[Easttimorstudies] regional tensions

Damien Kingsbury dlk at deakin.edu.au
Sun May 28 19:40:36 EST 2006

Dear Helen,

Thanks for this clarification.

A couple of further points:

The Indonesians always recruited from and had a stronger support base in the
western areas. The police, many of whom were previously employed as Indonesian
police, are from the West, and this is one element of the police/FDTL split.
Another is economic disparities, and empire building within Fretilin. The 1999
miltiias were always stronger in the west (witness the massacres in Suai), and
Halilintar was based on Joao Tavarres' earleir Bobonaro-based militia, which in
turn had its origins in the August 1975 civil war and the retreat of the
anti-Fretilin forces to the west and ultimately over the border.

Having said that, and given that I have spent most of my time in East Timor in
the west, the level of commitment to the independent state was almost as high
and certainly as fervent as anywhere else I travelled in 1999. The main reason
for the slightly lower vote for independence there in large part stems from
voters being trucked across the border with fake ID.

Apart from that, the conflict the Indonesians tried to develop was 'vertical',
not 'horizontal' ('vertical' refers to ethnciity, 'horizontal' refers to

Finally, if I am not mistaken, I think the Tetum Terik terms 'loroa'e' and
'loromanu' refer to 'where the sun rises' and 'where the sun sets' as equating
with the eastern part of the island of Timor and the western part of the island
of Timor, rather than east and west of East Timor. As you know, many more Tetum
Terik speakers live in West Timor than East Timor, although still aproximately
in the center of the island. It was their (poetic) way of differentiating the
orientation of the whole island from the middle.



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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