Fundasaun Mahein (FM) would like to strongly condemn the violent attack on a CNRT convoy on Saturday 5 May, in Viqueque district. 2 CNRT vehicles and 18 CNRT members and their supporters were attacked by parties unknown whilst travelling through the district.
Whilst FRETILIN Secretary General Mari Alkatiri has apologised on behalf of FRETILIN over the attack, FM holds that this is not a sufficiently strong position and is a reactive rather than a preventative measure. All party leaders should be constantly emphasizing to their supporters that they should not engage in violence and coercion against their rivals, as this undermines democracy and human rights in Timor-Leste, after all the sacrifices that were made to achieve independence. FM calls on all party leaders to emphasise peaceful participation during campaigning and the election, and to exercise strong discipline over their supporters to prevent the use of violence and coercion and take personal responsibility for any such unacceptable acts.
FM would also like to call into question the use of the word militant by political parties, and for all Timorese citizens to give consideration to what this term really means and its implications for democracy. A militant can be defined as a person “favouring confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause”. Therefore, why are Timorese political parties, citizens and social media still using such inflammatory terminology for party supporters? This is a democratic election that will define the future of Timor-Leste for the next 5 years and beyond, and it is time for the people of Timor-Leste to stop using provocative descriptions for their political party supporters and adopt more peaceful language around the democratic process.
Whilst the people must always respect the sacrifices of the resistance generation, the struggle in Timor today is for peaceful inclusive development that serves the interests of all Timorese, not just the personal interests and power of certain resistance leaders and their clients. This election is about the democratic rights of the people to choose a government that serves their interests, and the responsibility of Timor-Leste’s leaders to respect the wishes of their people, regardless of the result. The competition over power that has been ongoing since 1975 does not serve the interests of the people, and it is time for the leaders of old to set aside their differences and put the people’s interests first.
• All political parties, their leaders and supporters remain calm and don’t respond to provocations by their rivals.
• Political parties clearly understand that resorting to violence and intimidation is not in the public interest, undermines the democratic process and that doing so will only result in insecurity and fear for the very people that the political parties say they represent.
• Political leaders refrain from attacks on their rivals and serve the interests of the people rather than their own interests and hold on power.
• Political parties, their supporters, the media and Timorese citizens avoid using the term militant with its associations with provocation and violence and refer to supporters of political parties as supporters instead.