Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Hong Kong/Australia
Joint Mission to East Timor
28 April – 5 May 2001
7. Summary of meetings
8. Political Overview
9. Religious Overview
10. Conclusions & Recommendations
The final paragraph to the prologue to the Outcomes of the CNRT National Congress (21st to 30th August 2000) document reads thus: "We would like to leave in gold letters our humble homage to all of our heroes, national and international, who fell in order to create this sunrise nation of East Timor. May the omnipotent and just Father repay them". Such noble sentiments create the framework for the establishment of East Timor, the newest member of the family of nations and soon to become independent after elections on August 30th 2001. This historic event will occur after more than 450 years of colonization, and a quarter of a century of brutal occupation by Indonesia, during which time over 250,000 people, one third of the East Timorese population, died through slaughter, starvation or disease that resulted from Indonesia’s policies of oppression.
The metamorphosis following the plebiscite in August 1999, when 78.5 percent of the population voted in favour of independence, has been a gradual and often painful one. Father Domingos Soares, parish priest in Leti-foho and member of the Starting Committee of the Reconciliation Commission, informed us that had it not been for the timely arrival of the International Peacekeeping Force in East Timor (INTERFET) in September 1999, every last East Timorese would have been slaughtered by the pro-integration militia, directed and supported by members of the Indonesian military (TNI). Although most of the infrastructure of the country was destroyed or damaged, and the majority of homes torched and looted, slowly but surely a nation is being rebuilt. There are many birth pains during this prolonged labour, but hope springs eternal, and the Timorese people are nothing if not hopeful, despite the massive problems that lie ahead. The transition from a nation that since October 1999 has been UN-sponsored and administered to one that is both independent and self-funded is a major challenge, and assistance and support of all kinds will continue to be needed for a long time. A key requirement is "capacity building", developing skills and knowledge in East Timor so that it can have the capacity to operate as an independent sovereign nation state. We hope and pray that our organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), will do all it can to continue to reach out in love and support to our East Timorese friends.
The words of an East Timorese song performed
before the 1999 Referendum read thus: "Our people are suffering and dying,
our hearts cry out but no one knows. Please remember our little homeland.
Please remember East Timor. Oh, our little homeland! Oh, East Timor. Deeply
suffering the world’s rejection, stripped by strangers, repressed by torture.
Oh, my homeland, will you be free?" We sincerely hope and pray that the
people of East Timor will never again have to suffer the anguish of torture,
of their land being stripped by strangers, and of being rejected and forgotten
by the world. We hope that they will experience true freedom and independence.
We will stand with them.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is
an international, interdenominational Christian human rights and aid organization,
with partners in the UK, USA, Canada, India, Scandinavia, Australia and
Hong Kong. Our mission statement is to "work for the religious liberty
of persecuted Christians, helping others suffering repression, children
in need and victims of disaster throughout the world". CSW Hong Kong and
Australia have been involved with East Timor for several years, and have
made three previous visits to East Timor. CSW’s focus prior to the Referendum
in August 1999 had been campaigning for the release of East Timorese prisoners
of conscience, particularly Fransisco Miranda Branco and Gregorio da Cunha
Saldanha. They were released in December 1999. CSW Hong Kong also organized
and led a demonstration in September 1999 in protest at the post-referendum
violence. CSW Hong Kong and Australia are developing support for several
projects in East Timor, which are detailed in this report.
* To continue to show solidarity with the East Timorese people, and the Church (both Catholic and Protestant), as they rebuild their country;
* To assess and investigate human rights and humanitarian needs which we might help to address;
* To deliver funds and medical aid;
* To facilitate and support the work of
St Andrew’s Church Hong Kong with Sister Lourdes at Dare.
CSW Hong Kong donated the following funds:
* US$3,260 to the Secular Institute of Brothers & Sisters in Christ, led by Sister Lourdes in Dare. Funds will be used to build a dormitory and school room for the educational centre which Sister Lourdes runs in Loes;
* US$1,500 to the Carmelite Sisters in Maubara, for use in the clinic and orphanage in Maubara;
* US$1,000 to the Assemblies of God Church in Dili, for medical support;
* US$900 to the Association of Former Prisoners of Conscience, led by Fransisco Miranda Branco, for rehabilitation and support for former political prisoners.
CSW Australia distributed medical equipment
and supplies to the Carmelite Sisters at Fatuhada, Dili, and to the Bairo
Pite Clinic in Dili.
Dr Martin Panter, President, CSW Australia – Medical Doctor
Benedict Rogers, Director, CSW Hong Kong – Journalist
Halena Ng, CSW Hong Kong – Financial specialist
We were also accompanied by a team from
St Andrew’s Church (Anglican-Episcopal) in Hong Kong, who were teaching
construction, computer and mechanical skills at the Secular Institute of
Brothers & Sisters in Christ in Dare: Rev. Paul Kenchington (vicar
of St Andrew’s Church), Edward Chase (mechanical/electronic engineer),
David Vesey (civil engineer).
CSW Hong Kong departed Hong Kong on 27th April 2001, via Bali, and arrived Dili on 28th April. Returned to Hong Kong on 4th May.
CSW Australia departed Darwin, Australia,
and arrived Dili on 29th April. Returned to Darwin on 5th
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, President, National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT)
Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao, The Alola Foundation for Women Survivors
Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak, commander of the East Timor Defence Force
Juvencio de Jesus Martins, Protocol Officer, CNRT
Leandro Isaac, CNRT
Fransisco Xavier do Amaral, founder and first president of Fretilin
Fransisco Branco, co-ordinator of the Association of Ex-Prisoners of Conscience
Gregorio da Cunha Saldanha, President of OJETIL and member of the National Council
Father Filomeno Jacob, member of the Transitional
Cabinet responsible for social affairs
Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Bishop of Dili and Nobel Price Laureate
Sr Maria do Lourdes Martins da Cruz, Secular Institute of Brothers & Sisters in Christ
Fr Domingos da Silva Soares, Priest, Leti-foho and member, Reconciliation Commission
Sr Johanna Baptista, Carmelite Sisters, Maubara
Sr Carmelita, Carmelite Sisters, Maubara
Sr Fabiola, Carmelite Sisters, Fatuhada, Dili
Rev. Arlindo Marcal, former Moderator of the Protestant Church and now General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Party
Maria de Fatima Wadhoomall Gomes, Pastor, the Assemblies of God Church, Dili
Hildegard Berg, World Evangelisation Crusade (WEC) missionary, Dili
Judy Higgins, Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Dr Jim Tulloch, Senior Advisor, Division of Health Services, UNTAET
Dr Daniel Murphy,
Bairo Pite Clinic
James May, Hotung Institute for East Timor
Michael Ho Siu-sing, Hotung Institute for East Timor
James McGowan, Barrister, member of Hong Kong Bar Association
Hectar Pun, Barrister, member of Hong Kong Bar Association
Dr Juan Federer, Chief Executive, Timor
Jane Penfold, The British Office
7. Summary of meetings
Please note: the views recorded in this
section are a summary of views expressed to us in each meeting. They are
not necessarily the views of CSW. Our views, conclusions and recommendations
can be found in the latter sections of this report.
Saturday 28 April
Meeting with Leandro Isaac, CNRT Political Co-ordinator
Leandro Isaac is the Political Co-ordinator of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) and a close associate of independence leader Xanana Gusmao. Mr Isaac told us that there has been a slow improvement in the arrival and distribution of promised international funds since he raised concerns with us in February 2000 about the slowness of the arrival of funds. But he said that staff employed by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) use up a lot of the funds donated on salaries and administrative costs. His main message was that East Timor does not need only money, but also skills, and he urges foreign organizations to come and help equip Timorese people with skills and knowledge.
Meeting with Dr Daniel Murphy, Bairo Pite Clinic
Dr Daniel Murphy, an American doctor, has been in East Timor since 1998. He worked at the Motael Clinic up until the referendum in August 1999, and treated primarily bullet wounds and machete wounds in the months preceding the ballot. At one point in 1999 he was expelled by Indonesia, but returned. He established the Bairo Pite Clinic immediately after the referendum. In 18 months Dr Murphy says his clinic has treated 165,000 patients, and he sees hundreds of patients a day, sometimes up to 650 patients. He said the most common sicknesses are tuberculosis and malaria. He would like more experienced foreign medical staff to work in the clinic, which would enable him to do more work in primary healthcare education in other localities in the country. He also requests that foreign supporters consider ways of assisting Timorese medical students to have the opportunity to study overseas, because East Timor needs trained Timorese doctors and has a drastic shortage. Assistance for people to travel to Australia for surgery, where it cannot be performed in East Timor, is another request Dr Murphy has.
Meeting with Michael Ho, captain of the Patricia Anne Hotung ship
Hong Kong philanthropist and businessman
Eric Hotung purchased an Australian ship in 1999 for half a million Australian
dollars, to use to transport East Timorese refugees back to their country
from the refugee camps in West Timor. Since January 7th, 2000
the ship, the Patricia Anne Hotung, has made 36 voyages to Kupang, West
Timor, and brought back 10,189 refugees, including 470 to Lospalos on the
east end of the island. It has a crew of 18, plus three Timorese trainees,
and costs approximately US$100,000 a month to run. The journey to Kupang
takes 13 hours, and the ship has a maximum capacity of 800 people, but
usually takes 500. Mr Ho believes there are still approximately 50,000
refugees in West Timor. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
operates the programme of assistance for returning refugees, but neither
IOM nor the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have access
to the refugee camps now, since the militia-led attacks on UN personnel
in September 2000. Only the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) have access to
Sunday 29 April
Visit to Assemblies of God Church in the morning.
Meeting with Sister Lourdes at the Secular Institute of Brothers & Sisters in Christ, Dare
Sister Lourdes has recently returned from Atambua, West Timor, where she visited the refugee camps to try to persuade refugees to return home to East Timor. Militia still control the camps, and subjected Sister Lourdes and a priest she was working with to significant intimidation. Each time Sister Lourdes held a meeting with refugees to speak to them about the situation in East Timor and persuade them to return, militia (wearing no shirts) would ride their motorbikes up to, and into, the room where the meeting was taking place, revving their engines and generally behaving in an intimidating way. Sister Lourdes and the priest spoke to these militiamen and spoke to them about "coming home" and returning "to the Father’s house", meaning not only returning to East Timor but turning back to God and repenting and seeking forgiveness. She said at that point the militiamen broke down in tears, and some were converted. Those who were converted then helped Sister Lourdes speak to refugees about returning to East Timor.
Some refugees speak negatively about East Timorese leaders, especially Bishop Belo and Xanana Gusmao. But Sister Lourdes told them the story of Moses, whom God had chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into freedom. She said that Moses was a man chosen for that purpose, and yet he was often criticized by the Israelites. Likewise, she said, Bishop Belo and Xanana Gusmao are men chosen for this time to lead their people into freedom. They have done that, and deserve respect not criticism. Moreover, she told the refugees that they had been brainwashed by Indonesian and pro-integration militia propaganda.
Sister Lourdes would like to establish a fund to help send members of her Institute to the refugee camps in Atambua regularly, to comfort and help the refugees. She also wants to establish a fund to provide food to refugees when they return to East Timor.
We discussed relations between Catholics
and Protestants in the light of tensions last year (see previous CSW
trip reports, July and October 2000). Sister Lourdes says the atmosphere
is better. She is personally committed to improving Catholic-Protestant
relations, and is working regularly with Protestant children and youth.
She would like to invite foreign Protestant students and young people to
come and work with her in building bridges and showing solidarity with
Protestant youth. Her vision is that the two Christian communities could
be united and work together, whilst maintaining their particular identities.
Monday 30 April
Meeting with Bishop Carlos Belo, Bishop of Dili
The upcoming elections and presidential elections were discussed with Bishop Belo. The bishop asked if we were due to see Xanana Gusmao and asked that we try to persuade Xanana that he should stand for president. We laughed and said, "What about Bishop Belo for Timorese president?". "I am a bishop, not a politician", he replied jovially. When commenting that that the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane had just been appointed as the new Governor General of Australia, he thought for a moment and replied, "Yes, but he is an Anglican; I am a Catholic. There are many differences." When pressed concerning presidential possibilities the Bishop replied, "There are 500,000 Timorese. Any of them could be president." Asked about the importance of charisma and public affirmation for the first East Timorese president, the Bishop replied "All our Timorese people have charisma, but make sure you remind Xanana of what I said, as I don't see him too often."
We subsequently passed on the message at a later meeting with Xanana Gusmao, to great amusement and laughter.
Meeting with Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak, former commander of Falantil (the armed wing of Fretilin) and now commander of the FDTL (East Timor Defence Force)
Brigadier-General Ruak told us that the transformation of Falantil guerrilla soldiers into East Timor’s Defence Force is "going well". Out of over 1,700 fighters, 650 have been selected for the FDTL. The others will enter civilian life. Of the 650, 250 are undergoing officer training by the Portuguese. Those entering civilian life are being received by International Organisation of Migration (IOM) who will assist their resettlement. General Ruak, who previously commanded Falantil guerrillas in the mountains, is now commander-in-chief of the FDTL, under the direction of the international Peace-Keeping Force (PKF). He believes a small international military presence will be required for 5-6 years, primarily to maintain security on the border with West Timor. He acknowledged that there is a continuing threat from the militias across the border, particularly given the unwillingness of the Indonesian government to disband them. General Ruak placed more importance on reconciliation than on justice, although he said that this does not mean justice is not important.
Meeting with Juvencio de Jesus Martins, Protocol Officer, National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT)
Juvencio de Jesus Martins was in prison with Gregorio da Cunha Saldanha and Fransisco Miranda Branco for involvement in organizing the Santa Cruz march in November 1991. He was given a seven year prison sentence. He said prison sentences were dependent on the level of involvement, seniority in the resistance, and also attitude in court. He said the Christian faith of East Timorese people was an essential part of their struggle, and that without God they could not have survived.
Meeting with Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, President of the CNRT
Xanana Gusmao is the widely acknowledged leader of the East Timorese independence movement, and President of the CNRT. He was president of Fretilin from 1981 until 1988, when he resigned from Fretilin in order to assume a non-partisan role as leader of the overall independence movement, CNRM, and subsequently CNRT. He was arrested in November 1992 by Indonesian soldiers and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, and was released in 1999.
Mr Gusmao has, however, ruled out standing for President of East Timor after independence. He told us he wants to have a role outside the political system, educating people "to believe in the institutions, to believe in our government". He wants to develop a role in which he can encourage the people to have hope that, one year after another, the situation will improve. The international community wants stability, he said, but he believes there are two kinds of stability or instability: political, and socio-economic. He is confident that the political parties will act responsibly and will ensure political stability. But socio-economic instability is a potential problem, and that may impact political stability. He said the elections to the Constituent Assembly on August 30th are "a turning point". It does not mean UNTAET will leave immediately, but it should mean that UNTAET invests more time in "capacity building", in preparing East Timorese for government positions. The ideal structure for government will be discussed and prepared in May this year. Confusion exists over when UNTAET ends and when the East Timor Transitional Administration (ETTA) begins. But Mr Gusmao hopes to encourage UNTAET to start recruiting East Timorese for positions – to identify positions which can be filled now by Timorese, positions for which Timorese are skilled but inexperienced and require advice, and positions for which Timorese are ill-prepared and which need, for the time being, to be filled by foreigners. He said the UN regards success in terms of establishing institutions – government, police, judiciary etc – and makes lots of "reports", but for the Timorese, success is measured in how the East Timorese people are equipped to handle the institutions after independence.
Mr Gusmao admitted that the political parties are very aware of the risk of violence around the election period in August. "They are very aware that a minor mistake will cost everybody," he said. The parties are engaged in dialogue, drafting a national unity pact and a code of conduct, to ensure political stability. Violence may occur in some localities, but it would be the result of groups seeking to destabilize the situation, rather than the parties themselves. "We will try our best to minimize violence," he said.
Mr Gusmao expressed his hope that the Indonesians would start the process of registering the remaining refugees in West Timor soon, and would enable those who wish to return home to East Timor to do so. He said that justice for the militia "is not my priority", but he hopes that the Indonesian court can fulfil its responsibilities. We discussed the case of Juliana dos Santos, a 16 year old girl held captive by a militia leader in West Timor, and Mr Gusmao said that if every human rights organization in the world provided a voice, the pressure on Indonesia would force the government to take action.
Finally, he emphasized the need for vision for the East Timorese people, and said that whilst there are criticisms of UNTAET, which he shares, people should "see the essence of the criticism" and not criticize everything about the UN. His criticism is focused on the slowness of capacity building and Timorisation of positions. East Timorese have also to be aware of the huge challenge ahead rebuilding the nation.
Meeting with Hildegard Berg, World Evangelisation Crusade (WEC) missionary
Hildegard Berg is working in Dili preparing Sunday schools and teaching English. She shared with us about her work in East Timor.
Visit to the Patricia Anne Hotung ship, with Michael Ho
Toured the ship and met with the crew, and discussed the programme of returning refugees from Kupang.
Meeting with Rev. Arlindo Marcal, General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Party
Arlindo Marcal was the Moderator of the Protestant Church, but has now moved into politics and has established the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), along with a Catholic, Antonio Ximenes, who is the PDC’s President. Political parties have to be registered by May 7th, and to qualify for the elections in August a party has to have at least 500 supporters. There are 13 parties at the moment. The voter registration deadline has been postponed until June, and Arlindo Marcal believes UNTAET requires more equipment, more computers, to ensure that all voters are registered to vote. The national assembly elections will be carried out by proportional representation, and will have 75 members. District assemblies, in each of the 13 districts, will be elected by majority vote. The PDC will field 88 candidates, one for each of the 75 seats in the national assembly and for each district.
The PDC aims to promote Christian values, which Arlindo Marcal says are "decreasing in our society": morality, family, brotherhood, love, respect. They will target "traditional voters" in the villages. "We want to see Christian values in our society," he said. The PDC is working hard to have female candidates making up 30 percent of all their candidates. But Fretilin, he said, is still the majority party. CNRT, he also told us, will probably be dissolved on 1st June, although that is still being debated.
Last year Arlindo Marcal expressed deep concern about tensions between Catholics and Assemblies of God (AOG) members, especially in Lekidoe and other parts of Aileu district. However, he says now relations have improved.
The AOG has grown significantly, largely because it was led by Timorese and had very little connection to the Indonesians. The Protestant Church has declined, according to Mr Marcal, because during the Indonesian occupation the Protestant Church depended heavily on Indonesian support, in the congregations and leadership. Now that Indonesia has left, the Protestant Church’s membership and support base has declined. During his term as Moderator Arlindo Marcal had a difficult balance to fulfil: he was outspoken against injustice and in favour of independence for East Timor, but he also had to maintain the unity of the church and the congregation.
The Protestant Church has no seminary at the moment. The church has many evangelists but it needs to train them to become pastors. At the moment pastors are seen as part of an elite class, and that needs to change totally. "Jesus came to serve, not to be served," said Arlindo Marcal.
In regard to justice and reconciliation, unlike most Timorese, Arlindo Marcal believes people should talk about reconciliation and forgiveness, not justice. "Everybody made a mistake. No one was right. We should talk [only] about reconciliation," he said.
Meeting with James McGowan and Hectar Pun, barristers from Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Bar Association has started
to provide expertise to East Timor to run seminars dealing with trial processes
for East Timorese legal personnel. Plans for a seminar in July are underway.
The East Timorese Jurists Association, consisting of 25 judges, 25 lawyers,
8 public defenders and 11 public prosecutors, has been established. Resources
are scarce: the entire judiciary has only one fax machine, two vehicles,
and four courts. Judges are paid US$350 a month, and public defenders US$230.
Tuesday 1 May
Meeting with Sister Lourdes at Dare
We discussed the needs of the Institute, ways in which we might assist financially and with communications, and expressed our continuing support for Sister Lourdes and her work.
Meeting with Kirsty Sword Gusmao, wife of Xanana Gusmao and member of the executive of the Alola Foundation
We discussed the case of Juliana dos Santos, a 16 year old girl who was kidnapped by militia leader Igidio Manek from her home town of Suai on September 6th 1999 after the massacre in the church at Suai in which 200 people were slaughtered. Mrs Sword Gusmao explained that people had sought shelter in the church, "misguidedly thinking that the church offered safety – whereas in fact there was no safe haven anywhere". The militia ordered the women to lie down on the floor, and murdered all the men. Juliana had watched Igidio Manek murder her 13 year old brother in front of her, and was then paraded around the town by the militia as a war trophy before being taken into captivity in the refugee camp in Atambua, West Timor, where she was repeatedly raped. Juliana became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Carlos, on November 27th 2000.
Igidio Manek is believed to be living in Rai Henek Ho’an, West Timor, one kilometer from the border, where he continues to lead the militia under his command. He has at least two other "wives", and information received in February 2001 indicates that he has four. Other reports suggest he has eight "wives" or mistresses. Juliana is being held "incommunicado", and Igidio Manek claims her officially to be his wife. Under Indonesian law people are only entitled to have one wife, so on this count alone Mr Manek has broken the law.
Mrs Sword Gusmao is leading a campaign to secure the release of Juliana and her safe return to her family in East Timor. Mrs Sword Gusmao accompanied Juliana’s aunt to the UNHCR in Geneva to present the case and urge the UNHCR to take action. Numerous representations have been made to Indonesia, particularly to the Attorney-General, who appointed a representative to look into the case after pressure from the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists, but so far no action has been taken. It is not known whether the special representative is doing anything. Assurances were given in November 2000 by the Indonesian authorities that efforts would be made to reunite Juliana with her family, and at the Joint Border Committee meeting in Bali from 30-31 January 2001, an agreement was reached with the Indonesian authorities which reads: "Both sides agreed that Juliana dos Santos and her baby should be placed in a safe environment free from duress so as to enable her to make her own free choice." However, nothing so far has come of that. "It is incredible that a matter as simple as that is not done," said Mrs Sword Gusmao.
The abduction of Juliana dos Santos is believed to have been politically motivated. Her family were known to be pro-independence, and her father had fought with Falantil. The militia described the family as "pro-independence scum who crow like cocks and die like mice". As a witness to the Suai massacre, her testimony could potentially implicate very senior Indonesian military personnel, which is perhaps why Indonesia has been reluctant to act. "She is a pawn in this whole game," said Mrs Sword Gusmao.
One of the most worrying and outrageous developments is that Igidio Manek, Vice-Commander of the Laksaur militia group and one of the perpetrators of the Suai massacre, has been removed from the list of wanted suspects for trial in the Indonesian war crimes tribunal, on the grounds that he "cannot be found". He has, however, appeared before television cameras in Atambua and is known to be in the vicinity of Atambua. He presented Juliana in a television interview recently, and she said that she loved him and wanted to remain with him. But it was clear from her voice that she had been brainwashed and intimidated and was too frightened to say anything else. She also had a bruise under her eye. "She sounded like someone who had died inside," said Mrs Sword Gusmao. Juliana’s family has received letters allegedly from Juliana, expressing her happiness, but it is again clear from the handwriting that the letters have been written mostly by someone else, probably Igidio Manek.
The campaign for Juliana’s safe release would be helped by petitions to the Indonesian Attorney-General’s office and to the Indonesian military. A petition in Marie-Claire magazine has collected 1500 signatures. However, many human rights organizations have been reluctant to join the campaign because of its focus on one individual case. But Juliana’s case is believed to be one of many. Recently a 14 year old girl returned to East Timor from the refugee camps in West Timor, with testimony of routine sexual abuse by the militia in the camps. UNTAET is in a weak position because it is entirely dependent on the co-operation of the Indonesian authorities.
Mrs Sword Gusmao has helped to establish the Alola Foundation for Women Survivors (named after Juliana dos Santos – Alola is her nickname), to act as an umbrella organization to support existing East Timorese women’s groups and to "internationalise" the issue of women’s rights in East Timor. UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson is Honorary Patron. The Alola Foundation particularly wants to challenge the idea, commonly held in traditional male-dominated Timorese society, that rape is somehow a poor reflection on the woman’s character.
Meeting with Maria de Fatima Wadhoomall Gomes, Pastor, Assemblies of God Church
Mrs Maria Gomes is the pastor and head of the Assemblies of God (AOG) Pentecostal church in East Timor. Her husband Jose Gomes founded the church 33 years ago, and he died of cancer in 1991, aged 64. There are now 43 AOG churches in East Timor. On Atauro Island, 40km off the coast of Dili, there are 5,000 AOG members, out of a population on Atauro of 7,000. There are 17 AOG churches there. The people on Atauro have a great need of medical assistance.
Mrs Gomes is still concerned about the threat to religious freedom in the future. Although on a national leadership level there appears to be a good atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance, on a localized level there have been incidents of tensions between Catholics and AOG members. In 1995 four churches were burned down, and Catholic authorities have refused permission to the AOG to rebuild them. According to Mrs Gomes, many Catholics have said that after independence, Protestant and AOG churches should be closed and East Timor should have only one religion: Catholicism. Mrs Gomes has written to UNTAET and urged them to take the matter seriously: "You always talk about human rights, but we cannot feel free," she said. After the incident in Lekidoe last year, more than 1,000 AOG members fled to Atambua and Kupang, West Timor, out of fear. Their condition there is poor, with little food. However, since that incident tensions appear to have eased and there have been no further attacks. The church at Lekidoe has been rebuilt.
Mrs Gomes is one of 36 members of the National Council. She says the National Council, which is appointed by UNTAET after consultation, and will exist until June, is focused primarily on politics. But she wants to speak about spiritual issues, and sometimes she offers the National Council meetings readings from the Bible focused on reconciliation. She speaks out about peace, love, and reconciliation, and has gained the trust and affection of National Council members.
Mrs Gomes asks for prayer for the following
concerns: for the Church as a whole, that it would do something for East
Timor, and for unity and peace in East Timor. We encouraged her to contact
Sister Lourdes at Dare, because we believe that together Sister Lourdes
and Mrs Gomes could be a powerful force for Christian unity, for stretching
across denominational divides, and for encouraging reconciliation, peace,
and religious tolerance.
Wednesday 2 May
Visit to Leti-foho with James May, Hotung Institute for East Timor
We drove to Leti-foho, at the base of Mount Ramalau, the tallest mountain in East Timor. We saw some of the work that Hong Kong philanthropist Eric Hotung is helping to fund, including a new church and a symbolic cross on the hilltop.
Meeting with Father Domingos da Silva Soares, Parish Priest of Leti-foho, member of the CNRT Organising Committee, and member of the Starting Committee of the Reception, Truth & Reconciliation Commission
The Reception, Truth & Reconciliation Commission has between 5 and 7 commissioners, one executive director, offices in 5 districts, and a satellite office for communications and logistical arrangements in the Oecussi enclave. Father Domingos explained that when suspected perpetrators of serious crimes return to East Timor from West Timor, the victims of these crimes, or their families, can choose one of three institutions to handle the case: a court, the Church, or a village. The Reconciliation Commission will assist the victims and perpetrators to come to a conclusion.
Father Domingos has been involved in the struggle for independence for many years, and was awarded the Pax Christi award in 1998. Several times Bishop Belo asked him, as a priest, to stop his political activities, but he refused. He was forced out of East Timor by the Indonesians in 1997, but returned in 1998 after the fall of Suharto.
Father Domingos says that he is hopeful about the future for East Timor, because "if we have not got hope, we cannot do anything". He said that the arrival of Interfet in September 1999 saved East Timor. Two weeks more and there would have been many, many more killings. "If Interfet had not come, we would have been finished." He told us that during the months before the referendum, Indonesian military and militia told people: "If you choose autonomy, there will be a little blood; if you choose independence, blood will run like rivers." However, UNTAET does not consider CNRT seriously enough, and does not treat Timorese people with enough respect. "They treat Timorese people as if we are ignorant," he said. He said UNTAET should have given Timorese leaders positions in the administration earlier, in order to prepare them. UNTAET Administrator Sergio Viella de Mello should have made Xanana Gusmao his deputy, in Father Domingos’ view.
Tensions between Protestants and Catholics were stirred up during Indonesian times as a way of dividing East Timorese people. "Indonesia wanted to destroy the unity of East Timor," he said. But he dismissed the idea that after independence religious freedom would suffer. The Magna Carta adopted by CNRT provides clearly for religious freedom.
The presence of human rights organizations is very important still in East Timor, Father Domingos believes, because there are potential human rights violations everywhere.
The liberation of East Timor was "a miracle of solidarity". But now East Timor is free, Father Domingos urges East Timorese overseas to return to their country to rebuild the land. "This is the land God gave us. The Diaspora needs to come back," he said. However, he expressed concern that many Timorese living in exile overseas had become accustomed to "commodities" which were unavailable in East Timor and would make settling back into simple Timorese life more difficult.
Reconciliation has to be accompanied by justice, Father Domingos said. "There is no way for reconciliation without justice. Even with the Cross there is justice – Jesus paid the price. There must be confession, apology, dialogue. Without justice, there is no reconciliation," he said. But justice does not necessarily mean a court or a prison sentence. It is important simply to make the perpetrators and the victims "to see the truth, to sit down together and see the truth".
Regarding the case of Juliana dos Santos, according to Father Domingos she tried on two or three occasions to escape from Betun, West Timor, with the help of a priest, but failed.
Regarding the militia in 1999, Father Domingos said that the Indonesian military forced village leaders to provide a certain number of men for the militia (about 10 per village), and if they refused they risked being killed. Militia members were paid 100,000 Rupiah for being in the militia, and were often given ecstasy. The majority of militia were East Timorese, though they were armed and supported and directed by the Indonesian military.
East Timor’s future lies in agriculture, and education, and so investment must be made in these areas, Father Domingos said. There is currently a 10 percent literacy rate in East Timor.
Father Domingos used the Pax Christi prize money to establish the Good Samaratin Foundation, which supports orphans, widows, and victims of the struggle.
Visit to the Carmelite Sisters’ orphanage and clinic in Maubara
CSW Hong Kong has helped to support the orphanage and clinic, run by the Carmelite Sisters in Maubara, 50km west of Dili, since February 2000. We met this time with Sister Johanna Baptista, and she told us that the children in the orphanage have a serious problem with tuberculosis. 7 children have pulmonary tuberculosis and have been separated from the other children and evacuated to Caritas in Dili; of the remaining children, 8 have extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, and 2 or 3 have suspected tuberculosis. In February this year 15 of the children had malaria. The Carmelite Sisters have occasional visits from doctors, but such visits are rare and irregular.
Meeting with Fransisco Miranda Branco and Gregorio da Cunha Saldanha
Fransisco Branco and Gregorio Saldanha were leaders of the Santa Cruz march in November 1991, and were imprisoned for it: Fransisco on a 15 year sentence, and Gregorio on a life sentence. CSW campaigned for their release and communicated with them during their time in prison. They were released in December 1999, and since then CSW has met with them on each visit and developed friendship and support for them.
Fransisco Branco is now leading the Association for Ex-Prisoners of Conscience, and is also working on an environmental movement, "To Make Green", which aims to highlight ecological issues. He addressed the CSW UK conference in London in October last year. Gregorio Saldanha is a member of the National Council representing Fretilin, and is President of OJETIL, Fretilin’s youth wing. He sent a special message to CSW Hong Kong’s conference in November last year, as he was unable to come in person. Both are committed Christians who speak of their faith as the primary factor that sustained them in the struggle.
Fransisco Branco spoke about reconciliation,
and emphasized the importance of justice before reconciliation is possible.
He disagreed with the proposed general amnesty for returning militia, saying
that without justice, a bad precedent is set for criminals in the future.
Thursday 3 May
Visit to Sister Lourdes and the Secular Institute of Brothers & Sisters in Christ at Dare
We assisted the St Andrew’s Church team with repairs to the generator and computers. Took 14 computers and a photocopier into Dili to work on throughout the afternoon. The St Andrew’s Church team provided software and restored four computers to good working order, and left instructions for the Institute for how to fix the remaining computers.
We also saw a new water tank constructed at Dare, financed by funds donated by CSW Hong Kong on our last visit.
Visit to Youth With a Mission (YWAM)
Met with YWAM personnel, and discussed
our respective activities in East Timor.
Friday 4 May
Breakfast meeting with Jane Penfold, British Representative, The British Office
According to Jane Penfold, the British diplomatic representative, the UNTAET mandate expires on January 31st, 2002. On 15th September this year the newly elected Constituent Assembly will take office, and its first priority will be to draw up a constitution for an independent East Timor by 15th December. There is reportedly "overwhelming criticism" of the UN for its bureaucracy, and the slow pace of Timorisation of positions. UN staff have not generally been good at mentoring and training Timorese staff, or at "capacity building". The elections in August could produce a climate of violence, with the party most likely to cause violence being the RDTL. Some people equate democracy with Western living standards, which risks causing a rise in expectations, and increased frustrations with the high levels of unemployment and poverty, and the huge gap between Timorese standards of living and the large salaries of international staff. But despite recent reports of violent crime (unrelated to political motivations), crime figures are still very low.
The British government gives aid money to local Timorese non-governmental organizations (NGOs), not to foreign NGOs. Projects receiving grants include sustainable agricultural projects such as pig farming, where money might be given to Timorese to purchase pigs for breeding.
The number of refugees returning from West Timor has declined since the arrest of Mandoza, a militia leader apprehended in Suai. But on May 21st the Indonesian authorities will begin registration to establish from the refugees who wants to remain in Indonesia, and who wished to return to East Timor.
In foreign affairs, 11 countries have established diplomatic missions in East Timor: Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil.
Meeting with Sister Fabiola, Carmelite Sisters, Fatuhada, Dili
Sister Fabiola showed us the design and plans for a new clinic in Maubara, and said that they needed medical equipment for the clinic.
Meeting with Dr Jim Tulloch, Senior Advisor, Division of Health Services, UNTAET
Dr Jim Tulloch was consulted regarding the possibility of facilitating volunteer specialist medical services from Australia to East Timor. He asked whether we could guarantee continuity for 12 months a year. We replied that we could not. He asked if people were able to come for three to six months, which we confirmed as an easier undertaking although no guarantees could be made.
Jim reported that the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) hospital in Dili would complete its mandate on June 30 2001, and there would be no extension. A group from Holland, CORDAID, had agreed to take over the administration of the hospital from July 1 2001 (following the Catholic Hospitals of Australia's decision to withdraw their interest in running it). CORDAID will supply five personnel. UNTAET are presently seeking to recruit five core specialists - a surgeon, a physician in internal medicine, a paediatrician, a specialist in obstetrics/gynaecology, and an anaesthetist. That will represent the specialist service providers for East Timor, and they will each visit other centres such as Baucau and Los Palos, and possibly other centres as well.
The Royal Australian College of Surgeons has offered to provide a rotating surgeon for one month at a time, on full salary. Thus there are great opportunities for volunteers, but, as Jim stressed, those who can work in a system that can only afford US$10 per person per year, i.e. low tech, low cost medicine. He said he thought UNTAET and, following that, the new East Timorese administration could provide accommodation and local salary rates. As far as primary health care is concerned, the present MOU (memorandum of understanding) of the NGOs expires on 30 Sep 2001. Prospective primary care health providers, whether NGOs or other groups, will have to reapply to continue to provide health care services after that date. They would, however, need to demonstrate knowledge of public health and show both sustainability and appropriate technology usage in their proposals.
In August or September there will come online a new National Centre for Health and Education Training (NCHET), situated near Comorro Airport. Here, primary health care skills and principles will be taught with a special emphasis on training up nurse practitioners to work in isolated and rural health centres. Recruitment is currently underway for a Timorese to head up this institution.
Primary health care is presently very patchy, with many East Timorese having little or no access to primary health care services. Diseases such as tuberculosis are increasing in incidence. Malaria is widespread and perinatal mortality remains alarmingly high.
Meeting with Father Filomena Jacob, Catholic Priest and Anthropologist, Cabinet Member with responsibility for education and social affairs
Fr Filomena was asked firstly what proportion of children attended school; he responded immediately, "100%". He qualified his statement, saying "It would be 100% if all the children had uniforms. But as many do not, they don't attend school. We are trying to arrange a uniform program to all the schools." When pressed about whether there were sufficient schools for all Timorese children to attend, he replied rather enigmatically that they were conducting school mapping to see if all the areas of East Timor were covered.
Literacy rates are reported to be 10%,
but Fr Filomena said he was "far less pessimistic", although he declined
to quote a figure. He was asked about the education budget for this year.
He would not quote a figure but said it would be a bit more than the health
budget. When asked about the possibility of "GAP" students from the UK
doing volunteer teaching in East Timor, he replied that he thought it a
good idea, but said it would be up to whoever was appointed Education Secretary
in the Timorese cabinet following the parliamentary elections on August
Saturday 5 May
Breakfast meeting with Judy Higgins, Youth with a Mission, Darwin Australia
Judy had travelled to Dili to investigate the possibilities of setting up primary health (first-aid clinics in some remote mountain villages) in East Timor. Principles of delivery of primary health care in East Timor were discussed, particularly in relation to UNTAET and various NGOs' role in primary health care, and their current MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with UNTAET that expires in 30 Sep 2001. It was suggested that it might initially be a teaching project, identifying the needs in the community, finding out what, if any, health care was already available, and ultimately linking with local groups as a means of building capacity. Judy was also keen that groups could use their health care as a vehicle to evangelism. It was suggested that she contact Mrs Maria Gomes, the senior pastor of the Assembly of God church in East Timor (the largest protestant denomination, with over 40 churches around the territory). We prayed for Judy's work and YWAM's involvement in health care in East Timor.
Meeting with Dr Juan Federer, Chief Executive of Timor Aid
Dr Federer gave an animated and eloquent account of the socio-political situation in East Timor, both from his own perspective and also that of many of the intellectuals of East Timor. His arguments were convincing and compelling, his basic thesis being that as East Timor has risen in a mere 18 months from a state of pulverisation and widespread destruction of life, property, culture, and history, it is expecting too much too soon to even hope for independence and sovereignty in the near future. Even were there to be Indonesian autonomy for East Timor both Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta had proposed a 5 - 10 year transition period under Indonesian rule.
Dr Federer is not opposed to self-rule, simply concerned about a precipitate or too hasty declaration of sovereignty and independence. He discussed just how difficult it is for one sovereign state to intervene in the internal affairs of another state. However, if the UN maintained sovereignty, if there was major internal instability or a descent towards the abyss in society or government, the UN could intervene at the request of the UN's special representative (akin to head of state or Governor General). He expressed great concern over the present state of the political parties, mostly lacking in both programs, policies or principles, and described them as small self interest groups similar to clans or family groupings. Most of the younger generation have grown up in a culture of violence, and perceive that as the only way to resolve differences. They have not seen or learned more sophisticated means of conflict resolution, such as dialogue or arbitration.
The system Dr Federer proposes is described in a recently released (1 May 2001) discussion paper entitled "A gradual path to full sovereignty in East Timor". It has been circulated to all 11 Diplomatic Missions presently in Dili. He described the present situation as "a drama being played where no one is facing reality. As it continues the whole process is acquiring a dynamic of its own. If we do nothing people will say ‘why did we let this happen?’" "Furthermore", he added, "it is quite unrealistic a mere 18 months from almost total destruction, with an abysmal state of education and literacy (around 10%), without any history of a democratic system, to expect a predominantly tribal society to run a modern, effective and stable administration." He agreed that giant strides had been taken, but urged CSW to do all it can do to lobby the international community and the UN Security Council to prevent what he suggested might well be an international disaster similar to or worse than that which occurred under Indonesian occupation.
France is one nation within the Security Council that is pressing for an early exit of the UN from East Timor. Some cynics have suggested that in reality they want to show the Kanaaks fighting for independence in New Caledonia just how disastrous granting early sovereignty and independent status may prove.
Meeting with Dr Dan Murphy, Bairo Pite Clinic, Dili
Discussions were held on a broad range
of issues, from the relationship of the clinic with Sr Maria Lourdes' Insitute,
to future directions and funding for the clinic and its place within the
health care system of East Timor. As one of us (MP) had worked in the clinic
in August - September 2000, and written an in-house report after his term
finished, the contents of that were discussed. Dr Murphy said he agreed
with it all and was gradually moving towards implementation of the issues
raised, as time and resources allowed. Compassion Australia is to cease
funding the clinic after June 2001, and Dr Murphy is travelling to the
US to try to procure assistance from USAID.
8. Political Overview
The primary political focus at the moment is the preparations for the August 30th elections. On the one hand, these elections should be a joyous and celebratory occasion, the first free and fair elections in East Timor’s history, and the first elections to a National Assembly for an independent East Timor. On the other hand, there is concern that the parties are divided, and that the people are unprepared. The Timorese people, however, showed in the Popular Consultation in 1999 that they do understand the value and importance of voting – over 90 percent of eligible voters then turned out to vote, despite intimidation and violence. So we sincerely hope that the East Timorese people will be provided with proper preparation and information for the ballot to take place, and that the elections will take place in an atmosphere of calm and reasoned debate, not violence.
The role of Xanana Gusmao is another concern, given his recent resignation from the National Council and his statement that he will refuse to stand for President. There is concern that there appears to be no other potential leader who can command the loyalty, respect and support of the country. There is also speculation among some people that Xanana Gusmao may eventually stand for President, perhaps after another candidate has been elected and has been found to be weak. Others speculate that with enough popular pressure on Xanana to stand, he may find he has no choice.
Further concerns centre on the continuing presence of an estimated 50,000 refugees still in West Timor, and on the continued intimidation by militia groups in the camps. The concern for Juliana dos Santos, and other young women like her, abducted as sexual slaves by militia members, is yet another unresolved human rights issue.
Concern has been expressed that East Timor
is not yet ready for independence, whilst others call for an early withdrawal
of the United Nations on the grounds that the UN has acted as another colonizer.
It would be sensible to think in terms of a middle way, that reduces UN
administration gradually, preparing Timorese people – politicians, administrators,
civil servants, police, judiciary – to assume responsibilities when they
are ready, thereby offering a "safety net": encourage East Timor to assume
greater self-governance, while providing expertise from outside to support
that until the country is ready to be fully independent.
9. Religious Overview
There appears to have been an improvement in relations between the Catholic and Protestant and Assemblies of God communities in East Timor since last year, and that is to be welcomed and encouraged. There is due to be a joint celebration for all Protestants (from the Protestant and Assemblies of God churches) in May, which although still only Protestant is still a step towards ecumenical co-operation.
There remains, however, concern among some
Assemblies of God members that religious tolerance is at risk after independence.
There appears to be no desire on the part of Catholic leadership, priests,
or political leaders to restrict other religions or denominations, but
there are perhaps elements within localized Catholic communities who wrongly
perceive pro-Indonesian political elements, links or sympathies within
the Protestant and Assemblies of God churches, and thus wish to eradicate
them. Such misconceptions and misunderstandings need to be clarified. Better
inter-denominational relations and dialogue should be a part of the reconciliation
10. Conclusions & Recommendations
We recommend to the East Timorese, and the international community, in particular the United Nations and foreign governments, that the following measures be considered and adopted:
* That the UN carries out a gradual rather than immediate withdrawal from East Timor after the August 30th elections, so that a smooth transfer of power to the Timorese leading to full independence can be achieved;
* That the reconciliation process be integrated with a system of justice, so that there can be no abdication of responsibility by the perpetrators of serious crimes, while also facilitating forgiveness and reconciliation;
* That the UN and human rights organizations continue to monitor human rights developments in East Timor, particularly safeguards for religious freedom for all East Timorese after independence;
* That the Indonesian authorities, the UN, and the international community work hard and in co-operation to secure the safety and freedom of Juliana dos Santos, and other young women in captivity in West Timor;
* That the Indonesian authorities, the UN, and the international community take responsibility for bringing perpetrators of serious crimes, whether militia leaders or Indonesian military, to justice;
* That President Abdurrahman Wahid amend his decree and extend the mandate of the Indonesian tribunal to crimes committed before, as well as after, the August 1999 ballot, so that such atrocities as the Liquica massacre in April 1999, and the attack on Manuel Carrascalao’s home, be properly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice;
* That the international community in East Timor, in the UN and in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), engage seriously in "capacity building" to equip the East Timorese people with the knowledge and skills required to be self-sufficient and fully independent.
We further recommend to NGOs and other charitable donors contributing equipment from overseas, particularly second-hand machinery, that they ensure that the equipment is in working order, and that clear instructions are provided to the Timorese people so that they know how to use such equipment. The Secular Institute of Brothers & Sisters in Christ, for example, received a shipment of second-hand computers, all of which were not in working order without manuals, and many had completely inadequate software. The team from St Andrew’s Church Hong Kong were able to provide assistance in fixing the computers and instructing the people on how to fix and use them, but it was a time-consuming and difficult task. East Timor requires and welcomes donations of machinery, but such donations are only useful if they work and if the people understand how they work.
We recommend to CSW:
* That CSW branches around the world support the campaign for Juliana dos Santos, and that CSW’s officer at the UN in Geneva make representations to the UN Human Rights Commission to that effect;
* That CSW branches around the world make representations to the UN and the international community urging a continued, but reduced, presence of international expertise and support in East Timor beyond the end of this year, and that the international community enhance "capacity building" and Timorisation of positions;
* That CSW Hong Kong and Australia continue to visit East Timor and to support our friends and projects there;
* That CSW continue to monitor religious freedom in East Timor;
* That CSW be open to supporting and encouraging the reconciliation process, particularly among the Christian denominations;
* That CSW Hong Kong provide financial support to Sister Lourdes’ fund to enable her members to travel to the refugee camps in West Timor, and to provide food for returning refugees;
* That CSW consider facilitating Protestant foreign youth and students to work with Sister Lourdes in inter-denominational work in East Timor;
* That CSW continue to provide financial
support to projects in East Timor, and to facilitate transfer of skills
in areas of construction, engineering, information technology, health and
Dr Martin Panter, CSW Australia
Benedict Rogers, CSW Hong Kong
May 7th, 2001
For further information please contact:
CSW Hong Kong
tel: +852 2573 3343
mobile: +852 9181 7585
Dr Martin Panter
tel: +61 740921061