[Easttimorstudies] A view from the other side of the riots and shootings

Damien Kingsbury dlk at deakin.edu.au
Thu May 4 12:10:26 EST 2006

Dear All,

This arrived from Dr Jacqueline Siapno a short time ago. It may be of interest.


Dear folks,

I was able to find access to internet today (we are not in Dili, but in
the mountains/districts). Please kindly help me/us by trying to get
alternative information out. According to the government version, only 5
people have died, and 75 wounded. According to the
petitioners/demonstrators version, 67 people have been killed by, possibly
a hundred. In my previous e-mail, I only reported the 8,000 IDPs in Don
Bosco, who refuse to go home despite a press release from Ramos-Horta that
everything is now "normal, and under control." On the contrary. A UN
Adviser to the government called me yesterday saying that things are
exactly the opposite: nothing is "under control". Civil servants have
stopped going to work -- they have all fled to the districts to seek
refuge. Only the international advisers are still going to their offices.
So how could things be "under control" if offices are empty? Dili is very
quiet -- it is almost empty of population. Restaurants are telling their
clients to hurry up eating, they want to close early at night.

The severe political divisions have now spread to horizontal conflict
between Loromonu/ Lorosae, which initially began as conflict between the
National Police and F-FDTL. This extremely arrogant and incompetent
government, due to its inability to solve what could have been a
manageable problem, has escalated things to this crisis. The
petitioners/demonstrators who peacefully rallied for one week, up to
mid-noon last Friday, are now being hunted down and shot as "criminals" --
major violations of international human rights laws.

Don't believe what RTTL tells you about displacement only in Dili. There
are large numbers of "hidden displacement" -- including ourselves.
Thousands of people are fleeing to the districts, but because they are not
in IDP camps (e.g. Don Bosco, the US Embassy -- who've sent everyone home,
or almost everyone -- even UNMISET Political Officers became IDPs in the
US Embassy, how ironic, as apparently the UN has no security briefing or
strategy)these hidden displacements are unseen.

While officials above keep saying things are now "normal", "come down" --
the situation in the districts is very tense. Nobody wants to come down.
The situation in the mountains is difficult: we ran quickly, so we have no
provisions, no money. Rice is now costing US$20 instead of $12; mobile
phone cards are US$12 instead of $10. Gas/car bensin is now $1.50 per
liter instead of $1. Opportunists are taking advantage of the situation to
make profit.

On the macro level -- the government has been quiet, and according to
their own int'l. advisers -- seem to have no plans to resolve this
situation or negotiate peacefully with the petitioners.

Predictions are that things may get worse.

Please help us to mobilize news internationally/outside. Especially
alternative news/perspectives. My mobile here is: +670-727-0481, but we do
not always have a signal.

I may not be able to access internet again so soon.

Warmest regards,

P.S. Thank you so much for all your thoughts and well-wishes. I hope we
can go home to our house in Dili soon, safely. Please pray for us. I am
most worried about Hadomi and the other small children, as they cannot run
as fast, in case this conflict gets a lot worse. People are preparing to
climb up higher in the mountains. Please don't believe everything the
government tells you -- try to seek alternative news/info -- especially
from the petitioners/demonstrators side.

Associate Professor Damien Kingsbury
Director, Masters of International and Community Development
School of International and Political Studies
Deakin University
Ph: +61(0)439638834

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