UNTAET Daily Briefing 11 Feb 2000

SRSG meets with Finnish parliamentary delegation
Dili, 11 February 2000

SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello met today with a Finnish parliamentary delegation, led by Ms Lisa Jaakonsaari, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Finland.

In a statement to the Finnish Broadcasting Company, De Mello said the meeting concentrated on the efforts to bridge the gap between pledges from donors and the start of the reconstruction projects. The correspondent described the situation in East Timor as calm and asked De Mello to identify problems. SRSG agreed that the situation is calm but warned that there are "dangers breeding under the surface" and singled out unemployment as the major one.

Timor Gap Treaty

The SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Australian representative in East Timor, James Batley, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding on the Timor Gap Treaty at the UNTAET HQ in Dili.

The memorandum aimes to set up a legal arrangement between East Timor and Australia on the exploration of oil in the Timor Gap, based on practical arrangements of the treaty that was established between Indonesia and Australia.

The memorandum stipulates continuation of the terms of the treaty signed in 1989, therefore all existing Production Sharing Contracts under the treaty will continue to apply.

UNTAET, on behalf of the Timorese, and the Australian Government also agreed that UNTAET will exercise its rights and obligations under the Treaty in close consultation and cooperation with representatives of the East Timorese. The memorandum states that it will be important to facilitate, as a matter of priority, training and employment opportunities for East Timorese.

The memorandum will be applied as of 25 October 1999 and will continue in effect for the duration of the transitional period.

Reconstruction of National Museum building

The reconstruction works have started on one wing of the future Cultural Center building in Dili, which is to house the new National Museum of East Timor.

UNESCO and the World Bank are financing the reconstruction of this phase, while the World Bank will finance an extensive two-year project of reconstruction of what was originally a Portuguese garrison building, used as the National Museum during the last years of Portuguese rule.

The renovations of the first wing are expected to be completed by 18th February when the first exhibitions of Timorese textile and artifacts saved from the former National Museum of East Timor are to be held. Later this month, UNESCO plans to organize a photo-exhibition with photos from international and Timorese photographers depicting the period from January 1999 to January 2000.

When rebuilt, the cultural center will include the National Museum, an art gallery, cultural performance center, human rights information centre and archive unit that is envisaged to be an embryo of the future National Archive.

The Cultural Center will be governed in the transitional period by a board of Timorese representatives, joined by the representatives of UNTAET, World Bank and UNESCO.

There are currently 36 Timorese employed on the reconstruction works at the Museum.

Victims from Passabe massacre were young men

Following three days of detailed examinations, UNTAET forensic experts determined that the majority of the victims from the Passabe massacre were young men.

The forensic experts examined the skulls and remains of the 37 bodies found in Passabe, in the enclave of Oecussi, to ascertain the age of the victims.

Relying on dental examinations and analysis of the victims' scull bones the experts established that the age of the men varies from 15 to approximately 45 years. One third of the victims were under 22 years old.

The examinations were performed in the Human Rights Center morgue in Dili.

Next week, the forensic experts will begin a more formal autopsy, and then the investigators will try to get additional information from the relatives to identify the victims.

All the bodies and remains were found in 25 gravesites in a 400-meter area that runs along the border between Oecussi and West Timor. The exhumation was completed last Saturday.

Payment of stipends

The second payment of UNTAET stipends for people working in public sectors will be paid in Dili on Monday, to be followed by payments in Lospalos, Same, Viqueque, Baucau, Manatuto and Aileu in the course of the week. The stipend payments in the remaining districts will be paid next week. Some 1,500 people are to receive payments across East Timor.