East Timor

East Timor begins first joint military manoeuvres with US

East Timor begins first joint military manoeuvres with USDili - East Timor's first joint military exercise with the United States began Wednesday with the arrival of the USS Bonhomme Richard assault ship.

The manoeuvres with 2,500 US troops and Australia forces are to last through October 24, aimed at bolstering the skills of East Timor's armed forces.

Besides field exercises, the troops are also to carry out humanitarian assistance activities.

East Timor opposition debates censure motion against government

East Timor opposition debates censure motion against government Dili - East Timor's Parliament on Monday debated a censure motion submitted by two opposition parties against the government for releasing an Indonesian militia leader accused of committing crimes against humanity.

The motion - launched by the Revolutionary Front of Independent Timor-Leste, or Fretilin, and the Democratic Alliance Kota/PPT - is to go to a vote about 10 pm (1100 GMT) Monday, officials said.

East Timor to hold first joint military exercise with US

Dili  - East Timor is scheduled to conduct its first joint exercise with the US military this month to bolster the skills of the country's armed forces, US officials said Thursday.

Members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the US Navy are due to be in East Timor from October 13 to 23 to hold joint military exercises with the Falintil-FDTL (Force de Defesa de Timor Leste), said Hans Klem, the US ambassador to East Timor.

"The primary focus is to work with FDTL to learn from them in their skills and to share our skills," Klem said.

The exercises will include humanitarian assistance activities and field exercises to enhance cooperation and partnerships between the US and Australia, whose troops will also participate.

UN official: Tribunal needed for Timor crimes

UN official: Tribunal needed for Timor crimes Dili  - The international community should consider setting up a tribunal for serious crimes in East Timor if former occupier Indonesia and East Timor were unwilling to prosecute suspects, a United Nations official said Tuesday.

The United Nations has criticized East Timor's government for the release from jail last month of Martenus Bere, a former pro-Indonesia militia leader accused of taking part in a 1999 massacre at a church in Suai district, in which up to 200 people died.

East Timor PM: Australia war crimes probe futile

East-TimorDili - East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao hinted Friday that an Australian investigation into the killing of five journalists allegedly by Indonesian troops in his homeland in 1975 would prove futile.

An Australian coroner's inquiry two years ago concluded the five were deliberately killed by Indonesian soldiers to prevent news of Jakarta's invasion of East Timor from leaking out.

"When I heard it from the media I said, you can try but I believe that they will not do that, because I believe that Canberra and Jakarta will be in a bit of trouble," Gusmao said.

Prime minister defends government pardon of brutal militia leader

Prime minister defends government pardon of brutal militia leader Covalima, East Timor  - East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on Tuesday visited victims of a 1999 massacre to explain the government's decision to free a militia leader involved in the carnage that left about 400 dead.

Gusmao visited Covalima, 170 kilometres south of Dili, to justify the state's decision to release former deputy militia leader Maternus Bere on the 10th anniversary of the Covalima September Massacre.

Australians on top in first Tour de Timor

Australians on top in first Tour de Timor Dili - Australian cyclists Friday dominated East Timor's first international bicycle race organized to mark the 10th anniversary of the tiny nation's independence vote.

Neil Van der Ploeg was first in the 450-kilometre Tour de Timor to win 15,000 dollars in prize money from a total pool of 75,000 dollars.

"It's great. It's fun," Van Der Ploeg said after crossing the finish line.

Australian Benjamin Grieve-Johnson came second, while another Australian, Tory Thomas, won the women's race.

450-kilometre "Tour to Timor" to kick off Monday

450-kilometre "Tour to Timor" to kick off Monday Dili - "Tour de Timor," an effort of President Jose Ramos Horta's to promote tourism, sport and peace in East Timor, will kick off Monday with a 75,000 prize promised for the winner of the five-day 450 kilometre bicycle race, organizers said Saturday.

UN Security Council keeps peacekeepers in East Timor another year

UN Security Council keeps peacekeepers in East Timor another year New York  - The UN Security Council decided unanimously on Thursday to keep its peacekeeping mission in East Timor for another 12 months, noting that the political and security situation there remains fragile.

Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta appeared before the council last week to urge continued UN assistance to the tiny southeast Asian island nation.

Castration ritual part of rural East Timor's oral history

Ossu Rua, East Timor  - Jose da Silva thinks he's 70 years old, though he isn't sure. His hair is white and his eyes are cloudy and his teeth just aren't what they used to be.

He smiles, showing off gaps where teeth are missing and those that remain are wiggly and red from chewing betel nut. He says his teeth have failed him. He tells of a time, not so long ago, when he could still chew on the still-attached testicles of baby goats and sheep, once or twice a year. He did it for decades.

Youth meet in East Timor to grapple with violence in society

Youth meet in East Timor to grapple with violence in societyDili  - Young people from around the world gathered this week in East Timor to participate in a conference to share ideas on identity, conflict and peace as the country, one of the most at-risk nations in Asia, tries to come to terms with long-standing violence in its society.

Talks at the Youth, Identity and Nation-Building conference began Thursday with its launch by the president of the parliament, followed by a traditional war dance.

Bones are key to truth behind notorious Timorese massacre

Bones are key to truth behind notorious Timorese massacreDili, East Timor - As the official photographer for the thousands of civilians walking to a cemetery for a burial, Simplisio de Deus watched through a camera lens as the Indonesian military slaughtered hundreds at the Santa Cruz Cemetery November 12, 1991. It was the last time he would see some of his friends.

Migrants stranded in East Timor cheated out of hope

Migrants stranded in East Timor cheated out of hopeDili - Last Saturday, 16 Tamil men waited eagerly on the south coast of East Timor for a boat to take them to Australia.

They were near the end of their journey and they'd spent the last of their money, but it didn't matter. They knew a better life was only 650 kilometers across the sea.

However, the boat never arrived and instead they were arrested and thrown in jail for three days. Now, they are broke, jobless, without legal representation and some are about to be homeless.

East Timor's coffee trees stunted by soil and culture

East Timor's coffee trees stunted by soil and cultureDili - In the high, craggy mountains south of East Timor's capital, Dili, a tangled blanket of wild, unkempt coffee trees is blooming.

If the flowers, now tiny flecks of white against the dark green trees, do well, it could mean more than 7 million dollars in the pockets of some of the poorest people on earth.

It could also mean a hot cup of coffee next year in Hamburg and school fees for a Timorese family.

East Timor sells off its artefacts, history

East Timor sells off its artefacts, historyDili - Last week on eBay a search for East Timor would have come up with a black, wooden, hand-carved statue of a male, not quite a metre high. At 150 US dollars it was by far the most expensive object from East Timor, and one might have wondered why.

Perhaps it was only a replica of a centuries-old sacred clan totem believed to represent ancestors. Or, maybe it was the real thing.

Charity clothes smother local industry in East Timor

Charity clothes smother local industry in East TimorDili - It's no secret that charity clothes cast off from rich countries end up on the backs of some of the poorest people on earth. Supposedly, that's the whole point. But sometimes the best intentions go awry.

The used clothing is often sold for low prices, undercutting local clothing industries. In Asia, used clothes are keeping dozens of vendors impoverished in one of the region's poorest countries while making a single company rich.

Ramos-Horta looks to the future after near-fatal shooting

Ramos-Horta looks to the future after near-fatal shootingDili - Three months after a near-fatal assassination attempt, East Timor President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta is back in his office and full of plans.

Still pale, Ramos-Horta lays out his work schedule from his home in the capital, Dili, in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa:

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