[Easttimorstudies] A view from the other side of the riots
sorenb at vifm.org
Thu May 4 15:09:25 EST 2006
Please find below further comments on the situation in Dili,
I am not sure about the statistics on deaths in Dr
Siapno's account(though they may be right given the
amount of gun fire I can personally testify to last
Friday evening and Saturday after the military were
deployed in our part of West Dili) but agree with the
general description and tenor of this account.
Government spokespersons obviously want to play down
the situation to calm people and demonstrate they are
in control, but it is not accurate to describe the
situation as normal or calm. I am also sceptical of
claims that the bulk of the trouble can be blamed on
I can add on very good authority that definitely some
Riot Police, Military Police and Navy went to Ermera
last night, with their weapons, to join the petition
leader Gustao Salsinha and that he was in Ermera
yesterday. Given that I believe the army hunted and
shot at their erstwhile colleagues last weekend, it is
very difficult to accept that the petitioners will now
trust the government and respond to official appeals
to come down and cooperate with the Inquiry.
I am very worried about the situation. This is not
helped by the continuing exodus of many people from
Dili to the districts. The atmosphere is one of
increasing panic in Dili. Very few of our staff came
to work again today and many of them have now either
moved from their homes to other parts of Dili and have
moved their families to the districts. The refugees
who have been staying at our place have also left for
the districts. The mass of people are very sceptical
of the authorities' ability to handle this.
You are welcome to pass this on.
Dr. Soren Blau
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
57-83 Kavanagh St
Tel: 61 3 9684 4469
Mob: 0438 309642
Fax: 61 3 9682 7353
Email: Sorenb at vifm.org
From: easttimorstudies-bounces at anu.edu.au
[mailto:easttimorstudies-bounces at anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Damien
Sent: Thursday, 4 May 2006 12:10 PM
To: Easttimorstudies at anu.edu.au
Subject: [Easttimorstudies] A view from the other side of the riots
EAST TIMOR STUDIES MAILING LIST
This arrived from Dr Jacqueline Siapno a short time ago. It may be of
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,
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
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
So how could things be "under control" if offices are empty? Dili is
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
in IDP camps (e.g. Don Bosco, the US Embassy -- who've sent everyone
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
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
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
not always have a signal.
I may not be able to access internet again so soon.
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
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
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