|Subject: Tempo: Wiranto's Good Luck: Looted
Dili Files Include '99 Riots [+JP Op-Ed]
- Tempo: A Blessing in Disguise for Wiranto
- JP Op-Ed: Caution Over Timor Leste
- Tempo Opinion: Help and Patience
- Tempo: East Timor's Riots Rooted In The Past [In East Timor, Indonesia should wait before acting.]
Tempo Magazine No. 40/VI June 06 - 12, 2006
A Blessing in Disguise for Wiranto
LOOTING apparently has its "blessings." Imagine, as a result of the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) of the Timor Leste Attorney General's Office (AGO) in Dili being looted on Tuesday last week, Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro is at a complete loss. "Ninety-nine percent of the documents on the 1999 crimes against humanity are damaged or lost," said Monteiro. All because the 138 computers in the office were seized by rioters. "The fact is, the evidence on crimes by Indonesian soldiers in the 79 cases we are investigating were stored on those computers," said Monteiro.
According to Monteiro, one of the missing dossiers pertains to the case of retired General Wiranto's involvement in the 1999 riots in Dili. Wiranto and a number of Indonesian Military (TNI) officers were charged with committing crimes against humanity during the transition period starting from before the referendum to when the results were announced and the East Timorese people chose to separate from Indonesia.
The SCU is one of the units within the Timor Leste AGO. The unit handles cases of serious crimes that took place in East Timor in 1999. The investigation committee formed by the United Nations in 1999 concluded that between January and September 1999 there were violations against the law on war crimes and international humanitarian law that resulted in around 1,400 deaths.
Mandated by Resolution 1272, the UN Security Council formed a transitional government-the United Nations Transitional Administration of East Timor (UNTAET). Within this there was a civilian component specifically tasked with investigating and prosecuting these crimes: the SCU. During the transition period, the unit was under the authority of the AGO that was part of the structure of the transitional government. In line with the UN handover of sovereignty to the Government of the Republic of East Timor, the AGO also became a part of the newly formed government. The status of the SCU however did not change. "So long as and as far as the May 5 agreement and UN Security Council Resolutions 1272 and 1410 are not rescinded, the Special Crimes Unit will continue to represent an official UN agency that is carrying out the UN's official mission in Timor Leste," said Monteiro.
Since its formation in late 1999, the SCU has prioritized and investigated 10 major cases that took place in 1999: the attack and murders at the house of Manuel Carrascalão on April 17; the attack and murders at the Liquiça Church compound in early April; the murder of a number of Catholic nuns and a journalist in Lospalos; the attack and murders at the Suai Church in early September; the attack and murders at an Indonesian police station in Maliana on September 8 and 9; the attack on Bishop Belo's residence in Dili on September 6; and the murder of civilians in Cailaco subdistrict in April.
The SCU filed 79 indictments against 367 individuals who were charged with perpetrating serious crimes in East Timor in 1999. Out of the 367, 280 are living in Indonesia. Those charged include militia members and their commanders, high-ranking TNI officers such as Wiranto, officers serving in the field, civilian government officials such as the former Governor of East Timor Abilio Osorio Soares, and other civilian officials. The 87 that live in Timor Leste have already been prosecuted.
The Timor Leste AGO had previously appealed to Indonesia to extradite a number of those charged. This was based on an agreement signed by UNTAET and the Indonesian AGO in 2000 on cooperation in the exchange of witnesses, evidence, and suspects. But up even up until the recent unrest in Timor Leste, Indonesia has failed to comply with the request.
In a final effort, the Timor Leste AGO requested organizational cooperation from Interpol to issue red notices, a request to its member countries to detain people suspected of committing crimes in one of its member states. But even up until Monteiro declared the dossiers missing during the recent riots in Dili, there has been no result.
"I do not know how to effect the return of the [missing] dossiers. I think it will be extremely difficult. Because in this country, at the moment there are no clear laws or regulations," said Monteiro.
According to an Indonesian diplomat who is still in Dili, Monteiro is lying. "Just recently I was in the area of his offices, there was no visible trace of looting. I think he's lying," he said. If true, then what remains unclear is in whose interests is Monteiro lying. -- Ahmad Taufik (ABC, Direito)
The Jakarta Post Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Caution Over Timor Leste
Loro Horta, Singapore
Australian media reports stated that embattled Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri accused Indonesia of being behind the current wave of violence in Timor Leste. Such statements were never made by Mari Alkatiri. What Alkatiri said was that some members of the former pro-Indonesian militias took advantage of the military crisis to create instability and panic.
Many of these former militias were able to return to the country under President Xanana Gusmao's reconciliation policy. Many former pro-autonomy people were also integrated into the police force under the same reconciliation strategy. These individuals are now taking advantage of the crisis to further exacerbate the situation. As even recognized by the Australian force commander, many of the gangs spreading terror thought Dili are well coordinated and have been using the now dead Timorese police network communication systems.
No doubt that former militias have been doing their best to exploit the situation and further undermine the government. However, there is no evidence that the Indonesian government or even marginal factions within the Indonesian Military (TNI) are involved. On the contrary, the Timorese government is extremely appreciative of the restraint and positive way in which Jakarta has responded to the crisis.
The Australian media, which in the last few days has assumed an openly anti-Alkatiri stance, now seems to be trying to create misunderstanding between the two nations as a way to further isolate Alkatiri. No doubts that Mari Alkatiri should take most of the responsibility for the crisis, and his arrogant style of leadership has not done any good to the country.
However, Alkatiri has stated on various occasions that he is concerned by the interference in Timor Leste of certain Western powers, never mentioning Indonesia. The prime minister was actually strongly opposed to asking Australia for military assistance in the current crisis, and it was also Alkatiri who requested Malaysian troops as a way to balance Canberra's influence. It was also the prime minister who asked Malaysia and not Australia to take over security along the border with Indonesia.
Many members of the Dili government are far more concerned over Australian indentations than they are over Jakarta's. Many believe that Australia and the U.S. are to some extent behind the crisis. Obviously such suspicions are rather bizarre and unlikely for the crisis is primarily internal.
However, the recent comments attributed to Mari Alkatiri are rather strange in light of the excellent relations between President Yudhoyono and President Xanana on the one hand, and Ramos Horta amicable relations with Hasan Wirajuda.
So far the comments attributed to Alkatiri have managed to offend Indonesia and damage its international reputation. These allegations have created tensions between the two countries in a period when Timor Leste needs the support and solidarity of its large neighbor.
Why would Timor Leste have any interest in doing such a thing, considering that under President Yudhoyono's administration relations have improve remarkably?
Relations between the two nations have improved beyond all expectations, and today the two countries enjoy friendly ties. Perhaps too friendly for the taste of some people.
Timor Leste seeks and wants a closer future with Southeast Asia's largest democracy and the nation with whom it shares so much in common. In the difficult days that both nations will have to face, it is imperative that our leaders and peoples are not manipulated for the benefit of others.
The writer is a graduate of Sydney University and is concluding his master's degree in strategic studies at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore. He was previously an advisor to the Timor Leste Defense Department. The views expressed here are those of the author.
Tempo Magazine No. 40/VI June 06 - 12, 2006
Help and Patience
The violence in Timor Leste has led thousands of people to leave their homes, and forced the intervention of foreign troops. Because of the burden of history, Indonesia should wait before acting.
A FREE and active foreign policy means that Indonesia cares abut every effort to bring about world peace. But we must make an exception when it comes to the recent violence in Timor Leste. The bloody burden of history means that Jakarta is not free to actively offer assistance. The option of waiting while signaling readiness to assist only if it is requested is the best one to take.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems to have chosen this option. Apart from sending a Hercules plane to evacuate Indonesian citizens, and stationing a ship off the coast of Timor Leste for the same purpose-which is the government's obligation-the Indonesian government has decided to avoid involvement, or even the impression of involvement, in the international efforts to pacify Timor Leste. This is a wise stance, but care must be taken to ensure it does not go too far.
Closing the border, for example, is the right thing to do. But do not close it completely, leaving us open to charges of choking off the flow of supply of badly needed necessities. If there are refugees needing food, water, medical care or other humanitarian assistance, we must facilitate it. This must be given openly and should be limited to humanitarian assistance, so we are not accused of giving support to one side in the internal dispute engulfing our neighbor.
Wisdom in avoiding the possibility of accusations of meddling is extremely necessary, especially from senior Indonesian officials, because apart from the bloody burden of history, there are still unresolved human rights violations. The disappearance of documents accusing several Indonesian Military personnel of complicity in human rights abuses from the Timor Leste prosecutor's Serious Crimes unit after the looting by mobs, could easily spark charges that Indonesia is trying to make the situation worse.
We should not be angry or defensive about this kind of accusation because it is understandable, given the actions of past governments. In fact, we should take advantage of the situation to show the world that Indonesia has changed and become a nation that loves peace, respects its neighbors and is always ready to send help if needed. A free and active foreign policy means being free not be involved and active in being prepared to send aid if requested.
Tempo Magazine No. 40/VI June 06 - 12, 2006
Riots Rooted In The Past
Prime Minister Alkatiri has refused to resign. The riots in Timor Leste have deep roots.
DILI is in the grip of fear. The security situation in Timor Leste's capital city since the bloody riots between soldiers, army deserters and police broke out two weeks ago remains volatile. Last Friday for example, the situation was calm with some residents even celebrating the peaceful atmosphere with a motorcade through the streets. Later that afternoon however, a group of armed people attacked and burnt down a number of houses in the Komoro area of West Dili. Fortunately there were no fatalities. Australian troops who arrived at the location in armored vehicles succeeded in gaining control over the situation but failed to arrest even one of the perpetrators.
On the same day, dozens of residents demonstrated in front of the Palacio das Cinzas or the Palace of Ashes, Timor Leste's presidential palace, demanding that Alkatiri resign. President Xanana Gusmao meanwhile had dismissed Defense Minister Roque Rodrigues and replaced him with Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Ramos Horta. The Minister for Internal Affairs, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, was likewise sacked and replaced by Alcino Baris who originally held the post of Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs. Being the heads of the departments that oversees the military and police, the two were regarded as having failed to maintain control of the situation.
Since the riots broke out on Tuesday two weeks ago, around 30 people have died and more than 60 have been wounded as well as hundreds of houses and buildings being torched. More than 60,000 Dili residents have sought shelter in churches, convents and Catholic schools or the square at the Dili port and the Timor Hotel. Around 30,000 people chose to return inland to their villages and foreigners have been leaving the country. Government offices and shops have shut or been burnt down and looted. Looting also took place at the Attorney General's Office resulting in the disappearance of dossiers on the 1999 crimes against humanity-including the dossier of retired General Wiranto. Markets and schools have been closed.
It is not just ordinary residents that are afraid. Even leaders of the Catholic Church who are usually safe because they are held in high esteem by the Timor Leste people-the majority of whom are Catholic-have also been threatened. Catholic priest Domingos Sequeira for example, has sought refuge at the Motael Church. He admitted to being traumatized after two of his colleagues fell victim to the violence. Catholic priest Mouzinho was fired on by unidentified persons in the Mercando Lama area on May 25. His condition is critical and he is now receiving medical treatment in Australia. Catholic priest Adrianus Ola meanwhile was attacked by a group of armed youths while trying to assist victims of the rioting in Don Bosco, Komoro.
The origins of the disturbances in Timor Leste remain unclear. It began on Tuesday two weeks ago with an exchange of fire between members of the Timor Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) and army deserters led by Major Alfredo Reinado in the Fatuahi hills of East Dili. A day later, a group of deserters exchanged fire with soldiers in the Tasitolu and Tibar areas of West Dili. Under the leadership of First Lt. Gastao Salsinha, in mid-February the group had presented a petition to Xanana asking him to resolve problems of discrimination within the F-FDTL.
The violence continued even after Australian troops arrived on Thursday two weeks ago. And there has been little improvement in the situation. On Friday two weeks ago, police and soldiers began negotiations mediated by United Nations peacekeeping troops. The police surrendered their weapons and the UN took over the police headquarters in Kaikoli with police officers seeking temporary protection at the UN offices in Timor Leste (UNOTIL) that are also located in Kaikoli. But as they left the headquarters escorted by UN troops, they were then fired on resulting in the death of 10 officers and the wounding of 29 others, including two military observers from the UN. Since then, the situation has spiraled increasingly out of control.
Many, including Australian Prime Minister John Howard, believe that this is the most serious incident of rioting that has yet taken place in Timor Leste. Following the 1999 referendum, the "culprits" were the pro-Indonesian militia. This time the trigger for the riots and the ringleaders behind it are unclear. What is certain, is the clearly audible demands from below for Alkatiri to resign. Alkatiri is regarded as failing to resolve internal problems within the government and the issue of the 500 or so dismissed soldiers.
In mid-February, F-FDTL Commander in Chief General Taur Matan Ruak dismissed Salsinha along with 150 or so soldiers originating from the western part of Timor Leste on charges of desertion after they presented the petition to Xanana. Soldiers from the west of Timor Leste (Loromonu) feel they are treated as inferiors compared to those from the east (Lorosae). Understand that all of the high-ranking military officers-including Ruak-originate from Lorosae and according to Salsinha, Lorosae soldiers often receive preferential treatment in matters such as promotions. Lorosae soldiers are considered worthy of receiving more rewards because they played a greater role in the struggle to win independence from Indonesia.
Alkatiri was unable to resolve the internal problems within the military and as a result rioting broke out on April 28. At the time, Salsinha's group was holding another demonstration but this time it ended in a riot causing the deaths of two people and around 100 or so people injured.
Following this incident, Alkatiri formed two commissions that were to resolve the issue of the deserters and record residents' financial losses so that the government could compensate them. The team that dealt with Salsinha and his comrades was led by the Minister of State Administration Ana Pessoa and made up of non-government organizations and church representatives. In addition to this, Alkatiri ordered the F-FDTL to oversee security.
But the two commissions failed to function properly and the soldiers assigned to oversee security instead started acting recklessly. On April 29, they fired on Salsinha's group in the Raikotu area resulting in civilian casualties. According to the government's version, five people were killed, but Salsinha claims that 60 lives were lost. Chaos erupted again on May 27.
Because the situation was becoming increasingly insecure, early last week Xanana took over responsibility for state security from Alkatiri. Xanana also asked for an international team to investigate the violence on April 28 and 29 and the Kaikoli incident.
Does this mean that there is a quarrel between Xanana and Alkatiri? And did the "dispute" between them contribute to the internal split within the F-FDTL? Who knows. But certainly there is a history of friction between the pair.
In 1975, when Fretilin unilaterally proclaimed independence, Alkatiri was already a minister, while Xanana was just an ordinary member of the party. But during the struggle against Indonesia, Xanana played a much greater role in leading the struggle directly from the forests and mountains, while Alkatiri lived in exile in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. It is not surprising therefore that the F-FDTL is loyal to Xanana.
In order to counter Xanana's authority, Alkatiri established a powerful police force directly under the control of Lobato, a close friend of Alkatiri. Police Chief Paulo Martins was often ineffectual because command of the police was largely in Lobato's hands. In addition to this, Lobato formed a number of special police units: a rapid response unit, anti-riot police, and border police, which had more sophisticated weapons than the F-FDTL.
In order to assert influence over the military meanwhile, Alkatiri appointed Ruak's wife as the prime ministerial advisor for human rights affairs. Children of F-FDTL commanders were appointed as government officials in Alkatiri's office. Former Defense Minister Rodrigues is also a close friend of Alkatiri.
The existence of a conflict between Xanana and Alkatiri is yet to be confirmed. But what is clear is that Alkatiri is refusing to resign. The head of the team that negotiated the deal on the Timor Gap oil reserves with Australia has stated he will stay in office at least until the general elections next year. Alkatiri denies that the riots are a consequence of his erroneous policies. "This was an action that was carried out by a few groups in Timor Leste and foreign parties," he said. "There is definitely a mastermind behind all of this, but who it is remains unclear."
Whatever the case, what is more important now is how the Timor Leste leadership repairs the fissures that already exist. -- Bina Bektiati, Salvador Ximenes Soares and Jems Fortuna (Dili)
The Jakarta Post Wednesday, June 7, 2006
War-weary Dili residents keep hoping for peace
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Dili
Margaritha Amaral lay alone with only an old thin mat separating her from the ground below. There was no makeshift shelter or tent to cover the sick 60-year-old from the cold wind.
The woman has been staying in a shelter for displaced person in Comoro, West Dili for the past two weeks.
When violence broke out in the Timor Leste capital Dili two weeks ago, sparked by the dismissal of 600 soldiers, raising fears of civil war between the east and the west parts of the tiny country, she had taken refuge in a Catholic convent in Motaail area.
In a soft voice, she admitted she had grown tired of the violence in the country.
"I'm 60 now. When I was little, I witnessed civil war and now, in my old age, I'm still witnessing civil war. I'm tired of this. We're all Timor Leste people but why do we kill and attack one another?" she asked.
The violence has paralyzed the city, with shops, offices and traditional markets closing, making it hard for people to obtain the basic necessities.
Other residents said they were tired of witnessing violence on a daily basis, which forced them from their homes to shelters where food was provided by international humanitarian groups.
"If we stay at home, we will die of starvation. It's been a month and I haven't gone to work. I have not received my salary due to the uncertain security situation. How can I support my wife and children?
"That's why we live in the shelter, there's violence everywhere. We're tired of living under these conditions," said Regilio Manik, a 40-year-old worker at a foreign construction company.
"The conflict is between the leaders but we the people are the victims. I appeal to the government to solve the problems. Don't place the blame on others but find a peaceful solution. Forget the past to seize the future so we can live in harmony and the government can take care of the people's welfare," Regilio said.
With unidentified mobs continuing to torch houses and looting offices and other buildings, many residents, who earlier had hoped foreign troops could bring security to the city, were disappointed.
"Foreign troops always arrive late. When a house has already been razed by fire or when a warehouse has been cleared out by looters," said Mario, 35, a resident of Taibesi in East Dili.
He called on the country's leaders to reconcile.
"Let's build the country together. Stop judging people by their background, whether they come from the east or from the west," he said.
------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service