Thursday, April 20, 2006

(East Timor Problems) Sacked soldiers to demo next week

“Minister of Interior, Rogério Lobato told the media in a press conference Wednesday, that the police have given authorization for the ‘petitioners group’ to hold their protest. Lobato said his department received a notification from the group, informing him of their plans to hold a demonstration starting on Monday until Thursday. He reiterated that as a democratic nation, citizens of Timor-Leste have the right to protest, but added that ‘if the protesters commit a crime, police will shoot’. The Minister of Interior said the work of the police is to provide security to the protesters as well as the community therefore PNTL will be in control of the security to prevent any crimes that can affect the stability of the nation. According to media reports, Lobato also stated during the conference, that he has already received information that some political parties, embassies and priests are supporting the ‘petitioners group’ noting that police have also identified some people who are providing food to the ‘petitioners’. Lobato said police would patrol the airport and the borders to detain anyone contributing to the destabilization, from fleeing the country. He also appealed to the community not to panic as police would provide security 24 hours and he asked the heads and chiefs of villages to work together with the police in identifying new faces within their community and to question the purpose of their stay as many youths are now travelling to Dili to participate in the protest. He said police will identify the venue where the group plans to demonstrate and that participants will be searched to guarantee that they are not carrying any weapons. He asked all to maintain law and order.

The media also reported that the spokesperson of the ‘petition group’, Salsinha Gastão, as saying that the scheduled protest is to demand the sovereign state to speed up a solution to the problem adding, “if it is not resolved within the fours days, we don’t know what will happen to this country. It is not we who are destroying the nation but the sovereign bodies for not wanting to resolve it,” he said, adding “We have been too patient during the last three months and we have exhausted our patience. We were once slaves and we don’t want to be forever slaves, therefore the leaders must give attention to this problem”. Gastão said the people planning to participate in the demonstration include the group and their families and asked police not to be in dismay as it will be a peaceful action. He stated that the group is only receiving support from their families and people from 10 Districts and not from embassies and political parties as reported. According to the media, Salsinha Gastão believes that the demonstration will run smoothly but emphasized there must be a solution. He questions the functioning ability of the established commission and asks why they are investigating the victims and not the suspects. He also appealed to the commission to act impartially.”

Source: Timor Post, Suara Timor Lorosae & Diario Nacional (from UNOTIL Public Information Office, Daily Media Review)

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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