Dili Friday evening 30th June 06
Last weekend was a rough one in Farol. We were harassed several times by thugs, claiming to be westerners opposing Alkatiri, circulating around the area.
Not sure why the ADF allowed them up our street or indeed allowed the few to terrorise the rest of Dili again. The thugs were on brand new bikes, new clothes, saw a few of what I would call ordinary protesters who didn’t look rich and were not up to the same tactics. More burnings.
Mari resigned and did that stop them, not likely they just put in new demands. Parliament to dissolve, then stopped the news being broadcast, they were angry because coverage from Metanario did not show an angry rabble, but a disciplined group who were positive and happy. Thug element said there was to be no news coverage on Loro Sae people (there were over 1000 Alkatiri supporters from what is termed the ‘west’ at Metanaro. News is still off, the TV & Radio station say they now have security and it should be back on by Monday, guess it will be more biased than it was.
Oh well give in to thugs and what do you expect.
About 30,000 Fretlin demonstrators have been in Dili today and yesterday. They were greeted by people handing out flowers. Demonstrations went well, they did not really make any demands just for the constitution to be respected and for the terrorising of people who support Alkatiri to stop. Some opposition tried to make problems, at one point I thought some young Fretlin supporters were going to respond, but stewards talked to them, saying a negative reaction would mean people would say – see we always said Loro Sae people were terrorists.
Missed Xanana’s talk, but was told the crowd gave him a very rough ride, saying he was responsible for this trouble and asking him to tell people to stop terrorising people who support the constitution, Fretlin and Alkitiri.
Alkatiri came and talked to everyone and was again given a tremendous welcome. He talked of Timor Leste being one country and said the violence must stop, that investigations should be made, including into the allegations made against him. He also talked about western interference into Timorese politics and the oil issue.
It was a positive one and a half days, but things took a downward turn again this afternoon. I went to a wedding, a friend of mine from the ‘east’ marrying a girl from the ‘west,’ the wedding was fine except the friend’s brother and indeed family and friends from Los Palos could not attend in case it caused problems. The brother is also a friend of mine, he took me to Metanario when I was monitoring up there, he phoned and wished the bride and the groom well. The bride was crying because none of their friends and family from the ‘east’ could come. We made the best of the wedding.
Met the resigned Secretary for Education at the wedding.
The ADF behaved well most of them were good humoured, did ask some of them on Friday morning why they were searching for weapons in the displaced people’s church near Farol. They said they were just doing a quick check and were asking about the health of the people, if they are so concerned about people’s health maybe they could arrange to get food out to the districts. They only searched a small section, Los Palos peoples tents.
On Thursday night supporters of Alkitiri, there were over a 1,000 from western areas, slept near the port in their trucks and cars. Again this was very different from the way the demonstrators had been treated the week before, they had been allowed to sleep anywhere in Dili and terrorise the population to boot. Alkatiri supporters did not burn or loot overnight, there are a few still relatively free in Dili.
On Friday at about 12.00 o’clock the demonstrators started the long trek back to the districts, Alkitiri had told them to go home. The largely prevailing party atmosphere stopped as soon as Fretlin left Dili, and the terrorising began again. Returned from the wedding at about 5.00’clock and received two phone calls for help, thugs had road blocks up on Comoro Road nr the airport, they were stopping people and asking are you from the Loro Sae, guess you know what followed. The friends were in different areas and were speaking on behalf of a lots of people. They said they had phoned the ADF and there was no response.
Phoned the ADF, the phone rang and rang, no one answered (same as the weekend before when we had the thugs outside the office). Phoned the Portuguese Police, who just like the weekend before said it was not their area. Said I knew but the ADF were not responding, PP said okay we will go and look then get the ADF. Which is what they did. A cynical person might think the ADF had behaved well while the reporters were out in force during the Fretlin demonstration.
Told Charlie on the phone that on Thursday night some displaced people were stoned, PP arrested several people. They also found some grenades in a ex policeman’s cellar – funny all the searching for weapons by ADF never turned them up.
When I was monitoring the ADF while they were in displaced people’s camp, asked why they had not secured the airport and the tv station, or stopped several burnings, and the stonings on the Thursday night. Response, they have a very difficult job and its hard to do all of that!
Atmosphere in Dili has once more spiralled downwards, people are frightened and despondent. Ines came in on Monday for a couple of hours, Gute usually comes in once a day for about an hour, Santa is on her course and Yasanta had to go to see her family in Occuse, she was going to come back on Friday but I told her I thought she should wait till after the weekend to see how things were. She couldn’t have got back anyway the ferry was off.
You ask what you can do: get accurate information out instead of the rubbish that the media prints, lobby not only on the UN staying in Timor Leste but about the ADF discrimination and ill treatment of Alkitiri supporters, and their complete inadequacy to control anything and their inability to make the ordinary people in Dili safe.
In London there was a demonstration outside the Australian embassy in the Strand. They plan a bigger one this week. Maybe you could do a demonstration in New York, the thugs and whoever else is behind this need to know that the Timorese and solidarity in the West know what is going on. There urgently needs to be a visible presence. You can easily stay neutral, just ask for the constitution to be respected, for the Portuguese Police to be allowed to do their job, for the ADF to stop interfering in Timor Leste politics. You in the West are more free than us to do this. You can of course have a demonstration outside Australian embassy or the UN and hand in requests.
Guess I’m fine, oh when the thugs were rampaging outside my door Portuguese Police did come at one point, never saw ADF, funny the week before they had been down here in force looking for Los Palos people. Also phoned England and asked a friend to phone the British Embassy and the Australian Embassy, which he did. Had Lee up the other day to see how I was faring, he’s a nice guy.
Well guess that’s all from Dili.
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