Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 12 April 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, 12 April 2005

Catholic bishops blast government on religious teaching in schools

An increasingly bitter dispute between the government of Timor-Leste and the country’s Catholic Church over plans to demote religious teaching in schools has escalated after two bishops accused the government of causing “great offence” to their church.

In a joint press release, Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili and Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau said a 24 March government statement attacked “the conviction and fundamental references of the Timorese” and “diminished the sacred scripture”.

Last month’s criticism by the government against the Catholic Church was in response to what Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has described as “unwanted interference” in state plans to make religious instruction in public schools as optional subject. Under the scheme being piloted in 32 schools, Timor-Leste’s various established churches will take responsibility for teaching religion.

In the communiqué, the two Roman Catholic bishops also criticized the recent creation of the Truth and Friendship Commission being planned by Dili and Jakarta. They claim the body will neither give moral compensation to victims of war crimes nor punish those who committed them. “The people will not accept impunity for crimes against humanity. The victims who suffered these crimes, their families and the people in whose name the crimes were committed deserve more than this.” (Lusa, STL, Timor Post)

TL Foreign Minister to call on Ireland for more aid

Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has called on Ireland to expand its aid programme to Timor-Leste. Despite international aid totalling more than $1-billion since 1999, Mr Ramos-Horta said “immense needs remain”. Arriving in Dublin yesterday for a four-day official visit said he hoped that donor countries, rich friends, do not leave in haste because there are some oil and gas revenues coming in the future. (The Irish Times)

Aniceto Guterres on roles of Commission of Experts and CAVR

The Director of CAVR, Aniceto Guterres, has stated that the UN’s Commission of Experts and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) have each got a separate missions and roles. Mr Guterres made the above statement after he was questioned following his meeting with the Commission of Experts last week. He said the role of the Commission of Experts is to evaluate a process, while CAVR is seeking to find the truth, which is then forwarded to the President and the National Parliament before it is made public.

When asked about the meeting between families of victims and the Commission of Experts, Guterres responded by stating that the meeting was sponsored by human rights groups as well as UNMISET’s Human Rights unit, not CAVR. (Timor Post)

MP Guterres: Indonesians have lost their rights over assets

MP Eusebio Guterres claims that Indonesians no longer have any right to reclaim their assets in Timor-Leste. Guterres says that according to Timor-Leste’s constitution, private and company assets belonging to Indonesians and Portuguese individuals are now under the ownership of the state. MP Guterres is urging Timor-Leste’s government to enforce the existing law. He said the deadline for Indonesians to reclaim any assets or property ended on 10 March 2004. However, he concluded by saying that private assets could legally be reclaimed through a court process and based on paragraph 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, MP Leandro Izaac expressed similar sentiments, arguing that if the Indonesian government wants to reclaim their assets then Timor-Leste should do the same. (Timor Post, STL)

Coverage on protests during President SBY’s visit

Timor Post runs various headlines on the reactions on a demonstration, which national police prevented from taking place during the visit of Indonesia’s President to Timor-Leste on Saturday. The newspaper quoted the Socialist Party of Timor-Leste’s (PST) representative, Nelson Thomas Correia, who criticised the attitude shown by the national police (PNTL) for preventing them from protesting.

Meanwhile, Fretilin’s Fransisco Branco was reported by Timor Post as saying that PNTL’s attitude in preventing demonstrators from expressing their opinion during the visit of the Indonesian President SBY was undemocratic and that the group should have been allowed to protest peacefully. (Timor Post)

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