Subject: East Timor headlines/23May2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Wednesday 23 May 2001

1. Baucau district court judge assaulted 
2. Only 5 per cent of people understand 30 August election objectives 
3. PPT officially registered as political party 
4. Timor Lorosae police prepare for demos outside UNTAET 
5. UNTAET not making attempts to arrest reconciliation participants

1. Baucau District Court Judge Assaulted (Timor Post, Front Page headline)

Two members of the judiciary were assaulted in Baucau on Monday evening by youths on a motorcycle. The injured were the Deputy Head of the Baucau District Court Pedro de Olivera and Baucau Prosecutor Basilio Sequira.

In a press conference yesterday, both Pedro and Basilio said they were about to go back home after work in a UN vehicle when two youths on a motorcycle blocked their way. The UN Tata-Sumo then stopped, in the middle of the road, and the two unidentified youths asked whether they could load on their motorcycle into the vehicle. Both Pedro and Basilio refused.

Then the youths got violent. One of them tried to take the ignition keys of the UN vehicle but Judge Pedro tried to stop him. The youths then set upon the two judiciary officers. One of them punched Pedro in the face. Then the UN vehicle was stoned.

At the press conference, both Pedro and Basilio said threats have frequently been made on officers of the Baucau District Court. These threats had been reported to Civpol, but they said no action to date had been taken.

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2. Only 5 Per Cent Of People Understand 30 August Election Objectives (Timor Post, Front Page side-bar)

The findings of a survey done by the Working Group on Voter Education, under the umbrella of the East Timor NGO Forum, indicate that only 5 per cent of the population really understand the objectives of the 30 August election. The survey, funded by the Asia Foundation, was done on 1,558 people in 392 aldeias in 196 villages in the 13 districts.

The survey was conducted in February and March and involved 69 members from the Working Group. According to the survey while 75 per cent of eligible voters had heard that there will be an election this year, only 30 per cent knew that the election was scheduled for 30 August.

Only 5 per cent of eligible voters correctly stated, according to the Asia Foundation-funded survey, that the election will be for a Constituent Assembly. On the other hand 61 per cent said the upcoming election is for the presidency.

Speaking at a press conference to present the survey results, Asia Foundation’s Tessa Piper said the aim of the survey was to present an actual picture of the national mood in the country.

“The data, hopefully, will be able to help the forthcoming election process,” said Tessa.

“I am quite alarmed that only 5 per cent of the people surveyed know what the elections were all about. Hence if only 5 per cent are aware, can the elections be fully democratic?” asked Tessa.

Meanwhile the Head of UNTAET’s Civic Education Section Colin Stewart said he appreciated the survey results. But he questioned the timing of the survey.

“I think the situation has changed a lot since March. Now there are more people aware of the 30 August election. In March there wasn’t even a civic education program in place for the whole country,” said Colin.

“We will work hard, in the next three months, to get as many people possible to be registered as voters.”

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3. PPT Officially Registered As Political Party (Timor Post, Front Page second lead)

Partidu de Popular do Timor (PPT), at last, has managed to be officially registered as a political party to take part in the 30 August election.

The party fulfilled all the administrative requirements laid down by the Independent Electoral Commission. Fourteen days after it lodged its application with the IEC, the party’s name was displayed in public places for 14 days. No protests were lodged with the IEC.

On Monay, PPT became an official party.

Applications from five more political parties are still pending approval. The parties are Fretilin, PDC/UDC, PDC, PST and KOTA Party.

Problems seem to be with Fretilin, PDC/UDC and PDC, where other parties have lodged protests to the IEC.

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4. Timor Lorosae Police Prepare For Demos Outside UNTAET (Timor Post, Page 2 second lead)

The Timor Lorosae Police Force has been on full alert since Monday for protests outside UNTAET by CPD-RDTL and ASDT political activists.

All roads to the UNTAET headquarters have been sealed off and the UN parking lot has been emptied.

It has been rumored that the CPD-RDTL demonstrators will try to bring down the UN flag outside the UNTAET headquarters.

Meanwhile Civpol spokesperson Luis Carrilho confirmed in a telephone interview that sharp instruments had been seized from 12 buses and 3 trucks travelling to Dili from Baucau. The joint “sweep operation” was carried out by Civpol Dili and the GNR/Rapid Response Unit.

The joint operation was carried out at the Becora highway on Monday. Civpol, said Carrilho, seized 30 home-made guns, 21 bayonets, 16 sharp instruments and 16 catapults.

“The owners of the sharp instruments said they were traditional weapons to be used for ceremonial purposes,” said Carrilho.

Carrilho said no arrests were made.

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5. UNTAET Not Making Attempts To Arrest Reconciliation Participants (Suara Timor Lorsae, Front Page second lead)

A reconciliation meeting between pro-integrationists and the independence factions will be held in Baucau this Thursday. Leading the UNTAET side will be its Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran.

At a press conference yesterday, journalists asked UNTAET spokesperson Barbara Reis whether the UN was making arrangements to arrest, if they were present at the reconciliation meeting, ex-militia leaders who had committed crimes against humanity.

“UNTAET is not making any plans to arrest them. There are no plans to arrest UNTAS members,” Barbara stressed.

But she said if a court order is served on a UNTAS member who had been involved in crimes against humanity then he would have no choice and would have to be detained.

“The whole world knows that those [ex-militias] who had been involved in crimes against humanity would be arrested,” added Barbara.

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