Friday, June 30, 2006


The Timor Territories


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lusa

Ana Pessoa, Minister of Estate and the Public Administration of East Timor, and member of Fretilin’s Central Committee, is a blunt woman, of strong convictions. Formed as a Jurist, thinks it is “unbelievable” that President Xanana Gusmão has demanded the dismissal of PM Mari Alkatiri in a letter sent together with a recording of the Australian television [Four Corners], but believes the institutional crisis may still be solved through negotiation and in respecting legality and the constitutional norms.

Convinced, as Alkatiri and Lu-Olo (President of the Parliament), that there are forces concerned in making of East Timor a “Failed State”, that should be under guardianship at least until the 2007 elections, came to Lisbon to ask for the support from CPLP [Community of Portuguese Language Countries].

LUSA: The UN is accused of not having avoided making the Timorese Armed and Security Forces politically and instrumental, which would have originated the current institutional crisis…

ANA PESSOA: The main positive aspect of the UN interventions is multilateralism, which also brings negative consequences, but we cannot in any way blame the UN for everything that happened now. For the constitution of the armed forces UNTAET had advisors from 40 different nationalities e this necessarily creates confusion. There is not a model, a doctrine, a clear strategy, which is serious for the formation of an army and a police force in a country such as East Timor, without institutional traditions and with negative references, inherited from the foreign military occupation.

L: Were not the evaluation criteria for the recruitment of public servants, police and military, a factor of tension? There are people who have been excluded because they did not speak Portuguese…

AP: It is absolutely false, the contrary actually happened. When I was Minister of Internal Administration in the transitional government, UNTAET complained of not finding qualified Timorese to occupy places in the public administration and I went to assist to the selection interviews. I verified they were done in English or in Bahasa Indonesia. They explained me that English was UN’s working language. I said: “Well than hire interpreters. You are not recruiting public servants for the UN but for the Timorese State, whose official languages are Tetum and Portuguese”. To be able to speak English may be a supplementary qualification, never a selection criterion. The majority of the Timorese does not speak English and many do not master the Portuguese, because during the Indonesian occupation speaking Portuguese was related to the guerrilla, one could be arrested, tortured, killed. Until today, only Tetum has been required and only recently have we been requiring exams in Portuguese. In my Ministry, I only accept documents in Tetum or in Portuguese. If they come in English or in Bahasa, they go back.

L: The fact that there are police officials that came from the Indonesian police, did that create problems?

AP: The recruitment of the National Police of East Timor (PNTL) was entirely done by UNTAET. They have incorporated more than 100 Indonesian officers and agents, some of which had a very bad record, referred to as torturers. That was what created the first division between those so-called “nationalists” and the group of the “autonomists”, former agents of the Indonesian police which were incorporated in the PNTL in the name of the national reconciliation. I used to say that the Police was structured to become un-structured during the first crisis. That is what happened.

L: The creation of Special Forces has also created an “indisposition” and appears now to be related to paramilitary groups for self-defence.

AP: In January 2003, militias infiltrated through the border with West Timor attacked villages and killed undefended population in the Atsabe region. Our Police, which had some 15 men armed with guns, was not capable of reacting. We sent the military of the Defence and Security Forces (FDSTL) and we were accused of violations of human rights.
This was when it was decided to create the Police Special Reserve, to act outside urban areas, according to the “Jungle Police” in Malaysia. Its members were recruited within the PNTL; they should at least have been in duty for 6 months and no disciplinary antecedent. They have received a hard training, the kind of rangers, adequate equipment and automatic weapons.

L: How did weapons appear in the hands of civilians?

AP: There are weapons in the hands of civilians because the Police command failed. The arsenals were stolen; there are weapons in the hands of people that we do not clearly know if they are civilians or police who took their uniforms out. I do not believe that more weapons entered Timor in a clandestine way. There are many speculations that are taken advantage of, especially by the Australians, to prove there is uncontrolled by the Government. There is currently an inventory being made of the existent weapons, and those who are missing. The FDTL did it immediately because everything was under control. In the Police, it was not.

L: Do the FDTL have no problems?

AP: They have a command and when there is a command, there is discipline, luckily.

L: Who are the armed groups that Rogério Lobato admitted he has give authorization to?

AP: I do not know. I am only certain of one thing: they are not from Fretilin. As Lu-Olo (President of Fretilin and the Parliament) said, Fretilin does not have armed militias, it is not and it never was a terrorist party, like some Press wants to make believe. I also do not know Railos, but I have received one SMS from him on my mobile, on the 12th of June. In the SMS I received by mistake (it was directed to Lu-Olo), Railos self-proclaimed leader of the “Safeguard Group of the People and the Nation” and he said, in Tetum, that he knew that Fretilin did not distribute weapons, and that Alkatiri did it. I believe they are trying to divide Fretilin in order to provoke the Government’s fall.

L: In an opinion article, your son Loro Ramos Horta accuses Mari Alkatiri and Xanana Gusmão of being responsible for the current situation (see “War Lords” – Expresso, 10.06.2006).

AP: My son was infuriated and very worried with what might happened to us, to me and to my little son, and called me to say that I should ask for asylum in an Embassy. He then published an horrible article and I was the one who called him to say “I thought you were an academic, but an academic does not write like that. We may have disagreements, but we should not go down to insult. On the other hand, it is your obligation to know what you are talking about. Even when you disagree there must be respect for the country’s institutions, which cost so much blood and suffering”. He feels the need to defend his father, I understand, but whoever reads him will think “like father, like son”.

L: You went to Geneva to speak at the opening session of the UN Human Rights Commission. Did you ask for support to investigate the recent events in Timor?

AP: The competent Timorese authorities have already asked the international support.

L: Mari Alkatiri has declared that the burnt and sacked houses were “surgical operations”…

AP: This is another story. It should be known that the fires, the stolen houses, the threats against people, they all took place massively after the arrival of the Australian troops and after we gave orders to the Timorese military to retreat to their barracks. Everyone was asking the Government to call on the FDTL. But after they returned to the barracks they could not come out again, otherwise they would be disarmed by the Australian.

L: The fact that the Timorese Ambassador at the UN, José Luís Guterres, was a candidate to Fretilin’s Presidency and has publicly criticised the PM and the Government, does that not create a certain confusion?

AP: A citizen does not stop being [a citizen] because he was nominated Ambassador. He has the right to participate in political activities. I think he should prevent himself of certain public manifestations, so that his loyalty does not provoke doubts. Ramos Horta made a remarked in that sense at the Fretilin’s Congress.

L: Is the Justice in conditions to work in East Timor?

AP: After taking control of the armed and security forces, Australia and New Zealand will want to control the Justice. This is actually an old problem. When I was Minister of Justice, it was New Zealand that was in charge of the prisons. At a certain time, I ordered an inspection because I heard rumours of irregularities. They have cheered me with a riot of recluses, which later was found to be orchestrated to compromise the Government. The New Zealanders retreated and after much struggle and much intrigue, Portugal was in charge of this area and the Justice. When I left the Ministry, we had already signed all the cooperation protocols, for the formation of magistrates, etc. But there are those who do not see with good eyes this Portuguese presence and do everything to obstruct the approval of laws, the Penal Code. Now the Australians have disembarked with Police, investigators, and magistrates. They will want to take over the Justice and than the Public Administration. Do not fool yourselves: there is a strategy behind that. They did exactly the same in the Solomon Islands. With the pretext of fighting the gangs, they pushed the Police against the military and were able to put in the Government whoever they wanted to. The problem is time, it is short, and we have less than one year until the next elections.

Monday, June 26, 2006


A short note on an older issue...

PRESS RELEASE
Semanário Timor-Leste
The 4th of February 2005

According to the information that has been released on the media in the last few days, probationer judges did not succeed in the exams to became permanent judges because (a) they were evaluated by Portuguese judges (b) they were evaluated according to Portuguese law criteria (c) the legislation used in the exam was Portuguese (d) the questions were only written in Portuguese (e) the probationer judges had to use Portuguese in the exam (f) the probationer judges were not successful due to political reasons.

That information is false.

To re-establish the truth the High Council of Judicial Law clarifies the following:

a) The Committee that did the evaluation was formed by an American judge, a Portuguese judge and a judge from Cape-Vert;

b) The evaluation criteria are in article 25, Law 8/2002, and in the Evaluation Rules approved by the High Council of Judicial Law; that Law and those Rules are published in the Republic Newspaper [Jornal da República] and anyone may consult it;

c) The legislation used in the exams was the Indonesian Penal Code, the Indonesian Civil Code, the Code of the Indonesian Civil Process, the legislation emitted by the Timorese Parliament and the Timorese Government, and the legislation emitted by UNTAET; the detailed materials and the legislation used in the exams can be checked in the Evaluation Rules;

d) The questions were written in Tetum and in Portuguese; one just needs to look at the exams text to confirm in which languages it was written – in Tetum and in Portuguese;

e) Each probationer judge could chose to do the exam in bahasa Indonesia, English, Portuguese or Tetum; no one was obliged to use Portuguese; according to the Evaluation Rules, anyone who used an official language had a 2 points bonus; the majority decided to use Tetum and therefore had an extra 2 points added to its classification;

f) None of the probationer judges failed because of political reasons; none of them was approved in the specific exams because none of them obtained the minimum classification of 10 points (already counting with the 2 points bonus for using an official language); none of them was nominated permanent Judge because according to the article 25, no 1 –f) of Law 8/2002, the probationer Judges had to be approved in the specific exam in order to be a Permanent Judge;

g) The materials included in the exams relates to the work that the probationer Judges have been doing every day; trials and pronounce sentences in crime processes, with application of the Indonesian Penal Code and the UNTAET regulations; decision on preventive detention, with application of the Indonesian Penal Code, UNTAET regulations and the East Timor Constitution; decisions on the civil process, with application of the Indonesian Civil Code and the Code of the Indonesian Civil Process; decisions related to the application of law on buildings and the East Timor Constitution;

h) In those specific exams the candidate has to answer to a group of questions previously marked. Through those questions and the answers given by every candidate, any Jurist may know the result obtained by each candidate; through the questions, any Jurist may know if the written exam is difficult or easy, and through the answers, the level of juridical knowledge demonstrated by each candidate;

i) The probationer Judges were free to consult any book during the exam (“open book”);

j) The High Council of Judicial Law cannot divulge the answers given by each of the evaluated probationer Judges without their own authorisation. But it can make available to the Media the Evaluation Rules, the questions on the exam and the deliberations of the Evaluation Committee;

k) Those documents show that (a) the probationer Judges were not only evaluated by Portuguese Judges; (b) the probationer Judges were not evaluated according to Portuguese criteria; (c) the legislation used in the exams was not Portuguese; (d) the questions were not written only in Portuguese; (e) each probationer Judge could use Bahasa Indonesia, English, Portuguese or Tetum in the exam; (f); it was not by political reasons that the probationer Judges were not successfully evaluated;

l) Whoever obtains from the probationer Judge himself a copy of the answers he gave in the exams will able to gain access the level of knowledge demonstrated;


Therefore, High Council of Judicial Law asks the Media the publication of this clarification so that the people of East Timor has no doubts that the evaluation process of the probationer Judges, to become Permanent Judges, was done with the rigour, objectivity, transparency and exemption required according to the importance that such an evaluation had for the future of East Timor.
Dili, the 1st of February 2005

The coup from Rogério Lobato
Expresso
Saturday, the 17th of June 2006

The signs that point to Rogério Lobato as the main responsible for the military and humanitarian chaos that East Timor lives since the 28th of April, when a protest of military deserters ended in an armed conflict between military and civilians, resulting in the following weeks in an uncontrollable riot that had the support of policemen and paramilitary groups allegedly faithful to the former Interior Minister [Lobato].

In an attempt to preserve evidence, the international attorneys mandated by the UN have decided to start the criminal investigation already this week, thus anticipating the arrival of a team of policemen designated by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Since today, the international attorneys have 24-hour security as a preventive measure.
Given the incertitude on the quantity and place of many of the weapons bought in the last years for the police by Rogério Lobato, the magistrates believe they have reasons to fear for his physical integrity.

Besides a group in Liquiçá (33 men armed with AK-33 machine-guns) that last week denounced they had worked under direct orders from the ex-Minister of Interior (having meanwhile elaborated a report with detailed information on their contacts and activities), EXPRESSO found that two other similar groups exist in Maliana and Kotalama, near Ermera.

One of them has 20 men and is lead by a former guerrilla fighter named António Limalima, whereas a team of 16 men coordinated by Commander Joaquim Roque composes the other. Both are armed with AK-33 machine-guns and they use uniforms of the Police Reserve Unit, created in 2004 by the Government to fight militias in rural areas.

The shootings that are still heard at night in those and in other areas of the country lead to believe they [these groups] are still active. These paramilitary, including the Liquiçá group, are part of an allege secret security structure of Fretilin, the party in the Government that two weeks ago elected Lobato for the vice-presidency, after his resignation as Minister of Interior and after suspicions on his less clear behaviour leading the police [were known].

The report of the Liquiçá group, signed by Commander Railos and sent this week to Xanana Gusmão, includes the names of all Fretilin elements with whom they had meetings and transactions of weapons and equipment, besides discriminating the names of those dead and wounded fighting, as well as presenting a series of serial numbers of the weapons they still posses, so that they may be compared with the PNTL (National Police of East Timor) records.

Railos argues that the delivery of weapons to his group was done by the border Police Commander, António da Cruz, having the first 10 AK-33 machine-guns and 6000 bullets arrived to his hands on the 10th of May, around 10 pm, in a meeting held at the Rate Pahlawan cemetery, close to the Liquiçá beach.

It was not possible to contact António da Cruz during this week but by cross-checking the versions from all parts on the confrontations between the 22nd and the 25th of May, the information in the five page report of Commander Railos is consistent. During several days there was a coordinated attack to several military positions of the FDTL (Defence Forces of East Timor), in which rebel groups coming from the mountains took part, lead by Major Alfredo Reinaldo and accompanied by Fast Intervention Unit agents and Police Reserve Unit agents.

Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha, leader of the army deserters (known as petitioners) was one of those who participated in the attack to the FDTL headquarters in Tasitolu, on the 23rd and the 24th, and has admitted to EXPRESSO that Commander Railos and his men were also present there, although he was not able to answer to the question on what were armed petitioner doing there, when they should be unarmed and quartered in Ermera, 40 km from the capital, as he had said before in several interviews.

Too many coincidences
It were precisely the men from the border Police lead by António da Cruz that were controlling who entered and who left in Tasitolu on the 28th of April, next to the FDTL headquarters and to the local (Raikotu) were the armed confrontation between the army, and the petitioners and their supporters took place. The truth is that the demonstrators did not have any fire weapons when they left from the front of the Government Palace, after setting two cars on fire with petrol and throwing stones on the building, but after a few hours, when they got involved in the fighting with the FDTL military in Tasitolu, they already had machine-guns, having been accompanied all the way only by the police. According to Lino Saldanha, Adjunct-Commander of PNTL in the administration area, there had been a month since a group of 80 policemen from the border, coming from Maliana, was in Dili.

On the other hand, it is yet to be justified the fact that there were more than 500 policemen in the city [of Dili] on the 28th of April, but only 85 were detached for the protest in front of the Government Palace, while there was no security reinforce even after the petitioners having invaded the building’s car park and setting fire to two cars. That request for help was done several times to the Minister of Interior by Mari Alkatiri but it had no effect, and he felt obliged to requisite the FDTL intervention.

Ismael Babo, who was coordinating the operations on that day, confessed to EXPRESSO that he received direct orders from Rogério Lobato not to reinforce the guard to the Palace, but in turn to evacuate all the members of the Government and the Parliament to the Police headquarters. Later, after the travel of hundreds of protesters have been accompanied by only 12 policemen, the then Minister of Interior gave another order: to get all the agents out of the place, even noticing that the protesters needed to be disarmed, leaving only a control post at the airport roundabout so that no one could pass on the road but the army.

Since the 28th of April that in many neighbourhoods in the city rumours were spread on a massacre committed by the military, said to have killed more than 60 innocent civilians (only five are confirmed by the Hospital Director in Dili), ordered by Mari Alkatiri. That is what originated the fires and the civil rioting between neighbours, filling the images of international televisions.

The trap
FDTL hierarchies, however, believe they have been pushed into a trap with the purpose of demonising the armed forces, feeding the hate in the people to the core of former Resistance guerrilla fighters. With that the pillar of the recently created and yet fragile democratic estate of East Timor would fall apart, giving place to an internal re-equilibrium of powers.

There is an unanimous opinion in Dili that the current political situation in East Timor is very complex and that there is an intricate web of complicities and silences that may jeopardize the international investigation, although it was publicly reclaimed by every part: the President, the PM, the opposition, the rebels, the police and the military.

It seems there is a notable will on the speeches and attitudes of the PM, Mari Alkatiri, and even of Xanana Gusmão, to make the principle of national reconciliation standing above the principle of justice and that of criminal responsibility. Thus the tolerance of the President towards Major Reinaldo and the other rebels, and the compensation given by Alkatiri to Rogério Lobato, allowing him ascending to vice-President of Fretilin.

The surname Lobato has an enormous weight in the country, being one of the historical clans in the struggle for independence since 1975. Rogério’s brother, Nicolau Lobato, was the first maximum leader of Falintil in the mountains. His death, after 12 hours of fighting with the Indonesians in the last day of 1978, made him the biggest martyr of Timor. Although in exile, Rogério succeed him in the place, but he would end up in disgrace when in the 80s was caught in Angola trafficking diamonds, which lead him to spend two years in jail, being accused even by some Fretilin colleagues of having done it for self purposes.

When he returned to Timor after 25 years abroad, a group of hundreds of former fighters lead by guerrilla fighter L7 saw in him the politician [that would be] able to represent their discontentment for not having been integrated in the recently created country’s armed forces. In the corridors of the Government Palace it is assured that that was the decisive support behind the invitation that Mari Alkatiri addressed to him to occupy the role of Minister of Internal Affairs (later Minister of Interior, already without the estate administration area). L7 was even nominated Lobato’s adviser for security but the two ended up by having a misunderstand in 2003.

Ambitious and temperamental
Rogério Lobato is described in Dili as an ambitious and temperamental man, who likes to control his men and to impose respect with a muscular authority. An episode that occurred in the beginning of this year in front of local television journalists and in front of the Republic’s Attorney General, demonstrates how he is able to act. Accompanying the detention of a group of young troublesome, told them to face against the wall and asked to shut down the cameras for a moment, using that time to say to the detainees: “You either tell me the truth or I break your legs.” A strong personality that together with his sounding surname, seem to make Alkatiri just one of his hostage.

Coup in East Timor lead by ex-Minister
The data recovered by the international investigators point to the ex-Minister Interior of East Timor, Rogério Lobato, as the responsible for a complex Coup d’État that aimed to eliminate the leadership of the Armed Forces. The international attorneys have already seen their security reinforced 24 hours a day, as a preventive measure, once a significant quantity of weapons bought for the police by Rogério Lobato remains in unknown place.

In Liquiçá, a group of 33-armed men with machine-guns admitted to have worked under the orders of the ex-Minister of Interior. A report from that group, signed by Commander Railos and delivered this week to President Xanana includes the names of all Fretilin elements with whom there were meetings and with whom transactions of weapons and equipment were made, besides discriminating of the death and the wounded in fight. Two similar groups will be operating in the interior of East Timor. These paramilitary groups are part of an alleged Fretilin secret security structure, are armed with machine-guns and use uniforms of the Police Reserve Unit.

In an interview to EXPRESSO, the ex-Minister Rogério Lobato admits that if “Fretilin raises itself, nobody will control it”.

“We know every hole of this country”

The ex-Minister of Interior has decided to open the door of his house to EXPRESSO yesterday night, to accuse the Police General-Commander, the President Xanana Gusmão and Priests of the Catholic Church, of being behind the attempt of Coup d’Etat in the country. In between, admits having created the paramilitary group of Commander Railos, checkmating even the PM Mari Alkatiri.

And he even leaves a message: when Fretilin raises it will be all the people that will rise.


EXPRESSO: There are several versions on what happened in Timor. Which is yours?

ROGÉRIO LOBATO: In my (resignation) letter I refer clearly [the existence of] a bi-cephalous command.

E: What do you mean by bi-cephalous?

RL: That the President’s intervention on the petitioners affected the relations with the military.

E: Should Xanana Gusmaão have had another attitude with the military?

RL: He should have been more pondered and not to attack and let down in public. That was not well taken by the people who were with him in the bush for many years. But this problem appeared much earlier. The PNTL (National Police of East Timor) is under the Government’s exclusive tutelage. From a certain point, I realised that many times the Police Commander went to meet at the Republic Presidency without my knowledge. Without even the knowledge of the PM. Naturally that worried me (…). And than there is a protest that ceases to a protest to became an act of organised violence. What is that? It is [a] crime!

E: Were you not accompanying the Police operations to face that protest of the 28th of April?

RL: I was. But the orders I gave were for the Rapid Intervention Unit [UIR] to concentrate at the Government’s Palace.

E: Who did you give those orders to?

RL: I gave them to the General-Commander.

E: And what did he tell you?

RL: He told me yes but than he purely did not fulfil the orders.

E: What kind of relation does the Police General-Commander have with Xanana Gusmão? How does that relation may have jeopardized the Police performance?

RL: That relation ended up making the Police performance inefficient.

E: Do you think that the Police General-Commander was influenced by the President?

RL: I do not want to make the accusation but I know there were contacts that we did not know about.

E: And have you already questioned Xanana Gusmão?

RL: No.

E: Between the 23rd and the 24th there was an attack to Army headquarters in Tasitolu by rebels and policemen, where Commander Railos and his men were present. You are accused of having created that paramilitary group.

RL: Those accusations are undeserved and false. We formed a group of former fighters that know all the hideouts through which the militias came in. They would be trackers that thought the men of our Police Reserve Unit so they could act in a guerrilla situation…

E: Including Commander Railos and his men?

RL: Those men were recruited later. We saw that it was necessary to create a group with experience but then it went completely uncoordinated. They did what they wanted to.

E: How many men form those paramilitary groups?

RL: I believe 15.

E: Commander Railos says he has 30.

RL: It is possible they have added up to 30.

E: And that they belong to Fretilin’s secret security.

RL: No.

E: The PM has already admitted they are from Fretilin…

RL: We recruited them to be trackers…

E: But they are Fretilin militants.

RL: Well, they mayor may not be Fretilin militants. They are former fighters.

E: The PM assumed that he received Commander Railos and two of his assistants in his house on the 8th of May.

RL: Naturally, but always within the frame of integrate them in that force we have.

E: Commander Railos says he received an order from you to hold the petitioners on the 23rd and the 24th of May in Tibar. Is that true?

RL: People in Dili were very worried then. There were the attacks in Tibar and there thousands of people there. That is why I asked them to do whatever they could to prevent those forces to arrive in Dili, so that they would not spread the death. Even because a few days before relatives of mine had been murdered: my sister-in-law and five nephews. That was the effort we have made. It did not work.

E: Many Priests accuse Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri and you of distributing weapons.

RL: One of those priests has contacts with Major Mustapha to introduce weapons in Timor.

E: Who is Major Mustapha?

RL: I think I have said too much. They should not start talking because we know their “straw tails” (in Portuguese “rabos de palha”, to leave the tail uncovered). We do not have secrets. Until now Fretilin has not yet raised. When I asked my resignation from the Government it was because all the batteries were pointed to the PM. It seams that he is the great devil of this country and that the others are all saints. They are not saints. The saint is really him.

E: Do you predict the possibility of a civil war?

RL: A civil war against whom? When Fretilin rises, it will be the whole people. We know all the holes in this country.

E: You have already done a long list of accusations: the President, policemen, the Church…

RL: I would leave the investigation to the journalists.

E: Do you think there is an alliance?

RL: There is no doubt about that.

E: And do you include in that share the Minister Ramos-Horta?
RL: My pal Ramos-Horta…if a Minister criticises the PM himself… I would not like to answer in the same way.


The coup from Rogério Lobato
Expresso
Saturday, the 17th of June 2006

The signs that point to Rogério Lobato as the main responsible for the military and humanitarian chaos that East Timor lives since the 28th of April, when a protest of military deserters ended in an armed conflict between military and civilians, resulting in the following weeks in an uncontrollable riot that had the support of policemen and paramilitary groups allegedly faithful to the former Interior Minister [Lobato].

In an attempt to preserve evidence, the international attorneys mandated by the UN have decided to start the criminal investigation already this week, thus anticipating the arrival of a team of policemen designated by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Since today, the international attorneys have 24-hour security as a preventive measure.
Given the incertitude on the quantity and place of many of the weapons bought in the last years for the police by Rogério Lobato, the magistrates believe they have reasons to fear for his physical integrity.

Besides a group in Liquiçá (33 men armed with AK-33 machine-guns) that last week denounced they had worked under direct orders from the ex-Minister of Interior (having meanwhile elaborated a report with detailed information on their contacts and activities), EXPRESSO found that two other similar groups exist in Maliana and Kotalama, near Ermera.

One of them has 20 men and is lead by a former guerrilla fighter named António Limalima, whereas a team of 16 men coordinated by Commander Joaquim Roque composes the other. Both are armed with AK-33 machine-guns and they use uniforms of the Police Reserve Unit, created in 2004 by the Government to fight militias in rural areas.

The shootings that are still heard at night in those and in other areas of the country lead to believe they [these groups] are still active. These paramilitary, including the Liquiçá group, are part of an allege secret security structure of Fretilin, the party in the Government that two weeks ago elected Lobato for the vice-presidency, after his resignation as Minister of Interior and after suspicions on his less clear behaviour leading the police [were known].

The report of the Liquiçá group, signed by Commander Railos and sent this week to Xanana Gusmão, includes the names of all Fretilin elements with whom they had meetings and transactions of weapons and equipment, besides discriminating the names of those dead and wounded fighting, as well as presenting a series of serial numbers of the weapons they still posses, so that they may be compared with the PNTL (National Police of East Timor) records.

Railos argues that the delivery of weapons to his group was done by the border Police Commander, António da Cruz, having the first 10 AK-33 machine-guns and 6000 bullets arrived to his hands on the 10th of May, around 10 pm, in a meeting held at the Rate Pahlawan cemetery, close to the Liquiçá beach.

It was not possible to contact António da Cruz during this week but by cross-checking the versions from all parts on the confrontations between the 22nd and the 25th of May, the information in the five page report of Commander Railos is consistent. During several days there was a coordinated attack to several military positions of the FDTL (Defence Forces of East Timor), in which rebel groups coming from the mountains took part, lead by Major Alfredo Reinaldo and accompanied by Fast Intervention Unit agents and Police Reserve Unit agents.

Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha, leader of the army deserters (known as petitioners) was one of those who participated in the attack to the FDTL headquarters in Tasitolu, on the 23rd and the 24th, and has admitted to EXPRESSO that Commander Railos and his men were also present there, although he was not able to answer to the question on what were armed petitioner doing there, when they should be unarmed and quartered in Ermera, 40 km from the capital, as he had said before in several interviews.

Too many coincidences
It were precisely the men from the border Police lead by António da Cruz that were controlling who entered and who left in Tasitolu on the 28th of April, next to the FDTL headquarters and to the local (Raikotu) were the armed confrontation between the army, and the petitioners and their supporters took place. The truth is that the demonstrators did not have any fire weapons when they left from the front of the Government Palace, after setting two cars on fire with petrol and throwing stones on the building, but after a few hours, when they got involved in the fighting with the FDTL military in Tasitolu, they already had machine-guns, having been accompanied all the way only by the police. According to Lino Saldanha, Adjunct-Commander of PNTL in the administration area, there had been a month since a group of 80 policemen from the border, coming from Maliana, was in Dili.

On the other hand, it is yet to be justified the fact that there were more than 500 policemen in the city [of Dili] on the 28th of April, but only 85 were detached for the protest in front of the Government Palace, while there was no security reinforce even after the petitioners having invaded the building’s car park and setting fire to two cars. That request for help was done several times to the Minister of Interior by Mari Alkatiri but it had no effect, and he felt obliged to requisite the FDTL intervention.

Ismael Babo, who was coordinating the operations on that day, confessed to EXPRESSO that he received direct orders from Rogério Lobato not to reinforce the guard to the Palace, but in turn to evacuate all the members of the Government and the Parliament to the Police headquarters. Later, after the travel of hundreds of protesters have been accompanied by only 12 policemen, the then Minister of Interior gave another order: to get all the agents out of the place, even noticing that the protesters needed to be disarmed, leaving only a control post at the airport roundabout so that no one could pass on the road but the army.

Since the 28th of April that in many neighbourhoods in the city rumours were spread on a massacre committed by the military, said to have killed more than 60 innocent civilians (only five are confirmed by the Hospital Director in Dili), ordered by Mari Alkatiri. That is what originated the fires and the civil rioting between neighbours, filling the images of international televisions.

The trap
FDTL hierarchies, however, believe they have been pushed into a trap with the purpose of demonising the armed forces, feeding the hate in the people to the core of former Resistance guerrilla fighters. With that the pillar of the recently created and yet fragile democratic estate of East Timor would fall apart, giving place to an internal re-equilibrium of powers.

There is an unanimous opinion in Dili that the current political situation in East Timor is very complex and that there is an intricate web of complicities and silences that may jeopardize the international investigation, although it was publicly reclaimed by every part: the President, the PM, the opposition, the rebels, the police and the military.

It seems there is a notable will on the speeches and attitudes of the PM, Mari Alkatiri, and even of Xanana Gusmão, to make the principle of national reconciliation standing above the principle of justice and that of criminal responsibility. Thus the tolerance of the President towards Major Reinaldo and the other rebels, and the compensation given by Alkatiri to Rogério Lobato, allowing him ascending to vice-President of Fretilin.

The surname Lobato has an enormous weight in the country, being one of the historical clans in the struggle for independence since 1975. Rogério’s brother, Nicolau Lobato, was the first maximum leader of Falintil in the mountains. His death, after 12 hours of fighting with the Indonesians in the last day of 1978, made him the biggest martyr of Timor. Although in exile, Rogério succeed him in the place, but he would end up in disgrace when in the 80s was caught in Angola trafficking diamonds, which lead him to spend two years in jail, being accused even by some Fretilin colleagues of having done it for self purposes.

When he returned to Timor after 25 years abroad, a group of hundreds of former fighters lead by guerrilla fighter L7 saw in him the politician [that would be] able to represent their discontentment for not having been integrated in the recently created country’s armed forces. In the corridors of the Government Palace it is assured that that was the decisive support behind the invitation that Mari Alkatiri addressed to him to occupy the role of Minister of Internal Affairs (later Minister of Interior, already without the estate administration area). L7 was even nominated Lobato’s adviser for security but the two ended up by having a misunderstand in 2003.

Ambitious and temperamental
Rogério Lobato is described in Dili as an ambitious and temperamental man, who likes to control his men and to impose respect with a muscular authority. An episode that occurred in the beginning of this year in front of local television journalists and in front of the Republic’s Attorney General, demonstrates how he is able to act. Accompanying the detention of a group of young troublesome, told them to face against the wall and asked to shut down the cameras for a moment, using that time to say to the detainees: “You either tell me the truth or I break your legs.” A strong personality that together with his sounding surname, seem to make Alkatiri just one of his hostage.

Coup in East Timor lead by ex-Minister
The data recovered by the international investigators point to the ex-Minister Interior of East Timor, Rogério Lobato, as the responsible for a complex Coup d’État that aimed to eliminate the leadership of the Armed Forces. The international attorneys have already seen their security reinforced 24 hours a day, as a preventive measure, once a significant quantity of weapons bought for the police by Rogério Lobato remains in unknown place.

In Liquiçá, a group of 33-armed men with machine-guns admitted to have worked under the orders of the ex-Minister of Interior. A report from that group, signed by Commander Railos and delivered this week to President Xanana includes the names of all Fretilin elements with whom there were meetings and with whom transactions of weapons and equipment were made, besides discriminating of the death and the wounded in fight. Two similar groups will be operating in the interior of East Timor. These paramilitary groups are part of an alleged Fretilin secret security structure, are armed with machine-guns and use uniforms of the Police Reserve Unit.

In an interview to EXPRESSO, the ex-Minister Rogério Lobato admits that if “Fretilin raises itself, nobody will control it”.

“We know every hole of this country”

The ex-Minister of Interior has decided to open the door of his house to EXPRESSO yesterday night, to accuse the Police General-Commander, the President Xanana Gusmão and Priests of the Catholic Church, of being behind the attempt of Coup d’Etat in the country. In between, admits having created the paramilitary group of Commander Railos, checkmating even the PM Mari Alkatiri.

And he even leaves a message: when Fretilin raises it will be all the people that will rise.


EXPRESSO: There are several versions on what happened in Timor. Which is yours?

ROGÉRIO LOBATO: In my (resignation) letter I refer clearly [the existence of] a bi-cephalous command.

E: What do you mean by bi-cephalous?

RL: That the President’s intervention on the petitioners affected the relations with the military.

E: Should Xanana Gusmaão have had another attitude with the military?

RL: He should have been more pondered and not to attack and let down in public. That was not well taken by the people who were with him in the bush for many years. But this problem appeared much earlier. The PNTL (National Police of East Timor) is under the Government’s exclusive tutelage. From a certain point, I realised that many times the Police Commander went to meet at the Republic Presidency without my knowledge. Without even the knowledge of the PM. Naturally that worried me (…). And than there is a protest that ceases to a protest to became an act of organised violence. What is that? It is [a] crime!

E: Were you not accompanying the Police operations to face that protest of the 28th of April?

RL: I was. But the orders I gave were for the Rapid Intervention Unit [UIR] to concentrate at the Government’s Palace.

E: Who did you give those orders to?

RL: I gave them to the General-Commander.

E: And what did he tell you?

RL: He told me yes but than he purely did not fulfil the orders.

E: What kind of relation does the Police General-Commander have with Xanana Gusmão? How does that relation may have jeopardized the Police performance?

RL: That relation ended up making the Police performance inefficient.

E: Do you think that the Police General-Commander was influenced by the President?

RL: I do not want to make the accusation but I know there were contacts that we did not know about.

E: And have you already questioned Xanana Gusmão?

RL: No.

E: Between the 23rd and the 24th there was an attack to Army headquarters in Tasitolu by rebels and policemen, where Commander Railos and his men were present. You are accused of having created that paramilitary group.

RL: Those accusations are undeserved and false. We formed a group of former fighters that know all the hideouts through which the militias came in. They would be trackers that thought the men of our Police Reserve Unit so they could act in a guerrilla situation…

E: Including Commander Railos and his men?

RL: Those men were recruited later. We saw that it was necessary to create a group with experience but then it went completely uncoordinated. They did what they wanted to.

E: How many men form those paramilitary groups?

RL: I believe 15.

E: Commander Railos says he has 30.

RL: It is possible they have added up to 30.

E: And that they belong to Fretilin’s secret security.

RL: No.

E: The PM has already admitted they are from Fretilin…

RL: We recruited them to be trackers…

E: But they are Fretilin militants.

RL: Well, they mayor may not be Fretilin militants. They are former fighters.

E: The PM assumed that he received Commander Railos and two of his assistants in his house on the 8th of May.

RL: Naturally, but always within the frame of integrate them in that force we have.

E: Commander Railos says he received an order from you to hold the petitioners on the 23rd and the 24th of May in Tibar. Is that true?

RL: People in Dili were very worried then. There were the attacks in Tibar and there thousands of people there. That is why I asked them to do whatever they could to prevent those forces to arrive in Dili, so that they would not spread the death. Even because a few days before relatives of mine had been murdered: my sister-in-law and five nephews. That was the effort we have made. It did not work.

E: Many Priests accuse Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri and you of distributing weapons.

RL: One of those priests has contacts with Major Mustapha to introduce weapons in Timor.

E: Who is Major Mustapha?

RL: I think I have said too much. They should not start talking because we know their “straw tails” (in Portuguese “rabos de palha”, to leave the tail uncovered). We do not have secrets. Until now Fretilin has not yet raised. When I asked my resignation from the Government it was because all the batteries were pointed to the PM. It seams that he is the great devil of this country and that the others are all saints. They are not saints. The saint is really him.

E: Do you predict the possibility of a civil war?

RL: A civil war against whom? When Fretilin rises, it will be the whole people. We know all the holes in this country.

E: You have already done a long list of accusations: the President, policemen, the Church…

RL: I would leave the investigation to the journalists.

E: Do you think there is an alliance?

RL: There is no doubt about that.

E: And do you include in that share the Minister Ramos-Horta?
RL: My pal Ramos-Horta…if a Minister criticises the PM himself… I would not like to answer in the same way.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Small talk 2
“The Timorese journalist José Belo, from Associated Press [since 1999], told Lusa that he was today detained by Australian troops, who kept him handcuffed for more than four hours at the temporary detainees centre in Dili.
José Belo explained he was in the Dili hospital area when he was confronted by an Australian military patrol who asked his identification, alleging he was usually seen in confront areas around Dili.
«I showed my AP identification but they said it was false. And they arrested me. They took me to the detainees centre and kept me handcuffed for four hours.»
[…] Ironically, one of the last reports in which José Belo took part was on the incidents in Dili, when he gave support to an Australian journalist from a TV network [John O’Shea, for SBS Dateline, on the shooting between Reinaldo’s men and the FDTL troops]."
From Lusa, 09/06/06


Small talk
“An Australian military patrol has taken by assault a house in Dili where Cuban doctors working in Dili live, acting based on information that allegedly there were arms on the spot.”
From Lusa, 10/06/06


On the road
We are driving at night; three in one car, when from nowhere an Australian military jumps ahead of us pointing his gun and telling us to stop.
- Can I see your ID? – he says, receiving a Portuguese Identity Card that is passed to him by the driver – Where are you from?
- Portugal – the driver answers.
- Do we search the Portuguese? – he asks through his radio to the cental command.
- - answers the central command.
- OK you can go – he tells us.
From Enfado

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


“The civilian population was pushed to death”
Interview to Mari Alkatiri, by Micael Pereira
Expresso, 9th of June 2006

In a moment of deadlock in which the opponent factions in East Timor hold their breath but do not drop their weapons, PM Mari Alkatiri talks about the critical episode that led the rebels to the mountains: the alleged “Raikotu massacre” on the 28th of April.

Expresso: Last week you told Expresso that you believed it were not just kids acting on themselves in the streets of Dili and that there was an organization behind them. What or who are you talking about exactly?

Mari Alkatiri: Luckily that is not just my own opinion anymore. The forces in the field, the international forces, have also come to the conclusion that there are people behind the groups who are assaulting and burning houses, because they have radios and walky-talkies. They communicate between themselves, which suggests there is a central organization managing everything. Some of those groups are active. Other groups organize themselves just to take advantage of the chaos in the city.

E: Are you referring to criminal groups associated to former 1999 pro-Indonesia militias?

MA: Some groups, yes. But we cannot say that all the groups burning houses have the same nature. Some are doing it with the clear purpose of hitting certain persons. Not because they are Loromonu or Lorosae but key persons.

E: Who are those key persons?

MA: The purpose is to frighten public servants of a certain level to neutralize the government’s action, to create political collapse.

E: And do you believe groups interested in political collapse are associated to the rebels major Alfredo [Reinaldo], majors Marcos [Tilman] and Tara, and lieutenant [Gastão] Salsinha?

MA: I do not have exact data to say they are associated to majors Alfredo or Tara. I cannot make that accusation but the truth is in some declarations they themselves let us believe so: that they will do everything to create a collapse in governing and that they have infiltrated groups. There are other groups that appear spontaneously, that are opportunists and take the opportunity to steal. The majority is even of that sort.

E: The rebels insist that they will only accept starting the dialogue after the PM resigns.

MA: A group of rebels cannot want to determine the future of a country. That cannot be admitted anywhere.

E: Is that a condition that you will not really accept?

MA: Never. The country would never again be a country. Today it is they; tomorrow there will be others.

E: The rebels accuse you of having given orders on the 28th of April so that the FDTL army used force against civilians.

MA: The order was given by me. The police was completely unstructured, without a command. There are laws that say when the police is not able to do their job the army may be asked to intervene, and restore law and order. But the order given was not to shoot civilians but to control and keep them away.

E: At the Dili National Hospital, where we were, there is confirmation of more than 60 civilians shot [five dead confirmed, all civilians, although the number may be higher because the wounded were taken by their families]. The rebels name it the “Raikotu massacre”. In a moment when they are claiming to assume the responsibility, who [do you think] should be responsible?

MA: I know some people even threw grenades against the army. One grenade exploded and another did not. Two people were killed as a reaction of the army to those grenades, even before the order I gave. Some talk about civilians but do civilians carry grenades? Do civilians carry automatic guns? Should we keep considering these civilians as civilians?

E: Are you saying the petitioners [the army deserters] and civilians with them were armed?

MA: Of course. And [even] if they were not armed, they should not be with the petitioners. Why did the petitioners push the civilians ahead as a human shield? That was the strategy – a strategy used by Suharto’s forces many times here in East Timor.

E: At Falintil/FDTL headquarters, where we also were, the soldiers say the petitioners are militias.

MA: The truth is that civilians were pushed to death so they could accuse and cause the government’s fall. And they could not have caught the army; otherwise it would have been a total disaster.

E: Do you not attribute that responsibility to colonel Lere Anan who commanded the forces in that day?

MA: What responsibility?

E: The responsibility of the army having shot civilians.

MA: It is better to have an investigation first.

E: But is the investigation being done?

MA: No, it is not being done. But it has to be done in order to find out who shot whom. The others were armed as well. There are soldiers who were shot in the back.

E: Is that investigation not urgent?

MA: We have asked for it everywhere.

E: And who should investigate?

MA: The Minister of Foreign Affairs has already written to the Human Rights Commission so they can do their report. We are the first country in the world to ask for that. We have also written to the United Nations (UN) so they can take part in the investigation. We have all justice systems working to initiate it. We have international prosecutors and judges in our justice system, nominated by the UN. They are not just Timorese. That will all be done. Because what it was wanted was that many people had been killed they keep claiming more than 60 deaths. The last number given by lieutenant Salsinha already mentions more than 500 people. It has been multiplied by ten. If 60 people were killed who are they? Where are the relatives who lost them? This is a simple investigation, it is not like in Indonesian times when Suharto did not allow anyone to come and investigate. How many journalists are in this town right now? Journalists also have a certain capacity to investigate. Nobody puts forward the names of the dead, nor even of the victims’ relatives. They keep talking, however. It smells like propaganda.

E: Have you got precise information on the weapons that have been confiscated in Dili?

MA: I do not have any official data. More than 400 fire weapons have been mentioned but I cannot confirm it. I hope it is true because it means there will be less 400 weapons in the neighbourhoods.

E: Is the communication with the international forces working well?

MA: The Australian Minister of Defence and the commanders in the field – from Australia and New Zealand – have just been with me.

E: There is a conspiracy thesis that defends Australia is behind the chaotic situation in East Timor. It is a fact that the dossier on the exploration on natural gas in Timorese waters with the government in Canberra is still an open one. Does this make any sense?

MA: To anyone who wants to make an analysis of all this, all the parts in the puzzle have to be looked at in order to understand the origins of this conflict. To someone who is ruling the country, the problem of stability and the problem of law and order have to be solved now and objectively.

E: There is a tension with Australia, for example, on the decision about the natural gas pipeline of the Great Sunrise wells. The company that operates in that area is Australian [Woodside] and there is an agreement that waits to be ratified by the parliament in East Timor that could jeopardize future pretensions of your government to enlarge the Timor Sea limits.

MA: I do not agree with the interpretation that such an agreement could jeopardize the Timorese pretensions. There are countries in the world with centuries of history, which have still not defined their maritime borders. It is better to have an agreement with a neighbouring country to explore maritime resources than to postpone that agreement. If we insist with the borders we will not reach a consensus and we will need another 30 or 40 years. After the current crisis we will be able to respond much quicker to the problems of rebuilding the country because we will than have the resources. Everything that has so far been done with Australia aiming for a more equal distribution of revenues was positive.

E: How do you see Australia’s PM John Howard position and declarations? He has put in doubt your performance has the leader of the government in Dili.

MA: The only interpretation I can make is that John Howard has surely not been following the governing of East Timor. Because f he had so he would not have said the silliness he said, accusing the governing of being a bad one when it was praised by everything and by everyone, including the Australian government. East Timor’s development partners were in Dili in April, where an important Australian delegation was also present and everyone praised the governing. Suddenly, in two months I became a demon to the Australian media. If I were PM of a powerful country I would never interfere in the political managing of smaller countries.

E: The Australian press suggests that you were trying to reinforce your own personal power. In last Fretilin’s congress the militants had to vote in you raising their arm. It was also written that you did not want elections in 2007 to be followed by the UN.

MA: That is a lie. They are trying to demonize someone, has other leaders in the world were demonized, so it can later be overthrown. If someone supported the secret vote in the Fretilin’s congress, I did. Everyone ignored this. When the suggestions came from the districts that the voting would be by raising of the arm, I stood up asking for the secret vote. But the majority voted on the raising of the arm. And the involvement of the UN was asked by the government.

E: By yourself?

MA: Yes, through the Minister of Estate Administration. We asked the UN to send an evaluation team to find out what was needed to be done. What they want though is an electoral law approved by the [UN] Security Council and not by the National Parliament. That is not possible. This is a state with sovereign institutions that can approve laws. Because otherwise we will continue as a protectorate of the UN. We are not a protectorate – not even from the UN. But we do want the participation of the UN in the elections. Why so much noise?

E: What about the fact that you reinforced the capacity of the police? The police was better armed than the FDTL army.

MA: The police was not even formed by the government. We inherited a police formed by the UN.

E: But you reinforced it. You created new unities within the police.

MA: When problems in Ermera, Atulia and Atsabe arose, related to the reintroduction of militias that killed people, there was the need to send forces [to those areas] as the international community saw that as an internal conflict and it could not get involved. At the time it was a decision of the Estate. Of President Xanana. The Estate decided to send the FDTL to Atulia and Atsabe. This was in January 2003. From then on and because we were sending the Falintil/FDTL to fight that armed group, we were criticised as it was a police matter. But the group was using machine guns and our police had pistols. Where did you see a police [armed with] pistols fighting bandits armed with machine guns? Therefore the idea of creating a special group within the police, the reserve unit, formed by 80 men.

E: And what do they do?

MA: They are used to fight those armed groups in rural areas. They are 80. That unit was created when the UN still had the responsibility of defence and security.

E: How do you explain the internal divisions within the army and the police?

MA: They were politicized. If you talk with the FDTL commands you will find out that the first thing that happened was an attempt of enticing them to support a military coup.

E: Was General Matan Ruak [Chief of the Estate Armed Forces] enticed by someone?

MA: I said the command, I did not mention names.

E: And who was the command enticed by?

MA: I will not mention names. Those who listen to me know whom am I referring to. There was an attempt to entice the FDTL command to support an eventual Estate coup.

E: An Estate coup related to the militias?

MA: Related to various sectors of the country. Sectors outside the Estate. The command was clear in saying that there would only be changes through constitutional and electoral means and that they do not allow coups. From then on, the best way was to weaken the Falintil/FDTL.

E: Have you been receiving enough support from Portugal in managing this crisis?

MA: Yes. I have spoken several times with PM José Socrates. There is a total availability by Portugal in the sense of helping us once again, in restoring law and order and in supporting us in the economical recovery of East Timor. I only have to thank. The Portuguese position has been exemplar in not involving itself in internal affairs, but by helping only.

E: Do you believe you will win elections in 2007?

MA: I have no doubts.

E: Do you feel nervous?

MA: No. I work very well under pressure. I am more nervous when I have no pressure.

E: Are you not afraid?

MA: No. If I were afraid I would have already died scared.

E: And have you been able to sleep?
MA: No. But not because I am afraid or nervous but because I have worries and I have sense of responsibility. I sleep a bit. I do not use any medicine to sleep. From time to time I have another whisky or two. But no medicine.


“If the veterans remain in the Army, there will be more problems”
Interview with Gastão Salsinha, by Adelino Gomes
Público, 8th of June 2006


He receives us in the area of Gleno, in a house outside the main roads where we arrive taken by a contact that waited for us, with a mobile phone in his hand, in a junction after the bridge. Ten minutes later we see a group of men, all apparently under their 30s, around a small wall that surrounds a big tree. Blue plastic chairs were already in a semi-circle for the interview, in the house’s courtyard. Brief answers, part in Tetum, part in Portuguese, that he understands but in which he cannot express himself clearly. Gastão Salsinha, 32, married, with four children, FDTL lieutenant, spokesman of 594 military (of a total of around 1400) that complain of ethnical discrimination. Interview given 72 hours before a meeting with Defence Minister José Ramos-Horta that will precede a wider dialogue between military, politicians, the Catholic Church and the civil society in order to solve the crisis.

Público: You are the only [of the military involved in this conflict] that has not yet meet with the Defence Minister. When will you do it?

Gastão Salsinha: Next Saturday.

P: What is the relation between you, with your men, and the other groups related to majors Reinaldo, Tara and Tilman?

GS: We, the petitioners, do dot talk about the political part. The case of Major Alfredo has to do with the FDTL shootings on the protesters, on the 28th of April. If that had not happened, he and the other majors would not have joined the petitioners. But we will try to find one single solution.

P: And what [solution] should that be?

GS: A total restructuring of the FDTL. If the veterans remain there will be more problems. We still respect them. It was with them that we achieved independence. But they do not accept any idea coming from us.

P: Would it not be preferable to join the veteran’s experience with the youth of the youngsters?

GS: The only thing we learn from the veteran is how to cut a palm’s trunk or the best spot to dig a fruit in the bush. The minister Ramos-Horta has already promised to find solutions for the veterans. The army should continue to exist but with two units: one of engineering to develop civic actions; the other for peace missions. That way there will be no misunderstandings.

P: How will the recruitment be done, in order to avoid discriminations Lorosae/Loromonu?

GS: The initial problem has to be solved first. Then we shall see on how to reunite again.

P: But should not the main criteria be the candidate’s capacity?

GS: Not only, also a profile that guarantees national unity.

P: And what about the future of the current command – brigadier Taur, and colonels Lere and Falur?

GS: They cannot lead the FDTL anymore. The government should [find them a] post according to their own capacities.

P: In the last month the Estate has fallen apart. Did you ever think you might lose sovereignty?

GS: After the brigadier [Taur Matan Ruak] answered to our petition and decided to expel us I answered that if the government did not solve the problem, one day there would be worse things than that. It is very sad, because they thought we were little and not intelligent.

P: Some people accuse some petitioners of lack of discipline and of having used the argument of discrimination as a pretext.

GS: I think it is not fair. We have concrete proofs of the discrimination. Actions of this sorted first appeared when we were still in Aileu (around 2000). Many – among whom major Tara – can testify that. We were meanwhile expelled but there is no legal base for that.

P: Are you optimistic about the resolution of the problem?

GS: I am. I am sure it can be solved. But I think that only through the President of the Republic.

P: Do you also defend that the PM should be dismissed?

GS: It would be better if he dismissed so that someone could, on his behalf, solve the problem.

P: how much time do you give Xanana to do that?

GS: It is in the emergency measures: 30 days.

P: Have you already had contacts with the Commission of Notables [nominated by the President to solve the petitioners’ problem]? What results?

GS: We met with their spokesman, Father António. I have done [written] a letter with six proposals. They took it but I remain with no answer until today.

P: Is this crisis on the verge to have a solution?

GS: The only problem is the guns. There are armed civilians that are retreat to the mountains.

P: Armed by whom?

GS: By Fretilin’s central committee. We have indications that arms were distributed to civilians.

P: You have stop receiving your wages as military. How do you survive?

GS: The people help us.

P: Some people say East Timor became a failed State. With all these groups, the war Lorosae/Loromonu, etc, is it still possible to find a solution?

GS: The example of Iraq, where the situation is even harder, shows that there are solutions. But we have been giving up. Anything that President Xanana and José-Ramos-Horta will say, this people, from Manatuto to Oecussi, will obey. But I doubt in what concerns the Lorosae part.

P: So there is a Lorosae/Loromonu problem in East Timor. In what does it consist?

GS: It is a God’s punishment.

P: Can you be a bit more precise? Where is it today, in East Timor, that difference between ones and the others?

GS: I ask what did the leaders do since independence. I ask why is the people still suffering.

P: They have already started put away revenues from the oil.

GS: It is true we have richness but the reality is that from Tutuala to Oecussi, the people are still suffering and who is savouring the richness is the leadership. We already have five years of government. The roads that had holes still have holes. The burned houses remain burned. The government has not done anything new. This government’s main concern is to buy weapons to distribute among their [Fretilin] militants.

P: There are often praises to the government’s management by the World Bank. Independent Timor has been portrayed internationally as a success case.

GS: These are analysis done in Dili only. The life in the interior does not match with that.

P: We insist in the Lorosae/Loromonu issue. Is there two Timor?

GS: Timor is only one. Once solved the discrimination case [against the Loromonu military], the problem is over.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Substitution
According to Lusa "Ramos-Horta admits to replace Alkatiri as PM if he has the support of FRETILIN."
According to Googlefight he stands absolutely no chance.

(in Enfado)

Second impression on last Friday's seminar
"CRISIS IN TIMOR-LESTE: options for future stability"
held at the ANU, Canberra

During last Friday’s seminar I saw the usual struggle between a few who believe they have the answers (and in some cases, unfortunately, the means to implement them), and those who believe in mutual understanding and in a local, step-by-step approach. I definitively belong with the later.One of the key concepts when trying to understand what is currently happening in East Timor seems to be time. Traditions in East Timor have always been oral. These pass from generation to generation, kept and transmitted by the elders who are both a repository of memories and the central element to preserve order. This does not mean things do not change in these societies, but they certainly change at a rhythm different from the one we would like them to.

A fundamental aspect in any communication is understanding. I believe one needs not to be an Archaeologist or an Anthropologist to understand but it probably takes much more than that to both accept and respect. There is a visible lack of communication between most Western-type institutions, including those created locally, and a considerable part of the East Timorese society.

As seen from the interview below, published last week in daily Portuguese newspaper "Publico", Paulo Castro Seixas, a Portuguese anthropologist also believes East Timor is a huge puzzle that cannot be addressed in one single way. Is this too simplistic, a bit too naïve? Are there hidden agendas, both locally and outside the country? This is all possibly true but there seems to be a huge lack of common sense. Let us hope we can help overcome the current crisis and that this time, time itself is in favour of the East Timorese.


"Timor lives, perhaps, its first post-colonial war”
Paulo Castro Seixas interviewd by Adelino Gomes
Público

The transition in Timor is a case of success. But the connection between modern Western institutions with the local culture has been forgotten. The anthropologist Paulo Castro Seixas thinks the country will enter a critical phase and regrets that the Portuguese cooperation is unaware of the crisis’ deepest reasons. The translation of Timorese traditions, claims, must me declared “World’s Intangible Heritage”.

PÚBLICO: You teach urban anthropology and health anthropological sociology, and you have completed a PhD on islands and new condominiums in Porto. How do you go from urban sociology to a completely rural society, deeply merging into its Malaysian and Austronesian roots?

PAULO CASTRO SEIXAS: I was born in Angola and completed first class in Timor, son of a justice clerk and a teacher. I guess that influenced my career in Anthropology. My first anthropological work, as an undergraduate, was on Timorese refugees in a small community living in a building in Cacém [Lisbon’s suburbs]. On the other hand, in 1999 Timor gave me the chance to analyse the rebuilt of a capital city in a post-colonial situation. My project was accepted by FCT [Science and Technology Foundation, Ministry of Science], which allowed me to go to Timor 5 times, between 2000 and 2004. I went back again last February. I am meanwhile working with Médicos do Mundo [Doctors of the World], being responsible for these NGO’s projects in Timor.

P: What kind of projects do you coordinate?

PCS: I am responsible for a “waiting room” – a house for mothers we have in Lospalos, in the Eastern End, together with a health communitarian intervention, with a mobile clinic working in the district.

P: The ethnicity issue came then by chance?

PCS: No, I would not say so. My main interest was Dili. But on the several occasions I was in Timor I realized that to understand the social reconstruction of the city I had to understand the relations of the Timorese who live there with “the mountains”, as they put it – a ritual relation that is part of their identity. To be understood, the apparent modernity of Dili requires focusing in what is happening in the mountains.

P: To the surprise of many, the Timorese crisis of the past weeks has brought to the attention of the media an alleged dispute between people from the East and people from the West. Does that issue have any legitimacy?

PCS: I guess so. Societies have cultural divisions. It is evident that in this transition, coordinated by the UN and supported by NGO’s, what was done was the transnationalization [sic] of modernity through a Western package that includes the importance of human rights, free market, multiparty elections and the importance of civil society. People’s cultural background was very little taken into consideration. We should not forget that today’s political “class” [ruling East Timor], that went through Manatuto´s political corrector, where the Jesuit college of Soibada used to work, is a colonial generation class, urban and Creole.

P: The “Western package” was part of the struggle and integrates the resistance’s heritage. This “class”, that you critically characterize, is the same that organized the struggle and the resistance, I mean, was able to identify itself with what we can call national identity. Are you suggesting that when this class got to the power it betrayed the people?

PCS: I would not say that. We tend to focus in the resistance period. As the Timorese say, regardless of their cultural identifications, there was at the time a common enemy. Once settled that issue, there is – I would say naturally – a tendency for ancient differences prior to that existence of a common enemy to come up again, which may be more or less conflictive.

P: Those ethnical divisions were not very clear during the 400 years of Portuguese presence in the island. Or were they?

PCS: I believe so. What happened during colonial times was a double discourse, which pretended that the Portuguese Orient was more or less uniform – a way for us to understand our own colonial Umpire, from Minho to Timor. Portuguese Orient was Insulindic (sic): India was the centre and the other elements of the umpire had similarities and varieties. However, in its 1500 pages on the History of Timor, Luna de Oliveira [Timor na História de Portugal, 2004, Fundação Oriente/IPAD] refers that in the famous “pacifying wars”, of Celestino da Silva´s governor, the people from the East were used to fight the rebellion of the people from the West.

P: What characteristics they possess that allowed the Portuguese to use them?

PCS: The Portuguese were always in small numbers. Actually when it started, the “Portuguese” presence (I do not mean colonization, as this has no more than 60/70 years) was formed by topazes, or black Portuguese, mixed with women from Solor and Malaysians from different parts.

P: There was the administration, never the less.

PCS: From a certain time there was. The Portuguese used the tactic of dividing to rule [sic in Portuguese], using some kingdoms against others.

P: It is a typical colonial strategy. What divided the Timorese, from an ethnical perspective?

PCS: Already in 1864, Afonso de Castro writes in his book “As Possessões Portuguezas da Oceânia” [1867, Imprensa Nacional, Lisboa], that the struggle between Timorese kingdoms was endemic.

P: José Ramos-Horta said a few days ago to Público that the people from the East has never fought the people from the West.

PCS: Well, see the pacifying campaigns and the Manufai war, in 1912.

P: That is the use, by the Portuguese, of the East against the West, not a direct confrontation.

PCS: There are in fact no references to autonomous struggle. But again there is no History of Timor. Geoffrey Gunn, for example, uses [Samuel] Hutington´s expression “civilization clash” to describe the clash between the Malaysian and the Austronesian civilizations, the Southern islands, Indonesians, and the Papuan populations, Melanesians, that is, from the “Niger’s islands”.

P: Which one was there before?

PCS: Most authors say the Melanesians – populations of Papuan origins such as the Makasai, the Fataluko, and the Makalere.

P: How do you explain the two expressions that have been referred to recently within the crisis – firaku and kaladi?

PCS: There are several versions. A fundamental word in Timor is actually “depende” [sic in Portuguese, “it depends”]. The most repeated version says the Portuguese created the terms. When these arrived in Dili they presented themselves and people were “caladas” [sic in Portuguese, “remained in silence”]. When they went to the Easter End of the island, people turned their backs on them. The first remained the “calados” – keladi; the later, turned their asses – firaku [from the Portuguese “vira-cu”]. What matters here is not whether the story is true or not. When the Timorese tell this story they automatically associate physical and psychological characteristics to each one of them.

P: Which?

PCS: The firaku are more emotive, more scoundrel, more traders, and physically taller; the kaladi are more consensual, more hard workers, more reserved, and shorter.

P: Is there an erudite version of this story?

PCS: Not that I know. The word firaku exists in Makasai. It means: friends; us, comrades; ours. It would be rather strange that a Portuguese expression “vira-cu” derivates in a corrupted word in Tetum originating a word already existing in Makasai. What I assume is that the word is older than the Portuguese expression.

P: And kaladi, does it also exist?

PCS: No. There is a population group - Kaladis – from where the word may have originated. The cultural divisions and the way the Timorese manage them – through multiple mediations – show that those auto-denominations are transformed into hetero-denominations in which the meaning itself has been modified. For example, Tetum [speakers] from Viqueque started calling firaku to Makasai but firaku means “mountain people”, “rude people”. This way of using languages strategically is very Timorese. Translate to another language certain designations with other meanings, sometimes ironically and others aggressively, is a typical Timorese game. What I suggest is that were Tetum [speakers] themselves (Tetum comes from tetuk, “people from the plains”, the place of trade) who used those terms before the Portuguese, to disqualify the two big ethnic groups in Timor: the Makasai (the so called firaku) and the mambai (the kaladi).

P: What is the meaning of the terms lorosae/loromonu used in the current crisis?

PCS: The terms firaku and keladi adopted a synecdoche perspective, this is, they represent today all from the East and all from the West.

P: Evoking the old ethnic tension?

PCS: Which has in itself other tensions. In the Eastern End, for example, there is some [tension] between the Makua and the Fataluko…

P: Who to some, however, are not firaku…

PCS: If you ask the people from the East who the firaku are they may give you two answers: that those are mainly the ones from Baucau (the most rioters, the most emotional) or that they are only the ones from Lautem. The most common version identifies them with the East. From Manatuto to the East, they are firaku; to the West they are keladi. Manatuto is “land in between”, but if it is something it is firaku.

P: Complicating further more: immediately after the 25th of April Fretilin has came up with the idea (which was genius from the perspective of political mobilization) of the Maubere people, a pejorative expression from Portuguese times that designated the barefooted, the nobodies. Then and for many years, it seemed to symbolize the Timorese soul. The ideology has in that sense sublimated the ethnical divisions. Do you agree?

PCS: It worked for a while. That term, as far as I know, was created by Ramos-Horta. It was abandoned in 1998 when the T for Timor replaced the M for Maubere, transformed the CNRM in CNRT…

P: And in that way guaranteeing to the rest of the people and in particular to the local bourgeoisie (which always hated the term) a place in the struggle for independence…

PCS: But there was possibly something hidden there. Maubere is a Mambai term, originated in Aileu.

P: The geographical origin of the “Lusitans” [supposed “ethnical” group where the Portuguese are said to descend from] is the Estrela mountains [“Serra da Estrela”, highest mountains in central Portugal] and every Portuguese relates to that. For more than 20 years thousands and thousands of Timorese have resisted the [Indonesian] occupation under the Maubere flag. Dos it not mean that the term tried to convey a unitary pulse?

PCS: It worked, in fact. As it works in Timor the inversion: Maubere is a colonial term, pejorative, whose meaning was revolutionized. But why did they get the term from Aileu and not from somewhere else?

P: In 1975 Aileu was considered the heart of the resistance.

PCS: But why? And why did Falintil have its barracks there between 1999 and 2001? And why do we now have again negotiations in Aileu [between José Ramos-Horta and the rioting military]?

P: Is it the geographic situation, on the way to Ramelau, the heart of Timor?

PCS: Well that is precisely it. And it is not just the geographic centre, in a Western perspective. To the Timorese, according to the symbolism of the crocodile, every land has a head – which is in Tutuala; a centre – which is Aileu (with the Portuguese it moved to Dili); and it has an end – which with the Portuguese and Dutch occupation moved to Bobonaro. The term maubere hipper-valorises the nativism that is essential in periods of crisis, as it was during the war against [the Indonesian] occupation. In a similar sense, I do not think that these negotiations happened in Aileu by chance. All this relates very directly to the mythical symbolism of the territory. Although there is perhaps no complete awareness of that by the politicians, these pacifying rituals are occurring in something we might call the first post-colonial war in Timor. As Geoffrey Gunn explains, war in Timor was often ritual: they fired muskets from a distance; when they killed someone they stopped the war, had the funeral, etc. Other times war consisted in hunting half a dozen heads, followed by ritual. The present situation has various elements of a ritual war. For example, people fled to the mountains following a rumour. What is said to be real becomes real in its consequences, in a country where people live still pretty much in an oral world…

P: And mediated now, as we hear, by SMS…

PCS: That only means they quickly get use to modernity.

P: When leadership does not consider the East/West tension is it not, on the contrary, acting ahead and with ability, trying to preserve what unites the Timorese, instead of what separates them?

PCS: Leadership is acting within the way possible. In interviews I did in 2004 to several figures of the political elite, the answer always addressed a kind of an agreement that had been made during the resistance, consisting in the following: from the Eastern end to the extreme West “one single people, one single nation”. But the fact itself that this agreement has been made reveals that it was necessary, that there were divisions. There are reports on the internal divisions within Falintil.

P: The irony now is that those who showed a bigger predisposition to accept the occupation, the kaladi, are now challenging the guerrilla commanders, of firaku origins, who won the war…

PCS: This cultural division is very political. It is used constantly, I believe now too.

P: Do you believe that hidden agendas exist in this conflict?

PCS: Yes and I believe we will know about them later. Unfortunately our [the Portuguese] cooperation in terms of language, legislation and army and police support is not following this situation with a cultural analysis. James Fox said in 2001 that we needed to be careful because the FDTL First Battalion was more firaku than keladi. In Portugal no one knew what these expressions mean. Dwight King studied the 2001 legislative and 2002 presidential elections and also noted the firaku/kaladi division.

P: In what sense?

PCS: He detected, for example, that Fretilin had 67% in the firaku area and only 46% in the kaladi area. We, the Portuguese, are the biggest donors, we have the myth of CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries) but we do not follow culturally those countries we consider ourselves brothers of and therefore we do not understand a single thing. I find that tragic.

P: And the Timorese leadership, do you think they understand?

PCS: The term leadership is a very broad one. A colleague from Brasília University [in Brazil] Kelly Cristiano da Silva, has detected several divisions. One is evident: those from inside [who remained in the country during the Indonesian occupation] and the ones from outside [that lived in exile].

P: What sort of solutions does the leadership have to solve this specific crisis?

PCS: One solution is to hide, not to talk about it, and transform the issue in a taboo.

P: However it was Xanana who first brought the issue lorosae/loromonu for discussion.

PCS: He mentioned the issue, probably in extremis, as it was too evident. The second hypothesis is, when confronted with the issue, “folklore” it. This hypothesis did contaminate some Portuguese commentators: my colleague Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos considered this issue in an article in Jornal de Notícias [a Portuguese daily newspaper] as an anthropological curiosity. Yes, but when it triggers a conflict it becomes the cause for strong political divisions.

P: Although you could see it as both a cause and an effect of, for example, a manipulation.

PCS: I believe so. The third hypothesis is to look into these identities without any fears. The Timorese, I believe in Tokodede [one of the local languages] have the following saying: language has no bone. In order to do a barlaque, the wedding ritual, old people spend sometimes hours talking. In a wedding between unfamiliar clans that talking about each one’s identity is extremely important. Who are the kaladi and the firaku after all? And within the firaku how many are they? This identification has to be done. First of all by the Timorese own intellectuality. In 2004 I suggested a research project to FCT, unfortunately declined, entitled “Firaku, Kaladi, Kafir”. These tensions…

P: …What is Kafir by the way?

PCS: It is a mix of both Kaladi and Firaku. It is a term that some people in Manatuto use for themselves. It means the centre of earth in movement. Aileu was the centre of the earth, it still is; Dili was the centre of the earth in colonial times, it still is; but Manatuto is also the centre of the earth. There is a platform of three points there that are rai-klaran – “the centre of the earth”. When these negotiations [of the current conflict] are done in Aileu and not in Manatuto, despite Aileu’s history, we are probably forgetting that for the Timorese the difference East/West lately is in Manatuto. In that sense the option for Aileu represents the “mauberism” coming to life. Well the term “maubere people” was emptied in post-colonial times. Nowadays there is a search for new terms that sustain the Timorese nationalism. It is up to the politicians and eventually the Timorese intellectuality to create them.

P: The term Kafir fits in that search?

PCS: Yes but it had no future. Kafir has a meaning in about six languages. It means thug.

P: Even stronger than Maubere…

PCS: …but that points not to Aileu but Manatuto, the land of Xanana (who was born in Laleia). There are myths there that say that when Timor’s first liurai [local “king”] was born people came from both the East and the West to attend the funeral, and that in his will he left the gold to the West, the tais [Timorese hand-weaved cloth] to the East and the throne to Manatuto, that became rai-klaran. I heard this story again this year. This means the Timorese, such as the leadership, are looking for a new rai-klaran, which besides “land in the centre” also means “world”. They are searching for a new mauberism that may be more Unitarian, as the term maubere was to become associated with the kaladi. In the discussions for the Constituent it was even said that it enhanced tribal divisions.

P: Sometimes post-colonial researches seem to be hostages of the past, creating more problems than those they aim to solve. Is the leadership not taking the chance to go back to a time of tribal constraints and regionalism, by making concessions to rituals and to the different regions that dispute Timor’s centre? Is nation building not related instead with being able to create forms to overcome past divisions and regionalisms?

PCS: That was attempted. The transition in Timor is presented as a success case. But it is notable now that there were (maybe some knew it already) some fragilities in the state apparatus that was being created. What I think is that this “post-colonial ritual war” is calling on the leadership’s attention to the ways in which it is building the nation and the State’s institutions. Declarations on the need to reformulate the army and the police point to that. We are entering a critical stage which will extend until the next legislative and presidential elections, in 2007.

P: What about Fretilin’s congress on the weekend?

PCS: It is beyond that. There may have been manipulations but there were former indications that alerted for the firaku-kaladi problem. Actually, a complaint for discrimination was delivered at the National Parliament, regarding the demobilization of several tens of military in 2001 and 2003. If problems come up several times during the years it is a sign that cultural divisions exist.

P: Do you see any way out?

PCS: I believe some mediations should me made. The Western political package should be combined with other elements in order to [obtain] an alternative modernity.

P: What do you mean by alternative modernity?

PCS: That countries should connect modern Western institutions to their own specific culture. A council of wise men that integrated traditional authorities used in a counselling process could prevent cases such as these. Parties should, for example, take into consideration regional quota. That could prevent the existence in the next elections of a hetero-denominated party of, for example, kaladi or firaku. I believe the Estate is still not noted in the interior [of the country]. Fretilin is sometimes noted but not for the best reasons.

P: Luís Filipe Thomaz [a Portuguese historian] said in last Wednesday’s Público that there could be simply a “distance preconception”. Are we not after all exaggerating a problem that can be detected in every country, even those such as Portugal that have many centuries of nation and state building?

PCS: What I am saying is that there are cultural divisions and they should be taken into consideration. But surely they can and should be minimized, mediated and melted. The colonizers did it. In Timor through the Soibada College, that prepared local public servants. It was the “Creolelization”.

P: The Creole is often seen as somehow hybrid. However in Timor Xanana, a typical result of “Creolelization” was elevated to the category of national hero by his co-citizens.

PCS: The malai [foreigners] in Timor are also pertinent in terms of mediation. It is not by chance, for example, that the GNR [the Portuguese police] and some Portuguese are wanted. Mari Alkatiri, from a Yemenite family, is also seen as a malai and in this sense it also represented his role.

P: I insist in the former question: Xanana, Horta and Alkatiri represented a step ahead towards independence. Is the return to cultural anthropological constraints that could also be called old demons, not a step behind?

PCS: I am more in favour of trying to understand these differences. They should be seen as relative but not ignored. On the other hand and talking from a political advisory perspective I would say there is no way of minimizing them but describing. There are many Timorese that are interested in this analysis, even done by foreigners. I was invited to go to rituals for the first time. This culture is completely hidden even to some of the urban leaders.

P: How can the international community help them?

PCS: By making themselves available to turn this heritage into a written one. With Thomas Engelenhoven, a colleague who is a linguist at the University of Leiden, I would even like to suggest that this translation becomes intangible world heritage in Timor.

P: Can you “translate” the meaning of such proposal?

PCS: The most fantastic element in Timor is the translation of traditions. When we ask a Timorese for the history of a region he answers that it is needed to get the elders from several districts and each will tell his own story – in Fataluko, in Makalere, in Makasai [different East Timor languages]. Each one is only able to tell his clan’s story until a certain point in time. There is thus the need for a translation of traditions and a translation of languages. They want the modernization of culture and not just of the Estate. How can we build the nation without keeping up with the culture? The biggest challenge in development is culture. This is achieved by writing down traditions and languages. The dangers of fossilization and distortion do exist but the advantages are enormous especially in the democratization of culture (which is today held by the elders, even for simpler things such as weddings or the job nominations). The Timorese are afraid of the Timorese. They do not know each other. These differences are not just between those from the East and those from the West. Even in a small region the clans do not know each other. And the youngsters only get to know the history of their clan as they grow up. There is thus the need for multiple mediations. And that Estate institutions conciliate in some aspects with important cultural elements.

P: For example?

PCS: To create one or more than one rai-klaran and make them national heritage. Regions where people flock twice or three times a year. Without those nationality rituals it will be more difficult to adequately built the nation.

P: What kind of help should Portugal in particular give?

PCS: I believe we, Portuguese, can be interpreters in globalizations. Between the globalization through English-speaking and the access to Europe through the Portuguese language, they have chose the later. In a very conscious way. The Portuguese language can therefore work as a kind of highway for globalization in Timor.

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