Timor-Leste: UN envoy applauds its leaders’ call to accept upcoming report on strife

5 October 2006

The United Nations envoy in Timor-Leste today warmly welcomed a statement by Timorese leaders calling on the population to accept the findings of an upcoming UN report into this year’s deadly violence in the tiny South-East Asian nation, which killed around 40 people and forced more than 150,000 others to flee their homes.

“I am deeply grateful to the President, Prime Minister and the President of Parliament for their joint statement of this morning, on the necessity of the upcoming Independent Commission of Inquiry report for building the rule of law in Timor-Leste,” said Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Finn Reske-Nielsen.

“The report is indeed a first step in an essential process of accountability and reconciliation,” he added, referring to the document that is expected to be issued sometime this month.

Violence in April and May, apparently caused by differences between eastern and western regions of the country, erupted with the firing of 600 striking soldiers and led to the deaths of at least 37 people, while causing 155,000 others – 15 per cent of the total population – to flee their homes.

“The intention of the Commissioners in writing this report has been to establish the truth, so that the people of Timor-Leste have a clear and trustworthy basis for understanding the events of April and May,” said Mr. Reske-Nielsen.

“The new United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) believes that accountability is the only way to end impunity. For this reason the United Nations is working together to ensure that the report will be available to as wide a public as possible in Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and English.”

Timorese President Xanana Gusmão read the joint statement this morning, in which the three leaders appealed to the people to receive the report “with cool heads and with the sense of responsibility… with the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation, with the spirit of justice and national unity, with courage and serenity,” according to a UN press release.

The UN helped shepherd Timor-Leste to independence from Indonesia in 2002.