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"On February 8, and Australian news article interviewed the civpol Commander of Operations in East Timor who predicted violence
as the election process progresses, basing it on myths of East Timor having little experience with democracy and a culture of
violence. After a phone conversation in which the Commander confirmed that the interview does reflect his opinions, a coalition of East Timorese NGOs wrote him a letter on 17 February. As there has been no response to the letter for three weeks, the NGOs
have decided to release the letter to the public and the media." Charles Scheiner, International Federation for East Timor

E.Timor NGOs protest police predictions of violence

Background:

On February 8, and Australian news article interviewed the civpol Commander of Operations in East Timor who predicted violence
as the election process progresses, basing it on myths of East Timor having little experience with democracy and a culture of
violence. The article is appended at the end of this message.

After a phone conversation in which the Commander confirmed that the interview does reflect his opinions, a coalition of East
Timorese NGOs wrote him a letter on 17 February. As there has been no response to the letter for three weeks, the NGOs
have decided to release the letter to the public and the media.

The text of the letter, in English and Bahasa Indonesia, follows.

-- Charles Scheiner, International Federation for East Timor
(at the request of La'o Hamutuk and the other NGOs signing the letter)



Commander Gary Gent
Chief of Civpol Operations
UNTAET
Dili, East Timor

Dili, 17 February 2001

Dear Commander Gent:

As you are aware, on 8 February 2001, a news article entitled “Police expect election violence in Dili” was released by the Australian Associated Press. The writer, Rod McGuirk, quoted you as saying that the upcoming East Timorese election would lead to an increase in civil disturbances because the East Timorese people “don’t understand what democracy is all about” and “don’t handle conflict properly.” In a phone call yesterday, you asserted these statements as reflecting your views.

We believe that these statements are based on a lack of communication and understanding with East Timorese civil society, and we would like to help bridge this gap. We appreciate the very difficult job you have here in East Timor and acknowledge that there have recently been serious incidents of violence and community concern over increasing violence. Your statements, however, add to a climate of fear and may potentially lead to further violence. With this letter, we hope to initiate further discussion.

We find your remarks problematic for a number of reasons:

As a leader of international police in East Timor, you act as a model. In this regard, you have set a very bad example for your fellow officers, and helped to lay the basis for views among other members of the international police force that help to heighten political tensions. We understand that you have a diverse force, with a multitude of trainings, experiences, languages, and cultural backgrounds, which makes it all the more important for Civpol leadership to put forth accurate information which reflects East Timorese society and encourages good relations with it.

To promote widely an idea that the East Timorese are incapable of working out disputes peacefully, is wrong and dangerous.  It is the responsibility of your office to be working with communities to identify constructive and locally appropriate strategies for peace, and to counter fears with facts.

We call on you to publicly repudiate your comments immediately. It is unacceptable to us that our police would carry such views. Assuming that you are willing to repudiate and apologize for your offensive remarks, we welcome the opportunity to work with you to ensure that both the transitional period and our future self-government are characterized by good, peaceful, open relationships between all elements of society.

You may contact us through Benjamin at the La’o Hamutuk office (325-013 or 0408-811-373). We thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Sanches Afonso, La’o Hamutuk
Joaquim Fonseca, Yayasan HAK
Rui Castro, Center for Popular Economic Development
Nuno Rodrigues, Sa’he Institute for Liberation
Arsenio Bano, NGO Forum
Eladio Antoniu Faculto, Organizacao Juventude de Timor Loro Sa’e
Maria Dias, Klinika PAS
Manuela Leong Pereira, Fokupers

cc:Jose Luis da Costa de Sousa, Civpol
Sergio Vieira de Mello, UNTAET
Xanana Gusmao, President CNRT


La'o Hamutuk: East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
La'o Hamutuk (Tetum for Walking Together) is a joint East Timorese-international organization that seeks to monitor, to analyze, and to report on the reconstruction activities of the principal international institutions. It believes that the people of East Timor must be the ultimate decisionmakers in the reconstruction process and that the process should be as democratic and transparent as possible ...
East Timorese staff: Inès Martins, Benjamin Sanchez Afonso; International staff: Pamela Sexton, Mark Salzer Executive board: Sr. Maria Dias, Joseph Nevins, Fr. Jovito Rego de Jesus Araùjo, Aderito Soares
International contact: +1-510-643-4507  Email: lh@etan.org  Homepage: http://www.etan.org/lh
Yayasan HAK - Foundation of Law, Human Rights, and Justice

Human Rights, Advocacy and Community Organising
Yayasan HAK is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
General Mission: Yayasan Hak has two primary functions: 1. Casework - representing victims and their families in court 2. Human rights advocacy work - monitoring, reporting and publicising human rights information, litigation
Short History: Yayasan Hak is a legal aid foundation set up in March 1997, co-funded by four funding agencies. It was established in order to provide a range of legal services for the people of East Timor.
Peoples Economic Development Centre

Centro Do Desenlvolvimento da Economica Popular (CDEP)
Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Small Industry, Advocacy
CDEP is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
Sahe Institute for Liberation (SIL)

Research and Publications, Education and Advocacy on Social, Political, Economic and Cultural rights
SIL is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
General Mission: To support the active participation of the East Timorese community in the process of developing a ‘Nation State’ through the dissemination of information and discussions or seminars.
Short History: SIL was previously known as the Sahe Study Club (SSC). It was established by several East Timorese student activists along with NGO activists last year in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Current situation and primary needs: At the moment, SIL is carrying out NGO work primarily in the field of research and publication. SIL needs an office building and funding to carry out its activities.
Current Activities: 1. Publication of bulletins and books 2. Discussion groups and workshops 3. Research
Plans: All the above activities, which will be our primary focus for the coming year.
East Timor National NGO Forum

Umbrella agency for East Timorese Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
VISION: To contribute to the building of a pluralist, democratic, just and sustainable East Timor through the development of a strong, independent and responsible civil society committed to upholding and making real in the daily life of the community, both village and urban, the full range of human rights so that all East Timorese, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, can enjoy the fruits of liberation and development in an East Timor forever free.
MISSION: To realise its vision by promoting a culture of learning, cooperation, partnership with the community and respect for human rights and good practice amongst East Timorese NGOs and between them and other development actors, both domestic and international, and by serving as a collective, independent voice for the rights and needs of the community.
VALUES AND PRINCIPLES: a rights approach to development; inclusiveness, participation; accountability; gender balance; respect for the environment; non-party political; non-sectarian; good governance; volunteerism.
E-mail: etngocentre@hotmail.com  Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/etngoforum/index.html
Klinika PAS (Pronto Atu Serbi - Ready to Work)

Agriculture, Health, Cattle Farming, Sewing (Haberdashery)
Policlinica PAS is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
General Mission: To assist the welfare of rural communities by working with the people to stregthen their skills.
Short History: We were established in 1996 on our own initiative. We are working in cooperation with other NGOs.
Current situation and primary needs: Our primary needs are: 1. Medicine 2. Food 3. Funds to reconstruct all of our facilities
Current Activities: Health; farming; animal husbandry; sewing.
Plans: We hope to be fully operational by December/January [2001?].
Fokupers - Forum Komunikasi Untuk Perempuan Loro Sae

Women's Development and Advocacy
Fokupers is a registered East Timorese non-government organization (ETNGO)
General Mission: Fokupers was founded in 1997. It focuses on political victims and gives counselling and other forms of assistance to women victims of violations, including ex political prisoners, war widows and wives of political prisoners. Its mandate also includes promoting women’s human rights among the local population, especially the East Timorese women.
Current Activities: Conducting workshops discussing ways to enhance or develop further women’s participation in Timorese society. · Focusing on receiving trauma counselling training for their staff in order to provide counsel to women victims.

The following is the full text of the article that prompted this letter, which was written by Australian Associated Press.
 

Police expect election violence in Dili

By Rod McGuirk


DARWIN, Feb 8 AAP - Police are bracing for a resurgence of violence in Dili in the lead-up to the first general election, the Australian head of United Nations civilian police operations said today.

Authorities aim to hold East Timor's  first election on August 30 - the second anniversary of the independence ballot that degenerated into nationwide bloodshed.

While the pro-Indonesia militia threat in the East Timor  capital has diminished, Chief of Civpol Operations in East Timor,  Commander Gary Gent, said the election campaign posed new dangers.

"I don't like to use the term political violence, but I think there will be an increase in disturbances," Cmdr Gent told AAP from Dili.

"Their last experience (of an election), you know what happened there; they're still learning this process.

"The vast majority don't understand what democracy is all about, that you can have a contrary point of view.

"This raises conflict and they don't handle conflict properly."

Small conflicts have a tendency to escalate in the streets of Dili where a traffic accident can involve 100 people within minutes.

The dangers are exacerbated by increased gang activity in Dili and the readiness of the East Timorese to brandish machetes.

"A lot of locals carry machetes; it should be seen as a traditional tool but from a policing perspective, I'd rather they left them at home," Cmdr Gent said.

United Nations money in Dili has attracted a steady stream of East Timorese from the countryside and pushed up inflation in the impoverished nation.

Dili accounted for 82 per cent of crimes reported to Civpol in East  Timor,  although the crime statistics remain low.

Cmdr Gent, who was an Australian Federal Police patrol commander in Canberra before he was posted to Dili in December, nominated unemployment as the main cause of crime in Dili.

The young unemployed gravitated to gangs of men from their home communities. Gangs from Baucau and Lospalos were among the most visible in Dili.

There are allegations that the gangs extort money from local business people through standover rackets.

Cmdr Gent said he was only aware of one report of such extortion and Civpol had made an arrest on that occasion.

But he conceded a lot more crimes of intimidation probably went unreported.

"Under the surface, no doubt there is some of that around," he said.

Despite increasing gang activity, chronic unemployment and the population drain from the villages which strong family and community ties have kept virtually crime-free, Cmdr Gent did not believe Dili was headed for a major crime problem.

"You get differing reports but all I can refer to is reported crime figures which are steady as you go," he said.

The United Nations said violence between two gangs in Dili which raged over two days last month and ended with one man hacked to death and three others hospitalised was the first major civil disturbance since April last year.

Cmdr Gent said he would not classify that clash as a gang violence.

The violence began as a property dispute and he described the victim as a bystander.

A clash last week in which university students pelted rocks at Portuguese paramilitary police began when two police officers stopped an East Timorese man who was driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

"Whenever there's an issue involving international personnel and East Timorese, East Timorese will side very, very quickly with East Timorese," he said.


Charles Scheiner, U.N. Representative International Federation for East Timor
P.O. Box 1182, White Plains, New York 10602 USA
Telephone:1-914-428-7299; fax:1-914-428-7383  hand:1-914-720-9205
Internet: ifet@etan.org
PGP Key available on request.
For information on East Timor write info@etan.org
Check out ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org
IFET information is at http://www.etan.org/ifet
La'o Hamutuk is at  http://www.etan.org/lh
International Federation for East Timor

The International Federation for East Timor was founded in 1991 by East Timor solidarity groups from four continents as a clearinghouse for non-governmental organization (NGO) initiatives on East Timor and to support those initiatives, particularly in United Nations fora. IFET is accredited with the U.N. Department of Public Information and has a U.N. Representative in New York. Our secretariat is in the Philippines. IFET participates in U.N. hearings and conferences, supplies analyses and statements to the media, and lobbies the U.N.-Portugal-Indonesia East Timor talks to ensure that the human and political rights of the East Timorese people
are respected.
Email Charlie Scheiner: ifet@etan.org  Homepage: http://etan.org/ifet

Bahasa Indonesia:
BD Surat infornasi mingguan mengenai TL

Halaman Uatama .......Bahasa Indonesia .......Cari situs-Web ini
"Kami memahami bahwa anda memiliki berbagai kekuatan, dengan berbagai pelatihan, pengalaman, bahasa, dan latar belakang budaya, yang membuat semua itu menjadi penting bagi kepemimpinan Civpol mengusahakan informasi yang akurat yang merefleksikan masyarakat Timor Loro Sa’e dan mendorong suatu hubungan yang baik dengannya. Mengembangkan suatu ide secara meluas bahwa kini orang Timor Loro Sa’e tidak mampu memecakan perselisihan secara damai merupakan sesuatu yang keliru dan berbahaya." La’o Hamutuk, Yayasan HAK, Center for Popular Economic Development, Sa’he Institute for Liberation, NGO Forum, Organizacao Juventude de Timor Loro Sae, Klinika PAS, Fokupers

Dili, 17 Pebruari 2001

Kepada Yth:
KomAndan Gary Gent
Pimpinan Operasi Civpol
UNTAET
Dili, Timor Loro Sa’e

Komandan Gent yang terhormat,

Sebagaimana Anda tahu, pada tanggal 8 Pebruari 2001 sebuah berita artikel berjudul: “Polisi memperkirakan kekerasan pemilu di Dili” yang dikeluarkan oleh Asosiasi Pers Australia. Sang penulis, Rod McGuirk, mengutip pernyataan Anda sebagai berikut bahwa pemilu orang Timor Loro Sa’e yang akan datang akan mengarah pada suatu peningkatan kekacauan sipil, karena orang Timor Loro Sa’e “tidak memahami apa itu demokrasi” dan “tidak menangani konflik sebagaimana mestinya.” Dalam sebuah pembicaraan telepon kemarin Anda menegaskan bahwa pernyataan2 itu sebagai refleksi dari pandangan Anda.

Kami yakin bahwa pernyataan2 itu didasarkan pada kurangnya komunikasi dan pengertian dengan masyarakat sipil Timor Loro Sa’e, dan kami ingin menjembatani kesenjangan  ini. Kami sangat menghargai betapa sulitnya tugas Anda di Timor Loro Sa’e, dan mengakui bahwa akhir-akhir ini timbul beberapa kejadian kekerasan yang serius, dan masyarakat prihatin dengan meningkatnya kekerasan. Pernyataan Anda, bagaimanapun, memberi tekanan pada iklim ketakutan dan secara potensial dapat mengarah pada kekerasan yang lebih jauh. Dengan surat ini, kami berharap dapat mengawali suatu diskusi yang lebih jauh.

Kami melihat bahwa ucapan2 Anda mengandung beberapa masalah atas alasan sebagai berikut:

Sebagai seorang pemimpin polisi internasional di Timor Loro Sa’e, Anda berlaku sebagai sebuah model. Dalam hal itu, anda telah memberi contoh yang jelek terhadap teman sejawat, dan membantu meletakan pandangan2 dasar di antara anggota2 kekuatan polisi internasional lainnya yang membantu meningkatkan tekanan2 politik. Kami memahami bahwa anda memiliki berbagai kekuatan, dengan berbagai pelatihan, pengalaman, bahasa, dan latar belakang budaya, yang membuat semua itu menjadi penting bagi kepemimpinan Civpol mengusahakan informasi yang akurat yang merefleksikan masyarakat Timor Loro Sa’e dan mendorong suatu hubungan yang baik dengannya.

Mengembangkan suatu ide secara meluas bahwa kini orang Timor Loro Sa’e tidak mampu memecakan perselisihan secara damai merupakan sesuatu yang keliru dan berbahaya. Ini merupakan tanggungjawab kalian untuk bekerjasama dengan masyarakat guna mengidentifikasi strategi2 yang konstruktif dan strategi2 perdamaian yang cocok secara local, dan mengatasi masalah ketakutan dengan kenyataan.

Kami meminta Anda untuk meralat kembali komentar anda secepat mungkin. Kami tidak menerima bahwa polisi kami berpandangan seperti itu. Seandainya Anda berniat meralat dan meminta ma’af atas kesalahan dari komentar anda, kami menyambut kesempatan untuk bekerja bersama anda guna menjamin bahwa baik periode transisi maupun masa depan kemerdekaan kami dicirikhaskan dengan kebaikan, kedamaian, hubungan yang bersifat terbuka antara semua unsur masyarakat.

Anda dapat menghumbungi kami melalui Benjamin di La’o Hamutuk (325-013 atau 0408-811-373). Kami berterima kasih atas perhatian anda.

Hormat kami,

Benjamin Sanches Afonso, La’o Hamutuk
Joaquim Fonseca, Yayasan HAK
Rui Castro, Center for Popular Economic Development
Nuno Rodrigues, Sa’he Institute for Liberation
Arsenio Bano, NGO Forum
Eladio Antoniu Faculto, Organizacao Juventude de Timor Loro Sae
Maria Dias, Klinika PAS
Manuela Leong Pereira, Fokupers

cc:Jose Luis da Costa de Sousa, Ketua Komisi Kepolisian
Sergio Vieira de Mello, Wakil Khusus Jendral Sekretariat
Xanana Gusmao, President CNRT


Tetum: (the most common East Timorese language)
La’o Hamutuk, Instituto Timor Lorosa’e ba Analiza no Monitoring Reconstrucao
Saida mak La’o Hamutuk? La’o Hamutuk organizasaun klibur Ema Timor Lorosa’e no Ema Internacional ne’ebe buka atu tau matan, halo analize ho halo relatorio kona ba hahalok (actividade) instuisaun internacional ne’ebe oras ne’e haknaar iha Timor Lorosa’e, liu-liu hahalok sira ne’ebe iha relasaun ho rekonstrusaun fizika no social Timor Lorosa’e nian. La’o Hamutuk fiar katak Povo Timor Lorosa’e mak tenke hakotu iha procesu rekonstrusaun ne’e nia laran no procesu rekonstrusaun ne’e tenke demokratiku no transparante duni.
Local Contact:  P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)  Mobile: +61(408)811373;  Land phone: +670(390)325-013
International contact: +1-510-643-4507
Email: laohamutuk@easttimor.minihub.org  Homepage: http://www.etan.org/lh
Boletim La’o Hamutuk: [Tetum PDF format]
Vol. 1, No. 3. 17 Novembro 2000 Hari Sistema Saude Nasional iha Timor Lorosa’e:  http://www.etan.org/lh/PDFs/LHbul3tm.pdf
Vol. 1, No. 2, 17 Julho 2000 Protesaun ba meio ambiente iha TL: http://www.etan.org/lh/PDFs/bulletin02tetum.pdf
Vol. 1, No. 1, 21 Juñu 2000 Rekonciliasaun: http://www.etan.org/lh/PDFs/bulletin01tetum.pdf
Yayasan HAK - Yayasan Hukum, Hak Asasi dan Keadilan

Maksud Umum: Yayasan Hak didirikan untuk maksud utama dua: 1. Kerja perkara - mewakili korban dan keluarganya di pengadilan. 2. Sokongan anjuran hak asasi manusia - melaporkan dan menerbitkan informasi mengenai HAM, proses pengadilan.
Sejarah Pendek: Yayasan Hak adalah yayasan bantuan hukum yang didirikan pada bulan Maret 1997, dan dibiayai oleh empat kelompok. Hak didirikan untuk menyediakan bermacam-macam pelayanan hukum kepada masyarakat Timor Lorosae.
Sahe Institute for Liberation (SIL)

Maksud Umum: Mendorong participasi aktif masyarakat Timor Lorosae dalam proses pembangunan ‘Nation State’ lewat diseminasi informasi dan diskusi atau lokakarya.
Sejarah Pendek: SIL merupakan perubahan nama dari Sahe Study Club (SSC) yang didirikan oleh sejumlah aktivis mahasiswa TL dan aktivis NGO setahun lalu di Jakarta, Indonesia.
Kegiatan Sekarang lsm dan Kebutuhan Utama: Saat ini SIL menjadi sebuah NGO yang bergerak terutama di bidang pengkajian dan publikasi. Sehingga SIL membutuhkan gedung kantor, dana untuk menjalankan kegiatan.
Kegiatan Sekarang: 1. Publikasi buletin dan buku 2. Diskusi dan lokakarya 3. Penelitian
Rencana: Semua kegiatan di atas, menjadi rencana untuk satu tahun periodik.
Policlinica PAS (Pronto Atu Serbi - Ready to Work)

Maksud Umum: Untuk menguatuan ketrampilan para kaum awam dalam melayani sesama dan menguatuan kesejahteran masyarakat di pedesaan.
Sejarah Pendek: Kami berdiri/berkarya pada 1996 dengan hasil karyanya sendiri dan sekarang sudah bekerja sama dengan beberapa NGO.
Kegiatan Sekarang lsm dan Kebutuhan Utama: Keadaan sekarang tetap berjalan terutama dalam kesehatan. Kebutuhan utama adalah: 1. Obat-obatan 2. Makanan 3. Dana untuk mengerehabilitakan semua para fasilitas.
Kegiatan Sekarang: Kesehatan; pertanian; peternakan; penjahitan.
Rencana: Semua kegiatan yang kami belum jalankan, akan kami jalankan pada bulan Desember dan Januari  [2001?].
Fokupers - Forum Komunikasi Untuk Perempuan Loro Sae  Added Mar 1

Maksud Umum: Fokupers didirikan pada tahun 1997. Organisasi ini membantu korban politik dan juga memberikan nasihat atau ‘counselling’ dan lain lain kepada perempuan yang menderita sebagai bekas tapol, atau yang menjadikan janda karena perang, atau isteri tapol. Selain dari itu, Fokupers mendorong hak asasi manusia, pada khususnya untuk perempuan, dalam masyarakat setempat.
Kegiatan Sekarang: Sudah mengadakan bengkel untuk mendiskusi bagaimana perempuan akan diikuti atau menjadi lebih aktip di masyarakat Timor Loro Sa’e. · Pada saat ini, kami memusatkan perhatian atas latihan ‘trauma counselling’ untuk pekerja Fokupers.

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