Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener

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© Dr Hansjoerg Biener
0107, updated 0504
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East Timor

After the fall of the Salazar regime in 1974, the new Portuguese government failed to find a peaceful solution for most overseas provinces. After a long independence war against Portugal civil war broke out between supporters of independence and integration with Indonesia, which intervened militarily and made East Timor its 27th province. With the United Nations never recognising the annexation and an independence war going on, East Timor remained on the international agenda. From 31 January 1994 to 12 July 2000 the Portuguese external service RDP-Internacional had special broadcasts in Portuguese and Tetum to East Timor, which were also seen a FRETELIM broadcast. Another international service routinely covering the Timor issue was Radio Netherlands.

In 1999 Indonesia and Portugal agreed on a popular consultation about the future status of East Timor, which was to be overseen by a United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) (UN Security Council resolution 1246 of 11 June 1999). In preparation of the referendum Radio UNAMET had several daily broadcasts in four languages on Timorese transmitters. On voting day, 30 August 1999, some 98 per cent of registered voters went to the polls deciding by a 75 percent majority to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence. Following the announcement of the result, pro-Indonesian militias launched a campaign of violence throughout the territory. In addition to half a million homeless and countless dead, the destruction left East Timor without any communications infrastructure. On 7 September 1999 Radio Republik Indonesia Dili was the last Timorese station to be destroyed.

After a UN sponsored military intervention to restore security in East Timor and Indonesia's recognition of the vote, the United Nations Security Council resolution 1272 (25 October 1999) established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) as a peacekeeping operation fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence. Although UNTAET had performed some emergency repairs on the radio network infrastructure, in December 1999 a major rebuilding plan was agreed on by United Nations agencies and international donors. Currently, there a local UN radio station (684 kHz, 5 kW) and a television service in Dili and some of the regions. Radio UNTAET broadcasts mainly on Bahasa, but also in English, Portuguese and Tetum. The station is on the air 24 hours but night time programming consists of music only. There is some independent broadcasting for example from Roman Catholic Radio Timor (1404 kHz) which received much aid from Portuguese broadcaster Radio Renascenca.

"We receive here Portuguese Radio 24 hours a day with news and music on 95.7 FM but only in the Dili area. We receive also in the Dili district only JJJ Radio, an English only youth station from Australia playing new music. Also we now get News Radio Australia on 106.5 FM. This provides a mix of Radio Australia, BBC World Service, NPR, Dutch news etc., but mainly Radio Australia.  We can also hear Radio Republic Indonesia on AM, but nobody listens to it." David Wood from Dili on 12 November 2001

Comparing the fact that in many other cases intervention forces brought along their own transmitters, it should be mentioned that some of the intervention troops are served by broadcasts this time not on local transmitters but on short wave. One example is the expansion of Radio New Zealand International's service by two hours to serve this need.

UNTAET is still the ruling authority, although a "second transitional government" of an elected body of 88 people is working on a constitution, and there is a Cabinet led by Chief Minister Dr Mario Alkatiri (FRETILIN). It is expected that next years Presidential Election will be won by former FALINTIL resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.  A true independence date has now been set by the UN at 20 May 2002.

Internews Provides Talk Show Training to Timorese Community Radio Stations
(November 15, 2004) Journalists from community radio stations across Timor-Leste can now produce their own live talk show programs, thanks to a week-long Internews training session held at Timorís national university. Fourteen community radio journalists from 10 stations around the country attended the training, which covered the history of talk shows and all aspects of researching, producing and hosting talk shows.
The participants organized and recorded their own program about HIV/AIDS, featuring two of the countryís top health experts, Dr Jose Antonio (Family Health International) and Dr Angelina Martins (Ministry of Health). The program will be distributed to community radio stations across the country. Prior to the training, few community radio stations were producing regular talk show programs. Internews Timor-Leste training manager, Firmansyah MS, said he was pleased with the results of the training. ďTalk shows are an important forum for empowering society,Ē he said. More than 60 per cent of people in Timor-Leste receive information from radio.
Internews Timor-Leste is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Jan McArthur, Internews Timor-Leste Chief of Party
Internews Timor Leste

Journalists concerned about proposed media law
 (Internews Timor Leste/Pacific Media Watch): Timor-Leste's Justice Ministry is currently drafting the penal code which includes harsh criminal penalties - up to three years in prison - and unspecified fines for defamation by journalists. The code also has aggravated penalties for defamation by journalists involving public officials or public institutions. Timorese journalists, lawyers and MPs met in Dili on 22. March 2005 to debate media freedom and Timor-Leste's draft penal code. More than 60 people attended a seminar entitled "Media law and human rights" (Lei media ho direitus humanus). The seminar was co-hosted by the Judicial Systems Monitoring Program (JSMP) and Internews Timor-Leste.
The first speaker at the seminar was renowned journalist Max Stahl, who shot the now-famous footage of Timor's 1991 Santa Cruz massacre and is currently based in Timor. He said he was concerned that the criminal code's chapter on defamation would restrict coverage of important news in the name of defending personal honour.
KOTA (Kilbur Oan Timor Aswain) Party president and Timorese MP, Manuel Tilman, said two of the articles in the code's defamation chapter contravened guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the media contained in Timor's constitution. Tilman also expressed support for the establishment of a Timorese press council.
The editor of the Timor Post, Aderito Hugo da Costa, was also  concerned that the defamation provisions contravened Timor's constitution. He said the provisions were "totally unproductive" and would not help Timor's media to develop.
However, Judge Rui Pereira dos Santos said he supported the provisions being included in the criminal code.
At the end of the seminar, participants who were opposed to the law suggested lobbying the Ministry of Justice with proposed amendments to the law. Internews assistant chief of staff Francisco da Silva said: "Timor's media
need to work together to come up with some proposed changes to the law and lobby for them to be accepted before the current draft law is approved by  the Council of Ministers or the parliament."

East Timor 3 Years After Independence
On 20 May 2005, East Timor celebrated the third anniversary of its independence. The also marked the last day United Nations forces formally guaranteed the security of the world's newest country. The U.N. mission, which once numbered over 11,000 people, will now be reduced to 130 administrators and police and military advisers.
East Timor is still desperately poor, but it is about to sign a long-awaited agreement with Australia, which should lead to the development of substantial undersea oil and gas deposits, which could pay the country more than $5 billion over the coming years.
Although relations between the governments of East Timor and Indonesia are cordial, many East Timorese people are finding it hard to forgive the violence surrounding East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia. Some 1500 people are estimated to have been killed by Indonesian troops and their militia proxies before they pulled out.
The United Nations has appointed a so-called "Commission of Experts" to look into criticisms that Jakarta has done too little to bring to justice those responsible for the violence. Indonesia has refused to extradite suspects to Timor, and has only tried 18 people in its own  courts. Seventeen of these have already been acquitted and the 18th is out on appeal. (VOANews 20 May 2005)

RTTL-Timor Leste joins Asiavision
Radio and Television Timor Leste, has joined the ABUís daily news exchange, Asiavision. RTTL takes up its membership on 1 September. Its admission means the news exchange has members in 14 countries. RTTL, the public broadcasting service of East Timor, was officially launched on the nationís full independence in May 2002. It comprises a television service, Television Timor Leste (TVTL), which serves the capital, Dili, another transmitter in Baucau, and a national radio service. TVTL produces about four hours of original programming per week. The remainder of the 14-hour broadcast day is made up of rebroadcasts from Portugal, Australia and the UK.
Asiavision members exchange news material by satellite every day of the year. The news exchange has two daily satellite feeds, one from 0830 to 0900 GMT and the other from 1215 to 1230 GMT.
(Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union via Radio Netherlands Media Network 25. August 2005)

Dr. Hansjörg Biener
c/o  Lehrstuhl Evangelische Religionspädagogik der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg,
Regensburger Str. 160, DE-90478 Nürnberg

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