Subject: Lao Hamutuk statement to Development Partners Conference
Statement to the Development Partners Meeting 3-5 December 2003
La'o Hamutuk East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:
As we did at the last meeting, La'o Hamutuk joins the civil society of Timor
Leste in welcoming you to our country and we thank you for your continuing
support for the development of Timor Leste. We would like to use this
opportunity to say a few words to our government, and also to express some
thoughts for our development partners to consider.
La'o Hamutuk, The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and
Analysis, is an East Timorese NGO which has monitored and analyzed the
reconstruction and development process in our country since 2000, with a
particular focus on international institutions.
First, we would like to express our unhappiness with the process through
which the government selected La'o Hamutuk as the sole representative for local
NGOs. Although we have reluctantly accepted this selection, we think it would be
better in the future for the government to work with the NGO Forum to enable
NGOs to select their own representative in a transparent and democratic process.
Although we have consulted with other NGOs in preparing this presentation, the
views expressed are the responsibility of La'o Hamutuk alone.
As you know, Timor Leste's government faces a budget shortfall in the years
2005-2007. We ask our Development Partners to continue and extend your budgetary
support through the Transition Support Program. We hope you will share our
vision that this support is not simply a gift from your generous taxpayers, but
rather one way for the international community to compensate the people of Timor
Leste for allowing Indonesia's criminal and brutal occupation of our country to
continue for 24 years.
Our democratically-elected government is the best institution to make
decisions about how to spend public money in Timor Leste. We encourage
development partners to review your bilateral and multilateral aid projects and
plans, and to ensure that they conform with the National Development Plan and
the current priorities of the government.
Timor Leste's Resource Entitlement
The future economic independence of Timor Leste relies on this nation's
ability to utilize the natural resources in our territory in an ecologically
responsible and sustainable way. This is the only way this country can meet the
basic needs of our people without indefinite dependency on the generosity of our
Development Partners. It is also intrinsic to our national sovereignty, for
which so many struggled and gave their lives.
Timor Leste faces a budget shortfall for the years 2005-2007, since the
international consultants who guided our national planning process did not
anticipate likely delays in Bayu-Undan. That project is now behind schedule, as
we now know is common for large petroleum developments around the world. We
encourage our Development Partners to provide additional budgetary support to
make up for this mistake, and not to force us to go into debt at the beginning
of our nationhood.
In the medium- and long-term, the economic stability of Timor Leste requires
that we receive full legal entitlement to our resources. We continue to be
discouraged by Australia's eagerness to steal our oil and gas, as symbolized by
the rapid depletion of the Laminaria-Corallina oil field. This field would
belong to Timor Leste under UNCLOS principles, but Australia has received
approximately one billion U.S. dollars from it since 1999, making Timor Leste
the largest foreign contributor to Australia's national budget.
At the long-delayed first round of pre-negotiations three weeks ago Australia
once again made it clear that they will resist an expeditious and fair
settlement of our maritime boundaries. Our territorial limits cannot be
constrained by agreements between other nations while we were under colonial or
military occupation, nor by interim agreements to ensure that petroleum
We ask our Development Partners to support the government of RDTL in urging
1. Seriously and quickly negotiate a fair maritime boundary according to
current international legal principles;
2. Rejoin legal processes for impartial resolution of maritime boundary
disputes that cannot be settled by negotiation;
3. Stop exploitation, exploration, and the signing of new contracts for areas
closer to the coastline of Timor Leste than to Australia, including
Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo, and areas NT/P65 (formerly NT02-1) and NT03-3.
4. Place any revenues the Australian government has received from these
disputed areas in escrow, for future apportionment between Australia and Timor
when the boundary has been settled;
5. Respect Timor Leste as a sovereign nation and equal negotiating partner,
entitled to full rights and protections under international law, rather than
taking unfair advantage of this nation's size, inexperience and difficult
We disagree with the World Bank's recommendation to end subsidies for
Electricidade de Timor Leste (EDTL). Electricity is essential to the economic
development of Timor Leste. Although we agree that most people should pay for
their electric use, nobody should be deprived of a basic level of service
(lights and fans) for lack of money. Coercive billing practices, like pre-paid
meters, hurt the very poor and have little effect on those who can afford to pay
unsubsidized rates, such as businesses and middle-class people.
The majority of Timor-Leste's people are victims of crimes against humanity
committed in this country between 1975 and 1999. We hope the Development
Partners will listen to our demand that the architects and perpetrators of these
crimes be held accountable.
United Nations and Indonesian investigating commissions in 2000 recommended
the establishment of an international tribunal if other processes prove
ineffective, so we now ask the international community to make good on that
promise. Both the Jakarta ad hoc tribunal and the UN-sponsored Special Panels
and Serious Crimes Unit have been unwilling and/or unable to end impunity. More
than three quarters of those indicted by the Serious Crimes Unit are receiving
sanctuary in Indonesia.
We urge the international community not to run away from the process it
initiated, but to use all available mechanisms, including economic and political
pressure, to compel Indonesia to cooperate. If there is international political
will to end the impotence of the Special Panels and Serious Crimes Unit, we
encourage continued support for the Dili Serious Crimes process after UNMISET
But since the processes thus far in Jakarta and Dili have not been able to
bring the principal perpetrators to trial, we also reiterate our call for an
international tribunal to try perpetrators of serious crimes during the
Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste. These crimes not only transgressed basic
human rights and universal laws, but defied many United Nations resolutions.
From May to October 1999, they brazenly violated the 5 May agreement between
Indonesia, Portugal and the Secretary-General.
The international responsibility for justice has not yet been fulfilled. We
urge Timor Leste's Development Partners to be forthcoming not only with economic
support, but also to accept the political responsibilities of this partnership,
without with Timor Leste's difficult birth and peace may be short-lived.
Over the next two years, Timor Leste will face difficult financial times. Our
country needs the good will of our Development Partners to get through this
period, so that we can emerge as a stable, self-sufficient nation. La'o Hamutuk
encourages you to continue to support Timor Leste as you have done since 1999,
so we can finally complete our struggle for true independence.
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