|Subject: News from East Timor Press 8 Feb
Bahasa Indonesia headlines Thursday, 8 February 2001
1. Relations Between Timor Lorosae Indonesia Church No Longer Warm (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page top box)
The separation of East Timor from the Indonesian republic has influenced relations between the Catholic Churches in both countries. Despite that, however, Catholics in both countries are praying for one another in the name of peace.
This was said by the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Ximenes Belo, when interviewed by STL last Friday.
According to Bishop Belo, the relations between both Churches became tense after East Timor’s political status changed, when the majority of East Timorese rejected autonomy with Indonesia in the 30 August 1999 popular consultation.
“We had received many invitations from the Catholic Church in Indonesia to attend events there. But we could not ‘fulfil’ those invitations because our political situation, here, was still being decided,” said Bishop Belo.
But Bishop Belo said the relations between churches in the Timor hinterland, of late, has been warm and there has been cooperation in humanitarian issues and the problem of refugees.
Both Churches in the Timor hinterland have cooperated, for instance, in the Dare talks on 5 January, to find solutions in getting the refugees (in West Timor) to return home.
2. Joao Tavares’ Henchman At The Dili District Court (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)
A henchman for the former Commander of the PPT (Warriors of Timor Timur), Joao da Silva Tavares, with the initials AAT was brought to the Dili District Court yesterday. AAT, from the Halilintar militia group, is accused of committing crimes against humanity in East Timor during the September 1999 violence.
Meanwhile two other militia members with the initials, LZ (from the Saka Loromonu Balibo militia group) and LA (from the Mahidi militia group) were released yesterday for lack of evidence in charges that they were involved in crimes against humanity.
The two cases were dropped based on an application from the Public Prosecutor for Serious Crimes to the Investigating Judge. The Public Prosecutor’s application said there was lack of evidence to charge the two for crimes against humanity.
Investigating Judge for Serious Crimes, Alexandre Cortereal, in reading out the charges against AAT said he was suspected of having attacked residents in Memo in Maliana district. Also, he was accused of kidnapping and committing murder in Memo on 27 August 1999.
3. Cancio Ready To Be Tried In Dili (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)
Former commander of the Mahidi militia, Cancio Lopez Carvalho said he was ready to be tried in Dili, on condition that the East Timorese people were willing to allow him back into the country. Specifically, he referred to the people of his birthplace, Ainaro.
Cancio’s readiness to be tried in a court of law was made known to UNTAET’s Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran. Parameswaran told journalists that he had made three trips to Kupang to meet Cancio, Nemecio Lopes Carvalho, Joanico Secario Belo and Domingos.
The four former militia commanders, without the knowledge of the Indonesians, sent a letter to UNTAET expressing concern for their personal safety and requesting protection. When they were in Indonesia, the former militia leaders were threatened by “forces connected to the militias” who were afraid they might be implicated in crimes against humanity in East Timor.
“After the Atambua incident where three UNHCR staffers were killed, I made three trips to Kupang. There I met Cancio and the others. I have been to Ainaro to discuss with the people there on Cancio and his friends’ plans to return. They (Ainoro people) have agreed to have Cancio and his friends back. Now, we are working on the reconciliation process,” said Parameswaran.
Though the people of Ainaro have agreed for them to come back, the due process of law, however, will still apply.
“For those who have been convicted of crimes, they will face the law. Even Cancio himself is ready to face the courts, provided the people in his village accept him back,” said Parameswaran.
4. Mariano Lopes: Bishop Belo’s Call For Timor Gap Watch Positive (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page third lead)
The Inspector-General of the Transitional Administration, Mariano Jose Lopes, said Bishop Belo’s call for the setting of an independent Timor Gap Watch was a positive move.
“I value Bishop Belo’s call as a positive one. However, I have to ask who will set up the body. Is it going to be the administration or the private sector?” asked Mariano.
The Inspector-General also said, the proposed Timor Gap Watch cannot be multifunctional. It has to only concentrate on the Timor Gap, he said.
Mariano said Bishop Belo’s proposal had to be implemented to protect the country’s valuable natural resource. He said if there is uncontrolled exploitation, without any accountability, of the country resources, the Timorese people will fail to realize any benefits.
“If there is a body like the Timor Gap Watch, I agree East Timor will be a rich country. If not, we will be like Africa which is rich in oil resources but poor because their leaders are corrupt,” he said.
5. UN Orders The Arrest Of General Yunus Yosfiah (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page fourth lead)
The peace of former Indonesian Information Minister General Yunus Yosfiah has now been disrupted after the publication of a news story in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday.
According to the Herald story, the UN has issued a warrant for the arrest of Yunus and two East Timorese in connection with the murders of five foreign newsmen in Balibo in 1975.
Yunus himself told STL that his peace had been disrupted. Since the news was published, every day and night, his personal phone has not stopped ringing.
“On Saturday when the report was carried (by the Sydney Morning Herald), my phone was ringing almost every minute,” said Yunus when contacted by STL in his house in the Permata Arcamanik area in Bandung (Indonesia).
“The questions have all been the same. Was I ready to be arrested and what was my connection with the Balibo 5,” he said.
“My friends all sympathize with me,” said the former commander of Bukit Barisan.
“I have been clear on what I have done in the field and what I cannot do. I have never seen those journalists in my life. I am a religious person,” said Yunus.
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