Subject: UNOTIL Daily Media Review 21 July 2006


Daily Media Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Friday, 21 July 2006

National Media Reports

Cause Of The Crisis Is The Responsibility Of The Leaders: Taur Matan Ruak

Speaking at the funeral service for members F-FDTL killed during the recent crisis, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said in order to restore the damage, the leaders must clarify to the population of Timor-Leste the cause and objective of the recent crisis adding the ‘responsibilities are in their hands’. Taur appealed to the Timorese people to work hard, cooperate and think that the aim that unites everybody is the nation. Prime Minister Ramos-Horta said events that occurred in the past months in the capital Dili are a big lesson for the political leaders to get rid off weapons and hatred as many Timorese have already lost their lives during 24 years to achieve the independence in 2002 and Timorese should not shoot at each other. He said as a leader and brother he appeals to all to forgive each other and dispose off their weapons and live together as one and contribute to the nation. The Minister added that as a temporary measure the families of the deceased would continue to receive their salaries because they died in service. He also appealed for reconciliation. Present at the ceremony in F-FDTL Head Quarters in Metinaro, were members of the diplomatic corps, commander of the international forces, Mick Slater, representative of GNR, DSRSG Bajawa, Vice-Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva and PNTL representative Julio Hornai. (TP, DN)

MTCR Proposes About $10 Million Budget

The Ministry of Labor and Community Reinsertion has presented $10 million budget for its program. According to Minister Arsenio Bano, the programs include veterans assistance, professional and capacity building training, job promotion and increases the programs in the social areas specially, for families affected by the recent crisis. Bano stressed that other area of assistance would be school subsidies for about 200 students who have passed their exams adding the proposed budget is to help reduce poverty. (TP)

Dili District Tribunal Not Fully Functional

Timor Post reported Friday that Dili District Court is not fully operational as the majority of the national staff is still in the districts. The court is functioning only with the international judges and prosecutors. Some of the court process, especially for the suspects detained by the international forces takes place very late at night and it’s the process is all done by international judges, said a staff who asked to remain anonymous. (TP)

Our Government Is Not Supporting Alkatiri Lawyers: Ambassador Pinto

Portugal’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste João Ramos Pinto said his government has never supported the Portuguese lawyers defending Fretilin’s Secretary General, Mari Alkatiri, adding his government does not want to be involved in the problems that occurred in the country. Therefore Pinto asked STL to publish the following denial: The Portuguese Ambassador in Dili repudiates the article published yesterday by this newspaper, titled “Portuguese Government Supports Mari Alkatiri’s Team Lawyers”. This is a false news and unfortunately it seems to want to put in jeopardy e the good name of Portugal and the excellent existing relations between the two people and the two nations. The Portuguese Government had not and will not interfere in any matter of Timor-Leste justice system and all citizens are free to present their defence surrounded by lawyers that they want.. We are certain that this type of information that speaks the truth, in nothing will affect the excellent ties that unite Portugal and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. (STL)

International Media Reports

East Timorese refugees told to go home

AID groups and Australian troops in East Timor are trying to persuade people it is safe to leave makeshift camps and return home. An estimated 100,000 residents of the capital Dili remain in camps at the airport, at church missions and parks throughout the city after fleeing the violence that rocked the city in May. Aid groups have been supplying them with food, water and health services. The East Timorese government has made their resettlement as a top priority for restoring normality and getting the country's economy moving.

Commander of the Australian-led force in East Timor, Brigadier Mick Slater, said some took the view that they were better off in the camps than in their own homes. "Therefore you must understand that it would be an attractive option to them to go back each night to the camps," he said. Brig. Slater said that under the resettlement plan, aid groups would provide food and health services out in the suburbs to entice people to return to their communities, while Australian and international troops and police would provide security. "What we are trying to do is to get those services provided, not just at the camps but within the communities where there are streets after streets of empty houses, so we can get people to move back into the houses and stay there," he said. "This is something we have now been working on for a couple of weeks. We are putting a massive security presence in a particular community or suburb." Head of the aid group Austcare Mike Smith said there remained a crisis of confidence among East Timorese people. Mr Smith, a former Australian army officer and deputy commander of peacekeepers in East Timor, said people remained concerned about their security and felt safe in the camps. (The Advertiser)

"When I am talking to East Timorese people, I am still not hearing enough about peace and reconciliation. I am hearing more about retribution," he said on ABC radio.

"The first thing is security. People need to be convinced and assured that if they return home, they will be secure. That means the ability to be able to go to safe houses, the ability for forces, particularly police, to be able to respond quickly.

"They are also fearful there could be retribution when they go back. They are very concerned about the weapons still within the community that haven't been handed back."

Magic touch in East Timor

Friday, July 21, 2006 By JEFF KINGSTON Special to The Japan Times

Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, 56, is the $ 14 billion man. During 2005, while serving as foreign minister, he is credited with playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role in rescuing Timor Sea resource negotiations between Australia and East Timor. Talks had hit an impasse, partly owing to the abrasive style of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Ramos-Horta, drawing on his considerable diplomatic experience and negotiating flair, was able to obtain a far better than expected 50/50 split of the revenues from underwater gas and oil fields between the two countries. As a result, over the lifetime of the fields, the Timorese stand to gain at least $ 14 billion because of his unsung achievement, a huge windfall for a nation of 1 million.

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is an affable, accomplished and charismatic diplomat who was handed recently one of the biggest challenges of his life: On July 10 he became this young nation's second prime minister amid high expectations that he can restore political stability, reconstitute the security forces, promote development, eradicate corruption and revive public faith in this fledgling democracy. Although conditions remain bleak, he is widely viewed as the best man for promoting reconciliation and restoring hope. In recent months, at considerable personal risk, he has crisscrossed this island during the height of violence to negotiate with rebel groups, reassure the public, stop looters and stem unrest. In addition to accepting this mission impossible, he put aside personal ambitions by withdrawing his name from a shortlist of candidates expected to succeed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

East Timor has been plagued by violence that erupted at the end of April. Former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri is widely blamed for mismanaging a grievance by soldiers into a full-blown crisis. Protests by dismissed soldiers escalated into conflict within, and between, the military and police forces, and sparked widespread looting and arson by roaming gangs of young men. Despite the nation's becoming independent in 2002, unemployment and poverty have deepened the sense of despair for many. Alkatiri was forced to step down on June 26 under pressure from President Xanana Gusmao, then Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta and public demonstrations over his alleged involvement in arming hit squads. Alkatiri is also unpopular due to his aloof style and authoritarian inclinations.

Violence has claimed at least 37 lives and left some 155,000 refugees. The ransacking and burning of homes has pushed an already poor people -- with per capita income of $ 370 -- even closer to the edge. Catholic organizations and U.N. agencies have provided relief when government institutions could not. In his inauguration speech, Prime Minister Ramos-Horta made his priorities clear: to restore stability based on the rule of law, re-house refugees and give the public reasons to trust the government again. He candidly spoke of the government's failures: "We failed in the area of internal security, we failed in dialogue with the people, we stand accused of insensitivity and arrogance, and corruption started to invade institutions of the state." For his nine-month term before elections, he promised there would be no "excuses for inertia" and that he would lead "the fight against poverty. We are going to use existing money to dignify the human being, give them hope, give them food, clothing and give them a roof." The swearing-in ceremony under tarpaulins amid the ruins of an administrative building was a stark reminder of the lingering scars of Indonesia's 24 years of oppression. The collective trauma remains vivid and the challenges of nation building enormous.

There is consensus that the recent violence indicates that two years of nation-building under the United Nations were insufficient. Ramos-Horta said it is almost impossible to make a small business viable in that time let alone a nation. Fast-tracking the process of nation-building is, as we have seen, a shortcut to a faltering state. East Timor and the international community now face steep repair bills for the quick fixes and expedient compromises that prevailed under U.N. auspices. The nation's military and police forces desperately need to be reconstituted, a huge undertaking requiring considerable time and resources. This means that the 2,500 international peacekeepers currently deployed, mostly from Australia, will play a critical role for some time. Last December I met a consultant in Dili who said levels of corruption in East Timor don't match those in Indonesia, but not for lack of effort. Dr. Suehiro Hasegawa, special representative of the U.N. secretary general, recently handed the new prime minister a report on promoting a culture of accountability and transparency. Ramos-Horta is keenly aware of the urgency in breaking the "bureaucratic stranglehold that undermines our best intentions and opens the door to corruption." Winning over an increasingly cynical public depends on making tangible progress on the scourge of malfeasance. A freedom of information law would be a good start.

While Dili boomed in recent years with an influx of development consultants and construction, rural areas -- where most people live -- have been neglected. Alleviating poverty means diverting more resources to agricultural development and food production to raise efficiency on this arid island. In the short term, Ramos-Horta plans more small-scale projects that generate employment and greater empowerment of local officials to facilitate disbursements. It is hard to see how even a diplomatic magician can conjure up a winning hand from the cards Ramos-Horta has been dealt. This is the time for the international community to provide generous and patient support for nation-building. Japan, as the leading donor, has much at stake in demonstrating that nation-building is not just empty rhetoric and a boondoggle for consultants. Jeff Kingston is director of Asian Studies, Temple University, Japan Campus (Japan Times)

Public meetings oppose Australia’s intervention into East Timor

By Laura Tiernan

21 July 2006

The Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site held public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne during the past week opposing the Howard government’s military intervention in East Timor and calling for the immediate withdrawal of Australian troops from the tiny half-island. SEP national secretary Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS addressed audiences in both capital cities. Entitled “The truth about East Timor: why Australia’s military intervention should be opposed” the meetings countered a unified campaign by the mass media and every political tendency­from left to right­supporting the Howard government’s neo-colonial agenda. University students, and workers from Australia, Indonesia, East Timor, the Solomons and New Caledonia, were among those in attendance.

In Sydney, Beams was joined by fellow International Editorial Board member Peter Symonds, who exposed government claims that the deployment of more than 2,000 Australian troops was motivated by humanitarian concerns. “Just as in the case of Iraq, these claims are false to the core. The Howard government has no more interest in the welfare of the East Timorese now than in 1999 when it used a similar pretext­the violence of pro-Indonesian militia­to justify sending in Australian troops. “In the last six years, Australia has provided a pittance in aid to what is the poorest country in Asia and one of the poorest in the world. Moreover, Howard and his ministers have ignored international law and bullied the East Timorese government into handing Australia the largest share of an estimated $30 billion worth of gas and oil reserves under the Timor Sea.” “The guiding principle of successive governments, Labor and Liberal, towards East Timor has all along been the economic and strategic interests of Australian imperialism.”

Symonds reviewed the history of Australian imperialism in East Timor beginning with the Whitlam Labor government’s tacit support for the Indonesian annexation in 1975. Subsequent Liberal and Labor governments had upheld the rule of the Indonesian military that produced between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths on the island. In return, the Suharto dictatorship entered negotiations with Australia over oil and gas in the Timor Sea signing the Timor Gap Treaty with the Hawke Labor government in 1989. Australian policy only changed in 1999 after the collapse of the Suharto regime, with Howard deploying troops to East Timor to ensure Canberra’s continued hold over lucrative oil and gas reserves and forestalling attempts by rival powers such as Portugal to regain control over the island. “In the subsequent seven years, inter-imperialist rivalries have sharpened. The Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” was the excuse for the military occupation first of Afghanistan then of Iraq. The Howard government backed Washington not only to secure Australian interests in the Middle East but above all to ensure US support for its own pre-emptive actions closer to home.” The Solomons, Symonds said, had already been placed under permanent occupation by Australia, and East Timor was next. Symonds explained that Howard’s actions had been “backed to the hilt by the entire political establishment including the Labor opposition, the Democrats and the Greens.”

The Australian media had also worked as a direct accomplice of the Howard government, demonising East Timor’s prime minister Mari Alkatiri as an “autocrat” and manufacturing a case for regime change­a coup­against a leader regarded as anathema to Australian interests. Addressing audiences in both Sydney and Melbourne, SEP national secretary Nick Beams said it was necessary to place the Howard government’s bid for regime change in East Timor in its global context. The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR signified not simply the ending of the Cold War but the opening of a new period of inter-imperialist rivalry as the major powers fought for control over strategic resources. Capitalism was returning to its traditional methods of asserting control over the oppressed countries. The doctrines of “ethical imperialism” used in 1999 to justify war against Serbia, had given way since September 11 2001 and the global “war on terror” to methods of outright illegality on the part of the United States and its allies.

In conditioning public opinion for war, Beams examined the critical role that had been played by the ex-radical groups such as the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia. Like former German Greens leader Joschka Fischer, the DSP had dropped their former slogan of “troops out” and were now advocating, as they did in 1999, “troops in”. The evolution of the DSP into the direct accomplice of imperialism was the logical outcome of middle class radicalism which opposes the only alternative to imperialism: the struggle for the political independence of the working class. Beams concluded by drawing out the lessons from the failure of East Timorese “independence” to offer any way forward for the masses. In the era of globalisation there could be no solution for working people based on the establishment of new national states. Such an outcome, as East Timor demonstrated, would only pave the way for more disasters. The only path to genuine freedom and democracy lay in the unification of the international working class in the struggle for socialism.

In Sydney a member of the Democratic Party in East Timor spoke in the discussion that followed the main reports. He agreed that moves were being organised against the government in the period leading up to Australia’s military intervention and recognised the hand of Australia at work, but added that the problem in East Timor was Fretilin’s inability to solve the economic problems of the country. Beams said the question went to the heart of the issues being discussed. He said the illusion was held out by the leaders of Fretilin that the establishment of a national state would provide the basis to advance the condition of the masses. The same position had been advanced by the LTTE in Sri Lanka and had guided the PLO in the Middle East. This perspective had produced a disaster with growing joblessness and poverty. Right-wing forces such as the Catholic Church and militias were seeking to exploit this social disaster to further their own reactionary agenda.

“We have to ask, ‘what is the source of the problem?’ In this era of massive advances in science, technology and the development of human productivity on an unprecedented scale, is it impossible to feed, clothe and house the world’s population in decency? No it is not.” Beams stressed that the program of national economic development was a fiction. “The real power doesn’t lie within the national state arena. The biggest states in the world, like the smallest, are dominated by the same global banks and transnational corporations.” The failure to provide for the masses of East Timor was a process being repeated the world over, creating the objective basis for the development of a unified struggle by working people for the perspective of international socialism.

Other questions concerned the fight for a socialist perspective. How would the World Socialist Web Site reach people “on the ground” in an oppressed country like East Timor, asked a university student. Beams pointed out that readers of the WSWS could be found in the most seemingly remote parts of the world, but he raised the issue was not really one of communication­it was the clarification of political perspective. “Clarity, analysis, political understanding, that’s what’s lacking and what we are seeking to provide in the development of the World Socialist Web Site.” In Melbourne, questions ranged from the attitude of the capitalist powers to the break-up of Indonesia, the plans of the Bush Administration for Iraq, why illusions were being promoted in Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. Adam, a government regulator, spoke to the WSWS after the meeting in Melbourne. “I found the meeting very informative. I found that the clarification of Australia’s role in the 1990s was interesting. I didn’t know that Portugal was a rival of Australia and how these things prior to the 1999 intervention had developed.

“I have had an argument with a friend about what Australia has done with the Solomon Islands. I was asked what possible business interests exist in such a small country. I did some research on the WSWS and found out about the existence of gold as well as logging companies that are there. But I found out tonight about the resorts they can build and the communal land that Australia opposes.” Joshua, a 24-year-old former nursing student from Newcastle attended the meeting in Sydney. “The troops have been sent purely for the oil in the Timor Sea. That’s all they’ve ever been interested in and that’s why they supported the Indonesian takeover in the first place. It’s ludicrous to think that 2,000 troops have been sent to protect the people over there. It’s total standover tactics and it’s really a message that if you don’t kow-tow to our demands there’ll be consequences down the road. It’s a message to China and Portugal that ‘They’re our resources. Back off.’”

Joshua said there was an attempt by the government and media to appeal to people’s emotions and this was supported by groups like the DSP who argued, “‘yes, it’s militarism, but the troops are needed to protect people now’ It’s like pulling at the heart strings, but it conceals the real causes for the government’s actions.” Malinda, a law student, decided to attend after hearing Peter Symonds speak about the meeting on a local radio station. “I came to the meeting to become more politically aware about what is happening in East Timor. I was a bit cynical about the official version of events and I thought there might be other reasons for Australia’s intervention, other agendas. I had heard that Australia had dealt unjustly with East Timor in negotiating oil and gas treaties but until tonight’s meeting I was unaware of the extent to which it is happening. The speakers at the meeting explained in a way that I thought was realistic, the reasons for Australia’s involvement there. They explained what is actually going on. There are other agendas also behind the war in Iraq. It’s not only about nuclear weapons and terrorism, it’s also about oil.” (World Socialist Website)

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office

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