Voicing your hunger you will be criminalized in Timor-Leste

DILI (TOP) — Being poor and starved in Timor-Leste can be the target of criminalization from politicians at the national parliament.

Rozalito de Jesus from the municipality of Manufahi has lived in a rental house with his wife and two children in Bebonuk, Dili several years ago. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Rozalito had worked at a company from a Chinese retailer in Bebonuk.

According to Rozalito, before the Timor-Leste government began introducing the “state of emergency” period to curb the spread of the virus, he had earned sufficient income from his work and always paid for his rented house in Bebonuk.

The State of Emergency period was followed by a period of complete Lockdown in Dili since late 2020 and as a consequence he lost his job and lost his income. From January to April 2021, they had no more money to pay for rent and to buy food, and the rental owner also always demanded to pay but they had no money. Facing this situation, made his wife thought a lot and had intended to pawn her only son as a guarantee to pay for the rent although she eventually changed her mind.

"My wife thought a lot and she had said to the landlord, but luckily this did not happen" said Rozalito to The Oe-Kusi Post (TOP) in Komoro, Dili, Monday, May 17, 2021.

The news about Rozalito's hunger had appeared for the first time on GMN TV, a local TV and Radio station and shocked many people. Following the broadcast, assistance began pouring to this little family including from the local police and friends including CNRT party in the opposition.

It also brought about the attention of the National MPs. Unfortunately, parliamentarians from FRETILIN and KHUNTO parties immediately attacked the journalists covering the news of this famine.

Initially, they attacked the journalists working for the media at the parliament and then threatened to criminalize the starving family in Dili, especially the Rozalito family claiming that they have made up the story. It is unfortunate that Parliamentarians in many countries have been very kind to their people but in Timor-Leste the situation is very different.

As always, it is the very members of parliament who deny all the hunger and poverty experienced by the poor during the Covid-19 pandemic. These parliamentarians belonged to the factions of the incumbent government who refused to believe that there are poor people out there, in one of the countries considered as poorest on earth.

The national parliament of Timor-Leste is a sovereignty body which is enshrined within the constitution" to represent all citizens of Timor-Leste, but it is not the case in the reality.

Interestingly, the Speaker of the National Parliament Aniceto Guterres has issued a statement condemning the families who claimed to be starving in Dili.

In addition to its role of representing all Timorese citizens, the Parliament is the legislative body of excellence, in which resides the supreme power of making laws, taking legislative initiatives and have the power to control the Government's legislative acts, including scrutinizing the work and deeds of members of the government.

Going back to the case of a family who voiced their hunger a few days ago, it has now been investigated by the criminal investigation police beginning on Tuesday 19 May 2021. The police did this on the basis of the statement issued by the chairman of the national parliament who is also a member of the FRETILIN party.

FRETILIN is now the party which serves as the “stanchion” and support the government of Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak.

"I want to know the information about the family who used their children as guarantees to others to get something or to get food in exchange” This is a serious crime," said Aniceto Guterres at the National Parliament.

He added that anyone who pawning their child [in exchange of something] to other people is breaking the law, and [those] accepting the child as pawn are also committing a crime.

"I will ask the government, the Timor-Leste national police to open an investigation process about this case whether it is true or not, if it is not true it must also be processed criminally".

The threat to criminalize this family also came from the KHUNTO party. A member of Parliament from the KHUNTO party, Olinda Guterres, said the news about the famine of Rozalito family is a HOAX, and untrue.

She accused the media of playing behind the scenes, on the news of the starvation.

"I don't believe people use their children as guarantee to pay for the rent."

It is completely a lie, said Olinda Guterres from KHUNTO referring to her country which according to ADB growth outlook 2021 recorded -7,8% economic growth in 2020.

Raimundos Oki
Author: Raimundos OkiWebsite: https://www.oekusipost.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Xefe Redasaun & Editor

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