Subject: ABC: Ramos Horta speaks out against violence in Dili

Also: Clark defends speed of military intervention in East Timor

Australian Broadcasting Corporation



Broadcast: 29/05/2006

Ramos Horta speaks out against violence in Dili

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O'Brien speaks to East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta about the latest violence in Dili.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, EAST TIMOR FOREIGN MINISTER: Right now in the last days or so, the violence has become mostly hooliganism, not organised by any political or military or police faction. The police factions that broke away from the leadership of the minister of interior and went to the mountains, they have all pledged allegiance to President Xanana, meaning they stay under his control. And in cooperation with Australian Defence Force, these police will now gradually return to barracks, they will disarm and in some instances, assist the Australian side in patrolling many of the military who also left their barracks, including majors, well-known Major Alfredo Reinaldo and others have done the same in putting themselves under the responsibility of President Xanana. This means that at least there is control to prevent further violence, further clashes between various factions and that is a positive development. What is necessary now is a political resolution of the current political crisis that involves obviously primarily the PM, in the sense that so many people are wanting the PM to step down.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And what is your position on that?

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Because I'm in the role in trying to talk with everybody, in trying to organise bridges of dialogue between the President himself and the PM, I took the PM last night to see the President and with other individuals, including the church leadership, I prefer at this time not to comment on this, because I believe that the most important issue right now if we try to get the President and the government to work together in order to cooperate with the Australian side, as well as New Zealand and Malaysia troops who are here, to control the security situation in Dili. Once this is completely controlled, then we can move to the next step. The next step is very open-ended dialogue with everyone involved in the dispute. So that we find a final resolution.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you fully supported President Gusmao's initiative to take control under the emergency powers?

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: I fully support President Xanana Gusmao's decision to take upon himself under the constitution the responsibility in coordinating all efforts in regard to security. This does not mean he's usurping, taking over executive powers. No, he has not done that. He has stated clearly he is not dismissing the government. What he has said is that because of the breakdown of the chain of command in the police and because there have been elements of the Defence Force that were also involved in violence with one side or another, and because of the so many weapons distributed to civilians allegedly by the police, but also allegedly by the Defence Force, and because he is the only one with a historical legitimacy and people listen to him, he decide to take control of the security matters in this country. And in the conversations yesterday with the PM, the PM has indicated his agreement to see to the President the powers in regard to coordinating and taking decision, making decisions in regard to security matters. Obviously, in consultation with the PM, because obviously there are many issues that are still related to the competence of the executive branch.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Once stability is restored, it's hard to see how PM Alkatiri could credibly come back, given the way the government nearly collapsed in the face of this crisis?

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Yes, the government at least at the capital level, is barely function. In the district level, 13/12 districts of the country besides Dili, yes, they are functioning. Schools are open, clinics - the police in the district did not disintegrate. They continue to function. The crisis happen only in Dili. Obviously, if things paralyse in Dili, then it is difficult for the rural areas to function properly. But so far, in the midst of the chaos in Dili in the last week or so, the rural areas, the countryside districts, some districts have remained very much calm. In regard to your question whether PM Alkatiri can gain confidence and effectiveness in restoring his own personal authority, well that remains to be seen. We will see in the next few hours or days.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How serious a humanitarian crisis is East Timor now facing?

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Yes, we do have a looming humanitarian crisis and I wish to appeal to our Australian friends, to the Federal Government, to look into delivering some supplies. I wouldn't say that we are at a very critical situation in terms of food supplies in the rural areas, but in Dili in the shelters, we have many tens of thousands of people in shelters. And the sanitary conditions, sanitation conditions in the shelters become very critical. There are some outstanding international NGOs, some outstanding UN agencies here that can assist our authorities in delivering food to the shelters, but also need go to the rural areas, and I think that these urgent right now, particularly in the view of the fact that just now hundreds of tonnes of rice and other supplies have been looted by people.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Jose Ramos-Horta, thank you very much for talking with us.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Thank you, Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Prime Minister hates the idea, but Queensland Liberals and Nationals seem determined to amalgamate in that state, at least, to try to break the stranglehold on Peter Beattie's Labor Government. But it's not only Mr Howard who opposes the merger. National Party members in the Federal Parliament are in upheaval over the whole idea, including those from Queensland. Many believe their political survival lies in carving out a separate identity for Nationals within the coalition. But if the conservative parties go ahead with their plan in Queensland, how will that impact on the wider political scene? Political editor Michael Brissenden reports.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: They've been dancing together for years, and even if sometimes the participants in this political two-step hear different tunes, in Government it's a partnership that for the most part works. Barnaby Joyce notwithstanding. When is maverick a political asset and when is it politically costly? And how much political mileage is there in what is for the most part shades of the same? The question that never seems too far away is how close should this relationship be?

WARREN ENTSCH, QUEENSLAND LIBERAL: I don't have any issues with it at all. I've strongly supported Lawrence Springborg's very sensible push towards a one party, and I think that we have far more in common than what we have that we oppose.

MARK VAILE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: If I wanted to be a Liberal I would have joined and Liberal Party. As I say, we have struck and stuck with the winning formula here in Canberra and we certainly aim to continue to deliver for the people of Australia.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Mark Vaile, the Federal National Party leader, didn't know it was coming. In fact, no-one did much. But over the weekend, news surfaced that the Liberals and Nationals in Queensland had reached what they called an in-principle agreement on a merger. Such is the desperation of the barren paddock of Opposition. The deal brokered in secret over the past two weeks by Bruce Scott, the State National President and Warwick Parer, his Liberal counterpart, has been hailed, by them at least, as an historic opportunity to establish a united conservative party in Queensland. Of course, their target is Peter Beattie. But Queensland is one of the Federal National Party's strongholds as well and it seems they are all quite happy being old Nats.

SENATOR BARNABY JOYCE, QUEENSLAND NATIONAL: I won't be a new Liberal senator. I was elected as a National Party senator, I'm sitting as a National Party senator and I'll continue in that role.

SENATOR RON BOSWELL, QUEENSLAND NATIONAL: If I wanted to join the Liberal Party I would have done it years ago. I've been with the National Party all my political life and I don't want to change now. I think it's a good operation. I think we work brilliantly well with the Liberal Party down here and with having two parties out there, we can get a lot more of that conservative vote than one party would.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The state Nationals in Queensland have clearly come to the view that one conservative voice will be more electorally popular than two. Some of their federal colleagues say privately it might be better if they spent more time working on their policies. With the National Party vote in a continuing decline federally, there aren't too many in Canberra who think amalgamation is the path to salvation. In fact, as Labor will helpful point out whenever it can, part of the problem is a lack of definition.

KELVIN THOMPSON, OPPOSITION HUMAN SERVICES SPOKESMAN: But I think it's something that ought to happen, to be perfectly honest. The National Party has been a subbranch of the Liberal for years and National Party personnel are just Liberals dressed up in gumboots. So I think it's about time they did merge.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The current Federal Government owes a great deal to the split ticket and nowhere more so than in Queensland.

SENATOR RON BOSWELL, (OCTOBER, 2004): Prime Minister, you just have control of the Senate. Congratulations.

SENATOR RON BOSWELL: We would have never achieved a Senate majority in Federal Parliament without a split ticket and it's very hard to run them, it's very hard to do them, but we got a great result.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: There's no doubt in your mind that a new Liberal Party or whatever it was, would cost the coalition votes in the end?

SENATOR RON BOSWELL: I believe the best way that we can harness the most votes is by having two conservative parties that have different philosophies, different ways to go on.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: On the Federal stage, amalgamation with the Libs has been talked about for decades. Most recently, Julian McGauran voted with his feet and performed his own unilateral amalgamation. But there have been others, too, who've elected to discard the old coalition arrangement and in most cases it's backfired.

SIR JOH BJELKE-PETERSON, LIBERAL MP (1987): I have some very good news for you today - the coalition is finished.

REPORTER: In late April, the Queensland Nationals got their wish. The coalition was scrapped.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER (1987): The real culprits, the real wreckers of the federal coalition are Bjelke-Petersen and Sparks.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: No-one knows how damaging this can be more than John Howard. Joh Bjelke-Petersen's ambitions robbed him of any chance of victory in 1987. And now he says he'll only consider any change to coalition arrangements in Queensland on Liberal terms.

JOHN HOWARD: If there is to be a single party in Queensland, then the only basis on which I would accept a single party in Queensland would be the Liberal Party. I'm not in favour of a new conservative party.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The federal Nats think the Queensland proposals are unlikely to get up. Any merger needs to be supported by the Queensland State conference, still two months away. Will they vote themselves out of existence? Some State Nationals believe it's the only path to victory. If there's a swing against Peter Beattie it will come in south-east Queensland and will go to the Liberals. But in Canberra, the Nationals say the future lies in differentiation and it doesn't come much more different than there this. Maverick National Barnaby Joyce and maverick Liberal Bill Heffernan. They obviously don't agree on much, but somehow it works. KERRY O'BRIEN: It may have ended more than 60 years ago, but the echoes of World War II still occasionally reverberate. Last August, the remains of 28 Australian servicemen and an army nurse were finally laid to rest after the wreckage of their crashed aircraft was recovered from the highlands of New Guinea. Now, the remains of more than 30 Japanese aircrew, killed when their aircraft were shot down over Northern Australia, have been identified and laid to rest in the NSW town of Cowra, which has the only official Japanese war cemetery outside Japan. It's a tale of historical detective work, reconciliation and one family's journey of discovery, as Peta Donald reports.

PETA DONALD, REPORTER: At the age of 91, Mitsuko Yamasaki is on her first overseas trip. She's travelled from her home near Hiroshima to the plains of NSW. It's a pilgrimage to the final resting place of her youngest brother, who was lost when the Second World War arrived on Australia's northern doorstep.

MITSUKO YAMASAKI, (TRANSLATION): We didn't know where to find him. We didn't know which mountains, or which regions to look for him. And really, it was very painful, not knowing where he was.

BOB PIPER, AVIATION HISTORIAN: This will be a very special moment when this 91-year-old lady finally sees where her little brother, as she still calls him, lies.

PETA DONALD: It's more than 60 years since Japanese bombers began attacking Darwin in 1942. At least 243 were killed in the first two devastating raids. The vital port would be bombed more than 60 times in the months that followed. War-time newsreel shows Japanese pilots and their crew drinking sake before being waved goodbye. But not all of them would return. Mitsuko Yamazaki's brother was one of them. Kiyoshi Akamatsu was the pilot of this twin-engine bomber shot down in Darwin in November 1942. His family never knew where he was buried, although the remains of all of those shot down ended up in Cowra, buried alongside hundreds killed in a break-out from the Japanese prisoner of war camp. The graves of the airmen were marked unknown.

BOB PIPER: I was by myself at the time and I sort of thought for a while, "Perhaps these names could be found and it's a pretty sad thing that they're sitting over here at Cowra for the last 60 years. The Australians don't know really who they are and neither do the families back in Japan."

PETA DONALD: Former RAAF historian Bob Piper and his wife Masako have spent five years tracing the identities of the airmen. At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra they studied documents collected from the crash sites.

BOB PIPER: Every document that had a personal name written on it was important and valuable.

PETA DONALD: Flight records, maps, diaries and a Japanese bank book were cross-checked with Australian intelligence reports, and then with Japanese military records, with the help of staff from the Japanese embassy in Canberra.

BOB PIPER: I thought initially I could identify a few of the crews, but we never dreamed that we'd get the whole 31. But eventually, of course, we did.

CAPTAIN NARUTO NISHI, JAPANESE DEFENCE ATTACHE: I thought, "We have to replace, we have to replace their name." Because that is a symbol of their life.

PETA DONALD: For Mitsuko Yamazaki, the news of her brother's fate ended six decades of uncertainty.

MITSUKO YAMASAKI (TRANSLATION): I wanted to see him as soon as possible and if there was anything that was left from him, I would like to take it home and show it to my parents.

PETA DONALD: Now, at Cowra's Japanese war cemetery, Mitsuko Yamazaki is paying her final respects, with incense, sake and tears for the younger brother she lost so long ago.

MITSUKO YAMASAKI (TRANSLATION): I am relieved a little. From now on, I like to think about him here and then I like to pray for him.

PETA DONALD: For dignitaries from both countries, the service to finally lay the Japanese aircrew to rest under their own names carries a broader significance.

BRUCE BILLSON, VETERANS AFFAIRS MINISTER: We are acknowledging their role as a significant part of Australia's war history, and we are showing them our respect, the respect that they deserve for paying the ultimate price, for serving their country.

HIDEAKI UEDA, JAPANESE AMBASSADOR: I pray here again today that they may rest in peace, and I again express my thanks to the Australian side for their wonderful and kind effort.

PETA DONALD: To the RSL's national president Bill Crews, it's a symbol of reconciliation.

MAJOR-GENERAL BILL CREWS, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, RSL: We don't want to become total hostages of the past, so while understanding what happened and regretting what happened seriously and respecting the views of those who suffered personally, we must then move on.

PETA DONALD: War widows laid flowers on the graves of the other Japanese airmen. Dawn Ward's late husband Jack, a former President of the Cowra branch of the RSL, is buried nearby. He fought the Japanese in the Second World War, and never visited the Japanese cemetery.

DAWN WARD, COWRA WAR WIDOWS GUILD: I thought, well, you know, my husband's been dead for about 12 years and that's then and this is now and things are moving on and I think it's gone on long enough. 60 years, isn't it - it's a long enough time.

PETA DONALD: Dawn Ward is one who's promised Mitsuko Yamasaki she'll visit her brother's grave after she leaves. Back in Japan, she plans to visit the graves of her parents, with a message about their son buried in a distant land.

MITSUKO YAMAZAKI (TRANSLATION): When I go home, I report to my parents that Kiyoshi is now buried in Australia. I have gone to see him and I saw that he was well looked after. So please don't worry about him.


Clark defends speed of military intervention in East Timor

1.00pm Monday May 29, 2006

Prime Minister Helen Clark has defended the speed of the military intervention in East Timor, against critics who say New Zealand and Australia's slow response has fuelled the violence.

Australia has had about 1300 troops in Dili for the past two days, but has been cautious about moving them from the airport into the city's streets as gangs of youths continue on a rampage of arson and murder.

New Zealand has about 40 troops on the ground. Another 120 are waiting in Townsville and will fly today to Darwin and then on to Dili.

Some Dili locals are blaming the slow response for the continued violence and there are fears that if the unrest continues local support for the military

But Miss Clark today said New Zealand and Australia currently had large deployments of troops and police in the Solomon Islands and had moved as fast as they could.

She said the scale of the violence in East Timor was "unanticipated".

"I think in the circumstances people have reacted as quick as they could have," Miss Clark said on National Radio.

The New Zealand company waiting in Townsville had been pulled together at extremely short notice, meaning they still had vital preparation work to do.

She said the scale of the violence meant New Zealand and Australian troops would probably have to stay in East Timor into next year when fresh elections were scheduled.

But it was not yet known how many troops would have to stay, or whether other countries would join the multi-national force.

Miss Clark said the $500,000 urgent aid granted to East Timor at the weekend would go towards meeting the food, water and sanitation needs of the tens of thousands of Timorese driven out of their homes.


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