|Subject: East Timor press
1. Udayana Commander to send letter to FDTL Commander
1. Udayana Commander To Send Letter To FDTL Commander (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)
District Commander of the Udayana Command TNI General Willem da Costa gave assurances that he will immediately send a letter to the Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak, the Commander of the Timor Lorosae Defense Forces (FDTL).
General Willem made this promise when he met journalists in Kupang, West Timor, when he was questioned on his efforts to get the East Timorese refugees, still in Atambua, back home.
General Willem said he wanted to establish contact with Taur in order to facilitate the return of the refugees.
General Willem admitted that before the 1999 popular consultation, Taur Matan Ruak was “his enemy”. But he clarified matters.
“Now things have changed and we have to live with new realities,” added the TNI general.
General Willem said that in the letter he would request Taur Matan Ruak to give an assurance that his former East Timorese soldiers, who are now refugees, would not be harmed if they were to return back home.
“If they are harmed, I guarantee that I will lodge a protest,” said General Willem.
“All forms of discrimination against the refugees should be eliminated. Timor Lorosae belongs to all Timorese citizens. Independence also belongs to all Timorese, though their political backgrounds might be different,” said General Willem.
“I am confident Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak will honor my requests in the letter,” added General Willem.
2. Oecussi Is Not Timor Lorosae’s Step-Child (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)
CNRT/CN President Xanana Gusmao said when he visited Oecussi recently that Timor Lorosae would not be a complete country without the people from the enclave.
But lately, there have been indications that the Oecussi people feel left out from Timor Lorsae. There is currently a rumor circulating in the enclave that it is the district with the most number of pro-autonomy people.
But that was rebutted by UNTAET Public Information Officer, Dexter Wilburg, in a UNTAET press conference yesterday.
“As an UNTAET PIO, I disagree with the claims that Oecussi has the largest number of pro-autonomy people. We are not like that and wer are not the step-child of this country. The people of Oecussi are the people of Timor Lorosae. We are Timor Lorsae nationalists,” said Dexter to journalists from STL, Timor Post, RTK and Radio Falintil.
“It’s basically because of Oecussi’s isolation that such things have come up. It’s transportation and the lack of information that cuts Oecussi off from the rest of Timor Lorosae. That’s why Oecussi people feel cut off from their brothers and sisters in other parts of Timor Lorosae,” added Dexter.
3. International Court Must Be Established In Timor Lorosae As Fast As Possible (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page third lead)
In order to achieve some progress on cases involving crimes against humanity committed during the period leading up to the 1999 popular consultation and the time after that, an international court should be convened as fast as possible in East Timor.
Cancio Xavier from the Public Defender’s Office said this yesterday in an interview with STL at the Dili District Court.
Cancio said the present cases tried in the Dili District Court, with international judges and an international prosecutor, had their flaws.
“The serious crimes cases are not being heard in an effective manner,” said Cancio.
“We all know that the cases being heard right now just involve the ‘small fry’, while the ‘bigger’ culprits are roaming free in Indonesia,” explained Cancio.
Commenting on Xanana’s Gusmao comments in Columbia University, New York, last week that an international was not the priority of the Timorese people, Cancio said that statement was made in the name of the people.
“But as a lawyer, surely my views will be different from Xanana’s,” explained Cancio. So I hope that, very soon, we could have an international court sitting in Timor Lorosae,” he added.
Cancio said there will be optimism if an international court is convened in Timor Lorosae.
“The main actors, involved in the 1999 crimes against humanity, can then be tried in Timor Lorosae and the United Nations will have the right to subpoena them to appear in court,” he said.
But if an international court is not convened, Cancio said, UNTAET must sincerely make effective the memorandum of understanding which was signed with Indonesia to extradite the main suspects in order for them to be brought before a special hearing, with a panel of judges, in Timor Lorosae.
4. Political Parties Discuss Voter Registration (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page side-bar)
Transitional Cabinet officials today will meet all political part leaders to discuss electoral procedures and the process for registering voters.
UNTAET spokesperson Barbara Reis said this yesterday at a press conference. According to Barbara, the meeting will be closed to the press but the results will be made available to the media on April 20.
Meanwhile Barbara also briefed the media on UNTAET’s Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran’s four-day visit to West Timor. In the visit, said Barbara, Parameswaran will visit camps in Atambua and also have dialogues with Atambua Bishop Mgr Anton Pain Ratu.
Barbara said detailed information will be available to the press when Parameswaran returns from West Timor.
In other matters, Barbara said ETTA’s Minister for the Economy Mari Alkatari will return soon to East Timor together with Minister for Political Affairs and the Timor Sea Peter Galbraith. Both, Barbara said, were on a working trip to Australia, to discuss the issue of Timor Lorosae’s maritime boundary with Australia.
Barbara said the two would jointly call a press conference for local and foreign journalists this Thursday.
5. Manuel Carrascalao, You Have Important Tasks Ahead Of You (Suara Timor Lorosae editorial, Page 5)
The National Council now has a new leader who was elected democratically on Monday. Manuel Viegas Carrascalao was elected to be NC president replacing Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao who resigned from the NC on 29 March.
The former member of the East Timor People’s Assembly, during the rule of Indonesia, was elected NC President beating his rival Jose Ramos Horta who was nominated by UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello to replace Xanana.
The National Council is a creation of UNTAET. Although the members do not represent the people fully, however, it can be said they fulfil the requirements to speak on behalf of the people.
The National Council must work harmoniously with UNTAET and ETTA because only then will the political transition be completed.
Because of these, Manuel Carrascalao has big challenges ahead of him. Under the leadership of Manuel, the NC has to be more creative and proactive with new ideas so that this country moves forward. It’s no use having NC members who are only good at criticizing. We need action to overcome the problems of Timor Lorosae.
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