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La'o Hamutuk Mid-year Report 
January - June 2002

English PDF File   Bahasa Indonesia PDF File

This report updates and complements La'o Hamutuk's Annual Report 2000-2001 which was completed in January 2002. That report can be found on La'o Hamutuk's website http://www.laohamutuk.org or can be requested from our office.


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 (East Timor) 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 and development processes and that these processes should be as democratic and transparent as possible. La'o Hamutuk is an independent organization. It 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. Finally, La'o Hamutuk is a resource center, pro-viding 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.

La'o Hamutuk was prompted by East Timorese activists asking for help in understanding and interacting with the multitude of international institutions which arrived in East Timor after the Indonesian military and militia violence of 1999. Working together, East Timorese activists and supportive international solidarity activists started the organization in mid-2000. From the beginning, the organization has tried to follow a model of equitable cooperation and democratic process between East Timorese and foreign activists.

East Timor became an independent nation on 20 May 2002. Although the United Nations is no longer governing this country, international organizations - donors, UN agencies, international financial institutions, transnational corporations - continue to play a dominant role in East Timorese government and society. As this new nation develops its systems of laws, finance, governance, commerce and international relations, the work of La'o Hamutuk in helping international agencies and East Timorese people better understand each other is even more important than it was during the transitional administration by the United Nations.

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In December 2001 and January 2002, La'o Hamutuk staff and board members reviewed the strategic plan we had developed in mid-2001. With an expanded staff, we worked together to evaluate our past work and develop a three-year strategic plan. We also refined our principal strategic goals:

1. To monitor, analyze and provide information on the transitional process and the broader development of East Timor, and to help make that process and development more just and responsive to East Timorese needs and desires

2. To empower East Timorese to more effectively participate in the development process.

3. To facilitate relationships between East Timorese and the international solidarity network to provide information on alternative development models.

4. To increase communication between East Timorese and international institutions and donors.

5. To advocate for improvements in transparency, economic and social justice, human rights and democracy

6. To strengthen La'o Hamutuk's internal organization.

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Program Activities

La'o Hamutuk engages in a variety of activities to advance the goals of the organization. These are outlined below.

Investigations and monitoring the activities of international institutions in East Timor are a foundation of the work we do. In the first half of 2002, we continued to investigate bilateral aid programs of the United States, China, Japan, Portugal, and Brazil, and we reported on the final pre-independence Donors' Conference for East Timor in May 2002. We followed up on past investigations of two World Bank Projects (the Agriculture and Community Empowerment Projects). We have investigated the role of the World Bank and IMF in providing financial models, as well as what joining the World Bank Group will mean for East Timor. We have looked closely at the exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in the Timor Sea. Justice for East Timor and Gender Equality have been major topics of our work during the first half of 2002.

Many of the activities listed below are means to disseminate the information from our investigations and monitoring (Bulletin, Radio Program, Public Meetings). Through the activities of the organization, we work to build alliances with other organizations. The information we collect helps us advocate for more equitable processes and for economic and social justice.

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The La'o Hamutuk Bulletin is one of our primary media tools. We publish the Bulletin every six weeks in both English (circulation 1,000) and Bahasa Indonesia (circulation 3,000). We distribute the bulletin free to schools, churches, government offices, and international and local NGOs throughout East Timor with help from district-based organizations eager to support our work. Within the capital Dili, distribution is done to the foreign embassies, the offices of the World Bank, ADB and IMF, central government offices, hotels, restaurants, libraries, and other public places. The Bulletin is also circulated by email and posted on the internet. Paper copies are mailed to key decision-makers in United Nations Headquarters and East Timor's donor governments. See Appendix II for a list of the Bulletin articles published during this reporting period.

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Radio Programs

La'o Hamutuk continues its weekly one-hour Tetum language radio program broadcast throughout East Timor. Given the high illiteracy rate and limited access to print media outside of Dili, most people in the districts rely on radio for information, and our program helps experts and activists with diverse knowledge share their information with the larger community. Upon independence on 20 May 2002, Radio UNTAET formally became Radio Timor Leste, the national public radio network. La'o Hamutuk's program is aired every Saturday afternoon, facilitated by a La'o Hamutuk staff member and featuring one or more guests. They are listed in Appendix III.

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Public Meetings and Presentations

La'o Hamutuk also conducted a variety of public meetings and presentations on critical issues facing East Timor for NGOs, journalists, government, and other interested East Timorese and international people. They are listed in Appendix IV.

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Surat Popular

La'o Hamutuk's Surat Popular (People's Page) is published in Tetum and distributed widely (5000 copies) throughout East Timor through La'o Hamutuk's own networks and the National Network of Popular Educators (Dai Popular-see below). The publication is a tool for popular educators and community organizers to present complicated issues in a simple form to grassroots communities and to spark discussions that value the rich knowledge of all East Timorese people. In the first half of 2002, La'o Hamutuk staff went into communities in Baucau, Lautem and Maubisse districts to refine the use of the Surat Popular as a discussion tool, and to demonstrate this use to local community organizers. Three editions of Surat Popular were published during this reporting period:

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Intercambios (International Exchanges)

As a joint East Timorese-international organization with strong ties with East Timor's international solidarity network, La'o Hamutuk is well positioned to coordinate international exchanges between East Timorese activists and development workers, educators, and activists from other countries. These south-to-south exchanges help to build and strengthen solidarity relationships and broaden discussions of development models. During the first half of 2002, La'o Hamutuk carried out follow-up activities to the previous year's month-long exchange with Brazilian popular educators. La'o Hamutuk also sponsored and coordinated activities with two Nicaraguan activists around issues of gender, power, and violence. Below, these activities are outlined.

Brazil Exchange on Popular Education. In January 2002, La'o Hamutuk helped to organize a follow-up meeting for the 11 East Timorese who had visited Northeastern Brazil as part of La'o Hamutuk's exchange in 2001. The three day meeting included workshops facilitated by all 11 exchange participants on key things learned in the Brazil Exchange on Popular Education: What is popular education?; popular literacy techniques; popular health initiatives; a model for alternative, community-based banking; eco-tourism that serves communities and not big business; the relationship between popular education and popular movements; the MST in Brazil; the women's movement; and the role of liberation theology. La'o Hamutuk assisted with preparation of a book covering the above topics which was distributed at the meeting.
The meeting resulted in the formation of the Dai Popular (National Network of Popular Educators), its vi-sion and goals, and a basic structure for the network. La'o Hamutuk staff member Inês Martins is an active member of the Dai Popular's Central Committee and La'o Hamutuk assisted the Dai Popular with fund-raising and financial management until a staff person was hired for the network. La'o Hamutuk continues to work in coordination with the other active members to strengthen and develop this important network.

Nicaragua Exchange on Gender, Power and Violence. In March and April 2002, Madlyn West of the Nicaraguan Women's Network against Violence and Ruben Reyes of the Nicaraguan Association of Men Against Violence and Puntos de Encuentro came to East Timor to participate in an exchange organized by La'o Hamutuk. The exchange involved member organizations of the East Timorese Women's Network (Rede Feto) and the National Network of Popular Educators (Dai Popular), as well as involved members of other community-based organizations identified as working in areas related to human rights, gender equality, and work against vio-lence.

The idea for an exchange with Nicaraguan activists working against gender-based violence using a feminist popular education approach was developed after repeated discussions with women's organizations about the growing problem of gender-based violence and the need to educate and involve more men in gender equality work. Without addressing these critical issues, women's participation in planning, implementing and benefiting from East Timor's development will continue to be seriously limited.

The East Timor-Nicaragua Exchange lasted for 5 weeks: one week planning together and meeting interested organizations informally; three week-long workshops on gender, power, violence and social change carried out in Dili, Baucau and Oecusse; and a three day follow-up workshop for representatives from each of the three previous trainings on strategy planning for gender equality and social transformation. Each of the work-shops included equal numbers of men and women, and altogether, 8 of East Timor's 13 districts were represented.
According to workshop participants, the exchange was extremely successful. Participants felt that the material as well as the methods of the facilitators were extremely relevant to the situation in East Timor. Both male and female participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss these issues together, with men acknowledging the power they have and listening to women's experiences and aspirations. The exchange sparked the formation of the East Timorese Association of Men Against Violence and a national Movement against Violence (made up currently of 16 different organizations). A full report on this exchange can be found on La'o Hamutuk's website.

Together with several exchange participants, La'o Hamutuk is currently working to publish a book - Memoria Intercambio Nicaragua - Timor Lorosa'e - of the exchange which will be distributed to all those who participate as well as other community-based organizations.

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Globalization and International Financial Institutions

As East Timor becomes politically independent, its economic independence is precarious in this era of globalization and international financial institutions. Shortly after 20 May, East Timor joined the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, and the Asian Development Bank. La'o Hamutuk has continued to provide information on these critical issues from experts around the world, and to help East Timorese better understand the risks and compromises that come with them.

The World Social Forum II was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in February 2002. Ten East Timorese attended the Forum in a delegation which was organized by Oxfam Australia. The delegation included Thomas Freitas of La'o Hamutuk, who presented a paper on the role of international financial institutions during East Timor's transition to independence.

Study Group on the World Bank and IMF (Kelompok Kajian Bank Dunia/IMF). After the World Social Forum, Thomas Freitas was a founding member of this Dili-based Study Group which brings together activists interested in learning more and developing together a strategy for collective action. The Study Group is planning a conference later this year which will work to build a dialogue between government officials, international financial institution officials, and NGO activists throughout the country.

Petroleum Development and East Timor's Future

The single factor which will have the most impact on East Timor's economic future is the oil and gas re-sources in the Timor Sea between Australia and East Timor. The two countries have continued the process of negotiating agreements to share these resources, but the currently proposed agreement, like its predecessors negotiated by Indonesia and the U.N. transitional government, gives Australia an unfair proportion of East Timor's natural resources. La'o Hamutuk has analyzed these issues in depth, and we concluded that about 60% of East Timor's legal entitlement would go to Australia under the Timor Sea Treaty between the two countries which signed on Independence Day.

We have continued to follow this issue, publishing articles about in our Bulletin and local newspapers, participating in international conferences, consulting with international experts (including hosting a meeting in Dili with New Zealander international law professor Dr. Roger S. Clark). Our work has been a valuable resource and reference for others trying to learn about this complex issue.

Together with other East Timorese NGOs, La'o Hamutuk initiated weekly public discussions on issues relating to petroleum resources, and wrote a letter to East Timor's parliament raising concerns about the proposed Timor Sea Treaty. These activities have developed into the Independent Information Center on the Timor Sea (CIITT), which continues to meet and discuss petroleum development and East Timor's future and the need for an independent monitoring organization. The group is currently formalizing its mandate and structure, with plans to monitor and report on activities related to East Timor's oil and gas resources and to advocate for social, economic, and environmental justice relating to these resources.

In late May, La'o Hamutuk invited and facilitated a short visit to East Timor by two experts from the inter-national OilWatch network, Esperanza Martinez from Ecuador and Hemantha Withenage from Sri Lanka. Oil-watch includes organizations from tropical forest, oil producing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, who work to counter the negative environmental, political, social, economic and human rights effects of the international petroleum industry. Esperanza and Hemantha described experiences in other southern countries with petroleum development and what can be done, and their visit helped broaden East Timorese attention to petroleum beyond only the money that it will bring to East Timor. La'o Hamutuk featured the issues explained by OilWatch in our Bulletin. Following their visit, Adriano do Nascimento and Charlie Scheiner of La'o Hamutuk attended a regional meeting of Oil Watch in Denpasar, Indonesia. The exchange with OilWatch followed on and strengthened La'o Hamutuk's continuing work on petroleum development in the Timor Sea, and laid the basis for future networking between people grappling with similar issues around the world.

In June, La'o Hamutuk staffer Adriano do Nascimento represented the CIITT at a petroleum industry conference in Darwin, Australia (in fact, Adriano was the only East Timorese who attended the conference as a participant, although Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri gave a keynote address and then left). The South East Asia Australia Offshore Conference (SEAAOC) focused on regional offshore technology development, especially the Timor Sea oil and gas fields. While in Darwin to attend the conference , Adriano met with various Australian government offices and Australian organizations concerned with oil-related issues including labor, the environment, and solidarity with East Timorese civil society.

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Resource Center and Library

La'o Hamutuk has a small library about international institutions, bilateral and multilateral aid, and development in general, including books and videos, several file cabinets of documents, and other documents in electronic form about. These materials are resources for our staff, and are also available to others - East Timorese and internationals - who wish to learn more about these issues. La'o Hamutuk's resource center and library carries books and documents in English, Indonesian, Portuguese and Tetum on topics including international development theory and practice, international aid, globalization, East Timorese history and culture, and case studies from other countries relating to these topics. Our resource center also includes locally published newspapers and magazines such as the Timor Post, Suara Timor Lorosa'e, Talitakum, Verde, and Cidadaun.

During this reporting period, we have worked to systematize these resources, which has included the categorizing and cataloguing of our books. Later this year, we plan to increase our library's selection of Portuguese and Indonesian language books.

La'o Hamutuk also continues to sell books on East Timor and international development issues. While we make some very small profits from this activity, we are more concerned with getting information about East Timor to interested internationals working here. Most of the books we carry come from the Australia-East Timor Association in Melbourne.

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Independence Day Celebrations

On 20 May, 2002, East Timor became an independent country. This important occasion, attended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and heads of state from around the world, also drew many of the international activists who supported East Timor's struggle for the last quarter-century. As a bridge between East Timorese civil society and international activists and organizations, La'o Hamutuk was extremely busy during this time, often working together with the International Federation for East Timor (IFET). Among the activities we organized or helped organize were the following:

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Strengthening the Organization of La'o Hamutuk

La'o Hamutuk's primary office continues to be housed in the Farol District of Dili, sharing building space with two other local NGOs: Sa'he Institute for Liberation and the Legal Aid Association of Ukun Rasik An. Until March of 2002, we provided free space to the Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) which subsequently moved to a larger office. La'o Hamutuk's office, while small for our growing staff, has been ideal in terms of proximity to other partner NGOs and access to visitors.

Beginning in late 2001, La'o Hamutuk began working in Baucau. Our goals in opening this office were to develop La'o Hamutuk's work in the districts: to better disseminate information to grassroots communities and to involve local communities more in our monitoring work. While plans to share office space with other organizations based in Baucau never materialized, La'o Hamutuk set up a modest office with two staff from which it coordinated activities focusing on the four eastern districts (Lautem, Viqueque, Baucau and Manatuto). This office also coordinated the Nicaragua Exchange, the production and use of the Surat Popular, and coordination with the National Network of Popular Educators - Dai Popular.

From January to June, La'o Hamutuk/Baucau carried out meetings with local and international organizations, local and foreign government representatives, community leaders and grassroots organizations in the eastern districts. We discussed La'o Hamutuk's work and any concerns from communities relating to international institutions. Based on these meetings, we carried out investigations on United Nation's Civilian Police (CivPol) activities, the World Bank's Community Empowerment Project and Portuguese government aid to East Timor. Because of our work in the East, we were able to fully involve community groups from these districts in the Nicaragua Exchange and have developed strong organizational ties for the future.

Despite these successes, the office faced various challenges. Some of these challenges reflect the reality of life outside of Dili throughout East Timor: infrequent electricity; limited water, no phone access except at the Baucau airport outside of town; no mail service, and limited access to central government and international institutions which are all based in Dili. La'o Hamutuk thus found it very difficult to maintain fluent communication and coordination between our Dili and Baucau offices. We also found that La'o Hamutuk's work on grass-roots education and empowerment was not being integrated into all of our programs, but instead the Baucau office became the focus of our district work.
After long considerations and discussions between staff and board members, we decided to close the Baucau office by September, while maintaining the close ties we have made in the eastern districts. We decided against the idea of opening other district offices, preferring instead to work closely with already existing organizations in all of the districts, discussing mechanisms to increase and strengthen this network in all of East Timor's districts. We also reaffirmed our commitment to integrate district work throughout La'o Hamutuk's investigations and activities, and the importance of all staff working at times outside of Dili, where more than 75% of East Timorese live.

Regarding office equipment, we have upgraded some of our computer equipment, networked the computers in the Dili office and updated anti-virus software on all computers. We continue to work on developing better systems within the office as well as to learn from one another as much as possible.

As of 1 July 2002, our staff consists of five East Timorese (two women and three men) and three internationals (one woman and two men). Our East Timorese staff was unchanged during the reporting period. However, Japanese JVC volunteer Mayumi Hachisuka finished her work with La'o Hamutuk and left the country. Andrew de Sousa, who had been a volunteer working with us on a Patrick Stewart fellowship from Amnesty International USA, completed his volunteer term and became a regular member of our staff. A third international, Australian Vijaya Joshi, terminated her contract early.

In May, we began looking for two new international staff to replace those who left, and to expand our local staff by two. We are working toward gender balance. (By the end of August, we had hired one East Timorese woman, one East Timorese man, and one Brazilian woman.)
We are committed to a democratic, non-hierarchical, transparent organizational structure. Each staff member is responsible for coordinating at least one aspect of La'o Hamutuk's activities and investigations. Twice a week, all staff meet to share information, coordinate activities, discuss critical issues and make collective decisions. A coordination team of three (two East Timorese and one international) is responsible for personnel (hiring, evaluations, and general monitoring of staff activities) and administration (finances, fundraising, and office documentation) tasks. During the first half of 2002, we continued to develop the structure and functions of this coordination team.

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Outlook for the Remainder of 2002

In the coming six months, La'o Hamutuk's investigations and reporting will focus on many important issues, including

These investigations will be reported on in our Bulletin and on our weekly radio program. We have been approached by East Timor's new government for advice on many of these issues, and expect to work with both Parliament and the Council of Ministers to improve our common understanding as the Democratic Republic of East Timor defines its legal system and international relationships in the dangerous, globalized world of the 21st century.

We will also continue to publish the Surat Popular, with upcoming issues including: gender, power and development; our global environment; and petroleum development. We will publish a book on the Nicaragua Ex-change entitled Power, Gender and Social Change: Memoria Intercambio Nicaragua-Timor Lorosa'e. We will also begin preparations for two possible exchanges in 2003: one with OilWatch members in Nigeria on the impact of oil development in their country and one on health and agricultural programs in Cuba which we plan to organize together with the Dai Popular (Rede dos Educadores Populares).

We expect to hire two new East Timorese and two new international staffers before the end of 2002. Our most senior staff member, Pamela Sexton, will move back to the United States after having worked with La'o Hamutuk for the 2½ years of our existence.
In early October, we will hold a two-day strategy planning meeting at which La'o Hamutuk's board and staff - together with colleagues from partner organizations throughout East Timor - will evaluate La'o Hamutuk's work over the past year and plan for the future.

Appendix I : Financial Report (to come)

Appendix II: Bulletin Articles

Volume 3 (year 2002)

Issue 1 (February)

  1. Assessment of the UN’s Police Mission in East Timor

  2. Assessment of World Bank’s Pilot Agricultural Service Centers

  3. Sustainable Agriculture in East Timor

  4. Report from the Oslo Donors’ Conference on East Timor

  5. United States Permission for 1975 Invasion Confirmed

  6. Guest Editorial: Why Refuse the Japanese Self-Defense Force? (by Nuno Rodrigues)

Double Issue 2-3 (April)

Issue 4: Special Independence Issue! (May)

Issue 5 (July, but printed in late June)

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Appendix III: Radio Programs

La’o Hamutuk’s Radio programs (2002):









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 Appendix IV: Public Meetings and Presentations

 27 February  Public Meeting on East Timor becoming a member of the World Bank Group

This meeting was organized by those organizations including La’o Hamutuk that participated in the World Social Forum.

12 March  Press Conference in front of Amos W. floating hotel in Dili at which a press statement entitled “Can the Rule of Law  Prevail?

Pressure from UNHQ Exacerbates Amos W. Tax Controversy” was distributed widely to both press and public. La’o Hamutuk revealed that U.N. Headquarters in New York had been pressuring the UN Transitional Government in East Timor to allow a British-owned hotel to refuse to pay $750,000 in service taxes, although such taxes were due under regulations enacted by the UNTAET government here. The core issue was whether foreign companies would be allowed tax exceptions by the UN, overriding East Timor’s government. This event, and the issues it raised, were covered widely by the media. [Two months later, UNTAET head Sergio Vieira de Mello followed instructions from the Secretary-General and exercised his absolute power, overruling East Timor’s government and Revenue Service and allowing the Amos W. to leave without paying its taxes.]

12 April  Public Meeting with Madlyn West and Ruben Reyes on the popular movement in Nicaragua, past and present. 

This meeting was organized with Yayasan HAK and Sa’he Institute and followed up on the Nicaragua Exchange described below.

17 April  Presentation by Thomas Freitas on the meaning of “Clean Government” at a one-day seminar organized by the East Timor Study Group. 

Other presenters included representatives of the World Bank and the Inspector General’s Office.

4 May  Public meeting with former Finance Minister for East Timor’s transitional government, Fernanda Borges. 

The meeting came shortly after Ms. Borges resigned, protesting a lack of transparency in the new government; the talk focused on challenges and models for financial management in East Timor.

15 May   Meeting with farmers as part of the activities of the Expo Popular, which was organized by a coalition of local NGOs (HASATIL). La’o Hamutuk was invited to facilitate this meeting to discuss national development, self-sufficiency and the global context.

21 May             Public meeting with international lawyer and long-time supporter of East Timor’s self-determination, Dr. Roger Clark. His talk focused on international maritime law and the history of maritime boundaries between Australia, Indonesia and East Timor.  

30 May  Public Meeting with Esperanza Martinez and Hemantha Withenage of OilWatch on the impacts of petroleum development globally and what can be done about it (see below for more details).

7 June   Press Conference of the newly formed Association of Men Against Violence. This press conference was organized by men who participated in the Nicaragua Exchange on Gender, Power and Violence and marked the formal establishment of the Association. The event was covered widely by radio, television and print media.

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The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
1a Rua Mozambique, Farol, Dili, Timor Lorosa’e
P.O. Box 340, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin, Australia)
Tel: +670-3325013 or +61(408)811373
email: laohamutuk@easttimor.minihub.org
Web: http://www.laohamutuk.org