Timor bishop in bid to prevent new violence

As East Timor braces for the release of an inquiry report into violence earlier this year that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, the Dili Bishop and other Church leaders have called for calm acceptance of the inquiry findings.

"We should place peace and calm in our hearts to see the outcome of the inquiry commission, because it will be a positive step toward truth and justice," Dili Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva told reporters this week, a UCA News report says.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry was set up in June at the request of then-foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who subsequently became prime minister after Mari Alkatiri resigned as head of the government.

The commission's mandate was to establish the facts surrounding the 28-29 April protests by soldiers, the 25 May killings of 9 police officers and the resultant gang warfare, looting and arson that claimed at least 21 lives in all. It also was to recommend measures to bring those responsible to justice.

Army protesters and their sympathisers had taken to the streets of the capital with calls for the reinstatement of 591 soldiers who had been dismissed by Dr Alkatiri in February after they protested against alleged discrimination.

The findings were due for release on 8 October but are still being translated into Indonesian, Portuguese and Tetum, the main languages used in Timor-Leste, or East Timor.

Bishop da Silva added that the results will probably be painful for some leaders, institutions and civil society, but must be welcomed as a way to rebuild human rights and justice in the country.

"I would like to ask all people of Timor-Leste to accept it with no violence," he appealed.

The Vicar-General of Dili diocese, Fr Apolinario Aparicio Guteres, also said people should fully accept the outcome and the recommendations of the commission.

"I believe that the outcome will rebuild peace and justice, because justice must come from the truth, and this is what people are waiting for," Fr Guteres told UCA News earlier this week.

Jose Edmundo Caetano, a lawyer with the Commission for Peace and Justice of Dili diocese, also told UCA News that he worries what will happen after the commission releases its reports.

He urged the government to guarantee security, otherwise the situation could deteriorate. "There is a big possibility more violence could erupt.

There could be some groups who are not content with the results and use violence to protest," he said.

Bishop Asks People To Accept Inquiry Commission Findings (UCA News, 12/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Ricardo Alberto da Silva (Catholic-Hierarchy)

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13 Oct 2006