Walk out of Timor-Leste parliament for human rights victims
Dili, 7 September 2009

A walkout by FRETILIN MPs today brought the Timor-Leste parliament to ahalt, for lack of quorum. The MPs walked out in protest at decision of theGusmao de facto government to free the militia leader, Martenus Bere, who isalleged to be responsible for the murder, abduction, rape, deportation andpersecution of many Timorese in Suai during the violence in 1999.

One of Bere's alleged victims was a young girl called Alola - the veryperson form whom Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the wife of the Prime Minister, namedher charitable foundation for the women of Timor Leste FRETILIN, which is thelargest party in the parliament, considers the release to be illegal and unconstitutional.

Speaking to journalist after the walkout in Dili today, FRETILIN leader,Aniceto Guterres, said that it was also an act of solidarity for victimswhose rights had been trampled by the release of Bere. Mr Guterres headed ahuman rights advocacy organization during the Indonesian occupation.

"This time their hypocrisy was too much," said Guterres. "After thisviolation of domestic and international law, they had the audacity to sendtheir Foreign Affairs Minister to the parliament to discuss the proposeddraft law on Treaties and Conventions? It all seemed too cruel a charadefor us to partake in, when it is clear that they have no intention of abiding by international laws and norms. When it is very clear they have no respect for the rule of law or the principle of separation of powers.

"The victims of the violence in 1999 have had their constitutional rights tojustice trampled all over. They are still thirsting for justice. Thesentiment displayed by the victims and their families since the release ofthis militia leader has been remarkable. One of the victims listed in theindictment of Bere is Juliana dos Santos, also known as Alola. The PrimeMinister's wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao named the ALOLA Foundation after her.There are many other victims who want this man to face justice for theterror he heaped on people. Now it looks highly unlikely that he will,"Guterres said.

Alola's father Manuel Soares was reported by Agence France Press on 6September 2009 saying, "For the victims, everything is ruined and broken. Icame here today to get away from the feeling."

AFP further reports him saying angrily, "We want justice, but it neverhappens. They release all the criminals and all the people who were involvedin the killings. If the government or the UN dared enough, they could go andarrest the militias," adding, "They are all liars. They just talk and makepromises. All the organizations who claim they help victims, they are justtalking and talking."

Mr Guterres expressed astonishment that the parties in the governmentcoalition today showed so little support for calling the government toaccount for this scandalous decision. "Government MPs complained about othermundane issues instead. Only one MP inadequately defended their actionssaying that it had to be done to maintain stability in Timor-Leste. Anothersaid that unless Bere was released there could have been persecution ofTimorese students in West Timor.

"We don't believe that Indonesia could not have guaranteed the safety ofTimorese living in Indonesia. There was no support from these MPs for therights of victims and their families. We believe our walk-out was anappropriate act of solidarity for justice for the victims of violence in ourcountry," Guterres said in closing.

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