Subject: News from East Timor press 10 Feb 2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ≠ Saturday 10 February 2001 

  1. FDTL Not Against Other Countries
  2. Not Chosen To Be Fighters, Scores of FDTL Protest
  3. Xanana Supports Visit Of Indonesian Journalists
  4. Itís Best For Refugees To Return To East Timor, Bishop Belo

1. FDTL Not Against Other Countries (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)

The change of Falintilís name to the Forcas Defensa Timor Lorosae (FDTL) was not meant to indicate that an armed forces was created to fight against other countries. It was more to defend the East Timorese people against external threats and instill a sense of peace and security in the country.

The Deputy Commander of FDTL, Timor Lere Anan Timor said this at a meeting with a delegation of 18 Indonesian journalists at Falintilís headquarters.

ďIndonesia might view that our defense forces will be used against it. I must stress that it is not the case because our defense forces will only be used to protect the people,Ē said Lere.

The following are excerpts of the interview.

Journalists: The security problem seems serious in Timor Lorosae.

Cmdr Lere: I know that is the condition, here, before the East Timor becomes a country. But I promise I am ready to overcome all problems that might emerge [on the path to full independence].

Journalists: What kind of defense system will be in place in Timor Lorosae? Will it be similar to that of Singaporeís or other small countries, for instance Taiwan where the air force is strong?

Cmdr Lere: We will not establish a strong armed forces to be a threat to other countries. But we will establish our defense forces, based on what we can afford, for the protection of the people. We donít have the freedom to choose the type of security system for our armed forces. But we are under the (Transitional) Administration and the administration has the right to choose and determine the type of system that we need.

Again, I urge the Indonesian government not to pay attention to information circulating outside. We will establish our defense forces to cater for the needs of the people and we will obey orders from the Administration.

Journalists: Is there a possibility that foreign troops might have bases in the future Timor Lorosae?

Cmdr Lere: With regard to this question, I cannot answer it in my name. Brigadier-Genera Taur Matan Ruak (FDTL Commander) is my superior. Only he can answer it.

Journalists: When will FDTL take over the role played by the PKF?

Cmdr Lere: I cannot really say when we are ready to take over from the PKF. We are now performing our duties in a transitional stage. UNTAET will make the decision of when we are ready to take over from the PKF.

Journalists: With regard to the security at the border, what is FDTLís role in it?

Cmdr Lere: As I said earlier, we are working in a transitional stage. Only when PKF leaves will we play a serious security role in the country. That would also mean we will be at the border.

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2. Not Chosen To Be Fighters, Scores of FDTL Protest (Timor Post, Front Page headline) 

Aileu ≠ Scores of FDTL members protested yesterday after they failed to pass the test to choose the defense forces first fighters. Of the 650 Falintil members that were selected to be FDTL members, 250 were chosen to undergo training as the FDTLís first fighters.

The FDTL members that failed to be selected for early training expressed their anger by threatening to leave the Falintil headquarters with their belongings.

They stopped an IOM bus carrying a delegation of 18 Indonesian journalists that was making its way to Alieu. The FDTL members wanted all the passengers to disembark so that they could use the bus to transport them to their homes in Suai.

Civpol and PKF were soon at the scene.

The Indonesian journalists them met with Deputy FDTL Commander Lere Anan Timor, who said there was an apparent miscommunication with regard to the selection process. But he said the FDTL members had to realize they were military members and they were bound to be disciplined for breaking military rules.

According to UNTAET spokesperson Barbara Reis, the incident was a small one which arose out of miscommunication. It was an internal FDTL problem, she said ≠ one that would not spoil the journalistsí visit to East Timor.

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3. Xanana Supports Visit Of Indonesian Journalists (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page, side-bar) 

Xanana Gusmao said he supported the trip to East Timor by a delegation of 18 Indonesian journalists.

ďI fully support the trip because it shows openness in a country. Through this trip, also, we can also inform the Indonesia whatís happening here. We know Indonesia has a multitude of problems, from political to economic stability,Ē he said.

ďJournalists from Indonesia, and anywhere else, are free to come here and see for themselves the true situation here. Then they can criticize whether it is true or false. Thatís openness here,Ē said Xanana.

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4. Itís Best For Refugees To Return To East Timor (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page Second Lead) 

The Bishop of Dili, Carlos Filipie Ximenes Belo expressed strong hopes that the East Timorese refugeess still in West Timor will come home soon. He siad this when meeting a delegation of 18 journalists at his home in Lecidere, yersterday, before leaving for Same.

Bishop Belo said it was best the refugees returned home fast because at the refugee camps there was not enough land for farming and there werenít vacancies for work as Indonesian Civil Servants.

When asked by the Indonesian journalists to comment on East Timorís relationship with Indonesia, Bishop Belo said Indonesia previously, too, fought for freedom from Dutch colonial rule. He said that was the tradition, also, followed by East Timor.

ďIndonesia has to realize that what we are doing now was the same as what the forefathers of an independent Indonesia did. If they still do have problems understanding, I think the matter has not registered in their brains!Ē added Bishop Belo.

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