Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review - 14 July 2008

[Poster's note: Repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list (info@etan.org) have been removed.]

UNMIT

(International news reports and extracts from national media. UNMIT does not vouch for the accuracy of these reports)

Bishop Basilio: MPs may buy cars as well as pay attention to peoples' needs– Diario Nacional

Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau Diocese said that the National Parliament may buy cars for the MPs as a minimum condition to facilitate their work but should also see to the needs of the people. The Bishop said that if Parliament feels the cars are really necessary, then they should go ahead with the purchases. Regarding Freilin's peace march, Bishop Basilio said that it is Fretilin's right to do so.

Salsinha and Railos are sick – Suara Timor Lorosa’e and Timor Post

Former rebel commander Gastão Salsinha along with Vicente Railos are apparantely suffering from respiratory sickness. The two suspects have asked permission from the Government to seek medical treatment abroad.

‘We held a meeting yesterday [Friday night] with the lawyers of the suspects to talk about their problems. They are sick but we still do not know the exact nature of their illness,” said the Minister of Health Nelson Martins. The minister said that if the two suspects could not be cured in Timor-Leste, that they would be sent abroad for treatment.

The State declares petitioners to be civilians – Timor Post

The Government of Timor-Leste stated that the official status of the petitioners who had gathered in Aitarak Laran is to be civilian. According to the Coordinator of the Petitioners, former F-FDTL Major Tara, even though the decision was hash, they would accept it for the stability of the nation.

Under the draft legislation yet to go before East Timor's Parliament perpetrators of crimes, including murder, during the 2006 political crisis could avoid the courts by instead issuing a public apology.

Families of victims killed during the unrest could be in line for $10,000 compensation, a vast sum in the poverty-stricken nation.

The draft law states, ''The priority is not to punish the perpetrator, but is to restore the situation of the victims prior to the crime as much as possible.''

The push follows the recent move by the head of state to slash the sentences of numerous prisoners, with several ex-militia members jailed for crimes against humanity over the 1999 violence now free.

It also comes as the landmark East Timor-Indonesia Commission of Truth and Friendship is due to formally hand down its report on the 1999 bloodshed surrounding East Timor's historic vote for independence. The report blames Indonesia for murders, rapes and torture in 1999, with a lack of accountability among security forces a key cause.

Brussels-based think-tank the International Crisis Group says the new draft law, if passed, will erode people's confidence in East Timor's justice system, and the rule of law. The group's South-East Asia project director, John Virgoe, said, ''Serious crimes were committed in 2006, including arson and murder.

''If the perpetrators and the political and military figures behind the violence are not held to account, there will be no deterrent against future outbreaks of political violence.''

He said the President's decision to grant full or partial pardons to 94 prisoners in May would also make it difficult for East Timor to move forward. ''People's sense of justice is not satisfied, their belief in the rule of law is undermined and the message is sent that, in East Timor, you can, quite literally, get away with murder,'' he said.

An East Timorese court is due to consider a request that an alleged key player in the 2006 violence travel overseas for medical treatment. Vicente da Conceicao, known as Railos, who is alleged to have led armed civilians in attacks against East Timor's military personnel in 2006, was arrested last October and remains in pre-trial detention.

Former government minister Rogerio Lobato one of the few people jailed over the 2006 crisis is yet to return after he was sent to Malaysia for medical treatment in 2007. He received a pardon from Dr Ramos Horta earlier this year.

Dr Ramos Horta has defended his decision to grant pardons, including one to militia leader Joni Marques who murdered nuns and a priest during the 1999 independence vote. He said it was enough that Marques had served eight years, when no Indonesians would serve time over the violence. ''What do I tell my conscience?'' Dr Ramos Horta said.

''This militia [has] already served eight years. ''Can you imagine? There is no Indonesian military on trial or in prison and East Timor, showing great heroism of its judicial system, keeps an idiot, an unfortunate guy, in prison.''

E Timor, Indonesia hope to draw line under 1999 violence- ABC News, 14 July Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will meet with East Timor's President and Prime Minister in Bali for tomorrow's official release of the final report by the Commission of Truth and Friendship, investigating the violence of 1999.

A leaked copy of the final draft shows the commission found gross human rights abuses, committed by both pro-autonomy and pro-independence groups, often sanctioned by members of the Indonesian security forces.

East Timor's Commissioner, Dionisio Babo Soares, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program the commission's final report, and recommendations, will help repair the relationship between the two nations, and bring closure.

"Victims have been the priority of the commissioners in debating the recommendations, so as long as these things are addressed in an appropriate way, I believe very much that people in East Timor, particularly the victims, will not need go beyond the expectations of what the commissioners have written in the report," he said.

The Indonesian Government says it recognises its "moral obligation" to act on the findings of the East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission.

Usman Hamid from the Indonesian human rights group Kontras says the report is important in increasing understanding in Indonesia, East Timor and Australia as to what happened and what caused the unrest.

"If the Government and the Parliament responded positively to the report, I think it can be used for making Indonesian society ... understand more in terms of the role of international forces, and also about the root causes of the violence," he said.

Amongst the recommendations in the draft, is an apology from the presidents of both nations, to victims of the violence.

Marcos Exposto, one of the victims of the 1999 violence, says an apology alone may not be enough.

"I would accept an apology, but it wouldn't make my life any better," he said.

"I would accept it, but if my life simply continues like it has been, I won't be any happier."

Chopper contingent heads to Timor – NewstalkZB, 14 July< The last Air Force helicopter detachment to serve in Timor-Leste leaves from Palmerston North today.

The 30-strong team will spend three months in Dili before withdrawing personnel and two Iroquois helicopters. Support from the Air Force was first requested in 1999, where it was maintained for three years and then again for 18 months from last April. Also heading overseas today is a contingent of Territorial Force personnel who are heading for the Solomon Islands for a four month tour of duty.

The group of 43 includes a veterinarian, a postie and a Department of Conservation ranger. It will be the seventh rotation to support the Regional Assistance Mission.

Major Bede Fahey says such operations give members the chance to take on the challenges that would be experienced full-time in the Army. He says the contingent will be working primarily on a police-led mission carrying out patrols and liaising with locals.

Indian cos vying for oil assets in Australia – The Economic Times, 14 July <

ET Bureau MUMBAI: Indian companies are vying for oil assets in Australia. Reliance Industries (RIL), Essar Oil, Videocon Group, GSPC, BPCL, GAIL India, GVK oil and Gas are learnt to be interested in bidding for the five prized exploration blocks on offer.

The Australian government is likely to close accepting bids by October this year. The Indian companies have started negotiations with Australian oil majors like Oilex, Santos, Arrow Energy, and BHP Billiton among others.

An Australian delegation is currently visiting India seeking investments in the oil and gas sector. The delegation from the Government of Western Australia is likely to meet the petroleum ministry and the upstream regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for collaboration in the upstream sector.

When contacted, Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot, confirmed that he would be bidding in Australia in the upcoming round. "We are in talks with all our prospective partners, GSPC, BPCL, HPCL and GAIL, to jointly bid for oil blocks in Australia. We are planning to bid in association with an Australian firm."

The Australian delegation will meet Essar Oil officials early this week for investments in the oil and gas sector and said that Essar is willing to participate in the upcoming oil and gas auction. However, when contacted, the Essar spokesperson in an e-mail reply said, "As a group we keep on looking for opportunities in the sectors that we are in. However, as a matter of policy, we do not comment on specific proposals which may be speculative in nature."

Reliance Industries (RIL) is also learnt to be interested in bidding for oil assets in Australia. However, the RIL spokesperson said he would need more time to respond to queries from this paper. A RIL source said, "We have bid for a couple of oil blocks with Santos of Australia." Last year, RIL bagged an exploration permit for block WO6-05 in the Bonaparte Basin in Western Australia, its first exploration block in the region. RIL has also got licenses for uranium mining in Australia.

GVK Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of GVK Power and Infrastructure, forayed into oil exploration by aggressively bidding with Australian oil major BHP Billition in the NELP VII. It is likely to participate in the Australian auction round also. However, this could not be independently confirmed from the company. Calls made to GVK spokesperson remained unanswered.

State-owned GAIL India is learnt to be in talks with Arrow Energy of Australia for joint collaboration in upstream projects in India, Australia and overseas.

So far, Videocon has two hydrocarbon blocks in Australia. The block EPP-27 in the South Otway Basin, Australia is co-owned with Oilex and GSPCL – the three companies oown 60% – with the balance 40% being retained by the orriginal license holder, Great Artesian Oil & Gas. It also has a stake in Block 103 Joint Petroleum Development Area, Timor Leste & Australia.

The consortium comprising Videocon Industries (25%), GSPC (25%), BPCL (25%) and Oilex (25%) as the Operator has been awarded the Block 103 by the Timor Sea Designated Authority, which was created on April 2, 2003, pursuant to the Timor Sea Treaty between Governments of Timor-Leste and Australia.

CWS Hotline - 14 Jul 2008: Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Zimbabwe, USA – Relief Web, 14 July Zimbabwe -"We really appreciate the statements we have read from some of you, the prayers, vigils and conferences that you have held all in an effort to ensure better lives for the people of Zimbabwe," writes Church World Service partner Christian Care about CWS and others in the Action by Churches Together coalition.

Politically motivated violence in the wake of a contested presidential election and run-off continues in Zimbabwe. There are ongoing problems with food shortages, as corn meal, a food staple, is now available only on the informal market. Zimbabwe suffers from an 80-percent unemployment rate and an annual inflation rate of between 1 million to 10 million percent.

CWS is supporting Christian Care's response to the humanitarian crisis, which includes providing assistance for those who have been displaced by the political violence.

CWS has continued to aid the work of Christian Care through support of food assistance programs in the last year and by providing shipments of material resources for distribution to families and individuals in need.

Among them are some 350 internally displaced persons who had camped at the South African High Commission office and were moved to the Ruwa Rehabilitation Center, east of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Christian Care, who had been providing them with psychosocial support, has now also taken over responsibility for providing and preparing food for these IDPs.

Myanmar (Burma) The longest-lasting effect of Cyclone Nargis, which hit Myanmar on May 3, will be seen in farmers' ability to recover and produce food. The Irrawaddy Delta is the rice-producing heart of Myanmar, and most rice farms have been destroyed.

Church World Service is helping partners in Myanmar to assist more than 116,000 vulnerable farmers with seed stock and fertilizer, power tillers and fuel. One power tiller can speed up the planting process for some 20 families. Also, land-owning farm families are being provided cash so they can provide employment to families out of work since the storm.

Contributions are urgently needed to assist families in the Irrawaddy Delta struggling to recover from the cyclone's devastation.

West Timor Drought is causing a food crisis in Indonesia's West Timor for more than 91 percent of households, according to a report by Church World Service. A July 7 story on the Cable News Network highlighted CWS’s work assessing the hunger and malnutrition situation there.

CWS is urging support for income generating activities, food- or cash-for-work initiatives, and the provision of safe drinking water. CWS is also collaborating with the H.J. Heinz Company Foundation of Pittsburgh, PA, to provide micronutrient supplements. CWS continues to support agriculture programs, education and training, small scale irrigation, and better drainage to improve food production in West Timor. U.S. floods

Church World Service is providing more than 600 Emergency Clean-up Buckets, the majority of which were made by members of the United Church of Christ, to Adventist Community Services, Ankeny, Iowa, for distribution to families recovering from severe flooding in the central U.S.

Additional kits are needed for flood recovery and other needs. You and your congregation can help with your donations and by making CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets. Before July 31, buckets can be transported or shipped to either our Elkhart, IN, office, the Brethren Service Center, New Windsor, MD, or Ferncliff Center, Little Rock, AR. After July 31, they can be shipped to the Brethren Service Center or the Ferncliff Center.

TNI Chief ready for consequences of KPP`s report – Antara News, 13 Juuly Jakarta (ANTARA News) - National Defense Forces (TNI) Chief Gen Djoko Santoso said he was ready to face the possible consequences, if it was true that the Indonesia-Timor Leste Truth and Friendship Commission (KPP) had declared the TNI institutionally responsible for human right violations in East Timor in 1999.

"I still don’t know (about the KPP`s statement) but if the TNI as an institution is held responsible, I will be accountable. I have just returned from Lebanon, so I have not yet seen the (KPP)`s formulations," he said at the Merdeka Palace here Saturday.

But Santoso did not explain in what way he would live up to his responsibility. "I still don’t know what the (KPP`s) has actually said. When I have received it, we will consider in what way we will show our responsibility," he said.

Santoso also said matters relating to the KPP`s report had yet to be discussed with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The KKP which began working in 2005 was expected to present its official report to President Yudhoyono and Timor Leste President Ramos Horta on Tuesday (July 15) in Bali.

But Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald daily was reported to have already published parts of the KPP`s 300-page report.

Quoting from the KPP report, the Australian newspaper said the TNI, the Indonesian police, and the then East Timor provincial government funded, armed and coordinated the anti-independence militia forces that committed crimes against humanity in 1999.

It said the Indonesian military, police and East Timor government officials were at the time involved in every stage of activities that led to gross human right violations, including murder, rape, torture, extra-judicial arrests, and forced deportation of East Timorese people.

According to the KKP report, pro-independence militia also committed acts of violence during the referendum in 1999 but based on the available evidence, pro-Indonesian militia groups were the main and direct perpetrators of gross human right violations in East Timor.

Timorese are best placed to judge – The Age, 12 July By Alexander Downer-EVEN in 1999 it was widely known that elements of the Indonesian military were behind the violent militia activity in East Timor.

If reports are correct that the Commission of Truth and Friendship finds that the Indonesian military gave financial support as well as weapons to the pro-integration militias, then that finding reflects very well on the commission and gives it credibility.

Through much of 1999 the Australian government was convinced that, at the very least, elements of the Indonesian military were providing support to militias in East Timor. The questions for the Australian government were twofold. First, was this support by the Indonesian military sanctioned by the Habibie government and, in particular, president Habibie; and second, if not, was the Indonesian military acting contrary to the policy of the government and in defiance of military command.

In early 1999, the Australian government's view was that there were elements of the Indonesian military — whiich I referred to as "rogue elements" — that were defying the orders of Jakarta and were determined to destroy any chance of a successful referendum taking place. I surmised that elements of TNI and the militias assumed that the East Timorese people would vote overwhelmingly for independence and that the best strategy was to make the referendum impossible to hold. With that in mind, Australia and the United Nations encouraged Jakarta's government to do more to bring the militias into line and to discipline those elements of the TNI that were defying Indonesian government policy.

In April, after the violence reached a new peak, John Howard and I organized a summit in Bali with Habibie, foreign minister Alatas and defence minister General Wiranto. Habibie agreed with us that the level of violence was unacceptable. He also made it clear, as did his ministers that Indonesia would do more to try to bring the violence under control. It is well known that Howard pushed Habibie to accept an international peacekeeping force in East Timor and that Habibie, at the plenary meeting of leaders and ministers, thumped the table, explaining that if he was to agree to foreign troops on Indonesian soil he would not be able to sustain his presidency.

The best we could obtain from that summit was agreement to allow for an increase in UN police numbers in East Timor.

A good deal hinges on whether


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