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The first years of the first sovereign state of the 21st century - part II






Light at the end of the tunnel?





I am sorry, this is another unusual posting about Timor-Leste. But it is important for me to understand why things are, like they are in Timor-Leste. And actually, I guess it is not as bad to know about the history of a country you travel. 


Basically, I never give up the hope, that people try to avoid doing the same mistakes somewhere else in the world.


I heared so much positive things about President  José  Ramos-Horta in advance (thanks to my friend Felix in Maumere) and further people in Kupang and on my way to Dili. I  could feel that Ramos-Horta is very popular and a charismatic leader, who did a lot for Timor-Leste to  become  a sovereign state and  the people trust him. 


I should have the chance to meet this extraordinary charakter on my days in Timor-Leste.
And if you are a little bit more curious about this country, after reading this post, then give the first sovereign state of 21. century a chance. 


You will find a beautiful tropical paradise which hasn't seen much tourists yet. There are small Hotels, Apartments, Backpacker Accommodations and 5*Resorts as well,  very lush nature and amazing diving sides as well. 


It is definitely not the easiest way of traveling around, but hey, we are all looking for off beaten tracks, right? That's your chance to make it real.


Therefor support this natural and touristic untouched country by visiting and the timorese people will get the feeling to be accepted and can find their place in the world.




What a start in this post.... 


For everybody who didn't read the first posting. Here is the link for a better understanding:  The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste  -  The birth of the first sovereign state in the 21st century  




Ok, let's start with part II:


The first years of the first sovereign state of the 21st century - Timor-Leste:




Basically I was anxious about Timor-Leste and after a week I was totally disappointed. Why? Because it was so difficult to get in contact with local people. Admittedly I compare Timor-Leste with Indonesia, what is may be not ok, because of the difficult situation in this country taking a look at their history.


Today, Timor-Leste is independent it was the first sovereign state in the 21st century, but it is still part of the Third World and sometimes I asked myself, where is all that money from industrial states gone?


Dili looked like a city without money for building new houses, preparing roads and even the people are looking poor. I remember the second hand market on the pedestrian way in the center.


The people doesn`t laugh as much, they look very serious and sometimes I would like to use the word "suspicious". Is it just because of the dark skin? Unfortunately, most of the local people don`t want to get in contact with foreigners. This was only my impression while my stay in Dili.


I tried often times to start a conversation, although it is very difficult without knowledge of their local language, called Tetum. Only a few people speak English and some Portugese. Fortunately a few guys were able to talk in bahasa Indonesia, but at least it was not satisfying for me in Dili.


Before I went to Timor-Leste I was warned and feared when reading articles about expensive accommodation in Dili. I looked around and found only one accommodating under 20 US$. Please note, we are in a third world country, were a lot of people have no covered home at night and sleeping on the street. Some situations reminded me at Phnom Pengh, Cambodia`s capital, where I found a similar situations. Cambodia is also part of the Third World.


But there is no need for hotels changing anything as long as the UN and the NGO`s are in this country and as long as they pay every asked price for an accommodation. Even the prices for food and drinks are more expensive.


Everybody in Timor-East is talking about corruption in politics. Well, this is nothing special of Timor-Leste, you will find it at least everywhere in South-East-Asia. But in a new founded, growing up Third-World- country,  where is a big gap between the wealthy and poor population, it is working against each forward trend.


So I was happy to get the chance talking to a guy of the opposition. He supports one of the 12 candidats for the next presidential election in April 2012, Mr. Rogério Fatima Tiago Lobato, who is a former member of the FRETELIN party and was interior minister of the first indepent government of East Timor in 1975. 


His brother Nicolau Lobato was the second president of East Timor and was killed after the indonesian invasion in 1978, but actually I guess there is no majority for RogérioLobato at the next elections.



The western countries are interessted in the resources of Timor-Leste and there are a lot. The western world is not interessted in an independent and able to act country like Timor-Leste. They will support the current government.


I asked about the support of the industrial countries and where all the money is gone and he only answered: "The support was very helpful till 2006. The villages got a lot of benefit until this time. But after the riots of 2006, nothing was like before. The sponsoring decreased since this time. The villages got only a part of the amount which reached Timor-Leste. Every office takes some money on the way to the people and so there is only a samll amount of the original money reaching the citizien/villages."




What happend in 2006?


President Gusmão gets on 11. January a petition of soldiers from the 1. Battalions of the F-FDTL. They pilloried the worse working conditions and bad chances for promotions for soldiers of the west part of Timor-Leste in compare to soldiers of the eastern part.


Because of this discrimination occured a rally of more then 400 soldiers on 8. February in Dili and they asked for the dismissal of the 1. Commander Colonel Falur. 


First, President Gusmão was able to appease the soldiers and they went back to their barracks. Afterwards 404 of 1600 soldiers of the F-FDTL deserted and further 170 soldiers followed under the leadership of Lieutenant Salsinha.


Prime Minister Alkatiri was blamed about the better chances for promotions of the soldiers of the eastern part of Timor-Leste.



The cultural regions of Timor-Leste: 
Loro Munu (pink) and Loro Sae (red), (© J. Patrick Fischer)


The cultural differencies between Loro Munu and Loro Sae are mainly resulting of the time while the indonesian annexation. From the eastern part Loro Sae, the people were called Firaku, are a few of the military leaders and also President Gusmão.

The Firaku see themself as the liberator of Timor-Leste and they reproach the people from the western part of Timor-Leste, called Kaladi, to sympasize with Indonesia, because they were often recruited by the Indonesians while the occupation periode as policemen. The UN and also the independent Timor-Leste adopt many of these policemen. That's why there is a conflict between the police PNTL and the military F-FDTL.

Dili was in these days more then one time stage of bloody fightings between street gangs of different ethnic groups.

On February, 14th Brigadie-General Taur Makan Ruak dismissed the in the meanwhile increased 591 soldiers, while President Gusmão was on a trip in Africa.

On April, 24th started the dismissed soldiers with support of mostly workless teenagers a rally in the streets of Dili. In total joined nearly 3000 people this turmoil and protested against the dismissal of the soldiers and asked for the dismission of Prime Minister Alkatiri.

In March they denied a call for heading back in their barracks and shortly after several policemen joined. Prime Minister Alkatiri dismissed the deserters.

It was one more time Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta, who tried to hold Timor-Leste together when he installed a commission for hearings the complaints of the soldiers. But he announced also that they never can join the army anymore, although there should be made a decision for each individual.

On April, 24th started the dismissed soldiers with support of mostly workless teenagers a rally in the streets of Dili. In total joined nearly 3000 people this turmoil and protested against the dismissal of the soldiers and asked for the dismission of Prime Minister Alkatiri.


Hot Spots in Dili, (© J. Patrick Fischer)


The rally started peaceful till the soldiers attacked a street market of Firaku. The protests worked till April, 28th when the F-FDTL met the deserters and the army starts shooting in the crowd. Five people were killed, 100 houses burned down and 21000 citizens of Dili fled out of the city.

On May, 4th Major Alfredo Alves Reinado desterted with 20 military policemen and further four policemen. They twitched a truck of weapons and munition. He originated also from the west part of Timor-Leste and they had their new base in the southwest of Dili in a village called Aileu.

He asked President Gusmão to dismiss Prime Minister Alkatiri and to put him on trial, because he gave order to shoot on April, 28th into the crowd in Dili. If the President would not agree, Reinado would start a civil war.

The last ultimatum on May, 5th was for about 48 hours. Should Prime Minister Alkatiri not be dismissed and the F-FDTL not resoluted till that time, they will start the civial war.

The Presidental's contact attempt before the ultimatium ended was denied by the Lieutenant Salsinha with the words: "Now it is too late." Under the citizen of Dili broke a panic out and 75% of them fled into the mountains of the surroundings. But nothing happend......

The government called for calm down and the refugees went back. Foreign Minister José  Ramos-Horta said: "The democrazy in our contry is still young and people are afraid of proceedings."

Prime Minister Alkatiri announced to investigate the imputations and was willing to pay the deserts the salary reactive from march, if they would give in.

On May, 11th a crowd of of 1000 people stormed an office of state secretary outside of Dili and one policeman was killed.

Once again it was José Ramos-Horta, who prompt the other parties to be constructive and peaceful acting.

In the middle of May the violence escaleted again and the rebels fought against the troups of the F-FDTL in the mountains close Dili. Several weeks were people killed and Major Reinado did some assaults against Dili.

At the end of May many people were killed and a lot of people looked for shelter in churches. One church offered more then 7000 people shelter this time. New ethnic confilcts and  plundering gangs complicated the situation in Dili's streets.

Foreign Minister called on May, 24th Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia for military support. Under the operation "Astute" Australia leaded the International Stabilization Force (ISF).

However, there was no official enquiry of the government of Timor-Leste and so there was a worldwide outcry, when Australia interceded and Prime Minister Howard had to defense this mission. On May, 25th arrived seven helicopters and a C-130 Hercules transport machine on the airport Presidente Nicolau Lobato in Dili and secured the area. At least there were more then 2000 australian soldiers involved.

Malaysia was asked by President Gusmão for secure the border to Indonesia and to stop escaping citizens, but Malaysia disagreed.

New Zealand supported with 200 soldiers the australian troups and Portugal started the evacuation of more then 600 portugeses citizen from Timor-Leste. They operated with 120 soldiers of the air force.

The EU granted further 18 Million Euro for stabilization the official institutions of the government and declared they will give fully support for Timor-Leste.

The UN-police (UNITOL) and some administrative officers were the last part of the UN-troups after the end of the mandate. Their departure were shifted to June 2006, after an enquiry of Ramos-Horta to the UNHCHR, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UNOTIL opened a refugee camp outside of Dili, but when the violence escalated on May, 27th the UN declared to deduct the main part of their troups.

A new UN-resolution was announced on June, 20th for another new mission, called UNMIT (UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste) with 1600 soldiers and 34 military consultants.

The hope of the end of violence was not fullfilled, everybody fought against everybody. At the end of May President Gusmão called the state council and met first time after the escalation, Prime Minister Alkatiri, Ramos-Horta again, Bishop da Silva, the UNOTIL-representative Sukehiro Hasegawa and Ian Martin, the private assistant of UN-general secratary Kofi Annan and former UN-representative in East-Timor while preparing for indenpency.

Gusmão interrupted the meeting when a crowd of people gathered outside and he spoke to the crowd: "If you - west and east - trust me, then hug everybody at home, keep calm and help to keep calm mutual."

After a meeting with the parliament he declared the national state of emergency for the next 30 days and assumed the high command over police and forces Gusmão said, it was a decision together with the government, but Alkatiri opposed. Viewers reported a power play between the President and prime minister.

The violence didn't stop and on June, 1st the familiar people around Alkatiri, like Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato and defense minister Roque Rodrigues stand back. Ramos-Horta overtook the defense department, but the turmoils continued.

Later there were rumours that the government supported civil people with weapons and Lebato was judged and prisoned.

On June, 21st the power play escalted and President Gusmão threatened to stand back after an ultimatum till June, 27.th, if Prime Minister Alkatiri not stand back.

Four days later, on June, 25th the Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Price winner José Ramos-Hortas, the Minister for Traffic and Communication Ovidio Amaral and the representative Health Minister Luis Maria Lobato resigned. They protested against the decision of FRETELIN to hold on at Prime Minister Alkatiri.

The day after Alkatiri quit, it came to expressions of joy in the streets of Dili. The indictment against Alkatiri was in January 2007 abandonend, because of lack of evidence.

Bishop da Silva and the Australian Government welcomed the resign of Aklatiri, but the demonstrators claimed now for dissolution the parliament.

A priest of Switzerland reported from bulk marriages as many as 80 couples at the same time. He spoke about two reasons for this unusual behaviour: Firstly they had not to do a very expensive party at the moment and secondly there were a lot of couples who lived already a long time together and they were afraid of being killed in a civil war and so they want to receive the holy sacraments before.

While this riots were 37 people killed and 155,000 on the run.

The desired candidate for Prime Minister of the folk and the western governments and also of Presiden Gusmão was the popular Ramos-Horta. But the FRETELIN had their own desired candidate. It was the Ex-wife Ramos-Hortas and the Alkatiri-confident Anna Pessoa. But this wouldn't be a real change and so Ramos-Horta was on July, 8th named as new Prime Minister after talkings between Presiden Gusmão and the FRETELIN.


The new Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta.



Ramos-Horta kept the Department of Defense and the new cabinett were composed of 15 ministers, 10 of them have been already in the old one.

The turmoil stopped in Dili and Ramos-Horta was accepted from all sides. 100,000 people lived in camps of tents, because of their destroyed houses. There were many thousands of buildings burned down and the coffee-farmer worried about 20% of the harvest.

While Australice reduced their forces till 2000 soldiers, the UN prepared a long-term police-mission.

The first new fightings after the start of Ramos-Horta as Prime Minister were in August,  between gangs. The police arrested 40 young men. Further 19 men were catched while they planed to attack a refugee camp near the airport. Another gang stormed loud calling "Kill all Firaku" into a church of refugees.

The witnesses reported about 1500 hooligans and 100 burning buildings. While the international press contradicted and named only six burning houses. Additionally were Molotov cocktails thrown on a refugee camp. Further fightings have been at the beginning of September.

The UN-Mission UNMIT started on September, 13th with 554 policemen. It was no military commitment, because Australia didn't give up the ISF-leadership. After the introducing ceremony announced Ramos-Horta to resign in case of forced resistance of militas and oppositional groups.

Shortly after the start of this mission fired two gangs close to the Presidental Palace with arrows and one 19-year old guy was killed. Portugese soldiers fired with rubber bullets to finish the fighting. Next day it was silent in Dili.

On September, 27th were the first 25 timorese policemen in employment again. They were assisted by the UN-police (UNPol). Ramos-Horta met on the same day Salsinha, the leader of the 600 deserted soldiers.

The government looked for a possibility to investigate their complaints and wanted to support this men, because they didn't do any political activites since April.

The UN offered on October, 12th to change the Australian leaded ISF-Troups to a official military UN-peacekeeping force, but Ramos-Horta denied. He argued that the regional troup worked very efficient and the UNO were because of the commitment in Libanon and Afghanistan overcharged. Australia announced they would remain at least less then 950 Australian soldiers, but in total were more then 3200 soldiers in Timor-Leste.

On October, 17th the UN released the report about the investigation why there happend such a crisis. Approximately 100 people were a misconduct reproached, leading politicans and security forces.

Against Aklatiri and the Ministers Rogerio Lobato and Roque Rodrigues and the Commander of the Forces Taur Matan Ruak were a judicial inquiry recommended.

Alkatiri was not able zu avoid that weapons were offered to civil persons, although he knew about that.

The others were therefor responsible. Finally Taur Matan Ruak has failed to prevent the riots. But he cannot be called to account for the killings of unarmed policemen. Also President Gusmão was called missmanagment while the negotiatons with rebels reproached.

Further riots didn't happen, because the timorese armed forces were standing loyal behind Taur Matan Ruak and Ramos-Horta declared he has complete confidence in him too.

After fightings on October, 25th near the airport were this one closed in care of the employers. The australian government warned about anti-australian campagnes with "Go home" and huntings on australian security guards and vehicles.

After two deaths by australian soldiers, the timorese press called "Australia is responsible for new fightings. Brigadier-Gerneral Taur Matan Ruak wanted an investigation about the new riots, although the australian troups.

The UN uttered some allegations about drugs and alcohol consume of the hooligans. They didn't know who is behind this yet.

Prime Minister Ramos-Horta declared on November, 9th that the worsest time of the violence is finished, but he pleased the foreign troups to stay further in Timor-Leste.

Since the government offered each family between 1500 and 4500 US-$ for leaving the refugee camps the number of people decreased there.

Further incidents happend in November and December were a few people were killed until christmas 2007.

In March 2007 was Ex-Minister Rogerio Lobato convicted to 7,5 years prison, but in August he was allowed to leave the country to Malaysia for medical treatment. He went back to Timor-Leste in May 2010. His penalty but was meanwhile through amnesty shortened.

On May 2007, 25th unveiled the new elected President Ramos-Horta for each of the eleven killed policemen a memorial plaque. He titled the riots a shame and each party should be aware what happen this time. It is important that similar things not happen again.

For the death of this policemen were in November 2007 four soldiers convicted to terms of imprisonment between 10 and 12 years.

There were further fightings between gangs in Dili the next few months. For this reason the UNMIT collect another time all the weapons in November 2007.

Rebel leader Reinado was until 2008 still on escape and the rebels presented a military parade, because they felt still like a part of the F-FDTL and demanded the resumption in the forces. Reinado threatened for 500 viewers that he will destabilize the nation.

Ramos-Horta was badly injured. Reinado was killed in the fight and the rebel troup broke down. Either they were abandoned or arrested.



Quelle: Wikipedia, Timor-Leste.de

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