Subject: Violence erupts among Timorese job applicants

Violence erupts among Timorese job applicants

By Joanne Collins

DILI, East Timor, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Violence erupted among a crowd of 7,000 people waiting to be interviewed for 2,000 United Nations jobs in the East Timorese capital of Dili on Saturday, with U.N. staff and soldiers pelted with stones.

One soldier from the international force in East Timor was hit in the mouth by a rock, and several Timorese were beaten up when the crowd turned on them.

``I estimate there were about 7,000 who got somewhat out of control while they were waiting to be interviewed for jobs, and it became fairly nasty for a while,'' Fred Donovan, an Australian commander in the U.N.'s civilian police force, told Reuters.

He said the crowd had become impatient with the slow pace of interviewing applicants.

``I think (the problem was) the delay in processing the applications, that's my assessment of it. Whether there were sufficient people on hand to process the applications I don't know.''

Locals said the crowd was also angry that proficiency in English was a requirement for the jobs. Few East Timorese speak much English.

The violence subsided after leading pro-independence figure Jose Ramos-Horta arrived and addressed the crowd through a megaphone, asking for calm.

``I told the crowd that I did not go around the world for 24 years raising the issues of the human rights of the people of East Timor, saying the people of East Timor have sense of honour and dignity, of tolerance, to come here and see the people using violence,'' Ramos-Horta said.

``I am ashamed whenever a single Timorese raises his or her finger against anyone, be it against another Timorese, be it against an international citizen.''

Thousands had gathered from early in the morning to be interviewed for jobs with UNTAET, the United Nations transitional authority which is governing East Timor as it moves towards full independence.

The U.N. says 9,000 applied for the 2,000 jobs on offer.

Creating employment and incentives for work is a top priority of the U.N., particularly to help overcome rising crime.

``The number of people who applied just shows how desperate people are for work, and UNTAET, through its recruitment procedure, was trying to facilitate that need,'' UNTAET spokesman Resik Hodzic said.

The impoverished territory was ravaged by a campaign of murder and arson by pro-Jakarta militias and the Indonesian armed forces after it voted in August to break from more than two decades of often brutal Indonesian rule.


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