Friday, 19 August 2011

Timor-Leste celebrates International Youth Day

Fri. August 12, 12:10h

The Government of Timor-Leste, through the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports, organized several activities to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12. The activities began on the 6th and went up to the 12th of this month.

According to the Director-General of the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports, José Luís Pádua de Oliveira, the purpose of these initiatives is the training of young boys and girls for a responsible leadership and civic health. The celebrations are based on the theme "I am ready to contribute to sustainable development" as youth are the future of the country.

Competitions in indoor soccer, conversations, hiking, musical concerts and donating blood were planned initiatives.

A competição de futebol salão reúne dezasseis clubes sediados em Díli: FC Comade Delta II, FC Leão The competition brought together sixteen indoor soccer clubs based in Dili: FC Comade Delta II, FC Leão Balide FC Haburas Surik Mas, FC Neptuno Comoro, FC Manumeta Bidau, FC RGM Raikotu, FC One Box Brother Taibesse, FC Virtu Vila-Verde, FC União Bela-Vista Palácio Lahane, FC Jocar’s Perumnas, FC Rumbia Caicoli, FC Jobla Unidos Lahane, FC Rusa Fuik, FC Reibeira Maloa and FC Fitun Kulu-hun.

The awarded prizes for first, second, third and fourth ranked, were prizes worth 1,000, 750, 500 and 250 american dollars respectively.

The colloquium aimed to bringing together members of the secondary schools council in Dili and was held between August 10 and 12. In this colloquium several issues were discussed, such as youth development in the present and future, climate change, the leadership with the nationalist spirit, the National Youth Policy, the Youth Parliament, the National Youth Council and the principle of the practice of martial arts.

On International Youth Day itself, August 1,2 there was a walk, a musical concert and blood donation.

Source :

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Dili Village Telco

David Rowe and Lemi Soares

A Village Telco is a DIY telephone company that uses mesh Wifi and VOIP to build telephone networks without infrastructure like cell phone towers or land lines. The goal of the Village Telco project is to provide affordable telephony for people in the developing world. It is built entirely with open software and hardware.

The Dili Village Telco is the world's first roll out of Village Telco technology. We are deploying 100 Mesh Potatoes to implement a free local call telephone network in Dili, the capital city of Timor Leste, one of the poorest countries in Asia. Mobile and fixed phone service is available in Dili but simply too expensive for the average Timorese.

A Village Telco is built from low cost, rugged Wifi telephony devices called Mesh Potatoes. Each Mesh Potato provides a single fixed telephone line to the end user, and is connected to other Mesh Potatoes via a mesh Wifi network. Mesh Potatoes are robust to developing world environmental conditions (e.g. accidental abuse, weather, static damage, poor electricity supply) and are designed for low power consumption.

The Mesh Potato is an "open hardware" design and runs Linux and other open source software. The Village Telco team designed the Mesh Potato specifically for our needs - custom, open, hardware for the developing world.

The Dili Village Telco project is gathering important technical, social, and business model data for the Village Telco. This project is being support by ISIF and ISOC grants and Atcom, who have manufactured a special batch of Mesh Potatoes for this project.

In this presentation we will talk about the roll out - what went right with technology and more importantly what went wrong! We will also present the social and business outcomes - i.e. how did this project change peoples lives and how can we make Village Telco networks sustainable businesses for local people in the developing world.


Letter on issuing visas to U.S. in Dili

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
via fax
February 2, 2011

Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

We are writing to you about the inability of East Timorese citizens to obtain visas to the United States at the U.S. Embassy in Dili. We urge to you to take action to remedy this situation as quickly as possible.

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) worked to develop understanding and cooperation between the peoples of the United States and Timor-Leste for nearly 20 years. Since independence nearly eight years ago, we have paid close attention to U.S. government efforts to build strong U.S. relationships with the new nation of Timor-Leste. We believe that the current situation is having a negative impact on that relationship.

For many years, ETAN has hosted and met with Timorese here in the U.S. We have brought a number of them to visit and speak with community groups and public officials. The lack of proper consular facilities in Dili has resulted in delays, frustration and added cost to these trips. Frankly, East Timorese are forced to waste too much time and money by having to travel to Jakarta for their interviews, where they often confront unsympathetic officials with little understanding of the situation in Timor-Leste. Unfortunately, some who are well-qualified to receive visas are turned down.

There is no need for these obstacles to valuable cultural, educational and other exchanges with the United States, which lead many East Timorese to question this treatment as second-class.

In the past , we have been told that the delay in opening visa facilities in Dili is due to the cost. Last year, the U.S. was Timor-Leste's second-largest aid donor, and more than $100 million is in the pipeline for the next few years. This aid provides vital support for government and international NGO programs for health, education and good governance, but it cannot overcome stories of bad personal experiences with the excessively burdensome visa process.

We believe a small investment in issuing visas in Dili would greatly pay off in increased good will between the peoples of our two countries.

We understand that most or all U.S. officials closely involved with Timor-Leste favor this. We urge you to make it happen.


John M. Miller
National Coordinator, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

Ambassador Judith Fergin
Kurt S. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Joseph Y. Yun, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
members of Congress


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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Challenges in the Education System

S I S T E R R I T A ’ S L E T T E R 2011


Challenges in the Education System

Difficult Transition from High School to University

Our Class 3 students sat for the senior secondary national exam in October and recently received their results. They are still waiting to receive their official certificate without which they are unable to enter University. I really feel for them. Not only was the exam brought forward from November to October with only a few weeks’ notice but they have had the long wait for results and they keep coming to school every day hoping that their certificates have arrived. Af ter the results had been announced the national university, (UNTL) and the only one subsidized by the Government, changed its entrance requirements. The minimum score was raised to 30 or higher and only 2010 school graduates would be accepted for enrolment. Anyone who had allowed a year or more to elapse between completion of secondary schooling and application for university would not be accepted. This was a big blow to many, including some of our students, who had taken a year off to either work on the family farm or to try and gain some money to help with either further education or their family. There has been a follow-on effect also: the private, and much more expensive universities, now have many more applications from students who had graduated from schools prior to 2010 and have earned some money to pay fees. 2010 graduates who missed out on entrance to UNTL found the only faculties available to them were civil engineering and nursing. While both professions are important it is sad to see students taking them because there is nothing else available.

Inequities in the Local Education System

The marks students gain in their final exams are quite perplexing. Secondary teachers correct the papers and swap schools within their District for this purpose. However, they know the school whose students’ papers they are correcting. This leaves an avenue for corruption wide open! While there is no proof of this happening there are plenty of rumours! Certainly, we are often amazed at the quality of the students who do well and vice versa. Some of the private universities are now conducting their own entrance examinations but the results of these are even more bewildering! I am so pleased that donations to our scholarship programme are enabling all students, who apply, to undertake some tertiary course. During these past two weeks, right up until the evening before I had to leave for Australia, students were coming to request funds. One has to admire their tenacity. Obtaining enrolment often requires them taking a trip to Dili, trudging from tertiary institute to tertiary institute, trying to get back from Dili in the pouring rain, receiving the necessary funds and then returning to Dili, hitching a ride if the microlets are too full or not running. If they would only channel this determination, persistence and motivation into their school studies!


Frustrating at times, but a rewarding year for us all . .

The above scenario of the frustrations of the Timorese education ‘system’ fade in comparison to other challenges to be faced this year. Class 3 students have to be taught in Portuguese (presumably having been taught in Portuguese right through every class until this one!!!). The teachers are still learning Portuguese during the school ‘holidays’. These past holidays they were to have training in their particular subject area in Portuguese. Our Economics teacher related to me that when he asked the ‘trainer’ an economic question the reply was that the trainer didn’t know anything about economics he just spoke Portuguese! In our school, which is typical in many ways to schools in the Districts and to many in Dili, the teachers had undertaken their own education in Indonesian. They are acquiring Portuguese inadequately, and with little motivation, from poorly equipped ‘teachers’ of Portuguese. There are still no text books in Portuguese for Class 3. The present cohort of students have not acquired Indonesian and their level of Portuguese would vary little in quality and scope from that of their teachers. The Class 3 teachers described their class procedure, with some sense of humour, as that of teachers using Indonesian text books, which they explain in Tetun to their students to prepare them for subject examinations in Portuguese! When teachers are asked why they don’t revolt they reply that they are scared of losing their contract teaching salary from the Government. That, I think, is almost the saddest part of all.

While I am conscious that this letter is a little late in coming I am doing better than the Ministry for Education – two weeks after school starting we still don’t have a school calendar giving us the official school starting date!

For the Railaco Mission Team

Thursday, 12 August 2010

National Youth Forum

Commemorating International Youth Day in Timor-Leste

On August 12-13, a National Youth Forum will be convened, as part of the Youth Radio for Peace Building Project. The project – for youth, by youth, and about youth – is being implemented by Search for Common Ground (SFCG), and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Youth Forum will bring together more than 70 youth leaders (between the ages of 17-29) from all 13 of Timor-Leste’s districts. The Youth Forum will be held at the ex-CNRT facility in Balide, starting on August 12th, International Youth Day. The Youth Forum will also officially launch the International Year of Youth in Timor-Leste.

The Youth Forum will use be facilitated using an innovative methodology called Open Space Technology (OST) to stimulate youth discussion on issues relevant to youth in the country, specifically related to conflict transformation. The Youth Forum will engage youth leaders on topics and themes that are important to Timorese youth, helping youth identify constructive solutions to shared challenges. The issues discussed and feedback from the youth forum will provide SFCG and its media partners with valuable material for creative production of its soonto- be launched youth radio magazine program, Babadok Rebenta!, a key component of the Youth Radio for Peace Building Project. In addition, the National Youth Forum will provide youth the opportunity to develop strong networks as a means to coordinate around issues affecting youth. Finally, the results of the Youth Forum will inform key stakeholders in government and civil society about youth aspirations and challenges, as they develop youth and peace building strategies in Timor-Leste.

For more information about the National Youth Forum or the Youth Radio for Peace Building Project, please contact Jose C. Guterres, SFCG-TL Program Manager: +670 725-3877.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Timor Government won't meet with Woodside over gas plans


Timor Government won't meet with Woodside over gas plans

Woodside executives plan to travel to East Timor to convince the government to accept the company's proposal of a floating platform for liquifying gas from Greater Sunrise. [ABC]

Sara Everingham

Last Updated: Mon, 3 May 2010 10:56:00 +1000

East Timor's Government says it won't meet executives from the Australian oil and gas company Woodside to discuss the development of the Greater Sunrise fields between East Timor and Australia.

Woodside executives plan to travel to East Timor to convince the government to accept the company's proposal of a floating platform for liquifying gas from Greater Sunrise.

But the government won't meet them.

It says Woodside will have to stick to the accepted channels for negotiation and deal with East Timor's petroleum regulator.

East Timor's Government wants the gas processed onshore in East Timor.

A source close to the government source says Woodside has underestimated East Timor's ability to strike a fair deal and says the Woodside visit holds little credibility in East Timor because the company has a dubious history of dealing with developing nations.


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Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Tasi Tolu Exhumations

The case for a CAVR/CTF follow-up mechanism has been given new urgency by the recent find of more remains of human rights victims on the outskirts of Dili and the equally startling discovery that Timor-Leste has no regulations to govern construction on sites of significance. As Dili is in the grip of an unprecedented building boom, with some 1400 companies registered in the construction sector, legislation and the establishment of an oversight mechanism are urgently needed.

This month, 9 sets of human remains were exhumed at the Tasi Tolu site of the future Pelican Paradise hotel west of Dili. The discovery follows exhumations of 16 Santa Cruz victims last year. Initial forensic reports confirm that the Tasi Tolu remains were the victims of extra-judicial executions, possibly from the late 70s-early 80s. The bodies were trussed hand and foot and buried in pits prepared by mechanical ditch-diggers. Bullets were found at the scene, indicating that the victims were executed at the site. The burial site is therefore also a crime site. This also means that, like Tasi Tolu area itself, the site is a place of emotional and historical significance in Timor’s costly struggle for independence.

The discovery has already yielded some positive lessons. The most important of these has been the goodwill and respective contributions of the key stakeholders. The company has cooperated with the exhumations, an important precedent for other developers, although it is not known what, if any, steps will be taken to commemorate the site. Prime Minister Gusmao and his government have provided funding. Members of parliament and the community have taken a close interest and visited the site. Forensic experts have been engaged to ensure that the process is professionally managed, a welcome advance on damaging efforts some years ago when well-intentioned amateurs handled remains from 1999. Finally, it is said that the location of the site is due to a tip-off some years ago by Indonesian military sources. Each of these elements, not least –if true – the information from Indonesian sources, has been critical to the outcome and will be vital to future work of this kind which is only just beginning.

The process, however, has also revealed some serious policy shortcomings and the urgent need for regulations. Timor-Leste has no building regulations to protect or preserve sites of historic, political or cultural significance and to govern building on such sites. UNTAET Regulation 2000/19 (Section 6) on Protected Places provided that the Transitional Administrator, under a directive, may designate monuments, buildings and other sites as property of cultural, artistic or historic significance to the people of Timor-Leste, but this provision has not been translated into contemporary legislation. Such legislation would be clearly in the spirit of the Constitution which, although it does not mention sites, devotes four Articles to the Valorisation of Resistance (Section 11).

The CAVR Report Chega! contains some 14 recommendations that deal directly or indirectly with memorialisation. The most relevant can be found at 3.2.1-3.3.1; 3.7.7 and 12.12. In summary, these call for families to be assisted to locate and re-bury relatives and for significant sites to be registered and memorialised in some way. CAVR took a broad view of memorialisation. In this sense, the concept should be comprehensive enough to cover both sites of human rights violations like the ex-Balide Comarca and Hotel Flamboyan in Baucau (development of its notorious back section is on hold) as well as sites that are historically significant in other respects such the site of the new Palacio Presidencial and Hotel Turismo (currently undergoing renovation).

To this point, however, these timely recommendations have not been acted on. No register of sites or authority exist which companies should consult prior to development or if a discovery is made. The Parliament’s Committee A is currently preparing legislation to establish a CAVR/CTF follow-up mechanism whose terms of reference will most likely include a national memorialisation program. It is to be hoped that this important initiative is speedily enacted and that the Gusmao government uses this legislative and institutional framework to respond to the important issues raised by the Tasi Tolu case.

Comment on Taci Tolu exhumations

Pat Walsh, 22 March 2010