Subject: News from East Timor/ 6 Feb 2001

Bahasa Indonesia headlines ­ Tues 6 February 2001

  1. 1,700 Falintil Members Return Home
  2. Youths Protesting Against Violence Urge UNTAET and CNRT To Take Action
  3. There Needs To Be A Comprehensive View On Violence
  4. Timor Lorosae Without Violence

1. 1,700 Falintil Members Return Home (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page lead)

Aileu ­ About 1,700 Falintil members who did not pass the test [to enter the National Defense Force] have begun to return home. Their return home was marked by a ceremony at the National Defense Force Command here, yesterday.

Officiating at the Falintil “discharge” ceremony was the NDF Commander Brigadier- General Taur Matan Ruak and his Deputy Commander Lere Anan Timur. Also present were the Commanders from Region 1 to Region 5.

According to the Commander of Region III, Falur Rate Laek, before the 1,700 were officially discharged they were given direct aid from the IOM (International Organisation for Migration), FRAP (Falintil Reinsertion and Assistance Program) and the World Food Program. This aid was in the form of 5 litres of cooking oil, a box of canned food and a sack of rice for each discharged Falintil member. In addition to that, according to Falur, they received USD100 each.

Falur said, the discharged Falintil members and their families would also receive living allowances till June.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Region 4 Command, Riak Leman said no decision had yet been made, by Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak on the Falintil veterans.

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2. Youths Protesting Against Violence Urge UNTAET and CNRT To Take Action (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)

Hundreds of youths protesting against violence converged on to the UNTAET headquarters yesterday. The youths, from the various suburbs in Dili, urged the Transitional Administration and UNTAET to address the escalating violence which was seriously affecting the daily lives of ordinary people.

The youths, also expressed strong concern, that the violence if left unchecked could seriously cause splits in society ­ thus breaking down national unity.

The youths wanted more serious attention from UNTAET and CNRT over the escalating violence.

“We are not asking for anything that would cost lots of money. All we are asking is for the (transitional) administration to be tough on those who cause violence,” yelled the youths in front of the UNTAET headquarters.

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3. There Needs To Be A Comprehensive View On Violence (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page third lead)

There is an opinion that there are two aspects to the current level of violence in the country. First there is the psychological aspect. Secondly is the aspect from the economic and political perspectives.

From the psychological aspect, the level of violence has been due to the fact that youths had been in the clandestine movement for too long and exposed to violent army commando-like behaviour.

From the economic and political perspectives, many youths felt disoriented after the popular consultation process ­ now having to live in an open and free political environment after operating clandestinely for many years.

This was stated yesterday by the Director of the Sahe Institute for Liberation, Aderito de Jesus Soares.

Aderito said youths are currently being ignored by the (transitional) administration and this was a contributory factor to the level of violence in the capital.

“Before the referendum many of the youths were in the clandestine movement. Now after the referendum they feel lost. What’s worse is that the powers-that-be seem to ignore them for their previous contribution,” said Aderito. Because of this, he said, many of them feel they do not have a future in the country.

“The problem is not solved by the GNR issuing them warnings or chasing them through the streets,” he said.

Aderito said that steps must be taken urgently to set up youth training centers.

“The youth-training centers can be for agricultural training, carpentry and motor mechanics. They must be equipped with suitable skills to enable them to find jobs,” he stressed. Otherwise, he said, they would continue to feel marginalised and only express themselves through violence.

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4. Timor Lorosae Without Violence (Suara Timor Lorosae, editorial Page 5)

“For certain, we cannot close our eyes to the violence that is happening here. There are several factors for it:

a) The sense of frustration because of the high rate of unemployment. At a staggering 80 per cent, there is no doubt that many young people feel sensitive and emotional. This problem is further exacerbated and complicated by the fact that many unemployed are making their way to Dili hoping to try their luck here. Also the huge rise in prices has made the people feel negative towards the economy.

b) The political crystallization among the elite who only want to tackle specific issues thus marginalizing the grassroots. This contributes to a negative feeling towards the political process.

c) The lack of patience for East Timor’s future, which seems to take forever. The transition process is actually going on track but because of poor communication to the public especially in Dili, many are in the dark and feel left out.

Whether we like it or not, we have to travel this road in order to reach independence. There is no short cut to a free, just and independent Timor Lorosae.

But we urge the Transitional Administration and also the Church to be more sympathetic to the people. There has to be a social safety net, especially for the youths and the students.

What is worrying is that if the violence continues on in Dili and spreads to other parts of the country, we might be seeing a return of the violent culture of gangsters ­ so prevalent during the time of the Indonesian regime.”

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