Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review 21-23 October 2006

[Poster's note: International and other articles already sent out to the east-timor list (info@etan.org) have been removed from below.]

UNMIT

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste

Public Information Unit

Daily Media Review

Saturday 21 & Monday 23 October 2006

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNMIT Public Information Office

National Media Reports

Fretilin Not Pleased With Report

Fretilin’s Central Committee is not happy with the results of the COI report, which it says failed to identify the causes of the problem, failed to provide concrete facts regarding the leaders or their interference in the problem, failed to mention meetings that took place in various venues, and failed to question the legality or illegality of some political parties that contributed to the conspiracy or coup d’etat. These were the declarations made by the Vice-Secretary General of Fretilin Jose Reis and Manuel Fernandes, Secretary of State for youth and Sport during a press conference held on Friday. Reis said Fretilin would like to speed up the inquiry process in accordance with the RDTL Constitution. He rejected demands for an extraordinary congress by Fretilin for Changes saying there is not enough evidence to establish a judicial process on the accusations against Mari Alkatiri and Rogério Lobato. The Deputy Secretary-General of Fretilin said his party would not hold another congress and is open for dialogue with all people including the Group for Changes.

Former Prime Minister Alkatiri told the media Friday that although the COI report is not complete it is a way of carrying the work forward, adding that the Commissioners might have not had enough time to do their work and noting that the report only focuses on the facts and does not analyse or point out the main causes that led to the crisis. Alkatiri said the report reflects the general context of institutions in Timor-Leste saying they are still weak. He added that the document focuses on the country’s previous history of conflict between 1974-1975 but omits some events between January, April and May of this year. He appeals to the State, the President of the Republic, National Parliament, Government and the Court for further investigation, since the report is not complete. Alkatiri stressed that as former Prime Minister he is responsible but said he would defend himself in court.

Deputy Prosecutor General, Ivo Valente said the Timorese prosecutors would not be involved in the investigation as per the COI report recommendations in order to give credibility to the judicial system and to avoid being accused of siding with A, B or C. Valente said these measures were a step to better the judicial sector and bring an image of trust to the system in Timor-Leste. (TP, STL)

Recent Violence Result Of Collective Trauma

Speaking during a seminar to commemorate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two sons of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Ramos-Horta said the recent conflict is a result of 24 years of war describing it as collective trauma rather than the result of increased poverty. Ramos-Horta said some experts argue that high unemployment and poverty led to the conflict but he classifies it as a build-up of trauma following many years in which the people had to live through war. He also acknowledges that weak government institutions are factors that contributed to the recent violence, adding that dialogue is required to overcome the problem. He said the government is conducting the ‘simu malu’ program in the neighbourhoods, he praised the work of civil society in bringing peace to the communities, and he appealed to those in power not to politicise or use state institutions for their political interest. (TP, STL)

Timor Culture of Violence, Not Peace

Bishop Belo, one of the main speakers at Saturday’s Nobel Peace Prize seminar said he has done a study on conflict and peace in Timor-Leste since the 17th century. And the conclusion is that Timor does not have a culture of peace but of conflict. The Bishop said he has not yet written a book but the result and his own analysis is that since the 17th century Timor has not had peace, the country has been in constant war from east to west, between families, against Holland, Portugal, Australia and Japan. He stressed that the people of Timor-Leste must work hard to substitute violence with a culture of tolerance, peace and mutual respect and that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be multiplied and distributed to the youth to study in order for them to have the courage to put it into practice. Following his arrival in Dili last week, Bishop Belo visited the IDPs camps in Comoro and Tibar. (TP, STL)

Peace Must Be Acknowledged: SRSG Reske-Nielsen

Acting SRSG Finn Reske-Nielsen said each person in Timor-Leste must acknowledge peace within themselves, their neighbourhoods and within the whole society in order not to lose the value of the independence achieved following a long struggle. The Acting SRSG delivered these words during the seminar with the theme, “Peace in our Heart, Peace in Our Country and Peace in the World,” on Saturday in Hotel Timor, Dili. He said although the Timorese people have achieved their independence, the people in Dili are still not experiencing their freedom and peace in their lives today. He further said that the United Nations wants to help the Timorese people to move forward, stressing there is a lot of work that needs to be done like the elections in 2007. The Acting SRSG also said he is happy the leaders have received the COI report with serenity. (STL, TP)

Editorial TP: Independence Of Tribunal

Today’s editorial focuses on the independence of the court, a challenge faced by Timor-Leste’s court. According to an evaluation by the COI, the court of Timor-Leste would have difficulties to process those responsible for the crisis in April and May in a sincere, just and impartial manner due to the lack of human resources, independence of the court, and political interference. Ralph Zacklin, one of the Commissioners, said the system is still weak due to the lack of trained staff. The editorial said there are some weaknesses like the need for more human resources and other resources to support the work in the judicial system, pointing out that effort have been made to recruit international prosecutors and judges to support the justice system and to provide training for the Timorese to heighten their capacity. The COI report has brought more doubts about the independence of the courts for an already skeptical people who think that the involvement ex-patriots to help the judicial sector has contributed to its weakness. Since the Timorese still cannot be in charge of their development, the judiciary is not helping much. Will the Timorese judiciary system be independent and free from political intervention and gain the trust of the people? One must wait and see. (TP)

Violence Left One Person Injured

According to Timor Post the situation in the capital Dili has been quiet following the release of the COI report, however, on Sunday there was a different situation with spontaneous fighting between unknown groups in the area of Ai Mutin, Mercado Comoro, Comoro roundabout, Bidau and Jardim Colmera. The worst impact was at the Comoro roundabout where a group of unknown people attacked a motorist who stopped to speak to them but was faced with knives and a machete. He managed to flee the area but his motorcycle was set on fire. According to Timor Post the group of people who attacked the motorist fled into Comoro refugee camps as soon as the friends of the injured youth arrived in the vicinity of the attack. In another incident, some unknown group started attacking Sunday worshipers before the mass was concluded. The International forces composed of Australian forces and the UN police arrived and contained the situation with the use of tear gas and shots fired in the air. According to Timor Post, the attacks in various part of Dili might have been derived from the discovery of two mutilated bodies, believed to be youths from Lospalos and Baucau. (TP)

International Police Does Not Have Political Interest

Following an evaluation of the international forces, MPs from PD, ASDT, and Fretilin have agreed that the international police in Timor-Leste are not here to defend political interests because their task is to help the nation. They agree that despite the volume of crimes that continues in some neighbourhoods, the international police are trying to reduce it. The way they dealt with the recent stabbing in Matadouro, shows that they do not have any political interest. Other MPs, Rui Menezes (PD) and Francisco Carlos (Fretilin) have acknowledged the weakness of Timor-Leste’s judicial system due to the limited work of judges and prosecutors. Menezes says the barometer of this weakness is the continuing work of the ex-patriots as Timorese are still under training. Francisco Carlos said there are many factors behind the weakness in the judicial system, pointing out that one of them is short term training during the UNTAET period for the judges and prosecutors in Darwin, Australia which he considers is not sufficient. (STL)

RTTL news headlines

23 October 2006

Bishop Belo visits former Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri

Speaking to the RTTL journalist after meeting with Bishop Belo, Alkatiri reportedly said that in fact many of East Timorese people expected Bishop Belo to be present in such a situation. Bishop Belo’s presence can minimize our on-going crisis and hopefully IDPs can return home soon. In addition, in response to the COI report, Mari Alkatiri was reportedly happy with the report however, he said that we can merely use the recommendations as a basis only for further actions; however, he is of the opinion that the report is not completed. He said, “The COI team merely analyzed the facts but did not analyze the causes. They also put more history of 1974 & 1975 in the report’s background instead of the events of January and February of 2006.

On a different occasion, Vicente da Concição, aka Railos, has reportedly stated his acceptance and happiness with the report. He said “I fully agree with the report as it is good and just and as I am also indicated in the report as one of the persons involved in the crisis, I am prepared to face the court”. Railos has also reportedly emphasized that in reality people have been waiting for justice and truth, hence everyone who was recommended in the report to be prosecuted must accept it. He then called upon every East Timorese to put an end the violence as it has to be resolved through justice. Justice is the only way to sort out our problem, he stressed.

A/SRSG calls all East Timorese leaders to thoroughly study the COI report

At a televised-pressed conference, the A/SRSG Finn-Rieske called for every East Timorese leader to thoroughly read and study the COI report before any follow-up activities. He also reportedly expressed his happiness on the distribution of the report which reached every district and sub-district. On the same occasion, Antero Lopes, UNPol Commissioner reportedly updated the media on the positive reactions obtained from the district PNTL commanders of every district. He said that apart from common and minor accidents, there was no significant incident since the report release. Mr. Lopes added that the number of UN Police officers will reach 932 by the end of October, after which they will be deployed to every district.

On a separate occasion, Prime Minister, Dr. Ramos Horta has reportedly declared the readiness of the Government to work with the United Nations to follow up the COI report and carefully implement its recommendations. However, prior to that, Mr. Horta called for the UN to strength the justice sectors including the quality of the Courts, Court of Appeal, Prosecutor General, Judges, and Defenders.

International Media Reports

TOP UN OFFICIAL IN TIMOR-LESTE PRAISES TIMORESE FOR CALM RESPONSE TO VIOLENCE REPORT

New York, Oct 20 2006 2:00PM

Despite fears of violence after the release this week of a United Nations report into recent strife in Timor-Leste, the response so far has been “overwhelmingly positive” and calm in the tiny nation where deadly conflict attributed to differences between eastern and western regions erupted in April, the top UN official in the country said today. “In the three days since release of the report of the Independent Special Commission of Inquiry Timor-Leste has been calm. Indeed very few incidents have been reported,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Acting Special Representative Finn Reske-Nielsen told a news conference in Dili, capital of the small South East Asian nation. “In general, and despite only a few dissenting voices, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. I am very encouraged by, and appreciative of, the statement by the President, Prime Minister, and Parliamentary Speaker commending the Commission on its wisdom, impartiality and independence.” Mr. Reske-Nielsen said he had also received similar support from other high-level officials, as well as separate remarks by Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta “stressing the importance of judicial follow-up on the report’s recommendations.”

Among other findings, the Commission, which was requested by Timor-Leste’s Government, found that although Chief of Defence Force Taur Matan Ruak cannot be held criminally responsible for the shooting of unarmed police officers by defence force soldiers, he failed to exhaust all avenues to prevent or stop a confrontation. It also found that former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri failed to use his authority to denounce the transfer of security sector weapons to civilians in the face of credible information that such transfer was ongoing and involved members of the Government. The crisis, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, erupted after the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces, with the ensuing violence claiming at least 37 lives and driving 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.

The Security Council created the expanded UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste in August to help restore order in the country that it shepherded to independence from Indonesia just four years ago, and one of its key aspects is bringing in UN police officers to rebuild and support the local force. Saying that the last three days have registered the “lowest recorded violence in the recent past,” UNMIT Acting Police Commissioner Antero Lopes told reporters there were now more police on the streets in Dili and its outlying districts and operations would expand further in the weeks ahead. “So by the end of this month, UN Pol (UN Police) and PNTL (the national police force) together will be more than 1,000. That is indeed a milestone, and by early November we will be in a condition to start expanding to the other districts in Timor-Leste,” he said. (UN News Centre)

NATIONAL NEWS SOURCES:

Timor Post (TP) Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional Seminario Lia Foun (LF) Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNMIT Public Information Office 


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