indonesia's sometimes heavy handed press controls needlessly antagonized the foreign (and of course the domestic) press. And the problems with the Australian press have arisen in part from proximity and familiarity.
The New York Times, London's Guardian, Dutch papers, the BBC and CNN have often been just as critical as Australian outlets. But because there are not as many of them, and they don't report as often, the tensions have not been so great.
The 60th anniversary of UN peacekeeping – The Manila Times, 29 May
By Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
(For more than 50 years, the Philippines has sent hundreds of troops overseas for peacekeeping in fulfillment of its international obligations. From South Korea in the 1950s to Timor Leste in the ‘00’ decade, Filipino soldiers and police officers, under the auspices of the United Nations, have taken part in humanitarian missions to keep the peace and to help rebuild in formerly war-torn countries. We pay them tribute on this day, the 60th year of UN peacekeeping.)
This year, the annual International Day of UN Peacekeepers also marks the 60th anniversary of UN peacekeeping. Six decades ago today, the Security Council established our first peacekeeping mission. Most of the peacekeepers came from a handful of European and American countries and they were mostly unarmed military men observing and monitoring cease-fire lines.
Since then, peacekeeping has developed into a flagship enterprise of our Organization. Today, we have more than 110,000 men and women deployed in conflict zones around the world. They come from nearly 120 countries—an all-time high, reflecting confidence in United Nations peacekeeping. They come from nations large and small, rich and poor—some of them countries recently afflicted by war themselves. They bring different cultures and experiences to the job, but they are united in their determination to foster peace. Some are in uniform but many are civilians and their activities go far beyond monitoring.
They train police, disarm ex-combatants, support elections and help build State institutions. They build bridges, repair schools, assist flood victims and protect women from sexual violence. They uphold human rights and promote gender equality. Thanks to their efforts, life-saving humanitarian assistance can be delivered and economic development can begin.
In the past year, I have visited peacekeepers in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. I have seen refugees returning home, children heading back to school, citizens once again secure under the rule of law. I have seen whole societies moving, with the help of the peacekeepers, from devastation to rejuvenation. In Haiti, in Liberia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the blue helmets have provided breathing space for a fragile peace to take hold.
We could not do this job without our partners in regional organizations. The African Union and the UN are deploying our first hybrid force in Darfur. And we are working with the European Union in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.
More than half of all our Member States contribute troops and police to peacekeeping operations. We are grateful to every one of them. Our special thanks go to the top contributors: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Nepal. Together, these nations of the south contribute nearly half of the UN’s peacekeepers.
This anniversary is an occasion to celebrate, but also to mourn our fallen colleagues. Over these six decades, more than two thousand and four hundred men and women have died serving the cause of peace. Just last year alone, we lost 87 brave individuals.
Each one is a hero. Today, we recommit ourselves to ensuring that their sacrifices are never forgotten, and the vital work of the blue helmets continues as long as they are needed.
Australia provides E Timor election funds – ABC Radio Australia, 29 May
Australia is providing almost $US300, 000 for electoral bodies in East Timor.
The funds will be used for a wide range of activities including updating the voter registration roll, revision of the electoral laws and planning and conducting voter and civic education as well as preparation for the local elections.
The funds will be allocated by Australia's overseas aid program, AusAID.
AusAID, a key partner of United Nations Development Program in East Timor, last year provided around $1.25 million for the 2007 elections.
East Timor to use oil fund to stabilize prices – Reuters (India), 29 May
DILI, May 29 (Reuters) - East Timor will use a fraction of its oil fund worth over $2 billion to protect the poor from rising food and fuel prices, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said on Thursday.
Gusmão said he would take three percent from the fund to stabilize prices and to import rice, fuel and construction materials. The oil fund was created from revenue earned from the country's oil and gas sector in 2005 in order to amass money for future generations of Timorese.
Gusmão said the government decided to use a portion of the money, which is deposited in a U.S. bank, because some countries had not made good on their promises to provide aid.
"We are ashamed if we keep asking donors to give us money to resolve our problems," he told reporters. "Sometimes they renege on their promises."
East Timor, one of the world's poorest countries, is vulnerable to rising food prices in the international market because it relies on imports for nearly 60 percent of its rice needs.
Indonesia occupied East Timor for 23 years before the former Portuguese colony voted in favour of independence in a United Nations-sponsored ballot in 1999.
As Asia's youngest nation, the country is still struggling to achieve stability despite its rich oil and gas resources.
Intervening in conflict-ridden states – seattlepi.com (The Economist), 29 May
Nearly seven years after the toppling of the Taliban, Afghanistan's future is still up for grabs. Despite tens of thousands of foreign troops, and billions of dollars in aid, the country remains stricken by poverty and insurgency.
Kabul seems like the capital of an occupied country. Foreign diplomats and United Nations officials are forbidden to walk the streets alone, because of the risk of kidnap; so they cruise behind the tinted windows of their four-wheel-drives. Many big roads are concrete anti-terrorist obstacle courses.
After recent suicide bombings in the capital, it too is a front line.
Afghanistan's troubles are, of course, unique, especially in the viciousness and extent of its continuing insurgency, most often compared with Iraq's. But this is in fact only one of four foreign interventions in conflict-ridden states in Asia in recent years. The others -- in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Nepal -- offer revealing parallels with Afghanistan.
Perhaps the clearest of all is that, despite the huge difficulties it presents -- in Afghanistan above all -- holding an election is the easy part.
Voters have consistently surprised observers with their enthusiasm, their maturity and their refusal to be cowed by the threat of violence. This was movingly so in a parliamentary election in Cambodia in 1993; in a referendum on independence in the then East Timor in 1999 and in its constituent-assembly and presidential elections in 2001-02; and in this year's constituent-assembly election in Nepal.
But the losing party in Cambodia's election responded by threatening the future of the peace process and then muscled its way back into government, where it still sits.
The referendum in East Timor was followed by an orgy of Indonesia-inspired arson, looting and violence. The elections there led to an unstable government and to renewed violence in 2006. Following Nepal's election, to the surprise and alarm of many observers, the Maoists have emerged as the biggest single party.
In Afghanistan, parliament houses many of the warlords who have wreaked such havoc in the country. As one veteran observer laments, a crucial mistake was made at the outset: not allowing the government and its foreign supporters a monopoly on the means of violence.
Another point in common to all four places is made by a senior U.N. official: that, in these rebuilding exercises, the outside world always tends to neglect the importance of "justice." Understandably, in the interests of reconciliation and peace, there is a reluctance to countenance a confrontational settling of accounts.
In Cambodia it was only last year, after most of the Khmer Rouge leaders had died, that trials began of those who survived. In Timor-Leste, inquiries into past atrocities have not been allowed for fear of jeopardizing relations with Indonesia; it has been deemed better to forget than to forgive. In Nepal, both the Maoists and the former royal army have strong reason to want to avoid any probe into their past behavior.
Similarly in Afghanistan, there has been no accountability for past crimes. Nor can there be: the government relies on the support of some of those who stand accused of war crimes.
That is in part a consequence of the government's most glaring weakness: the shortage of literate, capable, honest people to staff an administration. The lament repeated by every section of the foreign community is about the lack of "human capital," or, if the speaker is feeling self-accusatory, about the failure of "capacity- building."
This too is a problem familiar from, for example, Cambodia and East Timor -- warfare and hardship wreck education systems and send millions into exile. If they come back at all, after peace returns, there is little financial or other incentive for the talented ones to work for the government.
Most find it more attractive to work for the U.N., or foreign governments and charities -- and so it is easier for the foreigners to do the jobs themselves. But they risk leaving behind them a dangerous vacuum, or perhaps worse: never being able to leave at all.
EAST TIMOR/INDONESIA: Reconciliation at the Cost of Justice? – IPS, 30 May
(IPS) - East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta's decision to pardon those involved in the 1999 killings, and the violent incidents of 2006, has thrown a shadow over the fledgling country's justice system and efforts at reconciliation with former occupiers Indonesia.
"The president's decision will influence people’s minds about the judicial system... how serious crimes committed can be pardoned," said Casmiro Dos Santos, acting director of JSMP, a local non-government organisation (NGO) that monitors human rights and justice in East Timor.
Horta used his presidential prerogative to "grant pardons and commute sentences after consultation with the government". A decree was delivered on May 20 coinciding with the tiny nation's sixth anniversary of independence.
The pardon applies to Rogerio Lobato, former interior minister in the Fretilin government, imprisoned because of his involvement in arms distribution to civilians in 2006.
Seven former militia members who were involved in the 1999 killings that followed the vote for independence and the retreat of Indonesia's armed forces from East Timor were also pardoned.
One of these is Joni Marques, leader of the Tim Alfa militia, who viciously attacked a car full of nuns and priests in the Los Palos sub- district of Lautem in the eastern side of East Timor. Marques was jailed for 33 years in 2001 in the country's first trial for crimes against humanity.
In all, 94 listed prisoners were given full or partial pardon by Horta.
According to the criteria written in the presidential decree, those eligible to get their sentences halved need to have completed a quarter of the sentence. But Lobato served time for less than two months and then flew to Malaysia for health treatment.
By not recognizing the bloody events that took place in 1999 and the involvement of Indonesia's military in them, both countries have made the reconciliation process meaningless, say critics.
After East Timor declared its independence in late 1975 it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia only to relinquish control in 1999, following a U.N.-sponsored referendum.
Among the politicians who have expressed reservations over the pardon policy is Fernanda Borges, president of the minority pro-justice party PUN. "There are no systems in place to judge whether the person has behaved, whether the person has contributed to giving further information to help the judicial process, and what the victims' response to this is," she said.
"All this needs to be weighed very carefully so that we don't create a perception . . . that there is impunity in this country, that you can do whatever you want, you can kill people, have human rights violations and be pardoned by the president,'' Borges was quoted as saying at a briefing.
But what many find troubling is that Indonesia's military has not embraced the reforms adopted by other government institutions. The United Nations' Committee against Torture report on Indonesia, released mid-May, found widespread use of torture and routine ill-treatment of suspects in police custody. "The state should not establish nor engage in any reconciliation mechanism that promoted amnesties for perpetrators of acts of torture, war crimes or crimes against humanity," the U.N. body recommended.
sexta-feira, maio 30, 2008
(International news reports and extracts from national media. UNMIT does not vouch for the accuracy of these reports)
Por Malai Azul 2 à(s) 03:19
Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!
Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006
"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "