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Maubere Revolutionary Council
(Konselho Revolucionário Maubere - KRM)

In 2014 and 2015, Timor-Leste was challenged with minor internal political turmoil when dissident leader Mauk Moruk, who is also a younger brother of a respected veteran leader, Cornelio Gama, launched a political attack against then Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, accusing his government of corruption, nepotism and collusion and called for a revolution. His group allegedly launched a series of attacks against security forces which resulted in a four-month joint security operation against his group.

Violence related to political actions by the militarist Maubere Revolutionary Council (KRM) in Baucau district did not target or directly affect foreigners, but the possibility of fighting that could harm foreigners or business interests highlighted an area of concern. In recent years, when instances of civil unrest occur, they are usually quelled peacefully. Civil unrest has been known to spark when linked to occurrences of excessive force by the police/military.

Resistance leader Xanana Gusmão declared the resistance force Falintil to be a non-partisan 'national' army. In 1988 he relinquished membership of the political party Fretilin, believing the fight for a free East Timor transcended political loyalties. He established the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM) and was declared leader. José Ramos-Horta became external spokesperson. The term Maubere was coined by Ramos-Horta in the 1970s. Initially used by the Portuguese to describe illiterate members of the Mambai, one of the largest ethnic groups of East Timor, it was reinvented as a badge of national pride by FRETILIN.

Mauk Moruk (Paulino Gama) was a former independence fighter who led the banned Maubere Revolutionary Council (KRM). He was a fierce critic of the government. He called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament. It was reported that Mauk Moruk’s followers — allegedly — carried out attacks on the police in both Laga and Baguia.

Paulino Gama, popularly known as Mauk Moruk, was leader of the Konselho Revolucionário Maubere (Maubere Revolutionary Council - KRM). Moruk was expelled from resistance forces in 1984 after a power struggle with current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. Moruk, leader of the recently created KRM, returned to East Timor in October 2013 after living for a long time in Holland. KRM and another outlawed group, the Committee for the Popular Defense of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (CPD-RDTL), did not represent a significant threat to physical security, but they had challenged Gusmão’s legitimacy as well as that of the constitution. KRM members had been spotted marching in uniforms with military symbols on a football pitch in Laga in the Baucau District in November 2013, provoking a wave of unease among Timorese and the political class.

On March 3, 2014, the Timorese parliament unanimously approved a measure that authorised the national police to put an end to the activities of the Maubere Revolutionary Council (KRM) and the Popular Democratic Council of the People's Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, commonly known as CPD-RDTL or CPD. Mauk Moruk negotiated his surrender to police in March 2014 after both organizations were declared illegal by Parliament, but he was released on bail in December of that year.

In response, the authorities launched a number of operations in which the use of unnecessary and excessive force has been documented. Amnesty International reported that dozens of individuals were arbitrarily arrested and tortured or otherwise ill-treated by security forces as part of joint security operations in Baucau district between March and August 2015. Security forces in Timor-Leste arbitrarily arrested and allegedly tortured dozens of individuals in Laga and Baguia, in the Bacau district. These events unfolded as part of a series of joint security operations undertaken by the police and the military to capture Mauk Moruk (Paulino Gama) and his followers. These operations were launched in response to attacks allegedly carried out by Mauk Moruk and his banned Maubere Revolutionary Council (KRM) against police in Laga and Baguia subdistricts.

Maub Mauk Moruk (Paulino Gama), the leader of the KRM, was killed 08 August 2015. There was a large presence of police and people on the streets, buat no disturbances resulted. Moruk's brother claimed that the rebel leader was unarmed when he was killed by security personnel. While military personnel refuted the allegations and maintain that Moruk fired first, the rebel leader's supporters were more likely to believe his brother. The findings of investigations by the Provedor (Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice) were issued in November.

Because they believe the 2014 parliamentary resolution condemning the KRM and other groups as illegal did not follow proper procedures and was politically motivated, the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) and other human rights groups argued that arrests and detentions in relation to the resolution violated human rights. During the year 2015 the government reported approximately 500 arrests of suspected KRM members. Most of those 500 were either released due to lack of evidence or subjected to restrictive measures, such as requirements to report regularly to the police or to provide identification. In July 2015 the PDHJ reported that many of those arrests were based solely on suspicion of involvement in the illegal groups without enough evidence to warrant the arrests.

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Page last modified: 28-09-2016 19:56:35 ZULU