Subject: Timor Lorosae Journalists Association

The declaration for the formation of the Timor Lorosae Journalists Association (TLJA) was made on Wednesday, Dec 22, 1999 at 4:00 pm at the Hotel Tourismo -- at the end of a five-day media workshop organised by Institut Studi Media dan Program Pelatihan (ISPELA), Timor Post Journalists Group and Talitakum news magazine.

The guest-of-honor on that historical day ,for the media, in Timor Lorosae was Nobel Peace Laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta.

The Agence France-Presse report follows the declaration.


DECLARATION

Timor Lorosae Journalists Association (TLJA)

After the result of the Aug 30 referendum was announced, it is clear, now, that freedom of information in Timor Lorosae is a basic human right.

We realise that the press in Timor Lorosae must place highest priority on truth and justice and at the same time fight any attempts at censorship.

In achieving these aims, the press in Timor Lorosae must also take into account nation-building efforts aimed at reconciliation and unity. These take priority over all other personal, private or sectoral interests.

We further state that democratic principles will be espoused and promoted by the press in Timor Lorosae. The press in Timor Lorosae will respect all democratic laws in the new country of Timor Lorosae, but WILL NOT bow to what is deemed injustice and repressive.

Based on the above mentioned principles, we, the journalists in Timor Lorosae declare:

1. We will reject all forms of interference, intimidation, censorship and attempts to silence the press in its pursuit to report on the truth and inform the public;

2. We will reject all attempts to impede and intimidate the activist/alternative press in their efforts to report, inform and analyse;

3. We will reject sectoral and personal interests and one-sided views for the sake of promoting national reconciliation and unity;

4. We will reject all forms of laws and legislation that go against the spirt of democracy;

5. We will reject the concept of only a single professional body for journalists in Timor Lorosae.

In order to uphold the above principles as our contribution towards the establishment of a democratic Timor Lorosae and to conduct advocacy on behalf of the journalists of Timor Lorosae, we therefore on this day, Wednesday Dec 22 1999 at the Hotel Tourismo in Dili, declare the establishment of the Timor Lorosae Journalists Association.

Until such time as can be organised, the inaugural Congress to discuss the constitution of the Timor Lorosae Journalists Association, this body will be under the authority of an acting co-ordinator, spokesperson, secretary and treasurer.

Hotel Tourismo Dili, December 22, 1999


East Timor journalists vow to promote democracy

23/12/99 Agence France-Presse

DILI, East Timor - Young East Timorese journalists vowed to promote democracy and fight censorship as they formed the Timor Lorosae Journalists Association (TLJA) on Wednesday.

"We realise that the press in Timor Lorosae must place the highest priority on truth and justice and at the same time fight any attempts at censorship," they said in a declaration.

About 45 men and women lined up to sign the document at the end of a five-day journalists' training seminar.

"There cannot be a democratic country, democratic society without freedom of the press," Jose Ramos-Horta, vice-president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), said at the ceremony held in a local hotel.

Most of the association members have recently returned to East Timor from Indonesia where they were studying and worked on publications, said Virgilio da Silva, of Ispela, a media research and discussion group formed just days ago in East Timor.

Ispela co-sponsored the training seminar along with the Timor Aid aid group and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has committed to six months of further training, da Silva said.

He said the young journalists plan to train others and start a bi-weekly newspaper in the new year. Some members of the TLJA formerly worked on Suara Timor Timur, the daily newspaper under Indonesian rule.

They voted Otelio Ote, a former Suara Timor Timur journalist, as co-ordinator of the TLJA. Ote is also a correspondent for the Jakarta newspaper, Media Indonesia, and for the RCTI television network.

The journalists stood as Ote read the TLJA declaration in the Indonesian language and then da Silva read it in English.

They pledged to "take into account nation-building efforts aimed at reconciliation and unity" and agreed to promote democratic principles.

"The press in Timor Lorosae will respect all democratic laws in the new country of Timor Lorosae, but WILL NOT bow to what is deemed injustice and repressive," the declaration says.

"It must be an independent media," da Silva told AFP.

He said the press will play a key role in educating people to know their rights and their duties so they can contribute to democratic society. He said East Timor cannot become like other countries which fought for freedom only to be burdened by a new authoritarian regime.

"The role of the media in Timor Lorosae will be very important because the people have suffered for 24 years under repression," da Silva said.

Formerly a mechanical engineering student in Indonesia, he was arrested after a demonstration in Jakarta that followed the 1991 massacre by Indonesian troops at Santa Cruz Cemetery in East Timor. Da Silva said he spent 30 months in an Indonesian prison.

Ramos-Horta told the gathering he has already spoken with CNRT president Xanana Gusmao about dedicating a park in honor of the six foreign journalists murdered by Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1975 and also a Dutch correspondent and an Indonesian journalist who were murdered this year.

He said they died "in the pursuit of truth."

"It will be altogether eight journalists and that is not a small number in such a small country," Ramos-Horta said.

Sonny Inbaraj and Ilana Eldridge 20 Camphor Street, Nightcliff Darwin 0810, NT, Australia

Tel/fax: +61-8-89485333 http://www.theaustralasian.com ausasia@ozemail.com.au


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