30 March 2007
Fretilin to lodge protest against Australian military
Fretilin, the largest political party in Timor-Leste (East Timor),
will lodge a protest with the commander of Australian forces,
Brigadier Mal Rerden, in relation to the unprovoked humiliation of a
Fretilin member by the Australian army.
The party will request that appropriate disciplinary action be taken
by the Australian army against the officers involved and for a formal
apology to be issued in relation to the incident.
The incident, which was witnessed by party secretary general Mari
Alkatiri, occurred on 26 March 2007 as a high level Fretilin
delegation made their way to Dili from the western town of Gleno,
Ermera district, after attending a mass rally held to support
Lu'Olo's bid to become President of the Repubic.
An Australian army vehicle attempted to push into a convoy of cars
accompanying the Fretilin delegation and was refused entry. In the
subsequent stand off, an Australian soldier pointed a gun to the
driver while another soldier pulled one of the passengers from the
vehicle, trod on him, and put a gun to his head. When the driver
attempted to resist, the Australian soldier yelled, "Fuck you. I'll
A bodyguard of Alkatiri tried to intervene but was ordered to stand
back. The Australian officer only retreated when ordered to do so by
his commanding officer.
Speaking from his residence in Dili, Alkatiri who will seek a meeting
with Rerden, said that Fretilin was incensed by the actions of the
"Our convoy of cars was on the way back from a successful rally which
was entirely peaceful. My fellow colleague was not armed and posed no
direct threat to the Australian military. It is completely
unacceptable that this incident occurred and there was absolutely no
justification for such humiliating treatment.
"By making this protest we are not seeking any confrontation with the
Australian military but we want to make it clear that we do not want
any similar incidents to occur in the future" Alkatiri said.
For more information, please contact
Mari Alkatiri (+670) 723 0010 (Dili)
Filomeno Aleixo: (+670) 723 0089 (Dili)
Arsenio Bano: (+670) 723 0023
(Dili) Jose Manuel
Fernandes: (+670) 723 0049 (Dili) Alex Tilman: (+612) 419 281 175