Diary of events 22-9-2006 to 31-9-2006 Loro_Mato and Fatahada

A month ago, before I went to Lautem, I checked Fatahada area of Dili, there were many houses damaged, but some were repairable. When I got back all the houses previously damaged had been attacked again, most unrepairable now, some burnt others with doors broken, I guess with hatchets. I’m talking about some really good thick wooden doors also some with roofs and walls broken.. Will try to take some photos today.

On Comoro Road, at the entrance to Loro Mata, an estimated 100 young men, I guess with average ages of 25 gathered from Friday till Sunday, (that’s from the 22nd September) they were wearing black uniforms and I am told they belong to the PSHT & KERA SAKTI marshal arts groups, harassed and fought the people in Loro Mata the whole weekend. They were fighting anyone who tried to go in or get out of Loro Mata. The Australian police arrested a couple of them, and told the rest to disperse several times, they did disperse but the police did not take weapons off them. When the police left, the gangs came back – actually I am told they were there yesterday and this morning as well. I’m told they were from Aimutin, Hudi Laran, Manleuana and Fatuhada.

I was in Loro Mata for part of the Sunday afternoon, ADF came in but did not harass anyone while I was there (maybe because I was there)

Went along to Loro Mata on Tuesday to see how things were, while I was speaking to family at the bottom end a soldier from the ADF ran past, we were sitting outside. Then a jeep and an army transporter came down, also more foot soldiers. I asked, ‘is there a problem,’ they said they were chasing a man in an orange tee shirt, because they thought he had a knife. Had we seen him, said, ‘ no, we only saw one of your guys running past.’ They milled around for quite a while then went, (maybe an hour) some police came down, the said more or less the same.

I then went to visit family higher up, while there a friend from the top of Loro Mata came and said his taxi had just been set on fire by a gang. Some of us walked up to have a look, on the way up met a couple of people carrying belongings, they said, ‘ “we are refugees now, our houses have just been burned”. When we got to where the taxi was burnt we could see there were also two houses burning, some locals were trying to put the fires out but the houses were pretty much gone. (Not the house where the taxi was burnt, but that house had been attacked, broken glass everywhere, roof damaged etc.)

The houses were burnt around 2.30 the same time we were speaking to the ADF at the bottom of Loro Mata. Australian police came in again but too late to do anything, however a young child, about ten told me he had witnessed the whole thing houses – he knew who had burnt the houses and the taxi – I told the Australian Police. They asked the child to go with them to identify the people, the child naturally said no. I said, ‘if he goes with you he will be open at the very least to a beating.’ – Police said, ‘oh, well there is nothing we can do”, I commented – ‘it is those men over there’ – again they said unless he comes with us we cannot do anything.

One house burnt in Fatahada today as well, also fighting in Colomera, and attacks at the IDP camp outside the airport. Am also told there has been fighting at the bottom of Fatahada – when I say fighting I mean people running away from people who are attacking them.

Not sure if I sent you a report of the ADF going into the displaced peoples camp at the airport, they arrested six people, and beat two people up, this was the weekend of 9th September. A deputation of displaced people went to see Ramos- Horta at the airport, he had been abroad, can’t remember where, the deputation went to ask him why they were attacked by thugs then attacked by the ADF, he was little help saying he, there was little he could do. This made the television news.

It is now Thursday 28th, sorry for the delay but its quite difficult here at the moment.

Back to the report.

On Wednesday morning, 27th September, went back to Loro Mata, a lot of people living at the top end (mainly people from Baucau and Vique-que) were leaving for the districts. Borrowed a camera, so took some pictures of the houses that had been burnt, also the taxi. Went to see family. I was told that the people whose homes were burnt yesterday, and the brother of the owner of the taxi that was burnt had been arrested by the Australian police. No one knew why – was told that two people had been trying to retrieve their belongings from their homes when they were arrested, the other person was arrested while eating his breakfast. I was also informed that someone had been abducted by men from Aimutin.

Phoned the two liaison officers who asked me to meet with them just before i went to Los Palos, (they told me to ring them if there were problems and they would try to help). They were as good as their word and did come to help. Told them the problem, they went with Augus, the brother of the man who was reported abducted, to check on what had happened – I had to go to a meeting. One liaison officer, nicknamed Scooter, said he would phone me with information, he did. Turned out the brother had not been abducted, but had been badly beaten by the men from Aimutin, all his papers were stolen. Someone had phoned the Australian Police and they came and took him to hospital. The liaison officer told me, he had received treatment and was now at the detention centre. The liaison officer said, ‘don’t worry he has not been arrested we are trying to find his papers.’ Apparently a lot of people had been arrested and they were checking papers, unfortunately the papers have not turned up to date.

This morning (Wednesday) I took pictures of men (about 25 years old) waiting at the top of Fatahada to stop buses – apparently they stop the buses and ask people to get off, because they (the gangs) say they are from Loro Sae, the people who are forced of the bus are then beaten up. I also took pictures of a house in Fatahada, where youth and men were congregating – I was told they were the people responsible for the recent burnings..

I stayed in Loro Mata on Thursday night, on Friday 29th September we were woken at about 6.00 a.m. by the alarm signal, Loro Mata was again being attacked. Ran up to the top, there were quite a few youth and men at the Comoro Road entrance to Loro Mata, there were also men outside the house in Fatahada.(the house I took a picture off on Thursday) – I am told these are not people who normally live in Fatahada but are from Aimutin, Manleuana – the village of Bobonaro has been mentioned. Took pictures of the men, also took pictures of some men sitting in the tree at the top of Fatahada. They at first tried to to cover their faces, but by the time I took the last picture, took about 5, they were shouting at me “we would like to see your DVD” They started to come towards me, decided it was prudent to move.

Had already phoned the ADF, about 30 mins previously, no sign so phoned the liaison officers (the time by now was 6.30) they told me they were on a job, but would phone and ask for a squad to come out quickly – they did and the ADF turned up. They were polite and took information from the Timorese and myself, they toured the area in their vehicles, not on foot. When they came back they confirmed that there were men at the top of the road who seemed to be up to no good, but again they said they could not arrest them without proof. However, they told me they would be patrolling the area the rest of the day, would I tell people from Loro Mata they would be treating everyone the same, so if they were seen to be fighting they would be arrested as well.

I agree with this up to a certain point, problem is in all the bario’s and displaced peoples camps, people feel that they are not been protected by the international force, so many have now started to try to defend their own homes. indeed in some cases their lives. We have this right in the west, but apparently not here – understand if people are defending their homes it is difficult for the international forces to see who is threatening and who is defending – so not sure what the solution is – possibly better protection from the int. force.

Myself and others have suggested a visible presence inside the bario’s and IDP camps would help. This would mean that the int. force would get to know the people, it would also mean if someone from outside entered and caused a problem the force would know. – Ian Martin agreed this was a good suggestion, but that was about 3 months ago and nothing has been put into place yet.

Stayed in Loro Mata on Friday night again, no problems in Loro Mata on Saturday – it was a really nice peaceful day – Nug confirms Fatahadu was the same. Not sure if there were problems elsewhere, will try to check tomorrow.

Talking to friends till late so decided to stay in Loro Mata on Saturday night. There is a self imposed curfew in Dili, people do not walk around after 6.00 p.m., no buses after this and few taxis, you either go home before dark or stay with friends.

It seemed peaceful when I got up about 6.30 this morning, by 7.30 smoke was rising from the top of Loro Mata. Some of us walked up to have a look, I took the camera. Fretlin Central Committee building was burning, there was an earlier attempt, around May to burn it but it was not very successful, this time it has been more successful. Took a couple of photos, the Australian Police arrived, told them people witnessed who burnt this building. They said unless the witness was prepared to go with them and point a finger, they could do nothing – stalemate. I was then asked to move. Said I would move but take photos further along – they said no I was interfering with police business and they threatened to arrest me.

Not sure how taking photos of a burning building and saying you can take them the police to the people responsible for causing the fire is interfering with police business – maybe someone can look up the legal precedent on this for me.

Told by Nuk, he is now living in Fatahada, that a warning signal was sounded this morning in Fatahada and some marshal art group started to attack people living there.

The family who run the co-operative canteen at HAK also have a new house in Fatahada, they have not moved in yet, but tell me it was attacked 3 days ago. They are from Baucau – they have decided at the moment to continue sleeping in the tent outside the canteen.

Today I interviewed Vicente, from Baucau. His house was burnt in Loro Mata on Wednesday. He told me many people have now left the area and are in Dom Bosco or have gone back to the districts. He said he sleeps on the beech or at a friends house. Vicente told me one of the men who responsible for burning his house is Jaime from Bobonaro. Vicente said Jaime used to be a friend and come for coffee, so he asked Jaime ‘why did you help to burn my house’, Jaime replied, ‘ I am sorry my friend I now belong to a marshal arts group, they told me to burn your house” (think the marshal arts group is KRSI the one mentioned above, but was just given the initials)

Vicente was a guerrilla fighter in the hills and jungle during the occupation.

I asked if it was okay to give his name, he said yes he wanted people to know his story.

In solidarity Lidia lidia.tindle@googlemail.com

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