Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 3 May 2005

[Poster's note: Long repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list have been removed.]

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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TL: Police give church protestors deadline to end demonstration

Protestors in Timor-Leste have been given a deadline of today by police to call off their demonstration, according to a police source. “The deadline is Tuesday. If there are no evident signs of demobilization, the police will act to restore law and public order,” the source in Timor-Leste’s national police headquarters told Lusa news agency.

Details of the police ultimatum for the ending of the anti-government protests were given in a letter delivered yesterday to Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili and other senior church officials. A reply to the letter, signed by deputy-Bishop Apolinário Guterres, was received at Dili’s police command, said the source, with the senior clergyman stating that the “demonstration will continue”.

According to the police, the demonstrators have not complied with their declaration of a peaceful demonstration following several violent actions which have occurred in the past few days. PNTL Commander General Paulo de Fatima Martins said that the demonstration had degenerated to become a provocation and an agitation.

Meanwhile, the number of participants at the demonstration continues to grow, with a reported 20 trucks with an estimated 850 people on board arriving from Ermera district yesterday afternoon. At the weekend, the power struggle pitting Timor’s powerful church against the government gained new momentum, as signs of a possible rapprochement mediated by President Xanana Gusmão appeared to evaporate.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, whose resignation has become the demonstrators’ central demand, told Lusa on Saturday the FRETILIN party did “not exclude the possibility” of mobilizing counter-demonstrations in support of the government. (Lusa, Timor Post)

Religion to be included in school curriculum

Timor-Leste’s government has decided to include religion in the school curriculum. Speaking to journalists after meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Ramos-Horta, said that while the government had made this decision, it would still be up to the parents of individual children to determine whether their child should take part in the religion lessons. Ramos-Horta said that this decision should be viewed as a positive conclusion for the demonstrators and that they would all be able to return to their homes after the meeting today between the government and the two bishops. He said that the Prime Minister felt optimistic that a proper conclusion to the matter would be found in the meeting. (Timor Post)

Demonstration a show of disgruntlement at lack of attention

According to the head of the National Party of Timor (PNT) in the National Parliament, Alianca da Conceicao Araujo, the demonstration against the government’s education policy represents an accumulation of discontent and frustration within the Church, and thus the problem which has arisen is nobodys fault.

She said that the demonstration is reminiscent of demonstrations organized by the former Falintil guerillas, who also have experienced discontent with the government. Araujo said that the Church played an important role during Indonesian times as one of the fronts against colonialism. But since then, the role of the Church in the struggle has been forgotten and this has brought about anger within the Church.

Araujo said that Fretilin leaders such as Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato do not understand the situation of the people during the occupation, and thus the demands of the former clandestine network and Falintil guerillas are not given the attention that they deserve. She said that the only person that understands the situation of the people during Indonesian times is President Xanana Gusmao and therefore the key to solving this problem lies with him. She said that he must not avoid this problem but must play a key role in resolving it. (STL)

Horta to speak to Australia on deportation

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Ramos-Horta, said that he would speak to the Australian government to request them to permit 50 Timorese, planned for deportation, to remain in Australia. However, Ramos-Horta said that he would first need to ascertain whether the 50 really are Timorese.

He added that Australia’s decision to deport the 50 is not related to the Timor Sea issue. Timor Post yesterday reported that the Australian government had decided to allow 1400 Timorese asylum seekers to remain permanently in Australia, while a further 50 will be returned to Timor-Leste. (Timor Post)

Suspected Fretilin involvement in illegal levies

A group of people identifying themselves as representatives of a Fretilin youth organization are suspected of being involved in the collection of illegal levies from foreign business people in Dili, said to be used to assist the ongoing Church demonstration. According to Member of Parliament Antonio Ximenes from the Christian Democrat Party, there is nothing wrong with the collection of such funds as long as it is done without threat or force. However, Ximenes said that the use of threats or force for levy collection is against Timor-Leste law and religious norms and thus the parliament would form a parliamentary group to investigate the matter. Meanwhile, Elizario Ferreira, a member of a Fretilin youth organization, rejected the accusation, saying that Fretilin leaders had not authorized the involvement of any of the Fretilin youth organizations in the demonstration. (STL)


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