Subject: Dancing with the Devil: A Personal Account of Policing ET's Vote

The Australian

February 5, 2003, Wednesday All-round Country Edition

HEADLINE: At empire's sunset, an uncertain dawn

Compiled by Diane Carlyle and Nick Walker

A monthly update of new scholarly books from Australian publishers, compiled by Diane Carlyle and Nick Walker


Dancing with the Devil: A Personal Account of Policing the East Timor Vote for Independence, by David Savage, foreword by Xanana Gusmao (Monash Asia Institute, $29.95).

AS an Australian member of the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor, charged with facilitating the 1999 popular consultation on independence, David Savage believed he was placing himself in a not unfamiliar situation. A member of the Australian Federal Police, he had previously assisted in UN civilian peacekeeping missions in Mozambique and Bougainville. He was, however, somewhat uneasy that in East Timor there would be no international military forces to back up the civilian teams, who would, therefore, be unprotected, unarmed and -- in the case of the Australians -- even unprovisioned with flack jackets. This memoir recalls his experience of the assignment: the pre-departure phase, including intensive language training and background study in Darwin, then a day-by-day account from arrival in Dili on July 2 to evacuation to Australia on September 7. Stand-out moments are the author's early run-in with Indonesian authorities over the display of an Australian flag; and his attendance at an eerily convivial party held by a local Indonesian mayor, at which UNAMET guests drank, sang and danced alongside members of the same Indonesian civilian police and armed forces who, at other times, respectively condoned or committed acts of harassment and slaughter among pro-independence sympathisers and potential voters generally.

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