LH Bulletin and Surat Popular    |    Reports & Announcements    |    Mission Statement    |    How to Join the LH Listserv    |    Home

The La'o Hamutuk Bulletin
Vol. 3, No. 2-3: April 2002
English PDF Format   |    Bahasa Indonesia PDF Format

Issue focus: U.S. Government Assistance, Coffee

Table of contents:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

back to top

Report from the World Social Forum II
Porto Alegre, Brazil, 31 Jan – 5 Feb 2002

For the second year, civil society activists from all over the world met at the World Social Forum to discuss alternatives to neo-liberalist globalization. More than 50,000 people from all parts of the world, representing 4909 organizations, joined with 20,000 local participants in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in January and February 2002. Using the slogan "Stop the Tyranny of Neo-Liberal Globalization," the World Social Forum II created a World Social Network (WSN), a movement that will develop concrete alternatives to neo-liberalism. It will be a stimulant for economic solidarity, cultural and art activities, popular education, as well as access to information and technology. This network will encourage the development of independent international public opinion, via the democratization of communication. 

Brazilian committees organized the first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2001. Together with social movements and NGOs from Porto Alegre and other parts of the world, they explored alternatives to counter strategies and policies made by the capitalist countries. It is a people’s alternative to what takes place at meetings, such as the World Economic Forum, organized by elites from Japan, USA, UK, Germany, Italy, France, and other powerful countries. 

The World Social Forum is open to exchange thoughts, democratic ideas, proposals and experiences. It establishes networks for effective actions by civil society to oppose neo-liberalism and the domination of capital and other forms of imperialism, and is linked to the development of a society aimed towards harmony between human beings on this earth. 

The World Social Forum opposes totalitarianism and the suppression of opinions, as well as a narrow view of history, and the use of violence as a form of social control. It supports human rights, clear democratic practices, democratic participation, peaceful relationships, and equality and solidarity between people, seen both from a gender perspective, as well as an ethnic and societal perspective, and aims to eliminate all forms of domination and degradation between human beings. 

This year, the WSF considered the military aggression against Afghanistan by the United States and several other countries after the terrorist attack of 11 September. The Argentine financial crisis, and the grassroots opposition, also had a strong influence in the discussions at the WSF.

The East Timorese Delegation at the WSF

The delegation from East Timor was able to attend the Forum thanks to a Brazilian NGO, IBASE, and OXFAM Australia. Using the theme "Building a New Nation," Oxfam sent 10 representatives from East Timorese NGOs to the Forum. Five of them presented papers at the Forum, including:

Igildo Tilman from Centro do Desenvolvimento da Economia Popular (CDEP) presented a paper about Popular Economy. In his economic analysis after the transition period, he predicted that there will be an increase in unemployment after the UNTAET mission ends in May, and food dependency will increase, with the population relying on imported products. He also warned of difficulties in capacity building. Igildo also discussed many other obstacles that will have to be faced after the transition period, without even taking into account strong intervention from the international financial institutions, regarding East Timor government policy. 

Joaquim Fonseca of Yayasan HAK, in his paper "Accountability for Crimes against Humanity in East Timor in the Global Political Context," said that only an international court can answer the demand for justice by the East Timorese people. This is the final solution offered by the East Timorese people to 24 years of the colonization of East Timor by the Suharto regime, during which the people suffered much oppression and violations of human rights. During the current transitional period, UNTAET’s Serious Crimes Unit has not been able to satisfy the demands from victims and their families. The justice system in East Timor is still being run by the UN Security Council, which places hope in the Megawati government in Indonesia to deal with the most serious cases of crimes in East Timor. 

Nuno Rodrigues of the Sa’he Institute for Liberation, in his paper titled "Rebuilding A Social Movement Against Neo-Liberalism," analyzed two phases of destruction of history. The first was the destruction of national liberation politics during the beginning of the resistance period, as national liberation leaders such as Rosa Muki, Mau Lear, Bie Kie Sa’he and Nicolau Lobatu were killed by Indonesian troops, without even receiving a proper burial. The second phase was the destruction of the people’s organizations, when the international community did not initially acknowledge FALINTIL as the liberation army, and the clandestine networks such as NUREP, Caixa, and other national liberation networks were excluded from the transitional government. 

Also addressing the Forum was Deometrio Amaral of Fundasaun Haburas with the paper "The Environment in East Timor: Between National Interest and International Politics." Deometrio argued that we will never be able to gain a clear picture about environmental issues in East Timor if we do not understand the nation’s history. Part of Deometrio’s presentation described two historical periods, Portuguese colonialism and Indonesian annexation, that have caused great damage to the environment in East Timor. Thomas Freitas also gave a paper about the International Financial Institutions in East Timor, which is available on La’o Hamutuk’s website. 

As a follow up from the WSF, the ten participants will organize a workshop in Dili in the near future.

back to top

Reviving and Reinventing Popular Education

In January 2002, close to twenty organizations gathered in Dare to discuss popular education and the formation of the new Dai Popular - the East Timorese National Network for Popular Educators. The meeting brought together women and men who were part of popular education campaigns in East Timor in 1974-75 (campaigns cut short by the Indonesian invasion and occupation) and younger activists with new energies and insights. After three days of discussion, participants developed a common understanding about what popular education is, what it means for East Timor today, and some concrete plans to move forward collectively. 

Brazilian educator Paolo Freire helped to start an international popular education movement through his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire described some of the key principles on which "liberating" or "popular" education is based. In the early 1970s, East Timorese Vicente "Sa’he" Reis met Freire in Portugal and discovered a kindred spirit with a shared vision of "liberation." Sa’he then brought the term "popular education" to East Timor, and introduced these ideas to the grassroots movements. The brutal Indonesian military occupation systematically destroyed East Timor’s experiments with popular education. Today, these concepts are being revived and put into a new framework for a new East Timor. 

Popular education is more than simple methods of teaching and learning – it depends on a political analysis of power and a commitment to equality and democratic process. It is a collective process that seeks to give voice to those who have been silenced, to empower those who have been disempowered, and to bring about liberation, on both personal and societal levels. Liberation grows out of social awareness, community organizing, creative action, self-reliance, the use of local resources and culture, and a persistent commitment to human dignity.

Reading the World

Popular education starts from the real-life experiences of people in grassroots communities, and openly examines issues of inequality, injustice and oppression. "To read the world" means to see and understand our world, our society, our history, relationships to others, and ourselves. Reading the world requires what Freire refers to as "conscientalização" or a deepening awareness of power and oppression, and the explicit naming of who has power and who does not. Too often, the world is defined by those with power for the purpose of maintaining the present social order. Popular education methods push us to critically examine what we are told is "the way things are," including questioning socialized ideas about gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and beauty. We consider from whose perspective information comes, and start to build new sources of information, from the perspective of the poorest and most oppressed communities.

Everyone a Teacher and Learner

Conventional education distinguishes distinct roles of teacher and student: teachers teach and students learn. Conventional models generally view teachers as all-knowing and the students as empty minds which the teacher fills with information and ideas. In this view, there is a flow of information in one direction only, from the expert (teacher) to the non-expert (student). In contrast, popular education views everyone as both teacher and student. It recognizes that everyone has knowledge and that no one has absolute knowledge. By pulling together everyone’s knowledge, each person’s "expertise", we are collectively smarter, richer, and able to see a much more real, complete world. We also are able to practice a democratic and liberating process of communal learning from which everyone benefits.

Practical Action and Reflection

Popular education is about action toward making our world better. Too often, formal conventional education is limited to a schoolroom where textbooks and lectures are the methods, and tests show the end result. In popular education, life itself is the classroom and making our collective lives better is the ultimate aim. Popular education addresses the most pressing aspects of our lives: economics, health, education, culture, religion, and the day-to-day relationships between people. It is practiced through literacy classes, women’s centers, crèches, cooperatives, community radio, cultural groups, and the development of natural health remedies and community gardens. Action, however, must always be balanced with reflection and continuing analysis of the work we do. Through both personal and communal reflection on our work, we are able to improve strategies and move ourselves closer to our broader goals.

Social Transformation and Movement Building

The overriding goal of popular education is liberation or social transformation. Popular educators commit themselves to the elimination of oppression in forms such as economic exploitation, patriarchy and racism, and to the creation of a world that is more just, equitable and humane. Popular education is necessarily a collective process. Each practical action is part of a broader popular movement towards a more just and liberating world. 

Today, popular education is already much more than just an idea in East Timor. In Bucoli, Vicente Sa’he’s hometown, there are literacy classes, youth and women’s groups, and cooperatives. In Ermera, a youth group is using methods of popular education to organize the communal cultivation of unused land. In Los Palos, a women’s group has organized a soap-making cooperative. One community in Liquiça is working to develop more sustainable methods of forest use. In various parts of East Timor, the Secular Institute for Brothers and Sisters in Christ is using the Catholic gospel to examine power relations, and inspire community action and transformation. 

At the January meeting in Dare, the organizations making up the Dai Popular committed themselves to strengthening the network of organizations and popular educators in East Timor in order to share experiences and ideas and to offer mutual support and guidance. The Dai Popular will also build relationships with popular educators in other countries, so that East Timor can participate in this growing international movement.

Dai Popular Mission Statement and Strategic Goals

Vision of the Network 

The East Timorese Popular Educators’ Network (Dai Popular) is a national network formed to support and develop popular education as a tool in the process of democratization and social transformation. We view the principal aim of popular education as eliminating economic and patriarchal exploitation, social and political domination, and cultural dependency. It aims to build a society in which men and women live in equality, with a culture based on self-sufficiency and self-determination. Popular education is not a new practice in East Timor and we are committed to increasing and expanding its practice in forms such as literacy campaigns, cooperatives, crèches, popular health programs, and others social activities based on communities’ needs. Popular education is a collective action that must grow from base communities organizing into social, cultural, and religious movements. 


  1. To deepen and develop our understanding about popular education, including its definition, philosophy, methods, and techniques to better implement it in East Timor.
  2. To build and strengthen cooperative relationships between organizations which carry out popular education in East Timor.
  3. To build and strengthen relationships between organizations in East Timor and organizations in other countries that have the same vision as we do.

back to top

International Responsibility

La’o Hamutuk empathizes with the innocent victims of the terrorist attack on New York last 11 September. We also join people worldwide in condemning the violence inflicted in response against the people of Afghanistan, as well as violence perpetrated or supported by the United States and other governments against civilians in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. East Timor’s long struggle against the Indonesian occupation received support from people of conscience around the world. In this difficult time, we urge people everywhere to take action for justice, peace and human rights in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

back to top

In Brief …

More than 50 lawyers and legal scholars urged the United Nations to establish an international tribunal to prosecute crimes committed against the people of East Timor
. Their statement was issued on 31 January, the second anniversary of the U.N. International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor’s call for the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for East Timor. Organizers of the effort are still collecting signatures. For more information, contact Anthony DiCaprio (apdicap@aol.com) of the Center for Constitutional Rights or John Miller (fbp@igc.org) of the East Timor Action Network.

In mid-February, East Timor’s request for observer status within the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was blocked by the Burma (Myanmar) military regime. The rest of ASEAN supported East Timor’s request. The Burma dictatorship, which took power 40 years ago in a military coup, said that some of East Timor’s leaders, especially Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta, were too close to the Burmese democratic opposition. In the past, Ramos-Horta has supported and received support from fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party received 80% voter support in 1990. The military regime refused to accept the election results or conduct further elections, and has kept Ms. Suu Kyi under house arrest or restricted her movements since then. In response to the regime’s snub, Mr. Ramos-Horta told them that they "should not worry that we would be unhelpful." He mentioned that he had helped to weaken a Nobel laureates’ statement critical of the Burmese regime, which regularly commits gross human rights violations. 

La’o Hamutuk comment: It is important to East Timor’s future to have good relations with other countries in the neighborhood. But we believe that those relationships should be with the people of those countries, not with whatever regime is in power. During East Timor’s quarter-century of Indonesian occupation, East Timor and José Ramos-Horta struggled alongside pro-democracy leaders from around the world, including Aung San Suu Kyi and Tian Chua (currently imprisoned in Malaysia). British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the UN "The treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese regime is a disgrace. I call on the Burmese government to let her go free, and I call on fellow world leaders to back that call." U.S. President George Bush has called her "a tireless champion of human rights and democracy in Burma." We urge Mr. Horta and other East Timorese leaders to remember their principles as East Timor pursues regional solidarity and cooperation.   

According to a 15 February article in The Jakarta Post, the Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, pledged, on behalf of the national government, to extend an 6 April 2000 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with UNTAET. The MoU obligates the two parties to "afford to each other the widest possible measure of mutual assistance" in areas such as executing arrests, providing relevant documents and records, and interviewing witnesses and suspects. While Indonesian authorities took advantage of the MoU to question East Timorese witnesses regarding cases Jakarta was investigating, the Indonesian government, for its part, failed to live up to its obligations under the accord. And despite the most recent pledge to respect the accord, Jakarta has refused to comply with UNTAET’s request to extradite 17 individuals now in Indonesia. UNTAET issued indictments on 18 February against the Indonesian soldiers and militia members for crimes against humanity.   

On 4 March, over 50 East Timorese human rights activists peacefully protested the arrival of the first Japanese military engineers in the territory. The demonstrators demanded an apology and reparations for Japan’s bloody occupation of East Timor during World War II. Atrocities committed by the Japanese occupation forces—combined with Allied bombing of the territory—led to the deaths of 40,000 of East Timorese civilians. Demonstrators held various signs including ones that said "Go Home Japanese Self-Defense Force," "remember Article 9 of your constitution" and "Japanese troops are same as Indonesian military." Among the protesters were two elderly East Timorese women forced by Japanese troops during the war to be sexual slaves. Around 800 of these former "comfort women" are still alive in East Timor. Some elderly male survivors of the war also attended. According to a spokesman for the Foundation for Compensation of Victims of Colonialism in East Timor, there are 3,450 surviving victims. On the following day, East Timor’s Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta issued a statement asking the East Timorese people to forget the tragic events of World War II. Stating that "Japan has been in the forefront of East Timor recovery efforts since 1999" and that "Japan has atoned in many different ways for its past," Ramos-Horta said that East Timor needs the technical assistance that the Japanese soldiers will provide. The Foreign Minister called on people to "celebrate ... greater and more glorious days" that have come and to "focus on the present and build a better, more prosperous and peaceful future."   

On 7 March, Australian officials announced the first specific moves to resume ties with Indonesia’s military. Australia broke most of its military ties with Jakarta immediately after the United States did so on 11 September 1999—one week into Indonesia’s scorched earth campaign following the announcement of the result of the UNAMET-run vote. The renewed ties will include cooperation in fighting "terrorism" and talks about joint military exercises. Indonesian military officers will also begin attending the Australian Defence Force Academy next year. Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill called the renewed ties "a good investment for Australia in terms of future defence leaders of this country [Indonesia’s] understanding our society. We would like to think it’s a good investment for Indonesia as well," he said. According to Hill, the ties do not depend on the Indonesian military’s performance in observing human rights.   

On 7 March, UNTAET head Sergio Vieira de Mello expressed his disappointment with the decision of an Indonesian court to sentence a former East Timorese militiaman to only six years in prison. The militia member, Yacobus Bere, is guilty of killing Private Leonard Manning in July 2000. Prosecutors had asked for a 12-year sentence. "We hope there will be an appeal which would result in the full sentence sought by the prosecution," de Mello said. 

La’o Hamutuk comment: The Transitional Administrator is correct to criticize the inadequate sentence. We urge him to take a similarly strong stance criticizing the fatal flaws in the Indonesian ad-hoc tribunal, which, as it now stands, will only prosecute for crimes committed in the two months of April and September 1999 and only those that took place in three of East Timor’s 13 districts. By not strongly and consistently criticizing the extremely restrictive mandate of the court, and instead focusing their criticisms on technical matters, UNTAET officials have given the court a legitimacy it does not deserve. In doing so, they could undermine the prospects for more serious and far-reaching prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in East Timor.   

On 15-16 March 2002, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Confederated Union of East Timor (Konfedersi Sindakatu Timor Lorosa’e) held a seminar on training and work opportunities in Timor Gap oil and gas development. The seminar was held to raise public awareness of the need to ensure that East Timorese will receive training and employment benefits in oil and gas related work in addition to the expected oil revenues. The two groups proposed the establishment of a cooperative training center funded by a wage scheme where the difference between the Australian and East Timorese wage standard would be paid by the oil companies into a training fund for East Timorese. The proposal envisions that, under such a scheme, East Timorese workers could constitute 90% of the Timor Gap workforce over a planned period of time, corresponding with East Timor’s current rights related to Gap revenues, with Australian workers making up the other 10%.   

Twice as many women die in childbirth in East Timor than in any other country in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. The United Nations Development Program reported this on 8 March, International Women’s Day. According to research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), less than 25 percent have ready access to a health facility or a qualified midwife. Currently, there are only 196 midwives in East Timor (out of a total population of approximately 800,000). The WHO believes that efforts to recruit and train midwives must increase significantly to combat the high death rates of women giving birth in East Timor.   

At a Dili press conference on 13 March, La’o Hamutuk released information about interference from United Nations Headquarters in New York with the East Timor Revenue Service’s (ETRS) ability to collect taxes from foreign companies doing business with the UN in East Timor. New York officials have been pressuring UNTAET to overturn an ETRS effort to collect U.S. $766,000 in back taxes from the owners of the Amos W floating hotel. Although East Timor’s tax law, in effect since June 2000, is clear that such businesses must pay taxes, UN headquarters wants East Timor’s government to ignore the law, and has directed East Timor not to tax UN contractors. The full report is available on La’o Hamutuk’s website.

La’o Hamutuk comment: Much of the economic aid that has come to East Timor since 1999 has gone right out again, to foreign companies and the overseas accounts of international staff. East Timor is desperate for money to cover basic government services, and it should be able to tax any commercial business conducted here. When the independent country negotiates a tax agreement with the United Nations, we hope it can keep this essential source of revenue, which is a large part of the country’s economy. 

back to top

Who is La’o Hamutuk?

La’o Hamutuk staff: Inês Martins, Thomas (Ató) Freitas, Mericio (Akara) Juvenal, Adriano do Nascimento, Charles Scheiner, Pamela Sexton, Jesuina (Delly) Soares Cabral, Andrew de Sousa

Drawings for this Bulletin: Julino Ximenes

Translation for this Bulletin: Selma Hayati, Titi Irawati, Djoni Ferdiwijaya

Executive board: Sr. Maria Dias, Joseph Nevins, Nuno Rodrigues, João Sarmento, Aderito de Jesus Soares

La’o Hamutuk thanks the government of Finland for supporting this publication.

back to top 

What is La’o Hamutuk?

La’o Hamutuk (Walking Together in English) is a joint East Timorese-international organization that monitors, analyzes, and reports on the principal international institutions present in Timor Lorosa’e as they relate to the physical, economic, and social reconstruction and development of the country. La’o Hamutuk believes that the people of East Timor must be the ultimate decision-makers in the reconstruction/development process and that this process should be democratic and transparent. La’o Hamutuk is an independent organization and works to facilitate effective East Timorese participation in the reconstruction and development of the country. In addition, La’o Hamutuk works to improve communication between the international community and East Timorese society. La’o Hamutuk’s East Timorese and international staff have equal responsibilities, and receive equal pay and benefits. Finally, La’o Hamutuk is a resource center, providing literature on development models, experiences, and practices, as well as facilitating solidarity links between East Timorese groups and groups abroad with the aim of creating alternative development models. In the spirit of encouraging greater transparency, La’o Hamutuk would like you to contact us if you have documents and/or information that should be brought to the attention of the East Timorese people and the international community.

back to top

La’o Hamutuk, The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)
Mobile: +61(408)811373; Land phone: +670(390)325-013
Baucau office: +61(438)143724; lhbaucau@easttimor.minihub.org
Email: laohamutuk@easttimor.minihub.org 
Web: http://www.laohamutuk.org

International contact: +1-510-643-4507, lh@etan.org