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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07DILI96
2007-03-09 10:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Dili
Cable title:  

DILI BISHOP SYMPATHIZES WITH REINADO

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  KDEM  KJUS  UN  AU  VT  TT 
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VZCZCXRO0800
PP RUEHLMC RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0096/01 0681024
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 091024Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3344
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0847
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNMCM/MCC COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0807
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0914
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0741
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0661
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0622
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0469
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2691
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000096 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/9/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KJUS UN AU VT TT
SUBJECT: DILI BISHOP SYMPATHIZES WITH REINADO

REF: DILI 095

DILI 00000096 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Stanley Harsha, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy
Dili, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000096

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/9/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KJUS UN AU VT TT
SUBJECT: DILI BISHOP SYMPATHIZES WITH REINADO

REF: DILI 095

DILI 00000096 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Stanley Harsha, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy
Dili, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (d)


1. (C) Summary: Bishop of Dili Alberto Ricardo da Silva told us
in a March 9 meeting that he was reluctant to get involved in
convincing dissident military leader Major Alfredo Reinado to
surrender because he feared for the safety of Reinado if he
surrenders to GOET authorities, and that the Catholic Church
would be blamed if anything happened to Reinado. Richardo da
Silva's reluctance to intervene in the case also can be
explained by his clear sympathy for Reinado as a defender of the
downtrodden, being unjustly singled out while culpable Fretilin
party members enjoy impunity. We had requested this meeting in
part because President Xanana Gusmao on March 8 had told us that
East Timor's two bishops were playing a role in persuading
Reinado to surrender and we wanted to find out what that role
might be. Da Silva also had strong concerns about the ongoing
election process, citing delays in voter registration and the
means to ensure that polling places are not subject to
intimidation or violence. He noted, however, that he and "the
people" viewed manipulation and threats by the ruling Fretilin
party, or by gangs working on the party's behalf, as posing a
greater security threat than that of Reinado's rebellion, which
he said has now dispersed. End Summary.


2. (C) In a March 9 meeting in the office of Bishop of Dili
Alberto Ricardo da Silva, Charge d'Affaires (CDA) asked da
Silva if he is playing any role in persuading rebel military
leader Alfredo Reinado to surrender. Ricardo da Silva asked CDA
what would happen if Reinado was captured, saying he feared
getting involved in the negotiation process because the Church
would be responsible if he surrenders and is later killed. CDA
told Richardo da Silva that peaceful surrender is the best

possible outcome as the current situation is very destabilizing,
particularly during election time. CDA explained that the GOET
and the International Stabilization Force (ISF) want only to
bring Reinado in safely, and that the attention of the
international community present in East Timor will be a further
deterrence to any harm coming to Reinado if he surrenders.
Finally, the CDA noted that Reinado taking up arms is simply
wrong and that he needs to place his trust in the justice system
if rule of law is to be respected in East Timor. We also noted
to Ricardo da Silva that the recent Dili District Court decision
to sentence former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato for
distributing arms to civilians in May 2006 is a sign that the
system does work, to which the Bishop responded that the appeals
process and a possible amnesty law could still let Lobato walk
free. (Note: President Xanana Gusmao on March 8 had told us
that the two East Timor bishops were playing a role in
persuading Reinado to surrender and we had requested meetings
with the two bishops to find out more about that role. See
Reftel. We hope to meet with Baucau Bishop Basilio do
Nascimiento on March 12.)


3. (C) Ricardo da Silva said he had recently discussed the
Reinado situation with Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, and that
Ramos-Horta insisted that Reinado must surrender. Ricardo da
Silva claimed that Ramos-Horta softened his stance towards the
fugitive after their meeting, publicly stating the next day that
negotiations would be possible with Reinado. The Bishop told us
that last summer Reinado had also paid a call on him to explain
his intentions, leaving Ricardo da Silva convinced that Reinado
did not pose a threat. He assessed Reinado as a hero seeking
justice and protection for the suffering people from FreQlin
excesses. (Note: Ricardo da Silva was among the Church leaders
who organized a multi-week, protest involving up to 20,000
demonstrators against the then Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, in
April-May 2005 and are regular critics of Alkatiri and the
Fretilin party.) Though he agreed that Reinado should not flaunt
the law, he indicated that he considered Reinado far less
culpable than many others who remained free, including Alkatiri.
The Bishop trusted Reinado's public promises to turn himself in
once others had been brought to justice. He said he has not
talked with Reinado recently and that he does not know how to
contact him directly.


DILI 00000096 002.2 OF 003



4. (C) In response to our assertion that the current situation
is creating an unstable and volatile climate that could hinder
elections, Ricardo da Silva responded that Reinado's group has
dispersed, is no longer a threat and that Reinado supports
peaceful and free elections. On the contrary, he claimed that
Fretilin is causing civil disorder in a desperate gambit to
disrupt elections because of flagging public support. He
pointed to a variety of reports he had received from priests in
the districts indicating that Fretilin, or elements linked to
it, were stockpiling weapons and intimidating voters. He cited
reports from five sub-districts in Baucau where local civil
servants had "more guns than Reinado," as well as the presence
of nine "long-haired men with guns" in Ermera who intimidated
people after the local youth disrupted political activities by
Alkatiri, who is the Fretilin Secretary-General. He also told
us that Fretilin supporters in Los Palos chanting "viva
Alkatiri, viva Marxism" had protested in response to a limited
Australian deployment there, allegedly prompting Gusmao to
threaten to dispatch more Australian troops.


5. (C) Ricardo da Silva claimed that he received frequent calls
from both Father David in Same and Father Natalino in Suai, both
of whom have been rumored by various sources to have abetted
Reinado. Ricardo da Silva said the priests were not Reinado
sympathizers but rather were carrying out their priestly duties
to attend to anyone in need. (Note: Father Natalino is the
priest at the church in Suai where Emboffs met with Reinado in
December 2006. Reinado and his men were clearly at ease in that
environment.)


6. (C) The Bishop said the current social situation is "bad, but
the Church has hope." He described significant poverty and
suffering, with refugees congregating near religious facilities
for nearly a year. He said the current government did not have
the capability to handle the problems it faces.


7. (C) Ricardo da Silva read us a prepared list of election
concerns, asking for USG assistance in pressuring the Government
of East Timor and the United Nations. He informed us that the
upcoming elections were very important to the people of East
Timor, but reports from the villages indicated that voter
registration was not going well, particularly in the western
districts. He complained that the "Fretilin-run" Technical
Secretariat for Election Administration (STAE) was inaccurately

SIPDIS
telling people that registration cards from the national
assembly elections in 2001 did not need to be renewed, and asked
for USG assistance in ensuring that the registration period be
extended as many voters will not have time to register before
the April 9 presidential elections. (Note: STAE is under the
Ministry for State Administration, headed by Fretilin hardliner
Anna Pessoa, hence the Bishop's characterization of it as
"Fretilin run".) He plainly stated that "the people fear
Fretilin's manipulation" and "Fretilin are the ones that do not
want people to vote." Ricardo da Silva also asked CDA to
consider whether the UN advisors have sufficient experience to
ensure a fair election, negatively comparing this election
process with the referendum on independence that the UN carried
out in 1999. Furthermore, the Bishop insisted that there must
be regulations to prevent members of the East Timorese military
(F-FDTL) from visiting polling stations on polling day, saying
that this would intimidate voters. When we asked him if the
Church would support any political party in these elections, he
said that it could not endorse any parties, but that the Church
is required to help parishioners make a good choice, and
therefore could advise voters to chose a party that cared about
the people, not just about a small circle of elites.


8. (C) Comment: Bishop Ricardo da Silva clearly distrusts
Fretilin and apparently supports much of what Reinado claims are
his goals. While we do not take all of his anti-Fretilin claims
at face value, they demonstrate the extent to which
disillusionment with the ruling party and sympathy for anyone
who will challenge them can impact even a mainstream,
influential religious leader. We have no doubt that Bishop
Ricardo da Silva will likely use the influence at his disposal
to urge voters to oppose Fretilin in the upcoming presidential
and parliamentary elections. What remains to be seen, however,
is the degree to which he can influence a far-flung network of

DILI 00000096 003.2 OF 003


priests, many of whom are independently-minded. Embassy Dili
plans to meet next week with Bishop Nascimento, who is based in
Baucau, as well as with lower-level church figures to gauge
where they stand on Reinado and the range of political issues
discussed with Ricardo da Silva.


9. (SBU) Bio Notes: Bishop Ricardo da Silva will turn 64 in
April and has spent nearly his entire career in East Timor. He
attended seminary in Macau before being ordained in 1972. From
1972 to his appointment as Bishop in May 2004, Ricardo da Silva
served in East Timor, except for the period from 1993-1994, when
he served at the Vatican. During his Vatican posting, he visited
Providence, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC, where he told us
he testified before a Senate committee. He speaks Tetum,
heavily-accented but proficient English, and possibly Bahasa
Indonesia.
HARSHA