Subject: TLGOV: Briefing and updates from April 28, 29


Briefing by Senior Minister J Ramos-Horta to the Diplomatic and International Organization on the Current Situation Time: 12h00, 29/Abril/2006, MNEC’s Library

· Lieutenant Salsinha had lost control of the demonstrator some 3-2days back;

· Not more than 200 ex F-FDTL were present at the site when the demonstrators broke the police line;

· Mr. Salsinha was visibly shacking when met with SM on Thursday. He knew he was out of the control and on Friday he was denied to talk to the demonstrators at the site;

· In talk with H.E. PM Mr. Salsinha assured to H.E. PM that he and his group will abide by any recommendation and decision of the Commission;

· Mr. Salsinha and his group have problems that were not solve in time, accumulated grivenses at the same time they were not experience in demonstrations thus they were not able to take control of the situation;

· No evidence that any political party involved;

· Those who were able to hick jack were from Colimau-2000 group thus ex-soldiers lost control of the situation:

· DR. Ramos-Horta accompanied Mr. Salsinha and his group to talk to Bishop whom was absolutely constructive. Bishop Ricardo did not support their demand to dismiss the government;

· The ex-soldiers have genuine complaints;

· Like Mr. Salsinha, Col. Lere also pledged to abide by the outcome of the Commission’s recommendations and decisions;

· Irresponsible press report, namely the Lusa journalist, Mr. Robao. JRH was shocked at the irresponsibility reporting:

· Damage done to the image of Timor-Leste is considerable however need to put some perspective. The incident/lootings caused some death, at least 2, and considerable material damages;

· The government/H.E. Prime Minister will look into to how to compensate those people who suffered lost;

Mr. Paulo Martins (given account of the days leading to the incident).

· On 26th/4 a small incident took place inside the demonstration site, damaging kiosk, etc. In the view of the incident, it was ordered that nobody should move in to the site while allowing demonstration to leave the site;

· On 28th/4 Friday, a group of people wanting to enter the site of the demonstration, coming from Lecidere. The group only entered the site when a petitioner named Florindo assured the Police Commissioner that the demonstrators will be under control. Meanwhile police at the site, advise some bystanders to leave the site. Mr. Florindo assured that he could distinguish the petitioners. Commissioner further said that on Sunday 23rd he appeared on TV assuring control over the demonstrators. Based on that Police Commissioner allowed the youths to move into the site of the demonstration;

· Around noon, the Police Commissioner lost contact with Mr. Florindo while was advised by the field officers that the demonstrators were counting down time to move away from the demonstration site;

· Police were instructed not to retrieve or move back. However officers retrieved the site when they suspected that among the demonstrators there were grenades and weapons. The demonstrators were very aggressive on the other hand;

· The demonstrators broke the line moments later. When Commissioner Martins arrived at the Government Palace, vandalism had already moved to the west site of the building. He himself saw a motorbike torched and was retrieve because of the aggressiveness of the crowd;

· Police did not fire their weapons not fire the tear gas earlier because Dr. Ramos-Horta kept reminding about respecting human rights;

· The vandalism seemed to be well planed because at the same time, Taibessi and Taci-Tolu market were torched;

· On their way to Taci Tolu the demonstrators were stopped by some youth in Comoro and people at Comoro Market. The petitioners march back in the direction of Taci-Tolu having the youth marching ahead of them. They dispersed before arriving at their meeting point in Taci-Tolu;

· Damages: 34 injured (32 civilians, 2 police officers); 2 death but not know the cause of their death yet;

· Civilian Seeking refuge: Dili airport total around 600 (400 in the area of tarmack, 400 next to a post). Becora number unknown; Police Academy: around 1,000; a number fled to the hills.

· Situation is returning to normal.

Col. Lere:

· Was called by H.E. PM to see how F-FDTl contribution, to assist PNTL;

· Beginning was joint patrol but had problem of command chain. Thus decided to split area of operation. Rai-Kotu west for F-FDTL, east Rai-Kotu PNTL control. Mission task was defined which was to detain individuals that have caused damages;

· Around 13h00 Col. Lere and a unit of Military Police when to collect Minister Roque at the airport to his office and later to his residence in Lahane;

· On the way, they were pelted and insulted. Provocations were directed to them. Despite of that, they behave well;

· In the afternoon, 4 officers of F-FDTL were ambushed near Rai-Kotu. Firefight took placed and may have resulted in 3-4 casualties. Grenades were thrown at the moving car and shoots were fire;

· Col. Lere order his man not to kill but in any danger target the lower part of the body;

· Around 1 Company of f-FDTL are involved in the operation;

· Some rioters were able to escape the military line in Rai-Kotu;

· F-FDTL are in control of Rai-Kotu road, Lahane and Fatu Ahi. Order not to leave any member of the government or member of the parliament to leave the city. Reasons: responsibility and meeting if necessary;

· Detentions were made during the afternoon and the night throughout the morning. Numbering around 25 in total;

A number of questions were raised by the Ambassadors such as part of the city which is safe and part which is not. Would like to know when the intervention of F-FDTL finishes. Share with those presents’ people whom sought refugee in their compounds (Indonesia, NZ, USA). Request police to guard pertamina and Complained about Timor-Telecom being unreliable, among others.

Important Highlights by Dr. Ramos-Horta

· Commission of Investigation will be nominated, hopefully, Tuesday 2/May;

· Will continue to talk to the petitioners;

· More police patrol will be provided to the Embassies site;

· Most likely all area of operation will be handed over back to PNTL;

· Will ask government to review contract with Timor Telecom;

· Government will do its best to assist the population;

· Timor-Leste will obey Human Rights but not to the standard of Iceland, Norway, etc. Need to understand the constraints of the Police






28 April 2006

For immediate release


As it is now known, yesterday, Thursday, April 27, Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, with the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão, and Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. José Ramos-Horta, at his side announced the establishement of an Investigation Commission to look at the allegations contained in the petition of the ex- FDTL members.

Previously Foreign Affairs Minister Ramos-Horta held several conversations with the leader of the ex-FDTL members, Mr Gastão Salsinha, who had made the commitment that his group would welcome the establishment of the Commission and would disband and wait to be called by the Commission.

Mr Salsinha, also in conversations with Dr Ramos-Horta, had pledged he and his group would accept the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission.

Subsequently, Colonel Lere, Chief of Staff of the FDTL, in talks with Dr Ramos-Horta, also assured that FDTL would agree to abide by the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations.

The Prime Minister spoke by telephone with General Taur Matan Ruak and the Minister for Defence, Roque Rodrigues, who were then both outside the country in official duties, and both expressed the same commitment to abide by the Commission’s findings.

The Government has appointed Senior Minister and Minister of State Administration, Dr Ana Pessoa, and Vice-Minister for the Interior, Alcino Barris, as its representatives to serve in the Investigation Commission. H.E. President Xanana Gusmão is expected to nominate his representatives, as well as are the National Parliament and the Judiciary. Prime Minister Alkatiri has asked the Bishops of Dili and Baucau as well as the NGO Forum to nominate elements to act as advisors/observers.

It is expected that the Investigation Commission may be able to start its work as soon as Tuesday, May 02, 2006. Even though they have been given three months to complete the process, the Prime Minister has asked for the Commission to make its best endeavors to complete the investigation and present its conclusions and recommendations in one month.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ramos-Horta also met yesterday, Thursday, April 27, with the Bishop of Dili, Dom Ricardo Silva, whom he briefed about the situation.

On the same day at 3pm, Dr Ramos-Horta accompanied Mr Salsinha to a meeting with the Prime Minister. The meeting was cordial and Dr Mari Alkatiri explained to the leader of the ex-FDTL members that he is strongly committed to investigate the truth of the allegations and will do everything in his power to eliminate discrimination in the army, if it is proven to exist.

Both Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister repeatedly stressed to Mr Salsinha that it would be unreasonable to expect any decision on the part of the Government before the conclusion of the Commission’s work.

Furthermore, Foreign Affairs Minister Ramos-Horta volunteered to speak for as many hours as necessary with the demonstrating ex-FDTL members to explain to all the substance of the Commission.

Both Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister appealed to the demonstrators to vacate the street as it had become a health hazard after several days without basic sanitary facilities.

The Government has suggested they move to Democracy Square where it would provide tents, sanitary facilities and water for the demonstrators, although the preferred option is that the demonstration ends while waiting for the Commission’s results.

Then, around 2pm this afternoon, Friday, April 28, 2006, a group of youths went on a rampage directed at Palácio do Governo.

Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta immediately after the riot in front of Palácio do Governo which lasted around an hour, toured most of the city in particular the most affect areas, namely Taci Tolu and Taibessi areas.

He personally saw the scale of the damage to several dozen poor street vendors’stalls.

There has been considerable damage done to private property all of which in poor neighbourhoods. The vandals tried also to attack Comoro market but were chased away by vendors who were prepared for such an eventuality.

The incidents in Taci Tolu area lasted until about 4pm.

Most of the disaffected soldiers were not involved in the riots. In fact some of them tried to calm down the youths.

The youths were opportunist elements linked to Osório Leki, the notorious gang leader of Colimau Dua Ribuh which pretends to pass for a ‘political party’. He is now in hiding.

As of this hour (18.30 Dili time) no foreign nationals or foreign property had been attacked. There was only stone throwing at BNU (Banco Nacional Ultramarino) without serious damage.

Four cars and at least two motorbikes parked outside Palacio do Governo were torched by the rioters early in the afternoon.

In all, looking down from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs headquarters, around 200 youths took part at various stages of the riot at Palacio do Governo building.

At about 3pm the rioters began to move west of Dili. By then their ranks swelled by an extra few hundred but never more than one thousand, including the disaffected soldiers.

The disaffected soldiers left the demonstration area and peacefully marched towards Taci Tolu. Fearing reprisal they have split into several groups.

Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta spoke to some of them whom he encountered along his tour of the affected areas.They were distressed at how their peaceful demonstration had been hijacked by hooligans with a different agenda.

While the Government will continue to search for a solution to the issue and will continue to support individual’s democratic right to free assembly and speech, it will do its duty to prevent and punish any individual who incites hatred and violence, and causes disruption and disorder to normal life.

The Government assures the foreign diplomatic corps, foreigners and the public in general that Timor-Leste’s law enforcement agencies will continue to observe the utmost restraint and at the same time remain vigilant and in readiness to ensure the safety of diplomats, their relatives and staff, as well as all residing or visiting foreigners, and the population in general. 

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