Thursday, December 07, 2006

Violence in Dili

..the grim reality of East Timor's division on the streets continues daily..

In the midst of ongoing gang violence on the streets of Dili, a public appearance by East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao. He said the violence by martial art groups is making everybody sad. Sad indeed. Gusmao is a passionate speaker and perhaps there was a emotion in his words lost in translation. But to be honest there are few situations in the world as tragic as the situation in East Timor right now. So much was hoped for after independence in 2002.. and now so little gained.

President Gusmao was speaking during a ceremony held at Jardim Farol in Dili to put away sacred weapons – which were withdrawn from Sacred Houses in the past during times of invasion from outside. During his speech Gusmao appealed to East Timor's young people quoting Prime Minister Ramos-Horta’s words that “the future of Timor-Leste is in your hands and not ours, we are already old, and as leaders we have recognized our failures, big or small in a state that has just been established. Through these mistakes we are putting the efforts to better contribute to the country”. Gusmão also appealed for unity and for everybody to consciously stand up and claim that there is only one Timorese, one nation that is Timor and no such thing as lorosae and loromonu.

The division between the East and West of the country - so called lorosae and loromonu - has been at the centre of street violence in Dili during recent months. So is it true for gusmao to say there is no such thing as lorosae and loromonu?

I hope to post more on this issue soon.. but for now ..the grim reality of East Timor's division on the streets continues daily..

DILI, Dec 6, 2006 (AFP) - UN police have arrested 26 people on suspicion of involvement in deadly clashes between East Timor martial arts gangs that have left two people dead and six badly wounded, a spokeswoman said.
The UN police confirmed two people had been killed during ongoing clashes between rival martial arts groups which erupted on Sunday in the capital Dili.
"Until now, the police has made 26 detentions in the last 48 hours, so we have arrested 26 people. And last night 40 weapons were seized, namely darts and machetes," UNPOL spokeswoman Monica Rodrigues told reporters.
One man was hacked to death and another beaten to death in clashes between rival martial arts gangs in Dili on Sunday and Monday, a witness and hospital worker have said.
The resurgence of gang violence has already prompted Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta to warn that he would crackdown on some martial arts groups.
The tiny nation was rocked in April and May by clashes between security force factions which quickly degenerated into street violence involving youth gangs.
At least 37 people died in the bloodshed, which prompted the deployment of 3,200 Australian-led peacekeepers to restore calm.
Their numbers have since been reduced to around 1,100, bolstered by the presence of about 1,000 UN police.

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