terça-feira, outubro 17, 2006



37. The narrative of the events which follows is the product of the first component of the mandate of the Commission and the result of its fact-finding function. It is based upon all of the material which the Commission received, being in excess of 200 statements of witnesses interviewed by the Commission, and 2,000 other documents and pieces of material. Conclusions about the facts and circumstances have been made using the reasonable suspicion standard adopted by the Commission. Where the Commission has been unable to form a conclusive view using this standard, this is stated explicitly in the text.

The petitioners’ demonstration; pre-demonstration planning

38. Between 24 and 28 April 2006 a demonstration was staged outside the Government Palace in Dili. Ostensibly organized and controlled by the petitioners, the demonstration sought resolution of alleged discriminatory practices against westerners within F-FDTL.

39. Negotiations between the petitioners and senior PNTL officers regarding the conduct of the intended demonstration took place on several days between 19 and 23 April. The Military Police were not involved. Coordinated security plans were made. The petitioners assumed responsibility for security at the demonstration site. Six petitioners were detailed to conduct daily searches of all protesters. Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha, the spokesman for the petitioners, was to maintain control of the microphone and loud speaker by vetting persons who were nominated to make speeches. The Dili District Commander was to be contacted if PNTL help was required with internal security. PNTL were responsible for any incidents occurring externally. On the eve of the demonstration PNTL General Commander Martins issued a written order regarding PNTL deployment and the use of force. These included the use of Dili District Police for foot patrols, the Close Protection Unit for protection of State VIPs and the Police Reserve Unit for patrols in “critical areas”. One platoon of the Dili Task Force was to provide assistance. Two platoons of UIR officers were to be on standby. The PNTL General Commander agreed subsequently to the active deployment of UIR. The use of firearms and tear gas was prohibited without express authorization. The negotiations culminated in a press conference on 23 April 2006, during which the petitioners guaranteed that the demonstration would be peaceful and the PNTL General Commander stated that the demonstration would be stopped immediately if it became violent.

The first four days: 24 to 27 April

40. On Monday 24 April 2006 the petitioners and their sympathizers, massed at the Carantina at Taci Tolu in order to march under police escort to the Government Palace. In the main the petitioners wore F-FDTL uniforms. They were unarmed. Once established in front of the Government Palace, they remained, in fluctuating numbers, until 28 April 2006. The ranks of the petitioners and their sympathizers were augmented noticeably, from the second day of the protest onwards, by the arrival of third parties, particularly members of the group known as Colimau 2000.

41. Isolated incidents of violence occurred with increasing frequency throughout Dili during the week of the demonstration. On 25 April a kiosk and goods were destroyed in the Lecidere beach area, two youths were assaulted and market stalls belonging to easterners in the Taibessi area were burned. On the same day Ozório Leki, the spokesman for Colimau 2000, made a speech at the protest site in which he threatened to unleash the crowd if the police failed to stop the attack on market stallholders. He stated further that violence would be used to secure a change of Government. Market stalls in Taibessi were burned again the following day and an off-duty PNTL member in the area was attacked. Lieutenant Salsinha allowed Mr. Leki to make a further speech on 26 April in which he used inflammatory anti-eastern language. Prime Minister Alkatiri was informed about the presence of Ozório Leki among the petitioners and the expression of anti-Government rhetoric.

42. The petitioners expected that a government representative would visit the site of the demonstration and speak with them. The issue assumed critical importance during discussions between the Government and the petitioners on 27 April. Prime Minister Alkatiri proposed a government commission to report within three months about the issues raised by the petitioners together with a subsidy to assist reintegration into districts, but refused a request to address the petitioners at the Government Palace about the proposal. Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta agreed to address the petitioners the following day. The morning of 28 April 2006

43. With the demonstration scheduled to end at 1 p.m. on Friday, 28 April, a tangible change in the atmosphere of the crowd gathered in front of the Government Palace was evident by early morning. The Minister for Foreign Affairs was expected at 9 a.m. The Minister believed, however, that he was scheduled to arrive at 3 p.m. Slow-burning anger at his failure to appear reached boiling point at about midday. From about 10 a.m., threats of violence and sporadic incidents of fighting had begun to occur. Stone throwing began at about 11.30 a.m. Additionally, the number of third parties among the petitioners, which had been increasing since 25 April, suddenly spiked. Lieutenant Salsinha was unable to control the anger of the youths who had joined the protest. In this atmosphere the feeling that the petitioners were willing to die for their cause gained currency.

44. So much was known by the PNTL senior command. At a 9 a.m. meeting the PNTL General Commander gave instructions to prevent any new protestors from joining the demonstration. However, at about 10 a.m. upon the request of one petitioner, Lieutenant Florindo dos Reis, he allowed 100 additional demonstrators to be admitted. At about 11.30 a.m. the members of the Dili District Task Force and of other PNTL districts formed two lines facing the protestors. At about the same time teams of UIR officers were redeployed from the Government Palace to Becora and Comoro. The UIR Commander stated that this redeployment was ordered by PNTL Deputy Commander (Operations) Ismael da Costa Babo. This is denied by Deputy Commander (Operations) Babo. The PNTL General Commander was not informed of the redeployment. PNTL blocked the Beach Road, but were insufficient in number to block the side street as well. At about 11.45 a.m. the demonstrators began to roll up their banners. One senior PNTL commander told the Commission that he took this as a signal that something was about to happen.

45. The deteriorating stability at the demonstration site was known also to Prime Minister Alkatiri. He gave telephone instructions to the Minister of the Interior to send reinforcements the Government Palace. He telephoned President Gusmão, who agreed to telephone Lieutenant Salsinha. At about 10 a.m. the Prime Minister telephoned F-FDTL Chief of Staff Colonel Lere, the Acting Chief of the Defence Force. The Prime Minister ordered him to have the Armed Forces in readiness. Two platoons of the F-FDTL 1st Battalion in Baucau were prepared. At about 11 a.m. the Prime Minister again telephoned Colonel Lere to inform him that the situation had deteriorated further and instruct him to send Military Police officers to support PNTL. Colonel. Lere ordered six Military Police officers to the demonstration site. At about 11.45 a.m. the Prime Minister received a telephone call from the President informing him that he had met with Lieutenant Salsinha, who had promised to attempt to control the crowd and remove the petitioners from the site.

46. Close to midday, the Prime Minister, President Gusmão and Minister of the Interior Lobato spoke at the Hotel Timor at the close of an international conference. On the basis of the evidence before it, the Commission is unable to draw any conclusions as to the content of this meeting. The former Prime Minister said that he expressed the view to the President that PNTL had disintegrated and that there was a need to call upon the Armed Forces to assist. He has given inconsistent statements as to whether he told the President that he had already requested the Armed Forces to be on standby. President Gusmão told the Commission that there had been no discussion as to the need for calling in the Armed Forces. Violence at the Government Palace

47. At about midday the protesters began to move towards the Government Palace. The two PNTL lines broke almost immediately and many PNTL officers simply fled. While the Commission has heard the view that it was only western PNTL officers who abandoned their posts, perhaps at the invitation of the crowd, the available information suggests that the division between those who fled and those who did not is not so easily made. Further, at least some PNTL officers were instructed to return to the PNTL headquarters by the Dili District Commander. The small number of UIR officers who had not been redeployed was stationed both in front of the Government Palace and at the Hello Mister intersection. The Military Police officers sent by Colonel Lere joined the UIR officers at the intersection.

48. The protesters entered the Government Palace. Two vehicles were burned. Ground-floor offices were ransacked. The crowd threw stones at police. One police officer was attacked with a machete. The protesters yelled words to the effect of “shoot us if you want to” to both the UIR officers and Military Police at the Hello Mister intersection. The PNTL General Commander arrived at the scene and authorized the use of tear gas. PNTL officers also fired shots. General Commander Martins told the Commission that he had not authorized this. By about 1. p.m. senior PNTL officers had returned to the PNTL headquarters leaving a limited number of ordinary and UIR PNTL officers at the scene. Minister of the Interior Lobato arrived at the headquarters wearing a flak jacket and in a highly agitated state, yelling “kill them all”. The PNTL Chief of Operations told the Commission that the Minister of the Interior instructed him to move URP from Taibessi to the Government Palace. PNTL records show that one F2000 fully automatic machine gun and 2,000 rounds of ammunition were signed over to the Minister of the Interior by the PNTL General Commander. By about 1.30 p.m. the demonstrators had dispersed. Two civilians had been killed. Three civilians and one PNTL officer had suffered firearm injuries. One civilian and one PNTL officer had suffered other serious injuries.

Violence at the Comoro market

49. After leaving the Government Palace the demonstrators returned to Taci Tolu, escorted by PNTL and United Nations Police (UNPOL) officers. En route they passed through Comoro, a community of people of mixed eastern and western origin. A large group walked towards petitioners as they approached the market. One UIR officer was pelted with stones by the crowd and fired at least six shots, some in the air and some into the crowd. Shortly thereafter, a platoon of 21 UIR officers was sent to the airport roundabout and a second platoon of 21 UIR officers was sent to the Comoro market. Each platoon had three vehicles. Additional UIR officers not expressly deployed to the area were also present. The platoon at the market was attacked by the crowd. In response, the platoon commander ordered tear gas to be fired. The petitioners then passed through the cleared path escorted by two of the UIR vehicles. Near the market area the petitioners were subjected to gunfire. The fire came from both UIR officers travelling in the escort vehicles and members of the crowd. One civilian was killed by a weapon fired at long range. Eight civilians suffered firearm injuries. Two police officers and two civilians suffered other serious injuries.

Violence at Rai Kotu

50. After passing through Comoro, the retreating demonstrators continued towards Taci Tolu, some returning to their base at the Carantina and others dispersing into the hills. As the mob moved through the area, in excess of 100 houses, owned mainly by easterners, were burned. This selective damage was observed by the Commissioners during a visit to the area in August 2006.

51. Demonstrators armed with bows and arrows gathered at Rai Kotu. At about 5 p.m. two FFDTL vehicles carrying 14 soldiers travelled past this group en route from the Military Police headquarters in Caicoli towards the F-FDTL headquarters in Taci Tolu. On the return journey, made at about 5.15 p.m., the vehicles encountered the same group, which had constructed a barricade of sorts with burning tyres. As the vehicles approached, the demonstrators threw grenades at the F-FDTL vehicles. The 14 F-FDTL soldiers responded with gunfire. Some soldiers alighted while other soldiers remained in the vehicles. Approximately 100 shots were fired in five minutes. The attackers dispersed. One civilian was killed as a result of the confrontation. One soldier sustained a minor injury to his finger as a result of a grenade explosion. A few minutes after this incident occurred, two civilians were injured as a result of F-FDTL weapons fire close to the Taci Tolu terminal.

The calling out of F-FDTL

52. At about 6 p.m. on 28 April, a meeting was held at the residence of Prime Minister Alkatiri during which the security situation was discussed. The participants were: the Prime Minister; the Minister of the Interior, Rogerio Lobato; the Minister of State Administration, Ana Pessoa; the Minister of Defence, Roque Rodrigues; the Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Colonel Lere; and the PNTL General Commander, Paulo Martins. Accounts of this meeting vary, particularly as to whether the Prime Minister authorized F-FDTL to use force against the petitioners. The result of the meeting was, in short, a decision that F-FDTL would be deployed to assist PNTL to restore order and contain the petitioners. Geographic areas of responsibility of both PNTL and F-FDTL were established. Significantly, the F-FDTL was given responsibility for Taci Tolu.

53. In a report to the President of the National Parliament dated 11 May 2006, Prime Minister Alkatiri styled the decision of this meeting to deploy F-FDTL as one of the “Crisis Cabinet” pursuant to article 20 of Timor-Leste Decree-Law 7/2004 and section 115 (1) (c) of the Constitution of Timor-Leste. The legality of this decision is considered elsewhere in this report. Here it is sufficient to note the following. No orders were given in writing. No formal declaration of the state of crisis was made. During the meeting no contact was made or attempted with the President. Prime Minister Alkatiri telephoned the President the following day. The Minister for Foreign Affairs did not attend. Colonel Lere telephoned the Minister the following morning to inform him of the Prime Minister’s orders, having been too busy to do so on the evening of 28 April.

54. While the nature and basis of the F-FDTL intervention may have changed following the decision of the persons assembled at the residence of the Prime Minister, the Commission is satisfied that F-FDTL was made ready to intervene and did intervene in the events of the day well before this decision was made. Colonel Lere deployed the Military Police to the Government Palace on the instruction of the Prime Minister at about 11 a.m. Regular F-FDTL soldiers were involved in a confrontation with demonstrators and civilians at Rai Kotu at about 5.15 p.m. The two platoons from the 1st Battalion of F-FDTL, ordered to be on stand-by at 10 a.m., arrived in Metinaro from Baucau at about 5.30 p.m., and one platoon was sent immediately to the Military Police headquarters in Caicoli.

55. Both PNTL and F-FDTL patrolled the city of Dili and its outskirts during the night of 28 April into the daylight hours of 29 April 2006. In part, the purpose of these patrols was to control the movement of the petitioners. F-FDTL and PNTL had differing perspectives as to the breadth of this purpose. The PNTL perspective articulated to the Commission was that petitioners were to be arrested and handed to PNTL only if they were moving about, and that no operations to capture petitioners were authorized. On the other hand, F-FDTL soldiers acted under orders that they were to search for petitioners and shoot them if they attempted to escape.

Violence at Taci Tolu

56. Gunfire was heard throughout the night, particularly in the western area of Dili where FFDTL had established positions at Rai Kotu, Taci Tolu and Beduku. Rumours that F-FDTL had massacred 60 people took root on 29 April and grew rapidly thereafter, even to the extent of citing the licence plate number of the F-FDTL truck said to have been used to transport the corpses, either in boxes or a shipping container, from Taci Tolu to Viqueque District on 1 May 2006. The Commission states that this rumour of a massacre perpetrated and subsequently covered up by FFDTL is precisely that: an unfounded rumour not supported by fact.

57. The evidence establishes that in addition to the one civilian killed at Rai Kotu, another two civilians were killed overnight. In addition to the two civilians injured close to Taci Tolu terminal during the afternoon of 28 April, two others sustained gunshot injuries overnight. Numerous civilians, not exclusively petitioners, were arrested and later released. While the Commission recognizes the possibility that several other deaths may have occurred, extensive efforts by a variety of individuals and agencies have failed to find any evidence of a massacre. These efforts have included: an appeal made by the Office of the Provedor on both radio and television for
families with missing persons to come forward; a similar appeal made in leaflets distributed in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps; preliminary investigations made by the Government-established Committee for the Verification of Details about Fatalities and Wounded; and investigations undertaken as part of the mandate of the Commission. Lieutenant Salsinha confirmed that no petitioners are missing. Accordingly, the Commission states that on the basis of all of the evidence before it, no massacre occurred.

The withdrawal of F-FDTL

58. Chief of the Defence Force Brigadier General Ruak had learned of the actions of F-FDTL from an Internet report read while travelling in Indonesia during the late afternoon of 28 April. He decided to return immediately to Timor-Leste. He attended a meeting at the residence of the Prime Minister at about 4 p.m. on 29 April 2006 with all those who had been present at 6 p.m. the day before. A decision was made to withdraw the F-FDTL forces from the city to the outskirts of Dili, but to continue joint Military Police and PNTL patrols within the city. The withdrawal did not take effect on 30 April 2006 as planned, but was achieved by 4 May when F-FDTL forces returned to both Taci Tolu and Metinaro bases, leaving some soldiers stationed at the Military Police headquarters. Joint Military Police and PNTL patrols operated throughout Dili from 30 April to 3 May. These ceased when Major Alfredo Reinado, the Commander of the Military Police, abandoned his post on 3 May 2006.

The departure of Major Reinado.

59. Major Reinado departed with both F-FDTL Military Police officers and UIR PNTL officers during the evening of 3 May 2006. The group took their arms and ammunition and travelled to Ermera District where a meeting was held with the petitioners. The two groups did not merge. That of Major Reinado remained in the area until 8 May 2006, on which date the group relocated to Aileu. The number of members of what became known as “Alfredo’s group” fluctuated over the next few days. The numbers were swelled by URP PNTL members, who joined on 4 May, and by regular F-FDTL soldiers, who joined later. The numbers reduced when 7 of the 11 UIR PNTL officers who had originally left with Major Reinado returned to PNTL on 5 or 6 May following a telephone call from General Commander Martins to one of them threatening dismissal if they did not return to PNTL within 48 hours.

60. Major Reinado told the Commission that he remained loyal to the President as the Supreme Commander of F-FDTL and broke the chain of command because there was no written order
authorizing the use of F-FDTL to control the civilian population on 28 April and subsequently. There is evidence before the Commission that President Gusmão was in contact with Major Reinado following the latter’s desertion. The Commission is satisfied that this contact was no more than an attempt by the President to contain and control Major Reinado. There is no evidence that an armed group of men under the command of Major Reinado carried out criminal actions on the orders or with the authority of the President.

Violence in Gleno on 8 May 2006

61. Several hundred people gathered in Gleno on 8 May to protest the massacre rumoured to have taken place on 28/29 April 2006. Some evidence suggests that the demonstration was part of the 10 District Movement led by Major Agusto Tara de Araujo and designed to boycott Government in the 10 western districts. Major Tara had deserted F-FDTL on 4 May. The PNTL General Commander ordered two armed teams of six UIR officers to accompany the Secretary of State for Region III, Egidio de Jesus, and the Administrator of Ermera District, Saturnino Babo, to Gleno. Upon their arrival, the crowd, which included petitioners, yelled that eastern UIR officers were the enemy and had shot at petitioners at Comoro market on 28 April. The eastern UIR officers were forced to take shelter in the District Administration building. The building was then surrounded by the crowd. Armed with knives, sticks, machetes and rocks, the crowd began to shout death threats against the eastern UIR officers.

62. PNTL Deputy General Commander (Operations) Babo arrived on the order of the Minister of the Interior and with the knowledge of the PNTL General Commander. He was accompanied by a small number of PNTL officers. A negotiating committee was formed. It included ex-FALINTIL Commander Ernesto Fernandes, alias Dudu, and Father Adriano Ola. After a lengthy standoff with the crowd, Deputy Commander Babo disarmed six eastern UIR officers and removed their flak jackets. They were escorted to waiting vehicles. As the cars were leaving the scene two of the disarmed UIR officers either fell or were pulled from one of the vehicles. They were both stabbed by members of the crowd. The PNTL officers who had arrived with Deputy Commander Babo fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd. One UIR officer died and the other was seriously injured. 63. The body of the dead policeman was taken to Dili Hospital, where large numbers of UIR officers and the UIR Commander had gathered. The eastern UIR officers threatened to carry the body of the deceased through the streets of Dili before taking it to General Commander Martin’s house. That evening an eastern PNTL officer made a radio announcement blaming General Commander Martins and Deputy Commander Babo for the death of the UIR officer. Deputy Commander Babo did not return to Dili.

Armed confrontation in Fatu Ahi on 23 May 2006

64. By 22 May both the PNTL and F-FDTL possessed intelligence that PNTL URP officers were encouraging and supporting east versus west violence in the Fatu Ahi area. Plans for a joint F-FDTL and PNTL post were made. At about 11 a.m. on 23 May two vehicles carrying nine FFDTL 1st Battalion soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Falur arrived in Fatu Ahi to rendezvous with PNTL officers. They were to conduct a field site assessment of the planned joint position. The vehicles stopped near the summit of Fatu Ahi. As the soldiers alighted from the vehicles they saw men in police uniforms behind the school and trees. These men were not the PNTL officers expected; they were members of Alfredo’s group.

65. Major Reinado and 11 of his men had arrived in the area from Aileu that morning. They were with civilians and 10 URP officers armed with automatic rifles. At about 9 a.m. two journalists arrived and commenced a videotaped interview with Major Reinado. The start of the armed confrontation is captured on that footage. The shooting was initiated by Major Reinado on the count of 10 after issuing a warning to leave. Lieutenant Colonel Falur ordered the soldiers to return fire.

66. The confrontation at Fatu Ahi lasted until nightfall. Alfredo’s group surrounded the FFDTL soldiers, not all of whom were armed, making it impossible for them to withdraw. Lieutenant Colonel Falur sought reinforcements. A PNTL vehicle with 10 PNTL officers travelling between Baucau and Dili was caught in the fire. One PNTL officer was killed and two were injured. At about midday the first F-FDTL reinforcements arrived, three of whom were injured. At about the same time a F-FDTL bus carrying soldiers to Dili to collect their wages arrived after its passengers heard gunfire. It was attacked about 300 metres to the west of the original ambush site. One of these soldiers died and three were injured. Later, Major Rai Ria arrived with an escort and both were injured. At about 2 p.m. Major Amico arrived from Metinaro with about 10 men. He approached Fatu Ahi from around the hill and obtained a higher position above Major Alfredo and his men. Major Alfredo then withdrew, using a PNTL vehicle which was later returned. Two of Major Reinado’s men and one civilian were killed. In total, five people were killed and 10 injured. Armed confrontation in Taci Tolu/Tibar on 24 and 25 May

67. F-FDTL had observed suspicious movements in the hills of Taci Tolu and Tibar since about 19 May. On the morning of 24 May eight F-FDTL soldiers conducting an observation patrol in the hills were attacked and contained by a group of armed persons from a higher position. This group comprised police officers from Liquiça District, petitioners and armed civilians of the Rai Los group. A second group of F-FDTL soldiers sent from the nearby F-FDTL headquarters was also attacked and contained by the same group. As the fighting intensified, F-FDTL reinforced their positions in the hills by sending a navy vessel into Tibar Bay. The battle lasted until late in the afternoon when fire from the boat forced the attacking group to retreat.

68. On 25 May, the attacking group returned to the hills of Taci Tolu. They fired upon two FFDTL squads sent to patrol the hills. In the meantime, another two F-FDTL squads led by Captain Kaikeri were deployed as reinforcements. The fighting started at around 7 a.m. and lasted until afternoon, although it was not as intense as the previous day. The figures are not certain, but evidence before the Commission suggests that as many as nine people were killed and three suffered firearm injuries a result of this violence.

Attack on the residence of Brigadier General Ruak

69. At about 8 a.m. on 24 May the F-FDTL protection unit stationed at the residence of Brigadier General Ruak observed about 10 PNTL officers, including Deputy Commander Abilio Mesquita, close to the house. All the PNTL officers were armed with Steyr weapons except Mr. Mesquita, who carried an F2000 fully automatic machine gun. Later in the morning the armed PNTL officers were seen even closer to the house. Mr. Mesquita then gave a hand signal which precipitated gunfire from his group directed against the house. The resulting exchange of fire continued until around 5 p.m. At about midday, the F-FDTL protection unit moved to the primary school situated above the house in order to gain a better vantage point. One of the PNTL officers was killed by a soldier about 30 minutes later. The soldiers, who were armed with M16 weapons and rifle-propelled grenades, then came under heavy automatic weapons fire from the east. They responded with heavy fire, including the launching of several grenades, and were reinforced by FFDTL soldiers throughout the day.

70. During the afternoon of 24 May Brigadier General Ruak telephoned Member of Parliament Leandro Isaac, who passed the telephone to Abilio Mesquita. Both Mr. Isaac and Commander Mesquita live near General Ruak. Mr. Isaac was armed with a Steyr weapon and at least three men armed variously with Steyr and FN-FNC semi-automatic weapons were present. The Brigadier General requested that the shooting cease to allow his children to be evacuated from the house. The Ruak children were taken to safety during a ceasefire on the evening of 24 May. The exchange of fire between the PNTL officers under the command of Commander Mesquita and F-FDTL recommenced on the morning of 25 May and continued until about 5 p.m.

Armed confrontation between PNTL and F-FDTL at the PNTL headquarters

71. By the evening of 24 May 2006, any relationship that existed between F-FDTL and PNTL was one of mutual suspicion. Rumours of a planned attack by F-FDTL upon the PNTL headquarters began to circulate. Tip-offs about the impending attack were made by three different people within F-FDTL to three different people within PNTL, apparently as a result of friendships that were stronger than allegiances to F-FDTL. The tip-offs were reported to the PNTL Chief of Operations, the PNTL Dili District Commander, the Minister of the Interior, the Prime Minister and UNPOL. Indeed, one UNPOL officer reported the presence of machine guns on the roof of the former United Nations Peacekeeping Force (PKF) building during the afternoon of 24 May.

72. The PNTL Deputy General Commander (Administration), Lino Saldanha, who had been armed by and was by then operating under F-FDTL command, gave the last tip-off at about 2 a.m. on 25 May. In a telephone call to his administrative assistant, Commander Saldanha warned that FFDTL would be coming to the PNTL headquarters to kill people. He asked specifically whether Chief of Operations de Jesus was present. Commander Saldanha made further telephone calls at about 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., the latter to Chief of Operations de Jesus, instructing all PNTL members to return to the PNTL headquarters.

73. Throughout the night of 24 to 25 May the F-FDTL hierarchy armed in excess of 200 civilians and PNTL officers and moved these civilians and officers to various locations in Dili. This process was organized as a response to the perceived threat posed to F-FDTL by PNTL. At about 1 a.m. 64 PNTL officers who had been armed by F-FDTL in Baucau left to go to Fatu Ahi. They were then sent to Military Police headquarters and from there to guard the water reservoir at Bairro Pite. At about 4 a.m. F-FDTL soldiers were also sent to Bairro Pite with orders to prevent petitioners from entering the city. Other F-FDTL soldiers were sent to the ex-PKF building and told to be ready. By daylight, 84 soldiers were present at this location. This included some troops who had been stationed in Dili well before 25 May.

74. Some time during 25 May the Prime Minister contacted both Brigadier General Ruak and PNTL Chief of Operations de Jesus, then the most senior PNTL officer in Dili, encouraging them to work together. Prime Minister Alkatiri provided the Brigadier General with the telephone number of the Chief of Operations.

75. During the morning of 25 May a convoy of PNTL vehicles passed in front of the Leader store in Comoro. Armed soldiers were present on the street. Two vehicles passed the police cars. The first was a white pick-up truck carrying three men in uniform armed with M16 weapons. The second was a red truck carrying between 15 and 20 armed men, some wearing uniforms and others in civilian clothes. The men from these vehicles and the soldiers on the street fired upon the police vehicles, wounding one PNTL officer in the legs. The police returned fire before returning, at speed, to the PNTL headquarters. The report of the shooting caused panic among the PNTL officers. Some armed themselves and assumed positions around the PNTL compound. Simultaneously, F-FDTL soldiers within the ex-PKF building heard a report that PNTL officers had opened fire upon F-FDTL soldiers in Comoro before decamping, at speed, to their headquarters. While the Commission is satisfied, on the basis of evidence of independent witnesses, that F-FDTL initiated the exchange of fire, at the time each side believed that they had been attacked by the other.

76. A tense hour passed. Then, at about 11 a.m., a red pick-up truck drove towards the PNTL headquarters. PNTL officers who witnessed this suspected that the expected attack would be launched from that truck. One fired a single warning shot. Almost immediately two grenades were fired by F-FDTL from the ex-PKF building. One landed near the university gym and the second exploded on the PNTL building, injuring three officers. PNTL then returned fire and an intense exchange of fire followed.

77. The F-FDTL position articulated to the Commission is that F-FDTL had earlier come under fire from PNTL stationed both at the PNTL headquarters and the Ministry of Justice and, further, that this fire was aimed specifically at the second floor meeting room of the ex-PKF building where Brigadier General Ruak and Colonel Lere had been present since about 8 a.m. The Commission has received no evidence to support this position. To the contrary, on the basis of independent evidence the Commission is satisfied that the exchange of fire was triggered unintentionally by the single warning shot fired by a PNTL officer. The Commission is satisfied further that although there is information which suggests the possibility that F-FDTL were
preparing to launch an attack against the PNTL headquarters, the exchange of fire that commenced at 11 a.m. on 25 May was not the execution of that attack.

78. Upon hearing the shot the initial response of the F-FDTL soldiers was confused and the evidence remains unclear whether that response was spontaneous or carried out under order. Initially all of the F-FDTL fire came from within the ex-PKF building. Later, under order, the FFDTL soldiers also took up positions to the west, south and east of the PNTL building, with a few F-FDTL soldiers also to the north. A group of about six soldiers took up positions at the Ministry of Justice intersection.

79. Five UNPOL officers within the PNTL building had established radio contact with UNPOL officers at Obrigado Barracks at about 11.30 a.m. As a result UNPOL Senior Adviser Saif Malik became aware that the UNPOL officers were trapped, that PNTL officers had been injured and that PNTL wanted to organize a ceasefire, but were unable to contact the F-FDTL commanders. At around 12.30 p.m. Mr. Malik and Colonel Reis, the Chief Military Training Adviser, who had also heard the radio communications, each spoke separately with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. Both men sought and were granted permission to intervene. While the Special Representative of the Secretary-General did not inform Colonel Reis, who was the second in time to speak to him, that permission had already been granted to Mr. Malik, the two men spoke shortly thereafter. Mr. Malik wanted to send UNPOL officers with Colonel Reis to meet with Brigadier General Ruak. Colonel Reis refused, believing that the presence of more police officers wearing blue shirts would aggravate the situation.

80. Colonel Reis, his deputy and another officer departed Obrigado Barracks in a United Nations vehicle with the United Nations flag held from the rear passenger window. Colonel Reis spoke with Brigadier General Ruak in the entrance to the ex-PKF building. The conversation lasted from 5 to 10 minutes, during which the shooting continued. A ceasefire was established. Although Brigadier General Ruak denies that the ceasefire was conditional upon the disarming of PNTL, the Commission is satisfied that the conditions of the ceasefire were that PNTL would be disarmed, the weapons would be taken by the United Nations officers and any PNTL officer who remained behind would be subject to a new attack. The Brigadier General gave his officers the order to cease fire. Colonel Lere sent runners to communicate the order to the soldiers not within earshot.

81. As Colonel Reis was leaving the ex-PKF building, two UNPOL officers arrived in the armoured United Nations vehicle made available to Mr. Malik by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General. These UNPOL officers had been sent to the area by Mr. Malik. The two United Nations vehicles then drove towards the PNTL headquarters arriving at about 1 p.m. Again the United Nations flag was displayed from the car of Colonel Reis. The ceasefire arrangements were explained to Chief of Operations Afonso de Jesus. Colonel Reis stressed that the surrender of arms was voluntary and only disarmed police officers would be allowed to leave. As the process of collecting weapons began, an additional six United Nations vehicles carrying UNPOL officers, including Mr. Malik, arrived. Colonel Reis and Mr. Malik had a heated verbal exchange. As the weapons collection was finalized, the PNTL officers were assembled in columns on the road flanked by United Nations vehicles.

82. A few minutes after the United Nations vehicles entered the PNTL headquarters and after the ceasefire had taken effect, one soldier, Ricardo Ribeiro Bure, was killed near the PNTL perimeter wall from a burst of fire originating from within the PNTL compound. F-FDTL soldier Francisco Amaral appeared at the Ministry of Justice intersection. His uniform was partially soaked in blood. An UNPOL officer asked if he had been injured, and was told that Mr. Amaral’s friend had just been killed by PNTL.

Shooting of PNTL officers

83. Colonel Reis led the PNTL officers on foot from their headquarters towards the Ministry of Justice intersection. He was carrying the United Nations flag. Before leaving the officers were warned to avoid eye contact with the soldiers on the side of the road and were warned not to run. F-FDTL soldiers involved in the shooting have told the Commission that the assembled police were arrogant and singing; however, the Commission accepts contrary evidence that the demeanour of the PNTL officers indicated that they were afraid. A feeble attempt at singing the national anthem quickly died. The same F-FDTL soldiers have told the Commission that they were uncertain if the PNTL officers had actually surrendered because they did not have their hands on their heads, they could have been concealing weapons in their backpacks and they were marching not behind a white flag, but that of the United Nations.

84. The column set off at about 1.45 p.m. Lieutenant Colonel Mann and an UNPOL officer went ahead of the column to speak with the F-FDTL soldiers on the street in an attempt to keep things calm. When most of the policemen had walked through the intersection, one F-FDTL soldier appeared to be agitated and searching for someone among the police officers. The F-FDTL soldiers say that one of the policemen had made a rude hand gesture at them. Mr. Malik attempted to speak with the agitated soldier, but the soldier sidestepped and fired into the policemen. There was then gunfire from three corners of the intersection. The soldiers fired at PNTL officers already on the ground. Evidence before the Commission indicates that at least six F-FDTL soldiers were involved in the shooting. Contrary to persistent rumour, there is no evidence that PNTL officers, including those armed and given uniforms by F-FDTL, were involved in the shooting. The shooting lasted about two or three minutes and involved at least 100 rounds of ammunition. Eight PNTL officers were killed and 27 others suffered serious gunshot injuries.

85. Mr. Malik coordinated the evacuation of the wounded officers to Obrigado Barracks. This destination was chosen because the wounded PNTL officers expressed fear of F-FDTL reprisal if they were taken to the hospital. Colonel Reis and his deputy remonstrated with Brigadier General Ruak, who apologized for the shooting. Three soldiers allegedly responsible for the shooting were paraded before the Brigadier General. Only one admitted to having participated in the shooting and stated that he was upset by the PNTL killing of Bure after the ceasefire had been established.

Burning of the da Silva family home

86. During the morning of 25 May a large group of young men carrying bottles of gasoline and matches assembled in the Bebonuk area of Western Dili. They were heard to say that they were looking for the houses of westerners. Many houses of westerners were pelted with rocks and set ablaze. At about 12.30 p.m. the house of the da Silva family, relatives of the Minister of the Interior, located in the Fomento 1 area, was set alight. The house was surrounded by a high wall. The attackers surrounded the house inside that wall. Neighbours on the outside of the wall spoke to one of the women trapped inside and could hear rocks being thrown at the windows. The trapped woman said that they were surrounded by armed people and unable to get out. Two children who had managed to escape from the house heard those in the crowd say “Lobato is inside”. The Commission has received information that a crowd of people had gathered in front of the house a few days previously and chanted threats against “the family of the Minister of the Interior”. At about 2 p.m. a neighbour used a garden hose to extinguish the flames in the parts of the house still burning. The flames were fully extinguished by 3 p.m. Six people were killed in the fire, including four children under the age of 18.

Violence at Mercado Lama

87. At about 3 p. m. a roadblock was established on the orders of the Military Police on Avendis Bispo de Menderis, about 50 metres south of the roundabout at Mercado Lama. It was manned by Oan Kiak, an ex-FALINTIL soldier, and his men for the purpose of finding and detaining armed PNTL officers. Vehicles were stopped and searched. At about 5 p.m. a vehicle passed at speed. Mr. Kiak and his men opened fire, injuring the priest who was driving. Shortly thereafter, a red Polytron truck approached the roadblock from the north and accelerated, rather than slowed, in front of the roadblock. Mr. Kiak and others opened fire on the vehicle, killing one man and injuring one other.

The role of weapons in the events
Weapons transferred to civilians

88. On 8 May a meeting between the Prime Minister; the Minister of the Interior; and Vicente da Conceicao, aka Rai Los; an ex-FALINTIL soldier and two of his men took place at the residence of the Prime Minister. Ostensibly this meeting was called by the Minister of the Interior to discuss security for the upcoming FRETILIN Party Congress. Accounts of this meeting vary substantially. The only issue upon which the participants agree is that there was no discussion about weapons. Rai Los told the Commission that the Prime Minister had instructed him to “eliminate” petitioners and government opponents, and that he understood the word to mean kill. Former Prime Minister Alkatiri denies using the word “eliminate” and states that Rai Los and his two men had been brought to him by the Minister of the Interior as guides who would assist delegates from the western districts attend the FRETILIN Party Congress on 17 May.

89. The former Prime Minister stated that during the meeting he took the opportunity to discuss with the Minister of the Interior the need for a group of civilians to support the URP PNTL, but that there was no discussion about the provision of weapons or uniforms to such a group. The Commission notes that the manner in which the issue of civilian support to URP was discussed between the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior was highly irregular. Neither before nor after this meeting was the Commander of URP or the General Commander of PNTL ever invited to give their opinion about the need for, or informed about the decision to provide, civilian support to this unit.

90. Also on 8 May 2006 Minister of the Interior Lobato ordered the Commander of UPF, Antonio da Cruz, to deliver 15 HK33 semi-automatic assault rifles to his residence. These weapons were among the 180 HK33 firearms distributed legally to UPF. Eastern members of UPF had been disarmed by Commander da Cruz to make these weapons available. The Minister of the Interior arranged separately for PNTL ammunition to be delivered. He used the weapons to arm two distinct groups of civilians. The first was a group of 31 civilians under the command of Rai Los. The second was a group known as Lima Lima (55) under the command of Antonio Lurdes, aka Antonio 55. The Minister of the Interior told Commander da Cruz to give 10 of the rifles, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and 10 magazines to Rai Los in Liquiça. At about 10 p.m. that night Rai Los met Commander da Cruz in a cemetery to receive the weapons. During the same evening the Chief of Staff of the Minister of the Interior travelled to Ermera and gave the remaining five HK33 rifles and one crate of ammunition to Antonio 55. The Lima Lima group was told to await further instructions. At about 9 p.m. on 21 May Commander da Cruz and Rai Los met at a deserted location, this time near Maubara. On the instructions of the Minister of the Interior, Rai Los received a further eight HK33 weapons and 16 magazines.

91. Minister Lobato did not instruct Rai Los to support URP. Instead, the Rai Los group was sent to various locations, including to Tibar on 23 May. On 22 May the Minister paid US$ 33,000 cash for two vehicles and arranged for the windows to be tinted overnight. The vehicles were delivered to Rai Los along with 31 URP PNTL uniforms on 23 May. On 24 May Rai Los and his men, dressed in these URP uniforms, participated in the attack on the patrolling F-FDTL soldiers. There is no evidence that the Lima Lima group was ever activated by the Minister of the Interior.

92. The PNTL General Commander became aware of the distribution of PNTL HK33 weapons to civilians by the Minister of the Interior on 19 May. On the advice of Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramos-Horta, the General Commander wrote a letter to the Prime Minister outlining the information. General Commander Martins states that this letter was delivered to the secretary to the Prime Minister on 19 May. There is no evidence allowing the Commission to conclude that the Prime Minister ever received this letter.

93. At around 8 p.m. on 21 May a meeting was held at the residence of the Prime Minister. Present were: Prime Minister Alkatiri, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramos-Horta, Minister of Defence Rodrigues, Minister of the Interior Lobato, Chief of the Defence Force Brigadier General Ruak and PNTL General Commander Martins. It is clear that the general issue of weapons distribution was raised by Minister Ramos-Horta. The weight of the evidence before the Commission suggests that Minister of the Interior Lobato stated that weapons from UPF had been brought to Dili as a security measure and no one thereafter pressed the issue. Prime Minister Alkatiri requested an inspection of the armouries of both F-FDTL and PNTL.

94. The Commission has studied carefully the statements made to it concerning the distribution of PNTL weapons to civilians. Although the Commission does not accept that at the meeting on 8 May the former Prime Minister gave instructions to Rai Los to “eliminate” his political opponents, on the basis of all of the information before it the Commission is satisfied that there is a reasonable suspicion that the former Prime Minister at least had knowledge about the distribution of PNTL weapons to civilians. The Commission does not accept the statements made by both the former Prime Minister and the former Minister of the Interior that civilian support to the PNTL was lawful under the terms of the Internal Security Act.

F-FDTL weapons

95. On 17 May the Brigadier General wrote to the Prime Minister requesting an audit of the FFDTL armoury in response to allegations that civilians had been observed carrying F-FDTL weapons. The evidence before the Commission establishes that F-FDTL began to arm civilians on 24 May 2006. This was done on the order of Brigadier General Ruak and with the knowledge of the Minister of Defence. F-FDTL kept some records of the weapons issued to the 206 civilians armed in this way. Lists of names and corresponding serial numbers of weapons were made, but recipients did not sign for weapons. These civilians included ex-FALINTIL fighters and 64 PNTL officers. To facilitate the process, leaders of former clandestine organizations were contacted. Oan Kiak arrived at Metinaro Barracks after receiving a phone call from the Brigadier General to report for duty. He was supplied with a Minimi weapon, 400 rounds of ammunition and a military uniform. On 25 May Mr. Kiak used the weapon during the shooting near the Mercado Lama.

96. Brigadier General Ruak told the Commission that he was aware that there was no specific law allowing for the arming of “reservists”. He stated that he was authorized to do so by the Minister of Defence after he had made the proposal. It was a political decision for which the Minister was responsible. The Brigadier General stated that the decision had been made as a result of a lack of capacity in F-FDTL following the attack in Fatu Ahi on 23 May, the attack on his residence on 24 May and the attack on F-FDTL soldiers in Taci Tolu and Tibar on 24 May. The last incident was characterized by the Brigadier General as an attack on F-FDTL headquarters. On the basis of the evidence before it the Commission is not satisfied that this incident was indeed an attack on the F-FDTL headquarters, as opposed to F-FDTL soldiers, but notes that the Brigadier General was not present during the incident.

Irregular movement of weapons within the security forces

97. PNTL. The Commission notes with concern the absence of systematic control over PNTL weapons and ammunition. The PNTL General Commander removed weapons from the PNTL National Armoury without the knowledge of the armoury officer. On 23 March 60 Steyr weapons and 50 boxes of ammunition were sent to the URP compound at Alieu. On 15 April 10 Steyr weapons and ammunition were sent to the Liquiça police station. Following the 25 May incident he ordered 10 Steyr weapons and ammunition to be stored at Gleno police station. The Commission also notes with concern the selective arming of western PNTL officers under the command of PNTL Dili District Deputy Commander Abilio Mesquita, who conducted weapons training of 10 western PNTL officers from the Dili District Task Force on 11 May. Thereafter, those officers remained under his command and were armed with Steyr weapons. A further 20 western PNTL officers were armed with Steyr weapons by Commander Mesquita on 17 May and thereafter came under his command. This training and arming of western PNTL officers was done with the authority of the PNTL General Commander.

98. A recent weapons audit conducted by an international team has found that 219 PNTL weapons remain outside PNTL custody and control. These weapons comprise 190 Glock 9 mm pistols, 13 Steyr semi-automatic assault rifles, 10 HK33 semi-automatic assault rifles, 2 FN-FNC semi-automatic assault rifles and 4 12-gauge shotguns. While PNTL records identify the last known signatory for the majority of these weapons, the habit of transferring weapons absent of either written orders or documentation about the chain of custody renders it impossible to determine the current whereabouts of these weapons.

99. F-FDTL. The Commission notes with concern the irregularities in the F-FDTL weapons holdings spanning several years. The baseline of 1,200 M16 weapons issued to F-FDTL by the Government is established by 2002 records. The recently conducted international weapons audit established that in February 2004 F-FDTL held 1,230 M16 weapons. The additional 30 weapons were not provided by the Government. By November 2005 the F-FDTL could account for only 1,073 M16 weapons. Although F-FDTL has stated that in 2006 they hold 1,200 M16 weapons, the records reveal that 45 M16 weapons are missing. Additionally, three FN-FNC semi-automatic rifles, three SKS semi-automatic rifles and two Uzi weapons previously within the custody and control of F-FDTL are missing. F-FDTL is also in possession of one Minimi, one .38 Special, one Browning 9 mm, two G3 semi-automatic rifles, one M16 A1 rifle and one M2 .50-calibre firearm, the provenance of which is unexplained. Also unexplained is the pedigree of 342 “ex-FALINTIL weapons” in the possession of F-FDTL.

The impact of the events

100. Significant loss of life, injury and widespread property damage resulted from the events of April and May as examined as part of the mandate of the Commission. At the conclusion of its inquiries, the Commission had information that up to 38 people were killed: 23 civilians, 12 PNTL officers and 3 F-FDTL soldiers. The Commission repeats that there is no evidence of a massacre of 60 people at Taci Tolu having taken place on 28/29 April. The Commission also has information that 69 people suffered injuries: 37 civilians, 23 PNTL officers, 7 F-FDTL soldiers and 2 UNPOL officers. The Commission notes that such figures are difficult to confirm and accepts that there may be discrepancies in the exact numbers. 101. Further, the events and incidents considered in this report had a devastating impact on the community at large. In addition to those killed or injured, approximately 150,000 persons were displaced (some 73,000 persons in IDP camps in and around Dili and a further 78,000 having moved to districts outside Dili). While displacement built up progressively after 28 April, the largest increase in displacement occurred after the events of 25 May. The population of the IDP camps increased by 300 per cent in 24 hours. An estimated 1,650 houses were destroyed in the aftermath of events recounted here, with the majority occurring in late May and early June. The impact not only related to housing, but impeded men, women and children’s enjoyment of a number of their economic and social rights, including to food, education, employment, and the highest attainable standard of health. According to UNICEF surveys, 15 per cent of children in the IDP camps needed immediate treatment for malnutrition; 57 per cent of respondents to a World Food Programme survey reported that they had ceased their primary income or livelihood activity. Shortages of food occurred both in camps and as a result of the pressure on extended family, who were hosting displaced persons outside Dili. In the case of the national medical hospital, access has been impeded by a perception that it is unsafe for western persons to go to the hospital. Freedom of movement has also been restricted. While there has been a well-coordinated humanitarian response, involving collaborative work between Government and the NGO community, and many persons have returned to their employment, the affects of the incidents remain evident in the continued displacement and associated problems.


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Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

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... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.