Saturday, 17 July 2010
STL MIsqueto Pedro Belo Fuel anger TL War Veterans may create tension
The newspaper with the widest circulation in East Timor STL Suara Timor Loro Sa'e misquoted the Dili police Commander Pedro Belo, angering Timorese veterans of the Independence Struggle. On 13 July 2010 STL published a headline "L-7 suspected involvement in illegal trade," and it's sub title, "PNTL confiscated more 60 tires."
Cornelio Gama known as L-7 is a Falintil Guerilla veteran who fought against Indonesian occupation for 24 years and is today a member of parliament from the UNDERTIM party. In the same headline STL misquoted Pedro Belo writing, "Pedro said the time to claim ourselves as veterans or heroes has passed. Now is the time for every body to come under the law."
Pedro Belo denied ever saying any such words to defame the veterans of East Timor resistance. The veterans are demanding a legal investigation of the case to find the truth. The newspaper STL, which is supported by the governments of USA, Finland and Japan's Jica, has publicly acknowledged it made a mistake and has printed a correction. Some MP's are demanding that STL be shut down if it is found that STL did make the mistake because they believe that its action may have caused frictions in the country. But if the statement published on STL can be totally attributed to Mr. Pedro Belo then the veterans demand his resignation. Suai District veterans have reacted by informing the veteran's commission that they are preparing to come to Dili over the issue.
The issue of East Timor's veterans is a very sensitive one, which if not handled carefully may cause problems. The Timorese Government is in the process of creating a commission to help identify those who are veterans and currently the state has started to pay veteran's pensions to some beneficiaries.
A number of East Timorese political leaders who are veterans, though respectful of the freedom of the press, are very angry with STL for having published the story in question. MP and veteran David Ximenes alleges that STL has now made a habit of committing such “errors” and then following up with “corrections”.