Friday, October 16, 2009

Border incursion

Tempo Semanal reports on a border incursion by Indonesian troops into Oecusse that allegedly took place on October 12.

Four TNI soldiers armed with M16s and 4 unarmed paramilitary personnel, as well as a civilian entered the Cruz area of the southern most Passabe sub-District of Oecusse, Tempo writes. The TNI assaulted Timorese building a police border post and stole some building materials. Mr. Agustino Eta, the Chefe Aldiea Haumnani, told Tempo that
the TNI officers asked him "who instructed to build the border police post, and to whom did you get permission from to build this police post?" The TNI officer told Mr Eta that the area is in dispute between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Mr. Eta responded "Our Timor-Leste leaders told us to build this border police post here". He added "that Timorese do not need to ask permission to build a police post on their own territory". Furthermore, Mr Eta angrily continued that "if we want to build post in Indonesian then we need to ask permission". "For me and my Suco Abani community we don't think this is a disputed area, but it is our land [Timor-Leste]".
Timor-Leste's goverment in Dili only learned of the incursion 3 days after it happened.
Since June 2009 Oekusi's western border near Naktuka has been the scen[e] of border disputes with a number of armed TNI being arrested by Timorese border police for entering Timor-Leste, and quickly being released to return to Indonesia as Timor-Leste is sensitive to percevied threats from the country's neighbour...
Confidential UN map of the disputed area from 2005 , obtained by Tempo Semanal

One has to wonder if this is related to either the ongoing controversy surrounding Timor's extra-judicial release of indicted militia-leader Maternus Bere or the seemingly never-ending border negotiations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which are regularly announced as nearly finished.

Update (of sorts): Meant to include these links in the original posting. Tempo Semanal had an article about an earlier incursion: TNI Enter Oecusse Enclave - Border Dispute.

Simao de Carvalho the Chief of Naktuka told Tempo Semanal today that on September 26th 2009 the people of Naktuka village of Bene Ufe, Sud District Nitibe district Oekuse found some 9 Indonesian Army soldiers enter[ed] the area and report[ed] to the East Timor Police Border Patrol Unit.

Global Voices highlighted the issue a week or so ago, citing the TimorOhin [Tet.]website and the related TimorNewsNetwork news summary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lao Hamutuk asks on the east-timor list "Why are TL VIPs in China?"

After spending all last Monday in Parliament successfully defending his placing Timor-Leste's "national interest" above legal and Constitutional limitations, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão -- together with the Ministers of Finance, Infrastructure, and Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for Natural Resources, and the head of Timor-Leste's armed forces, headed to China to participate in a Western China trade fair and visit a shipyard (see press release below).

This is a high-level group for a relatively unimportant activity, but there are other reasons to go to China.

Perhaps the visit is related to the new Budget and Financial Management Law which Parliament passed on 24 September. In addition to outlining how the State Budget is to be approved (the General State Budget for 2010 will be sent to Parliament this week), this law allows the Minister of Finance to borrow money from governments like China, without any Parliamentary or public oversight of the terms or repayment of the loan (see NGO commentary at ).


La'o Hamutuk doesn't yet have confirmed information that the six high Timor-Leste officials went to China to borrow money, but the timing of the visit, together with the demonstrated policies of this government to spend far more than the sustainable level recommended by the Petroleum Fund law, give us reason for concern.

If they have more time, the Ministers can look into the apparently stalled $385 million Heavy Oil Power project, awarded last year to Chinese Nuclear Industry Construction Company #22. Much of this year's $85 million budget line for this project has been reallocated to the Referendum Package of small local infrastructure projects. However, if the flagship power project of the government "year of infrastructure" is ever to be realized, something must be done. (See .)

La'o Hamutuk welcomes more information about these issues from any source, and encourages people to pay close attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sumatra Earthquate and Indonesia's International Debt

Former ETAN field organizer and former Jubilee USA staffer writes from Indonesia on the Sumatra earthquake for Jubilee's Blog the Debt.

Some excerpts:
Indonesian government officials have estimated that at least $600 million will be needed to repair basic infrastructure damaged by the earthquake. Countries around the world have pledged and sent humanitarian assistance, but it is not enough to enable Indonesia to rebuild. Meanwhile, Indonesia continues to send almost $9 billion every year to foreign governments and international financial institutions in payment on its foreign debt....

Jubilee colleagues in Indonesia, including the Koalisi Anti-Utang (KAU/Anti-Debt Coalition) are calling on the Indonesian government to reallocate the money currently slated for debt repayment to finance reconstruction and to prepare for future disasters. They are also urging the Indonesian government not to take on new loans to finance disaster response.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ETAN on Western Sahara

excerpts from Statement on Western Sahara Prepared for Delivery to the United Nations Fourth Committee, United Nations, New York, October 2009
...It should embarrass this institution -- and all of you as representatives of United Nations member states-- that this committee must continue to discuss the situation of Western Sahara. The discussion should have ended long ago, and its people should have exercised their right to self-determination.

The parallels between the situations of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara are clear. In 1975, within weeks, larger neighbors, defying international law and the UN Charter, invaded both countries as they were on the verge of decolonization. For decades, Morocco and Indonesia continued to brutally occupy and illegally exploit the resources of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara in defiance of UN resolutions. The invaders received weapons and diplomatic support from the United States and other powerful countries. Both colonies remained on the General Assembly agenda as non-self-governing territories. Both invasions were clearly condemned by the Security Council. Both peoples suffered horrendous human rights crimes, including torture, disappearances, displacement, and rape. Those who organized and ordered these crimes have yet to be brought to justice. This only encourages others to defy international law....

We urge Morocco and its allies to end their delaying tactics. The United Nations and its member states should fulfill its promise to support decolonization worldwide and more forward with Western Sahara's referendum

There is a truism: "Justice delayed is justice denied." The paraphrase, "Self-determination delayed is self-determination denied," is certainly as true. The people of Timor-Leste had their right self-determination denied for nearly two and one-half decades. The people of Western Sahara have been denied their rights for 34 years and counting. They should not have to wait any longer.