Subject: East Timor: Interview with Fernando de Araujo, Leader of the Partido Democrat

Received from Watch Indonesia! <>

Rua Demokratika No.1 On the road to democracy, where the streets have no name

Interview with Fernando de Araujo, Leader of the Partido Democratico Wednesday, September 4, 2001

On the beach in Dili, wet and laughing children were doing summersaults. There was no street name on the street across the beach, just an arrow and a sign : Partido Democratico, 50 meters. PD is Timor's new democratic party. Officially 2 months old, PD is the second strongest party in Timor Lorosae. PD won seven seats at the recent Election for the Constituant Assembly. The address printed on their brochure is Rua Demokratika No.1

Edith Koesoemawiria and Monika Schlicher from Watch Indonesia! interviewed PD Chief, Fernando de Araujo. Araujo spent six years in an Indonesian jail during the Timorese resistance. Afterwards he went to Australia to study and returned to Dili for the elections. Following is the interview.

Why was PD formed? The idea came about 2 or 3 months ago, when I was in Australia. Friends here in Timor Lorosae felt that there was a need for a party, or an institution, which could accomodate various thoughts and concepts.

Even though many parties already exist? It's not easy, parties consist of people, different persons. Then there are those who do not agree to the program, or those who do not agree with the persons because they have seen "things" there.

What kind of things, give an example We'll take Fretilin as an example. Many people question why PD does not join the Fretilin. But for PD members, the priority is to democratize the process. We do not want this country to be dominated by just one group. And at the time, if PD joined Fretilin, we would become an extremely dominant majority. We were worried that it would become just like the Golkar party in Indonesia. We do not want to experience the same history over again. When we speak of the (type of) people, in Fretilin there is a tendency towards veteranism. The seniors are considered to have more rights or know more. This is a very patenalistic attitude unwanted by the PDs.

What differentiates PD to Fretilin? We're not the same. Take our positions on government. PD, for instance, is for a presidential system, whereas Fretilin wants a semi-presidential system. And then, the Fretilin would like to restore the 28 November 1975 proclamation. We are against that. In economics, PD would implement a market economy with selective governmental intervention. I don't know whether Fretilin has the same policy or not. There is also the question of leadership. We believe in the necessity for a new generation.

So does PD reflect the youth of Timor? Well, 70% of the top leaders of PD are under 40. You can't say we're really youths...we're called the post-75 generation.

How many member does PD have? Our policy is to not register people as members. What we have are structures. In each structure, for instance on the national level, there are 27 persons. On the district level there are 25 persons etc. And then, we have also organizers in the villages.

Where is PD getting most of its support, the city or the districts? I would say, the districts. If we evaluate the election outcomes, you'll notice that PD has gotten many votes in Ermera and Suai. I'm not sure about Dili, we'll have to await the outcome. Because we don't register and distribute membership cards, we can only evaluate from the elections.

What does PD hope for in future elections? We hope that the people will be more rational. This time, the elections tended to be emotional. Again, if we look at Fretilin, ....certain person are not liked by the people, but because they carry the Fretilin name and banner, they get majority votes.

Are you saying it is the person that is important and not the party? When I spoke about emotional, I meant towards the party and not the person. The people are emotional about the party's name, not because Fretilin offers a better program. It is a question of their (Fretilin) name, their history. That's what people are voting for, not a program that ensures a better future.

What would PD like to have entrenched in the constitution? Generally, we want a constitution that reflects the life of the people of Timor Lorosae. A constitution that reflects and protects the people's identity. We also want a constitution that positions Timor Lorosae in the current era. A constitution that looks forward, that is sensitive to the people tradition and history.

Can you be more precise, for instance on human rights, minority rights, etc. What we want is a democratic Timor Lorosae, that honours human rights, that doesn't isolate itself from the world. These are our basic principles, but to reiterate every point in an interview is difficult.

Will PD continue to campaign to attain more support? Till now PD has won 6 seats. We will go on and keep participating in future elections. This election is just part a prosses to form a constitution. And PD is fighting for a re-election or a new parliamentary election, and a presidential election.

Your views on a tribunal or reconcilation? Reconciliation has taken place. But we need harmonization in the lives of the people in Timor. The term reconciliation has lost its meaning and value, in the future it would be more correct to use harmonization. This is what we have to do.

And what about a tribunal for human rights violations? I think it must be done. Harmonization or reconciliation can not put aside the law nor the judicial process. Because only through this process will the people be sastisfied and then harmony will really exist in the lives of East Timorese

And your views on the AdHoc Tribunal in Indonesia for Timor Lorosae? I don't understand about the Ad Hoc Tribunal, what kind of system will be enplaced. What we want is an independent tribunal that can ensure justice.

But how do you envision this justice? Justice would be, where all those who were involved in criminal acts be brought to court. And then, those whose family members were killed, must know who had killed their relatives. Also for those who do not know where their family members are buried, they should at least be informed about the whereabouts of their bodies. and so was killed, or taken into custody on such and such date, his remains were thrown into which lake or buried in what place... the perpetrators should admit their guilt and realize that it is a criminal act. And although as Xanana says there will be an amnesty, that will be the next step. The step after the enforcement of justice. It is impossible, even ridiculous, to give amnesty when we haven't determined their guilt. That would be wrong. Amnesty will be the prerogative of the future president of Timor. But before that, it has to be determined first whether these person are guilty or not. If found guilty, then they should go to jail for several years. And then the president can decide on amnesty.

What about the physical destruction, are you considering requesting renumeration? Yes, I think that has to be discussed. PD would like good relations with Indonesia. With its people and its government. And remember the people of Timor does have good relations with the people of Indonesia, it is only with the military and the government that it is not good. But were working towards a good relation. And then we can talk about the destruction, or about bones of soldiers that are still buried here. It has to be discussed, it has to be negotiated.

So this is long term? Yes, on a long term...

Back to September menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from