Subject: Dili has NO riots or lockdown

Friends overseas interested in Timor-Leste,

I don't know where the foreign reporters are getting their "information" from , but the article below and others similar to it are sensationalistic exaggerations of the situation here in Dili. Although there has been some vandalism, there are no riots, no lockdown, and no "tight security." Activities continue as normal, people going to work, taxis and other public transport operating as usual, people out and about in every part of the city. The few incidents of people being injured during the past week are routine for Dili and cities around the world -- drunk youths at parties, conflicting martial arts groups -- with no relation to the current controversy about the 591 people dismissed from the military.

It's true that some people are afraid, and staying in their homes more than usual. Part of this is due to fearmongering by the media, Dili's unparalleled rumor system, and the fact that the great majority of Timorese people live with post-traumatic stress from 24 years of war and occupation, capped by "black September" 1999.

A few stores are closed, some markets are receiving fewer customers than usual, but this is far from a "lockdown" or panic situation. I urge local and international journalists and international agencies who read this list to be more responsible than the coverage exemplified by the article below, which, unfortunately, is typical of recent foreign press coverage. The people of Timor-Leste have endured enough physical violence over the years -- please don't exacerbate their stress and panic at this admittedly difficult time.

Thank you.

Charlie Scheiner, La'o Hamutuk, Dili, Timor-Leste +670-723-4335

At 07:27 AM 3/29/2006, you wrote:

> East Timorese capital in lockdown after weekend riot > > DILI, March 28 (AFP) -- East Timor's capital was under tight security > Tuesday as shops shut, public transport dwindled and some people > sought refuge in a church after mobs went on a weekend rampage. > > Police fanned out across the capital after the gangs -- thought to be > drawn from nearly 600 recently dismissed soldiers -- ran amok Saturday > night, looting shops and battling opposing groups of soldiers in > several areas. > > Shop owners were seen packing their goods and leaving for other > districts while more than 60 people sought refuge at a church in > Comoro on the outskirts of Dili, citing fears for their safety. > > "We left our homes because they threatened to harm us if we stay," one > of the refugees at Santa Auxilia Dora church, who refused to give his > name, told AFP. > > One patrolling policeman was stabbed and seriously wounded at Comoro > but the attacker fled despite police firing shots, a witness who gave > his name as Anthony told AFP. > > Dili was tense with many students stranded and unable to sit mid-term > exams. > > Two people were arrested for possessing crude weapons in a security > sweep led directly by Home Affairs Minister Rogerio Lobato. > > Gastao Salsinha, the leader of the 591 soldiers dismissed after they > deserted claiming nepotism and poor working conditions, accused police > of arresting 12 of his comrades arbitrarily. > > "The PNTL (East Timor police) have arrested 12 of my colleagues even > though they were not involved in the riots," Salsinha, who accused > those still in the military of instigating the unrest, told AFP. > > "I want to assure you that until now we still have discipline and have > no intention of creating instability in the country," he added. > > East Timorese police commissioner Paulo Fatima Martins said only four > people had been arrested, two of whom were dismissed soldiers.


Charles Scheiner La'o Hamutuk (The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis) P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste Telephone: +670-3325013 or +670-7234335 (mobile) email: website: 

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