Some good news

Dear all,

I would like to make the following correction to email dated 19th August, subject URGENT EAST TIMOR;

Acasio was not knocked down and stabbed, he was hit by a baton, I presume to stun him, am told he lay on the ground for a long time very still. He was lying in front of the vehicle, think this is why witnesses thought he had been knocked down, I am really not sure why they said he was stabbed, many reasons could be given to this for this, one possibly being the confession and frightened villagers running from thugs. (thugs from both side of this constructed divide)

Sunday afternoon was spent in a fruitless search for other witnesses to confirm the information, fighting and burning in the Fatuhada and parts of Loro Mata still going going on most of Sunday, however on Monday afternoon I managed to track down Acaso’s wife and family.

I was told they did not know whether Acasio was dead or not, they had spend Sunday trying to find him. His brother, told me Acasio was hit with a stick by the Australian police (police authorities told us later it would have been a baton). Acasio lay on the ground for a long time, Anbilio thinks over an hour – I was not there so I cannot confirm the exact length of time. Eventually Acasio was put in a ‘paddy waggon’, presumably arrested.

His wife, brother, and brother in law went to the detention centre three times and were told there was no record of an Acasio da Silva being arrested. They were allowed to see documentation of arrests, but Acasio’s name was not shown.

The family went to the hospital to check if he was there, when this proved negative they returned to the detention centre, hoping for news, but nothing.

They asked if I could help them find Acasio, I went with them to the ‘Academy’, Cormoro – Australian and Malaysian police work from there – we spoke to Chris Thomas, who took details. She was very helpful and extremely concerned, she phoned the detention centre, but was told there was no record of Acasio being arrested. She phoned officers who had detained people on Saturday afternoon to see if they could assist. Two officers came to speak to the family.

They confirmed they had arrested people in the area but not Acasio da Silva, they asked if he had a nickname, the family said no. Family asked if it would be helpful if we returned to the detention centre with a photograph of Acasio, officers thought this could prove fruitful. After negotiations it was decided the officers would go to the detention centre to check, they would have better access.

At 9.30 p.m Monday, Acasio arrived back at the family home, he confirmed he had been arrested and had been in the detention centre on since Saturday, but had now been released. Mystery still surrounds his name not being shown on the list of detainees. I have not seen him since his release and will be away for a few days from tomorrow. Will speak to him when I return.

Hope this clarifies the situation, and apologies for stating that Acasio was stabbed, but was given the information by several witnesses, however would like to state firmly that the remainder of the information in the email was accurate. Unfortunately, many Timorese are frightened to give names, but am informed that often men come from the hills to attack the barrio’s and IDP camps, in the IDP camps people from the ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ region’s live peacefully together, the same can be said of many barrio’s, however in some barrio’s’ after attacks and rumours from wherever opposing factions do fight.

In Fatuhada and the lower section of Loro Mata an estimated 50 houses were burned during the weekend – I counted 30, but was told by one of the residents that houses had been burned higher up. The gentleman I spoke to was from the ‘western’ region’, he told me every night they sleep on the beech to avoid attacks, this is a common story.

Zito’s brother and myself visited Zito, from Loro Mata at the detention centre on Sunday morning. Zito told me he was being treated well but did not know why he had been arrested. The corporal in charge at the time showed me the facilities, they were fine, better than holding cells in England. Zito was returned home on Monday at about 9.00.

I have been informed today, by a colleague working at Oxfam, near Kia Colly, that her office was attacked and windows broken a few days ago. Some displaced people are living there. The office is very near the detention centre.

Today I was contacted by two liaison officers from the Federal Police, they asked if I would mind speaking to them re my concerns on recent problems at the detention centre etc. I met with them, we discussed the inability some of the force seem to have communicating with locals , lack of knowledge of customs and of course the lack of security in Dili. They were happy that Acasio had been traced. said they would look into why he had not been shown on the list of people arrested on Saturday, would try to ensure this did not happen again. They said they would be happy to assist if Timorese friends phoned me for help, if threatened by thugs or when treated in an inappropriate manner by any of the international force.

Told them I saw this as a very positive step and appreciated their assistance.

In solidarity Lidia

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