Global perspective Human stories

UN envoy in Timor-Leste says Timorese fugitive responsible for violence, calls for calm

UN envoy in Timor-Leste says Timorese fugitive responsible for violence, calls for calm

Atul Khare, Special Representative for Timor-Leste
The United Nations envoy in Timor-Leste has said fugitive Timorese Major Alfredo Reinado and his followers, who are accused of involvement in last year’s deadly violence that rocked the tiny nation, bear ultimate responsibility for the weekend military operation launched against them by the International Security Forces (ISF) because they rejected the Government’s terms of surrender.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Atul Khare, head of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), has also repeated his call for calm after gangs burnt tyres and fought UN Police on Sunday in the capital Dili, while two vehicles were set on fire in a ministry compound in Gleno-Ermera.

Timorese President Xanana Gusmão had asked for the ISF operation against Maj. Reinado after he ransacked several border police posts late last month, stealing weapons and other equipment, and because he had shown “very clearly that he does not respect the State or its institutions”.

“UNMIT regrets that the efforts to ensure a peaceful judicial path have not been successful, and would like to stress that it is Reinado’s disregard for the laws of Timor-Leste and the wellbeing of its population that have brought us to this point,” Mr. Khare told reporters yesterday, referring to the ISF operations in Same, south of Dili.

“I would like to once more appeal to the people of Timor-Leste to cooperate with the police and the ISF to maintain peace and calm. At the same time, UN Police, along with the PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste) and assisted as required by the ISF, will continue to take strong actions against all those who indulge in violence or otherwise flout the laws of this country.”

Late last year the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, set up to look into the deadly violence that erupted in May and April, found amongst other things that Maj. Reinado and his group were reasonably suspected of committing crimes against life and person during the fighting.

The crisis, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, erupted in late April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces. Ensuing violence claimed at least 37 lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.

The Security Council created UNMIT in August 2006 to help restore order after the violence, especially in the run-up to this year’s elections, the first round of which is schedule for 9 April. These will be the first polls held in the tiny nation since it gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.