Timor massacre suspect back in Indonesia

October 31, 2009 


Indonesia brought home a suspected militia leader accused in a massacre of dozens of women, children and priests in a church in East Timor a decade ago, the Foreign Ministry said.

Maternus Bere arrived in Indonesia on Friday and was taken to a hospital with undisclosed health problems, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah. He faces no charges in Indonesia and will be a free man after treatment.

An Indonesian national, Bere was indicted by UN prosecutors in 2003 on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, persecution, forced disappearances, torture, extermination and abduction.

More than 1,000 people were killed by pro-Indonesian militias when East Timor voted to break from Indonesia in 1999, but more than 300 suspects remain at large, most of them in Indonesia. Leaders from both countries oppose criminal trials so rights activists have called for the establishment of a UN tribunal.

Bere was recognised during a visit to Suai, the town where the massacre took place in September 1999, and was arrested by Timorese police in early August.

He was handed over to the Indonesian embassy at Jakarta's insistence after negotiations between the two governments on August 30, the 10th anniversary of the tiny country's vote to become an independent state.

East Timor's Supreme Court is investigating whether Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao violated the constitution by ordering Bere's release.

Judges say political leaders illegally bypassed the courts with the release, highlighting the continuing challenge to establish an independent and viable judiciary after the tiny state broke from hundreds of years of colonialism in 2002.

© 2009 AP

No US visa for 2 Indonesian defence officials

Army's alleged past misdeeds hamper Jakarta's bid for full military ties with Washington             By John McBeth, Senior Writer 

JAKARTA, Oct 30 — Weeks into his second term, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been given another embarrassing reminder that the alleged past misdeeds of the army he once served remain a major stumbling block in Indonesia’s efforts to restore full military ties with the United States.

The Straits Times has learnt that Defence Ministry secretary-general Syafrie Syamsuddin and Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) commander Pramono Edhie Wibowo have had their US visa applications either turned down or put on hold.

Lieutenant-General Syafrie was unable to accompany Dr Yudhoyono’s delegation to the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh last month, and Major-General Wibowo has apparently been prevented from giving a closed-door presentation to the Pentagon during a planned visit to Washington this week.

A former special forces intelligence officer, Lt-Gen Syafrie is widely tipped to become Cabinet Secretary in place of Sudhi Silalahi, who was promoted to State Secretary in the new ministerial line-up Dr Yudhoyono announced last week.

But even more embarrassing for the President is that Maj-Gen Wibowo, another career special forces officer, is his brother-in-law - and apparently on track to become armed forces commander near the end of the President’s five-year term.

It was hoped that Maj-Gen Wibowo’s unblemished record would allow him to make the case with defence and congressional leaders that Kopassus has reformed and that it should be allowed to resume exercises with the US Special Forces.

Although officials insist that the visa ban is not final, Lt-Gen Syafrie, 56, is in a different category because of allegations surrounding the November 1991 churchyard massacre in Dili and the bloody May 1998 riots that preceded president Suharto’s fall from power.

US Embassy spokesman Paul Belmont declined to comment on the issue, saying it was against US law to discuss individual visa cases.

Lt-Gen Syafrie is a 1974 military academy classmate of vice-presidential candidate and former Suharto son-in-law Prabowo Subianto, who is banned from the US for his role in the kidnapping and torture of pro-democracy activists in 1997-1998.

Prabowo, a retired general, was cashiered in late 1998 after taking responsibility for the kidnappings before a closed-door military honour council. It was a move that hardly satisfied human rights groups, but allowed then armed forces chief General Wiranto to rid himself of a rival.

Although Lt-Gen Syafrie has never been charged with a crime, that has little bearing on an ongoing US State Department investigation to determine whether the former Jakarta regional commander should be allowed a visa.

US officials insist there is no actual blacklist carrying the names of Indonesian officers accused of human rights abuses, the vast majority of whom have never seen the inside of an interrogation room - let alone a courtroom.

The Indonesian government has sent a letter to the State Department defending Lt-Gen Syafrie’s service record, saying that he was not on duty when soldiers opened fire on East Timorese mourners at Dili’s Santa Cruz cemetery in 1991.

It also pointed out that a special parliamentary commission had cleared him of responsibility for the deadly shooting of four students at Trisakti University on May 12, 1998 — the event which led to the two days of rioting in central Jakarta. The government of then President BJ Habibie 16 months later absolved him of any accountability or legal responsibility for the violence.

Despite Indonesia’s rapid strides towards democratisation, congressional foes like US Senator Patrick Leahy continue to insist that those accused of crimes against humanity should be brought to justice before the US considers restoring military ties to the way they once were.

Most attention centres on officers indicted by the United Nations Serious Crimes Unit for alleged human rights abuses committed during the bloody military-led militia rampage before and after the 1999 East Timor referendum.

But other generals, particularly those who have worn Kopassus’ red beret, remain in the firing line as well for their alleged roles in a slew of additional unresolved human rights cases.

Even if Lt-Gen Syafrie is declared ineligible for a visa, US officials say he can still be granted a waiver for so-called “policy reasons”, similar to those given to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. — 

Source: The Straits Times

The youngest son of former Indonesia President Suharto, Hutomo \

(photo: AP / Achmad Ibrahim)
Back in 1995, Bill Clinton's White House eulogised President Suharto, Indonesia's military ruler at thetime, by describing him as "our kind of guy". That Suharto was a bloodthirsty dictator who had orchestrated a campaign of genocide in East Timor was deemed infinitely less significant byWashington strategists than his embrace of free-market economics. This week the EU's foreignministers have bestowed a similar honour on the leader of another repugnant regime – Uzbekistan'sIslam Karimov. In...
source: http://article.wn.com/view/2009/10/29/EU_cosies_up_to_the_torturer_of_Tashkent/
Timor lures tourists with historic independence sites

DILI (Reuters) – East Timor's struggle against Indonesian occupation may soon become a tidy earner, with the government considering plans to promote key sites of the 25-year fight for independence as part of a tourism campaign.

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor was invaded in 1975 by Indonesia, but a secessionist movement soon emerged, led by Xanana Gusmao, who is now the country's prime minister, and Jose Ramos-Horta, its president.

Gusmao spent much of occupation either in jail or on the run, often hiding with guerrilla fighters in East Timor's mountainous terrain, while Ramos-Horta lived in exile, campaigning for independence.

An estimated 180,000 died during the occupation, including 1,000 the United Nations says were killed during the bloody 1999 vote for independence.

But tourists regard East Timor's turbulent past as a draw card, said Japanese tour guide, Noriko Inaba, as she escorted a Japanese tour group to Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery -- where more than 200 East Timorese were killed in 1991 when Indonesian troops fired on mourners, an event known as the Dili massacre.

"It's an historical place because of the tragedy," she told Reuters. "This is one of the things we came to see here."

The cemetery's caretaker, Joao da Costa, said tourists often visit the site and take photos.

"If more people came from overseas, maybe we could develop faster," he said.

East Timor's tourism minister, Gil da Costa Alves, said the government wants tourism to contribute more toward economic growth in a country that's one of the poorest in Asia and dependent on oil and gas revenues for the bulk of state finances.

While there are serious obstacles, including poor infrastructure and a shortage of hotel rooms, he sees scope to promote the historic sites, beaches, and wildlife.

"We have this opportunity for historical tourism, for people who are interested in those sites that are part of our history," he said.

"Even the cave where Xanana was in hiding, this is a place we can promote and other places around the country where our leaders were hiding up in the hills."

About 19,000 people visited East Timor last year, up from about 12,000 in 2006, when tourists stayed away because of political strife. Now that the situation was more stable, Alves said he hoped that in five years' time East Timor could attract as many as 200,000 tourists a year.

However, Loro Horta, an East Timor analyst based at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University was skeptical.

"The entire country has less than 700 rooms. Right now it's already difficult to get rooms in Dili," said Horta, who is also the son of the president.

"So 200,000 a year, that's something like 700 a day. How exactly are they flying there and where are they going to stay?"

Horta said more affordable flights to Dili, a bigger airport and more reliable power supply were also needed before East Timor could compete with Indonesia's Bali island as a tourist destination.

"I really hope I'm wrong but we will be lucky if we can get 50,000 a year by 2014," he said.

Alves said new a infrastructure plan -- including a $600 million airport redevelopment, construction of newboutique hotels, and the improvement of basic infrastructure such as roads -- would boost tourism in future.

He said a broader tourism campaign would be aimed at the Australian and Japanese markets and would involve advertising and competitions such as a recently launched fishing tournament and the Tour de Timor bicycle race that took place earlier this year.

Today, conditions in dusty downtown Dili are still very basic and poverty is rife but the underdevelopment means that many beaches, diving spots, and bushland tracts are relatively pristine.

Last year, the government opened the Nino Konis Santana national park in an effort to protect many of its animal and plant species while providing a new attraction for tourists.

"Our strategy is to focus on the things that make East Timor different to surrounding destinations," said Alves.

(Editing by Sara Webb and Megan Goldin)

Unsung Aussie General Saved Lives In Timor

Media Release:

Subject: Unsung Aussie General Saved Soldiers Lives In Timor.

Sasha Uzunov, the director/producer of explosive Australian documentary film TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY, which reveals the Indonesian military’s secret war against Australian and New Zealand troops and International peacekeepers in East Timor, says the farsighted actions of an unheralded Australian Army General saved the lives of Australian soldiers.

Uzunov said he had enormous respect for the popular commander of the successful Timor mission (INTERFET) Australian Army General Peter Cosgrove and he deserved to be recognized.

“But we must also acknowledge the actions of then Chief of the Australian Army Lieutenant General Frank Hickling,” Uzunov said.

The Interfet Mission led by Australia intervened in East Timor to avert a catastrophe after the tiny Southeast Asian land had declared its independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

Pro-Indonesian Timorese militia groups supported by Indonesian Special Forces, Kopassus, went on a murderous rampage against independence supporters and later international peacekeepers.

Interfet then handed over control to the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET) in January 2000, and the Australian media believed the militia had been defeated. But the militia was simply biding its time and waiting to strike at what it thought was a soft target, Australian Army reservists.

Legendary infantry battalion 6RAR from Brisbane would be the next to go to Timor. It had, over the past decade, been gutted by cost cutting by defence experts. 6RAR had to be rebuilt with reservists grabbed from other units around Australia.

When 6RAR arrived in East Timor in early 2000 it came under ferocious militia attack but held its own.

In 2001 a small patrol of Australian soldiers from Alpha Company 4RAR also came under attack from a militia group believed to be Indonesian Special Forces, Kopassus, operating close to Balibo. The film TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY revolves around two ex-Australian soldiers who were on that patrol.

In 1998, a year before East Timor erupted, the far-sighted Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Frank Hickling, a combat engineer who saw action in Vietnam, went from unit to unit ordering his senior commanders that he wanted all full time and reserve soldiers to sharpen up their war fighting skills.

He was concerned that the army’s combat troops had gone soft because of the focus on peacekeeping missions. It was his foresight that kept Australian soldiers, both regular and reservist, alive on the battlefield in Timor despite the cutbacks from the bureaucrats.

The brutal murder and later mutilation of New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning by militia in July 2000 was a signal of what the militia had in store for Australian and international soldiers.

“They wanted to send a message loud and clear to Canberra and Wellington, get out of Timor,” Uzunov said.

The Australian film maker said Pvt Manning’s grisly fate was deeply felt by Australian soldiers who proudly served alongside their ANZAC cousins in East Timor.

TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY received a special commendation award from the Nevada Film Festival (2009 Platinum Reel Award) and made its international debut at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF) last Sunday.

source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0910/S00481.htm

      • http://www.timornewsline.com

        UN mission needs to be extended: MPs

        Timor Newsline , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        MP Inacio Moreira from Fretilin said Timor-Leste still needed the presence of the UN in Timor-Leste, due to it would help professionalize the Timorese people, therefore the extension of the UN mission was necessary.
      • MPs calls on state bodies to halt ISF’s presence

        Timor Newsline , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        MP Inacio Moreira from Fretilin has called on the country’s state bodies to halt the presence of the International Stabilization Force (ISF) in Timor-Leste, as security situation in the country has returned to normal.
      • Timor-Leste sends letter to Indonesia

        Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        Timor-Leste has officially sent an official letter to Indonesia in relation to the Timorese security post destruction by the Indonesia’s TNI soldiers in the border in recent days.
      • Horta and residents in Bobonaro believe in PM Gusmão to develop the country

        Diario Nacional , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        President Jose Ramos Horta said Timor-Leste is a young country that just reached its independence for ten years; therefore peace and stability in the country was necessary to be maintained and be strengthened.
      • Development partners would continue supporting Timorese Govt

        Diario Nacional , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        Finance and Planning Minister, Emilia Pires said the country’s development partners [donors] were ready to continue providing their support to the Timorese Government in 2010 in developing the country and bringing the people to a better future.
      • SES would spend US $ 20 million for construction in 2010

        Diario Nacional , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        State Secretary for Security, Francisco Guterres said they had executed 60% of the general state budget allocated to them and in 2010 the Government would allocate more budgets worth US $ 17.20 million which would be spent for purchasing the Timorese National Police (PNTL)’s uniform, cars maintenance and fuel.
      • SED signs MoU with RTTL about program broadcast

        Diario Nacional , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        State Secretary for Defense (SED), Julio Tomas Pinto has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Radio Televizaun Timor-Leste [public broadcasting] which was about broadcasting the SED’s progarms.
      • Govt dilemmatic appointing figure for KAK

        Timor Post , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
        The Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) Government is dilemmatic to appoint a figure to take up the post of the approved anti-corruption commission commissary. President Jose Ramos Horta also tries to seek for qualified and credible person for the post.

      Minister recognizes difficulties in Ministry of Education

      Timor Post , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      Minister for Education, João Cancio Freitas recognized that the Ministry that he was leading faced many difficulties and problems.
    • CPD-RDTL refuses to become political party

      Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 30 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      CPD-RDTL [a Timorese Resistance Organization] has rejected Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s recent call urging them [CPD-RDTL] to form a political party, so that it could run for the general elections.
    • AMP Govt is incapable: Alkatiri

      Diario Nacional , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      Fretilin Secretary General Mari Alkatiri said the Parliamentary Majority Alliance Government was incapable of executing the country’s general state budget of 2009, due to it had only executed 48, 2%.
    • It takes time to achieve good economy: Horta

      Diario Nacional , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      President Jose Ramos Horta said Timor-Leste was one of the countries that majority of which population are farming, yet economic process of the country was slower and would take time to improve.
    • Security post for UPF in the border will continue: Monteiro

      Diario Nacional , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      Following the destruction to the security post of the Timorese Border Police Unit (UPF) by some of the Indonesian armed force in the border area, the Timorese Police Commander, Longinhos Monteiro said the construction to the referred post would continue.
    • ISF presence will be determined by the state: Pinto

      Timor Post , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      State Secretary for Defense, Julio Thomas Pinto said the prolongation of the International Stabilization Force (ISF) in the country would be determined by the country’s state bodies.
    • Alkatiri questions Govt’s capability

      Suara Timor Loro Sa’e , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      Fretilin Secretary General, Mari Alkatiri has questioned the capability of the Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) Government in regard to the 2009’s general state budget execution, because the referred budget was worth US $ 680. 873, but only 48, 2% of it was executed.
    • SED to purchase 16 cars for Timorese Military Police

      Suara Timor Loro Sa’e , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
      State Secretary for Defense, Julio Tomas Pinto said the Government would purchase 16 cars for the Timorese Military Police in 2010 and the funds would take from minor capital worth US $ 1, 6 million.

    IDPs problem will completely overcome in December

    Timor Post , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    Director for DNAS, Amandio Amaral Freitas said the Government through the National Department for Social Assistance (DNAS) has promised that the Government would completely resolve the IDPs’ problem in the country in December.
  • Pereira: Heavy oil power construction project is slower because of some changes

    Timor Post , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    State Secretary for Electricity, Water and Urbanization, Januario Pereira said his priority programs in 2009 was maintenance to the power engines, but they had no special technicians to fix the engines.
  • A joint security team heads to Maliana for police amassment

    Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    A joint national security team has headed to the western district of Bobonaro for making assessment to the Timorese Police in that district before the UN Police hands over security responsibility.
  • Gusmão wants CPD-RDTL to be realistic to obey constitution

    Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão said the current Constitution of Timor-Leste could be amended and replaced by the Timorese Constitution drafted in 1975 once the CPD-RDTL [a Timorese Resistance Organization] was bravely to form a political party and should win majority in the elections. Gusmão wanted the CPD-RDTL to be realistic with the changes worldwide and obey the current constitution.
  • Govt to seek for ways to facilitate commission for combatants: Gusmão

    Radio Televisaun Timor Leste , 29 October 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
    Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão said the Government would seek for ways to help facilitate the Commission for Homage and Combatants to speed up the process of registration in the grassroots.

Aussie doco on Timor wins US award

AAPOctober 28, 2009, 10:04 pm

An Australian-made documentary film about soldiers in East Timor has won an award from a major US film festival.

Timor Tour Of Duty, which looks at the Indonesian military's secret war against Australian and New Zealand troops and international peacekeepers in East Timor, received a special commendation Platinum Reel Award from the 2009 Nevada Film Festival.

The film made its US and international screen debut at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival on Sunday, the www.scoop.co.nz website reported.

Timor Tour Of Duty is a film is about two Australian soldiers and their involvement in a shootout in East Timor about a year after the death of New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning.

Manning, 24, was the United Nations' first combat fatality in Timor on July 24, 2000, when he was shot in an ambush during a security sweep in a rugged border region.

He was killed by militia gunfire but his body was later found mutilated.

Scott Sherwin, serving with Australia's Alpha Company, reveals in the documentary film that during a shootout with the pro-Indonesian militia in 2001, near Balibo, Manning's fate kept racing through his mind.

"I knew in the back of my mind that if we were captured then we would be cut up and then killed, so choices were quite limited, we had to fight back to stay alive," he said.

The Australian filmmaker believes that former US president Bill Clinton should have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in East Timor.

"In my film Timor Tour Of Duty I reveal that the United States was the good guy in averting genocide in the tiny South-East Asian land of East Timor," Sasha Uzunov, the director and producer, told the website.

"Al Gore and Barack Obama have a Nobel Peace Prize but Clinton should have one as well.

"The kudos for East Timor belongs to Clinton, not ex-Australian prime minister John Howard and his then-foreign minister Alexander Downer."

Uzunov also said that Sherwin's patrol commander should have received a bravery award.

"I also take this opportunity to thank the two ex-soldiers ... for telling me their story about the shoot out in East Timor," he said.

"It is a pity that their patrol commander Kevin Campbell has missed out on an Australian bravery medal because of politics."

source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/-/entertainment/6400659/aussie-doco-on-timor-wins-us-award/

Balibo killings film dominates Australian industry award nominations

Balibo journalists run for their lives from Indonesian special forces. Photo: Balibo

Balibo journalists run for their lives from Indonesian special forces. Photo: Balibo

Pacific Media Watch

Balibo, a film about the murder of five Australian-based journalists by Indonesian troops before the invasion of East Timor in 1975, has topped this year’s AFI Awards nominations.

The critically-acclaimed political thriller received 14 nominations, including one for best film, best direction and best actor for Anthony LaPaglia.

LaPaglia played Roger East, a sixth journalist executed while investigating the earlier killings.

The Balibo Five television journalists murdered during a border raid by Indonesian special forces soldiers dressed as militia shortly before the full invasion included New Zealander Gary Cunningham.

In what has been a bumper year for Australian cinema, the hotly-contested best film field also features Samson And Delilah, Beautiful Kate, Blessed, Mao’s Last Dancer and Mary And Max.

“I think it goes without saying, 2009 has been a massive year for the Australian film industry,” said Underbelly actor Peter O’Brian, announcing the nominations in Sydney.

The year’s highest grossing film, Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, claimed nine nominations but mostly in technical categories.

Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman were notably absent from the best actor and actress categories, but young star Brandon Walters has been recognised with a best supporting actor nod.

TV dramas Underbelly, Packed To The Rafters, False Witness and East West 101 received multiple nominations in the television categories.

The ABC’s Spicks And Specks and The Gruen Transfer have been nominated for best light entertainment series.

Winners will be announced over two nights in December.

source: http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2009/10/balibo-film-dominates-australian-industry-award-nomination/