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									                        PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC
                         OFFICE OF PRESIDENT


                      Palace of Ashes, 23 March 2006

Dear the People of Timor-Lorosa‟e,

I know that everyone expects me to say something about the situation, in
which we all follow closely, occurring within F-FDTL. Some people say that
the Supreme Commander only has the power during the time of threat or the
time of war. These people are correct but they are a bit wrong since during
the time of peace, and the time of tranquility, as the Supreme Commander I
always have a very big power: the power to check the armed force during
National holidays such as on 20 May or 28 November at Dili Municipality
Stadium, where the Fire Brigades also are in line as the Force and also the
Civilian Security which provides the security for the State buildings.

Therefore, I am not going to use my power which I do not really have as a
Supreme Commander. Because of this, I am going to speak only as the
President of Republic of Timor-Leste. Article 74 of our Constitution states
that “The President is the symbol and the guarantor of the unity of State, and
the regular functioning of democratic institutions.”

Through this role, as President of Republic I will provide my observations
on the problem occurring within F-FDTL so that everyone knows the roots
of the problem, whether there is a capacity to resolve such problem since in
the newspapers it was reported that everyone only talked about their
capacity. Once everyone knows the roots of the problem, then they can come
up with his or her thoughts, otherwise some of us will say things baselessly.

Dear Compatriots,

First of all, I would like to explain that the decision taken by the Brigadier-
General Taur Matan Ruak on 591 soldiers considered now to be as civilians,

was his real competence and it is not the President of Republic who is going
to change it. It is indeed true, and I appeal to everyone not to be worried
since the President of Republic is not someone who tries to replace other
people‟s competence, and as the Supreme Commander [of F-FDTL], I really
bow to this decision.

However, as the President of Republic I find that the decision taken by the
Brigadier-General was a wrong one, and it was not quite just! And as the
President of Republic, I should say that my opinion may be more objective
than the opinion of a foreign Legal Adviser working at the Council of
Ministers, a foreigner to whom the Brigadier-General listened more in
making his decisions.

Even so, I wish to inform the five hundred and eleven soldiers who now
become the civilians that this is the decision that has been taken, and it
means that you are no longer as military men because I have to respect the
decisions taken by your Leaders.

Dear Compatriots,

To all people, I would like to inform that the decision taken was wrong since
it tended to focus on the military discipline and it did not consider the roots
of the problem which existed within F-FDTL.

On 11 January I received a petition signed by some military members of the
1st Battalion in Lospalos, presenting the issue of discrimination of
“loromonu-lorosae” (people from the western and eastern part of Timor-
Leste) within F-FDTL. In the petition they stated that some Veterans usually
said that “it is only the people of the eastern part of Timor-Leste who are the
fighters and not of the western part”, and “if they, the veterans of the eastern
part [ of Timor-Leste] had not fought for the independence, then the people
of western part would not have been recruited for F-FDTL.” With such
discrimination, the promotions were only for the soldiers of eastern part [of
Timor-Leste, and the discipline was only applied for the soldiers of western
part [of Timor-Leste].

I immediately sent a copy of the petition to the Minister of Defense and
Commander of Falintil-FDTL in order to request the Leaders to resolve the
matter. On 17 January I received the response from the Commander of F-
FDTL, Brigadier Taur Matan Ruak saying that since the 1st Battalion had

just moved from Lospalos to Baucau, and after they moved, then he would
look into the matter.

On 6 February I heard that a large number of soldiers abandoned the
barrack, and spreading throughout Dili. On 7 February I received some of
them, and requested them all to mark their presence on 8 February in order
to control them so that there would be no more problems, and there would
not be any chance given to other people, in case making any problem, they
could be blamed for it. All of them came to form in line in Caicoli, and they
were around more than four hundred people. I requested Minister of
Defense, Dr. Roque Rodrigues to go there, and he did come, but Brigadier-
General refused to come, then we asked Colonel Lere instead. I also
requested two Members of Parliament: Paulo Assis and Gregório Saldanha
as members of Superior Council of Defense and Security to come.

I requested the Minister of Defense to carefully look into the problem by
mentioning that the issue of „loromonu-lorosa‟e‟ was a political one and it
was a problem which had long existed within F-FDTL, therefore there was a
need to resolve it carefully. I also said that the matter was also found by the
Investigation Commission in 2004, specially the words usually used by the
Veteran Officers in addressing the new soldiers, in particular those who are
from Western part of Timor-Leste. Minister of Defense told me that he had
no courage to talk to or warned the Veterans since he had a complex related
to the fact that he never involved in the war, therefore he really respected
them. However, the Minister even said that sometimes the foreign Advisers
working at F-FDTL who provoked all of these matters.

Colonel responded by saying that he did not believe the Veterans said such
words, and he suspected the Political parties that did it, particularly
Democratic Party (PD) since Deker becomes a PD member. I told them not
to blame anyone with no basic reason, and saying that if more than four
hundred soldiers abandoned the barrack, perhaps there was something not
quite right within the Institution itself. And it was better to have self-
correction and improve it. When we start to blame people with no real
reason, it shows that we do not want to or have no desire to resolve the
problem by throwing it to other people‟s shoulder.

I appealed to the two Leaders to carefully consider in re-accepting these
more than four hundred soldiers in order to solve the matter. If they were to

be dismissed, the problem within F-FDTL had been resolved, and they did
not bring the matter outside.

I asked the Minister of Defense to see that there should not be Veterans or
Fighters within F-FDTL since in all State Institutions, there is no, and there
should not be Veterans or non Veterans. The fighters should bear in mind
that their being Fighters or Heroes only terminated in August 1999, and
today they are military members like any other ones. I also asked them to
correct such behavior within F-FDTL since the Veterans should think that
they were already old, and they would be retired someday. Such behaviors
might make the new soldiers ask when exactly the Veterans would be
retired, so that F-FDTL would become professional where there was no
more such thing like “ I was the one who suffered in the past, I was the one
who made the war, I was the one who killed many enemies, and if we had
not made the war, you would not have become F-FDTL members”, etc. All
organs of State have made a great effort to recognize the Veterans, Fighters
or Heroes, therefore the State Institutions should not allow to have another
status for the Heroes and the Fighters. Today, if people who work within an
Institution, all of them are the servants of the State.

I also told the two Leaders that the issue of discrimination between
“loromonu-lorosae” should be considered as a political problem which the
State should pay attention to: other matters which were dealing with the
promotion or discipline will be tackled by the military Institution even
though they were related to the issue of discrimination.

I also requested MP Paulo Assis and MP Gregório Saldanha to be part of
the [Investigation ] Commission but the Minster of Defense said it was
better for them not be so because it could undermine the competence of
Military‟s Chief of Staff. Then, I also agreed that the two MPs would just
follow the investigation which the Military Chief of Staff was going to carry
out. Therefore, it was not me who formed the Commission; I only requested
the permission so that the two MPs could follow, observe the investigation
which was about to be done.

The whole day I spoke to more than 400 persons, asking them to return to
the barrack. In the end they all returned in order to take part in the
investigation. After one week, I learned that they went out again. On 22
January I received another petition complaining in stead of looking at the
substance of their petition, the Commission formed by the Chief of Staff of

F-FDTL asked who organized them to make the petition and abandon the
Headquarters. They also mentioned that they received threats.

Based on the information which I received, the petitioners said they wanted
to become military members again, and they would respect their
commanders, but the Veteran Commanders should correct themselves in
order not to discriminate again the people of “Loromonu-Lorosae”, the
fighters or non-fighters.

Dear Compatriots,

I asked my Military Adviser to bring the petition to the Minister of Defense
and the Brigadier-General who were about to board the plane and departed
for China. The Brigadier-General angrily said, “ if they want to fight, then
let us fight.” I also heard the same expression such as,” if one thousand
people are gone, then another thousand will be in”, the problem considered
to be too simple in accordance to the Leaders‟ intelligence.

Dear all Compatriots,

Because of Lospalos‟s problem, in 2004 I formed one commission, and F-
FDTL also established one. The two Commission worked separately but the
findings of their reports were similar:

The laws and regulations were not in place yet, the Office of Secretary of
State for Defense had been promoted as the Ministry of Defense, and there
were still many things lacking such as the Code of Military Discipline, the
Law on Military Service, and others.

One, indiscipline started with some of the Commanders. The other one, the
promotion was not good, and the treatment of some commanders towards
the new soldiers and loromonu.

In the end, these problems were not solved with good will, therefore the
problems continued to exist until 2006. So, the roots of the problem was not
indiscipline but the mal-treatment carried out by some Veteran Commanders
towards some soldiers.

I also told the two Leaders that dismissing these 400 soldiers is an easy thing
to do. My concern is as follows: if we do not solve it properly, by just

dismissing these people, then the young people from “Loromonu” will not
apply for F-FDTL in the new recruitment process. If they are to join F-
FDTL, within F-FDTL itself there has been a bad atmosphere being created
because the Veteran Commanders, who do not want to correct themselves,
will address the Loromonu soldiers to-be with the following expression,
“Are you coming here to obey us or to be against as the former ones?”

And all of these matters will transform F-FDTL as military force from the
Lorosae only because people, starting from Manatuto up to Oecusse, are all
militias, and are the ones who do not know how to make war. And the
people will be really concerned that the new recruitment will be based on
personal connections, and the worst thing will be that only martial art groups
which have joined some political parties, will be recruited.

The roots of the problem was the discrimination, and not the indiscipline.
The 591 people [who were dismissed] shows that we are not capable of
solving the problems within the Institution, or that we do not want to solve

In the past, in all countries the Military just knew how to train and organize
themselves to fight in the war. Nowadays, the military will not get involved
in politics, but they should know about politics, and they should have
political sensibility.

I even cried to the Defense Minister by saying,” Whether the PNTL does
good things or not, there is a Minister who is concerned with them. Within
our Defense Force, there is also a need to have someone who does so. After
returning from China, the problem continued to be unsolved, and I was
puzzled by noticing that, for the whole day, in a workshop discussing the
quota for women in the upcoming Elections in 2007, the Minister of Defense
showed to the Leaders that the question of 500 Military members who left
the Headquarter was not a problem, and the question of Loromonu-Lorosae
was not a problem either, and they had no any impact at all to our society
because there was no impact to their brain.

I was puzzled, when I arrived yesterday at the Airport, there were a lot of
Police officers providing security to me, as if the 591 petitioners were about
to carry out demonstration against me or assassinate me. I also admired that
in my residence in Balibar, there was an additional presence of Police
officers, and it seemed as if the fellow 591 [former soldiers] were about to

assault me because I dismissed them. Minister of Defense and the Brigadier-
General were the ones who should be protected by such security because I
did not need it. Sometimes, we try to intimidate the population in order to
hide the problems which we do not have the courage to solve intelligently.

To end, I appeal to the petitioners to understand that as the Supreme
Commander [of F-FDTL], my mandate is just to check the soldiers on 20
May and 28 November. Therefore, if the Brigadier-General, after following
the opinion of the legal adviser of the Council of Ministers, who had
declared that you are now civilians, and indeed you are already civilians.
The Prime Minister has also said that there would be a new recruitment, so,
be calm and find other jobs. F-FDTL will need a long time to become
professional because our State has just begun with various sickness and



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