|Subject: TimorPost: Threatening Shots Fired
by Major Alfredo Reinado's Group
Threatening Shots Fired by Major Alfredo Reinado's Group; MPs: International Stabilization Forces Lying. Timor Post, 9.02.08 Dili - MPs from the Democratic Party (PD), Timorese Social Democratic Association (ASDT) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) parliamentary parties, said that the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) Commander Brigadier General James Baker has lied in his public statements that it was major Alfredo Reinado's group that fired in a threatening manner against ISF soldiers when the had a sudden confrontation with an ISF vehicle in Ermera recently. PD MP Adriano Nascimento, who was accompanied by Francisco Araujo (ASDT) and Fernando Dias Gusmao (PSD) sought to clarify the events in a press conference at Parliament House on Friday (02/08), saying that the statements reported by Brig Baker that Alfredo's group opened fire threateningly, were a lie. At the time the three were together in the same place with and meeting with Alfredo Reinado and Gastao Salsinha. Recently, Brig Baker said that Alfredo's group fired threateningly at the Australian ISF soldiers, when they suddenly came across them in vehicles on the road. Baker said that his soldiers were on patrol at that location to repair the road which had been damaged by heavy rains. However, according to the three MPs, their meeting with Alfredo had been underway for about 30 minutes, when one of Alfredo's members yelled out that the ISF patrol were approaching too closely, and one of his members fired six shots into the air because he had spotted four ISF vehicles already only about 25 meters away.
MP Adriano said that in accordance with the agreement between the ISF and Alfredo, the ISF can patrol along the roads but cannot approach anywhere near the area where Alfredo and his group are staying. He also said that unfortunately due to sudden confrontation involving weapons the discussion they were having could not continue and they were unable to further their objective of hearing directly from them how their problem could be resolved. They were forced to react swiftly and ready to defend themselves and their position, taking up positions to have a shootout, said Adriano. As the MPs could see that Alfredo's group and the Australian Forces had their weapons raised at one another, the three MPs on their own initiative reacted by commencing to speak with the Australian Forces. In speaking with the Australian Forces, they informed the ISF that they were members of parliament from ASDT, PSD and PD who were there to meet with Alfredo to hear directly from them about their problem so as to contribute towards a solution, but the Australian Forces kept their weapons pointed at them. "We greatly lament the conduct of the Australian Forces, we came out raising our arms telling them we were MPs, showing them our identification cards, raised our hands twice more telling them we were civilians, but they continued with their weapons pointed at us," said Adriano. "We approached to about three meters from them but they still kept their weapons trained on us, but it was not until we held up our identification cards that some of them with whom we had been speaking lowered their weapons, but some others kept their weapons trained on us. It was not good for them to do this to a Member of Parliament."
The three MPs stated that as a result of this action by the ISF, they had delivered a letter of protest to Australian Embassy in Dili and the Australian Parliament for their attention to this issue. The presence of the three MPs in Ermera, should have included an MP from CNRT but he had to withdraw at the last minute due to other work commitments. The three MPs traveled to Ermera with the authorization of their respective party presidents to hear directly from Alfredo and Gastao Salsinha, so that they could find a solution to this problem. Fernando Dias added, " we went there officially, not as individuals, but as Mps with the authorization of our parties. Francisco Araujo (ASDT) said that they had gone there because they consider that this problem had already dragged on for too long without resolution. "We went because three years have lapsed without this problem being solved, and because we are committed to and hold the position that we needed to hear directly from Major Alfredo, but we are disappointed we could not realize our objective because of what occurred," he said.
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