|Subject: Timor-Leste Local Media
Monitoring, 18 February 03
Timor-Leste Local Media Monitoring Update Dili, 18 February 2003
TP, STL, Lusa, The Age: Inauguration of CRTR Building, Testimonies of Former Prisoners
During the official opening of the office of the Commission of Reception Truth and Reconciliation (CRTR) in Dili on Monday, President Gusmão stated "I hope that this building, so long steeped in tragedy, can be a living centre to document the history of East Timor... so that young people can learn about the past and? make a commitment to protect human rights forever". The CRTR will operate in the renovated Balide prison, built by the Portuguese and used as a prison to torture thousand during the 24 years Indonesian occupation.
On this year first public hearing with the theme "Political Detention" many of the former prisoners recalled the experiences they went through. Julio Alfaro, a Timorese entrepreneur and President of the Former Political Prisoners closed the metallic door of the cell where he spent three years in silence except for a small hole on top of the ceiling where the light can be seen. He said, " We spent 24 hours. Those prisoners, those less dangerous gave us food," adding that "When someone was called for interrogation during the morning most of the time they would return but if it was around nine in the evening they would never returned." He said the prisoners spent their time by conversing through the loophole of the doors.
Speaking at the event the UN administrator Kamalesh Sharma told former prisoners: "I want to pay my respects... you stand for the many colleagues who did not survive." The old Portuguese jail was restored by Tasmanian firm Pitt & Sherry with $US1 million donated to the commission by the Japanese government. Also present at the event were Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, Bishop of Dili and Baucau Diocese, Basilio do Nascimento and Members of Parliament
TP: Bank Refused to Handle Former Indonesian Civil Servants Pension
The Head of Indonesian Political Affairs in Dili, Harry Say told the media on Monday that the bank indicated by Indonesian Government to handle former Indonesian civil servants pensions has refused to deal with this issue saying that according to the "Memorandum of Understanding" between Indonesia and Timor-Leste government, the payments are under CISPE responsibilities. Say noted that the bank (TASPEN) rejected the request to come to Timor-Leste to hold an information session about the payments through the local television, reported Timor Post.
Jakarta Will Financially Support Refugees in Indonesia
Indonesia Government decided to financially support refugees from Timor-Leste who have decided to become permanent resident of Indonesia, said the Deputy Governor of West Timor, Johanes Pake Pani. He said the refugees will be under the care of the Indonesian Public Administration authorities and the Transmigration Department reported the newspaper.
STL, Lusa: UDT and Fretilin Willing To Ask For Forgiveness
The President of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) João Carrascalão said he asked for forgiveness to all the Timorese people for any wrong doing from his party before the country gained its independence. He said, " Before the country's independence, on behalf of UDT I asked the Timorese for forgiveness. However, today, with this commission I hope that we can pardon each other. If CRTR wish that we ask for forgiveness to the whole population, I am ready."
The National Parliament Vice-President and a member of Fretilin, Jacob Fernandes said his party asked for forgiveness during the election campaign but is willing to do it again at the commission request, reported the media. Meanwhile President Gusmão said that "true reconciliation" in Timor-Leste will only be possible when the new nation's political parties "ask forgiveness" for errors they committed in the past. Gusmão called to Timorese political parties involved in "political violence" to recognize their "negative behavior" and "ask for pardon from the people," reported the media. To create a tolerant society in Timor "it is crucial to reach the truth in this question" said TL's President.
SRSG at the CAVR National Office: 'PEACE-BUILDING WORK A DAILY CHALLENGE THAT CAN ONLY BE DONE BY THE PEOPE OF TIMOR-LESTE'- UNMISET Press Release ? 18 February 03
(Dili, 17 February) ? The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Timor-Leste, Ambassador Kamalesh Sharma, said today that the work of peace-building is ongoing and often difficult, and can only be conducted by the people of Timor Leste. He was speaking at the opening of the National Office of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) at the former Balide Prison in Dili. "This is a daily challenge, a commitment that must be reinforced in the everyday decisions of citizens, government officials, police officers and others", said the SRSG, adding that the CAVR has an important role in helping Timorese citizens to play an active part in building a commitment to human rights and peace in Timor-Leste. Balide was used as a prison until September 1999. Many thousands of Timorese have been interned there, especially after 1975. Thanks to a donation from Japan, the prison has now been refurbished and converted to serve as the CAVR National Office. Several former political prisoners who had been detained in Balide took part in today's inauguration. The SRSG paid special tribute to them. "You stand here free today, carrying the memories of this and other places like it in your beautiful land", the SRSG told the former prisoners, adding that they also stood for the many friends and colleagues who did not survive the suffering. "You have shown, through organizations such as the Association of Ex-Political Prisoners, tremendous leadership in the task of defending human rights in your new country", said the SRSG. During the reconstruction, the graffiti found on the walls was preserved. The cells used for solitary confinement were kept, save for the installation of lightning, as they were found so that visitors can see for themselves the conditions the prisoners were kept under. The SRSG said that the graffiti "continues to speak to us today". "It reminds us of the suffering but also of the deep well of human strength and hope in the most difficult and testing times. It reminds us of the need, throughout the world, to ensure the protection of inalienable rights", he added. The RDTL President Xanana Gusmão, also speaking at today's ceremony, said that the work of the CAVR is important in helping those who suffered to free themselves from the past trauma. "Many people are not yet free", said the President. He added that " peace of mind means that people feel truly free: free from psychological or political pressure, free from economic or social tension, free from past trauma, free from daily shortcomings and free from fear of what tomorrow may bring". But the President stressed that that the sacrifices of those who suffered will only be honoured when Timorese society reaches an equitable level of development, based on steadfast determination to eradicate poverty in the country. "It will be meaningless if we have all the perpetrators in jail but the people continue to face infant mortality, endemic and epidemic diseases, without a decent house, without clean water and food", said Xanana Gusmão. He warned that without a change to the current poor standard of life, the grief lived in the past will not be healed and reconciliation will be a lot harder to achieve. "Peace and stability will continue to be a dream for the people of Timor-Leste", he said.The SRSG for his part congratulated the Commission on its achievements to date, and offered the support of UNMISET in CAVR'S work and in its efforts towards the fulfillment of its humanist inspirations. The opening of the National Office was followed with CAVR's first themed National Public Hearing on political prisoners. The hearing will conclude tomorrow.
For further information contact: Marcia Poole, Spokesperson/UNMISET, Mobile: + 61 (0) 41 786 8485, Telephone: + 61 8 8946 3900 Ext. 605
"Viva Timor- Leste!" with 'Around Oecussi Field Trip' ? UNMISET Media Briefing ? 17 Feb 03
PKF has just taken more than 50 Oecussi students on a 'Around Oecussi Field Trip', the first trip of its kind since independence. The field trip was designed and organised by the Korean Battalion (ROKBATT) which is serving in the isolated Oecussi enclave. The aim was to help the students develop an appreciation for the value and importance of the nation's territory and to have them take pride and confidence in Timor-Leste's future. 56 students, one from each of the enclave' schools, took part in the 3-day [13th-15th February] trip that covered 116km along most of the Tactical Coordination Line. The party also included 9 teachers, as well as participants nominated by the local district administration and 3 NGO workers. They were accompanied by 33 ROKBATT members including its Commander, Colonel Kim. Participants visited the [border] Junction Points currently manned by ROKBATT. They also paid a visit to Tumin cemetery where they honoured those who have died and said they would try to carry on the spirit of their ancestors. 19-year old Stanislaus Tefa said that "I would like to take this opportunity to commit myself to studying harder for the benefit of my country and will also have more appreciation for my country." The Commander of ROKBATT, Col. Kim, handed out certificates of completion to each participant and said he hoped that the field trip served as an opportunity "to build a sense of patriotism in the students who will soon become the future of Timor-Leste". He added that he hoped that students who took part in the trip "would commit themselves to building the future of this new nation." ROKBATT gave each participant 2 'Be the Reds' T-shirt, a pair of sneakers and a backpack containing stationery goods, a handkerchief, toothpaste, toothbrush and souvenirs.
'Ring The Golden Bell' Quiz competition ? UNMISET Media Briefing ? 17 Feb 03
PKF (Korean Battalion) is organising a series of quiz competitions in support of the middle schools' scholarship programme in Oecussi. The first 'Ring the Golden Bell' competitions were held at Palaban middle school, near Oecussi town, and at St. Antonio middle school. Students answer questions based on common sense and socials issues in a quiz designed to create in them an enthusiasm for learning. The competition was open to all the school's students. The 30 first round qualifiers were selected through several 'True or False' questions. The final rounds were played as a 'survival round' in which contenders played against each other until only one was left. The winner was awarded stationery goods including a school backpack and a scholarship worth U$30. The competitions were a great success with students eagerly supporting and cheering their classmates. But no-one has actually rung the 'Golden Bell' yet: to do so the contestant still standing at the end of the final round must not only eliminate the other contestants but also answer all the 30 questions of the final round correctly, and no winner has managed that yet. If a winner answers all the questions correctly, they get to ring the 'Golden Bel' and all of their schoolmates are given one item of clothing. A speech competition was also held alongside the quiz competition. 6 contenders, one boy and one girl from each grade competed against each other and the winners were awarded scholarships worth U$ 20. The runner-ups were awarded scholarships worth U$ 10. After the event, 50 teachers and students from St. Antonio middle school were invited to the headquarters of ROKBATT for a buffet lunch and a seminar on the development of the community in Timor-Leste. The winner of the quiz competition, 16-year old Katarina Anunu said that "I myself never even dreamed about winning the competition. I'm very happy to receive such a wonderful award." She also thanked ROKBATT for supporting the event. Programme designer and organiser Major Hwang said that the competition is turning out to be very popular among the students and that they participate very enthusiastically. ROKBATT will continue this programme in the 3 remaining middle schools in Oecussi.