Friday, 30 March 2007

Election News

Sydney Morning Herald, March 30th 2007

At least 20 injured in E Timor clashes
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, as gangs from rival political parties scuffled and threw rocks in East Timor, authorities said on Friday.
The violence broke on Thursday night in Viqueque district, about 220 kilometres from Dili, and is believed to be the first directly related to next month's East Timorese presidential elections.
At least 20 people were injured, two of them police officers, said Geraldo da Silva, of the emergency unit in Viqueque hospital.
The unrest broke out following a campaign rally by presidential candidate Jose Ramos Horta, said local police chief Gaspa da Costa.
His supporters brawled with youths aligned with Fretilin, the left-leaning political party of ousted Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, he said, though it was not clear what triggered the dispute.
East Timor, which became Asia's newest nation in 2002, descended into chaos one year ago after Alkatiri dismissed 600 soldiers, a move that split the armed forces into factions and later spilled over into gang warfare.
At least 37 people were killed and 150,000 others fled their homes.
The deployment of thousands of international troops helped curb the worst of the violence, and while there have been isolated incidents since then, Thursday's was the first since campaigning for April 9 presidential elections started last week.
The UN police force in the country said in a statement that Ramos Horta supporters were attacked, but did not say by whom. Fretilin spokesman Filomeno Aleixo said the party did not instigate the violence, and denied involvement.
"Whoever was involved in this incident should be brought to justice," he told The Associated Press.
East Timor voted to break free from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999.
The country was administered by the United Nations, and until last year's crisis, which led to the overthrow of the government, had been considered a major success in nation-building.


Leassons Learned? Or Not?

First, go here: UN cheated in Timor vote, inquiry told.

Then read the following:

UNMIT Welcomes the Signing of the Code of Conduct for the 2007 Presidential ElectionsDili, March 16, 2007 - At a ceremony in Dili this afternoon, the head of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste (UNMIT) said the signing of a Code of Conduct for the April 9 election will help to ensure that the elections are free, fair, transparent and peaceful.The Code of Conduct has been drafted by the national body responsible for running the elections, the Technical Secretariat for the Administration of Elections (STAE) and approved by the National Electoral Commission (CNE).The Code was signed by all eight presidential candidates in Dili.Special Representative to the Secretary General for Timor Leste Atul Khare signed the Code as a witness, along with the representatives of Organs of Sovereignty, the church and civil society.Mr Khare noted the importance of the Code of Conduct as a whole, as a clear commitment of all candidates to free and fair elections. He highlighted in particular the commitment by all candidates, their representatives and supporters to accept the results, or to challenge them only in competent courts; and to campaign positively through programmes of action not personal criticism of other candidates. He also drew attention to those clauses which encourage respect for the rights of other candidates and request candidates to refrain from exercising any illegitimate influence on voters. “Today’s signing signifies a formal acknowledgement of the guiding principles and rules that will help to ensure that the 2007 Presidential elections are free, fair, transparent and peaceful,” Mr Khare said.UNMIT is mandated through Security Council Resolution 1704 to “support Timor-Leste in all aspects of the 2007 presidential and parliamentary electoral process, including through technical and logistical support, electoral policy advice and verification or other means.”
For further information please contact UNMIT spokesperson Allison Cooper on +670 7230453

Then go here: Electoral Certification Team Report.

Then make up your own mind..............

Good News!

DILI (AFP) - Indonesia reopened its border with East Timor on Thursday because the fugitive rebel who caused its closure is no longer considered a threat, an official said.
"As of today our border is reopened," Indonesia's Ambassador to East Timor Ahmed Bey Sofwan said on Thursday, just over a month after the crossing, a key supply link, was shut.
Dili asked for the border to be closed to stop renegade soldier Major Alfredo Reinado and his armed supporters escaping into Indonesia.
But President Xanana Gusmao wrote to his Indonesian counterpart saying Reinado no longer posed a threat to East Timor or border security, Sofwan said.
Gusmao had accused the rebel, a persistent problem for troubled East Timor, of stealing weapons from police posts along the crossing.
Indonesian commander Lieutenant Colonel Hotma Hutahaean said his country had deployed 1,000 soldiers along the border to maintain security.
Its closure interrupted the movement of supplies into impoverished East Timor, which on April 9 holds its first presidential poll since achieving independence from Indonesia in 2002, after 24 years of occupation.
Brigadier Mal Rerden, the commander of the international force, said his troops were still committed to capturing the renegade but played down the danger he posed.
"Reinado no longer poses a significant threat. He is now reduced to small groups with very limited movement or support," Rerden said.
"Through his actions he has shown that he is not trustworthy and does not deserve support or assistance," the brigadier added, before calling on Reinado to surrender to the authorities.

Of course, this also means that the important land-link to Ocuessi is now open, which can only be good news.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Big Of Him.

E Timor militia leader ready to apologise
By Geoff Thompson
The jailed East Timorese militia commander, Eurico Guterres, says he is prepared to apologise for the violence of 1999, if East Timor guarantees it will accept his apology.
Guterres is currently serving a 10-year sentence for human rights abuses.
Supporters applauded often as Eurico Guterres spoke rapidly, passionately and continuously before another sitting of East Timor and Indonesia's Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).
The CTF was warned by the former Aitarak militia commander to prepare for failure because he says human rights abuses in East Timor date back much further than 1999.
Eurico Guterres was embraced by the commission's chairman as he offered an open letter to Indonesia in which he apologised for tarnishing the nation's human rights image, suggesting sarcastically that perhaps he should have supported East Timor's secession and burned the Indonesian flag.

Well, that's alright then.......

Ho Hum....

East Timorese political leaders call for restraint
By Karon Snowdon
There are renewed fears that violence will disrupt East Timor's elections.
Several attacks on individuals have political leaders calling for restraint.
Day five of East Timor's presidential election campaign brought reports of sporadic violence in what appears to be an outbreak of tensions between rival Fretilin party factions.
Victor da Costa, the leader of a breakaway reform faction, was punched by supporters of the main Fretilin party while campaigning for independent presidential candidate Jose Ramos Horta.
In a separate incident, a Fretilin rally was disrupted by more than 20 stone-throwing men associated with the militia-style rebel Rai Los, whose accusations against former prime minister and Fretilin secretary-general Mari Alkitiri led to Dr Alkitiri's resignation last year.

Don't bother leaving a comment. Not necessary......


Someone needs to tell me about Dili-gence. Is he/she still alive? Still in country? Just taking a break? Blogged off? Bored with the whole thing? In Bali laughing at us? Or just got nothing to say recently?
I miss him/her her/him.
Let me know if you know. Discretion assured.

please leave a comment....

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Which Witch is Which?

One of the links I have on this site, Return to Rai Ketak, witch I respect and read as a matter of daily ingestion, has a link entitled ‘When tabloid jornos(sic) meet witchcraft’. Go to the link and read it. It is here…
Now, I don’t know the reason Rai Ketak posted this, but I suspect it was to trivialise tabloid journalism and to show that no one knows East Timorese culture and customs more than, or as well as, Rai Ketak.
The thing is, I also followed this story, and went to the villages concerned, and spoke to the same people mentioned, and more people, and the ‘tabloid’ story is as true as it can possibly be.
Maybe Rai Ketak is saying that we do not know enough about East Timor to pass comment or judgement. Be that as it may, I don’t think there is ANY reason for hacking three people to death and then burning the bodies.
Oh, and by the way, Nelson’s father escaped from Becora prison about 6 weeks ago with the other killers. They are still on the loose.
When, and if, they are re-captured, maybe we should look for the Devil’s mark on their bodies, or see if they float or sink in a local pond?
It’s in the lap of the Gods, (or the bloggers?)

please leave a comment............

Fruits N' Nuts!

This is something I just had to post. I read it this morning whilst per-taking of my normal breakfast: 8 Marlboro lights, 5 large black coffees and a coughing fit. Mrs Sod was having her usual muesli and the muesli packet had it’s back to me. It’s an Australian product so maybe that explains a few things. It took me at least an hour to wipe away the tears of laughter.
Anyway, this is what is said on the back of the packet:

“Our muesli isn’t just a mixture of different fruits, grains and seeds, it’s a United Nations of flavour, where everyone gets along. When the cranberries have a dispute with the currents, they don’t fight, they hug each other. Then when that’s done, they hug the apple. Then all three of them visit the strawberries and hug them too. Then you know what? Everyone hugs muesli. Sometimes, late at night, you can hear them singing peace songs with that quirky out of tune guitar of theirs. So pour yourself a bowl and TASTE the DIFFERENCE”

Is this why I perceive the UN as a bunch of fruits?

You couldn't make it up if you wanted to.

Please leave a comment………

An Appeal.

Whilst I appreciate you chaps and chappesses coming round in the early evenings, especially the beers you bring, and those of you who for some reason or another have to call round before 9am, telling me that you read the blog yesterday and that I should have put this that or the other, I would much prefer it if you would put your comments in the bloody comments box on the blog. This way I get more hits and more sleep, and, subsequently, one day, I hope, I'll be able to sell space here and make a quid.
You can all comment under 'anonymous' and it will not be censored.
Having said that, still bring the beers around.
And if this sounds too self-centered, well, bo**cks, its my blog and I'll do what I want.

cheers and 'jivoli'

please leave a comment..........

Monday, 26 March 2007

Blogging A Dead Horse?

I’m going to do something now that I said in my very first post I would never do. I’m going to go all introspective. When I first started this blog I wasn’t sure of the reasons I was doing it. I read Squatters posts and he inspired me (thanks Squatter, you bas***d). As it progressed and I got more and more comments, most nice and kind, I convinced myself that maybe I was doing a service for some people out there, particularly worried relatives and friends of Internationals based here who for some reason or another couldn’t communicate with their loved ones. Obviously the most read posts have been the ones during the times of ‘crisis’, when people are worried, not much news is getting out and the posts (I assume) are more interesting.
But, and it’s a big but, I’ve found the whole process of ‘blogging’ to be addictive. If I don’t post for a couple of days I feel as though I am letting my, albeit limited, readership down. Hence posts like this one, which are about me and not East Timor. When nothing, relatively speaking, is happening here, its hard to feed the monkey. If I could take bits and bytes intravenously I would.
I read on another ET blog today that some of us were being censored. It felt as though my dealer had left town with no forwarding address and no-one else I could ‘phone. Fortunately it turned out it was just a server problem And there’s the rub. When I learned that maybe people couldn’t read my drivel I felt as though a part of me had been amputated.
My ‘phone/internet bill has virtually trebled since I started this, I go to bed a lot later after trawling other people’s blogs to get some inspiration and I’m racking my brains all the time to try and think of something vaguely interesting to post.
When I read things like “I woke up this morning and I hated her, she looked at my boyfriend yesterday” I think to myself, get a bleeding life you supercilious, smug, self-satisfied git. Write a bloody diary. Who wants to read about your boring life anyway?
Well, obviously I do read about it, reluctantly.
So, bottom line, I might well turn this blog into crap about me AND East Timor.
AND get in a little ‘good natured’ Aussie bashing and some not so good natured UN bashing.
You have been warned.

ps – so you don’t have to count, I’ve used ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘I’ve’ 38 times…..

Not E.T. Related

I know this post has nothing to do with East Timor but I couldn't resist. Being one of the few Poms in ET I am sometimes on the receiving end of a lot of good natured(?) ribbing from my Aussie chums re things like the cricket, rugby, tennis, golf etc etc so I thought I'd just stick this up:

"Obese Aussies get big ambulances
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Childhood obesity can signal problems in later life
Australia's obesity crisis has forced health officials to revamp their fleet of ambulances to cope with a sharp rise in overweight patients.
Super-sized vehicles have been introduced and new air ambulances will be remodelled to carry heavier people.
Studies estimate that 67% of Australian men and over half of all women aged over 25 are overweight or obese.
So many Australians are now bulging at the waistline that ambulances are being equipped with heavy-duty stretchers.
These are capable of carrying patients weighing up to 220kg (34 st 9 lbs).
In the country's most populous state, New South Wales, officials have said that more super-sized ambulances may well be needed to cope with this health crisis.
Special vehicles with over-sized wheelchairs and a hydraulic tailgate were introduced a few years ago to transport larger people.
Their workload has doubled since 2004.
Obese toddlers
Dealing with the obese or overweight is becoming more common for medical teams and it can be an arduous experience.
In a recent case in Sydney it took 16 people several hours to take an injured man from his home to hospital.
He weighed about 400kg (63 st) and had broken his leg.
Emergency workers had to demolish part of his house to lift him out.
There are strong signs that Australia's obesity epidemic is getting worse.
A lack of exercise and a poor diet, including drinks loaded with sugar and high-fat snacks, are breeding a new generation of fat Australians.
Experts here are warning that by 2030 half of this country's children will be overweight or obese.
They have insisted that breast and colon cancer as well as diabetes and heart disease have strong links to obesity.
It is reported that some Australian hospitals are now treating obese patients who are as young as two years old. "

And yes, I am a FatOldSod in East Timor.....

Oh, and did you know that amongst certain elements in Australia, ie: pinko, liberal, hairy arm-pitted, tree hugging, peace loving commie ba+++ards that PM John Howard is known as 'Bonsai'? I think this is because he is a little Bush.
Getting a little too political/satirical now, better stop.

Polish Friends

This post is for a Polish couple who were in ET last year. If the post is not obviously for you please ignore and I will remove it when I get a reply from my mates.

My dear little ex-communist whey-faced potato eaters. I cannot answer your emails because the address Mataeus gave is NO GOOD. Hotmail will not let me send to that address. You can answer on this blog, if you read it. Hope all is well with you both and that you get to use the Alladin soon.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Back To The Future?

Was I getting too complacent with the last post? Nothing happens for days and then it all seems to go off at the same time:

Sec tree. 1914hrs. all staff please avoid COMORO rd ivo Australian embassy.
Sec tree. 1945hrs. All staff members avoid Fatuhada due to fighting until further notice.
NGO Sec tree. 2018hrs. All staff pls avoid pertamina ivo plan compound. Cars being stoned by intoxicated youths.
NGO Sec tree. 2115hrs. All staff pls avoid Bario Pite area near banana rd junction. Fighting. UNPOL on scene.
NGO Sec tree. 2130hrs. – all staff avoid Bario Pite area. Shots fired. Police trying to manage large violent group.
All staff avoid Bairo Pite junction due to fighting.
Sec tree. 2150. All staff members avoid Bario Pite Junction to Banana road due to large scale fighting going on.

(ivo = In Vicinity Of)

Its funny, but nothing happens for a while, then all of a sudden it goes off all over the place. We are wondering if this is organised or do the boys SMS each other when the fights are big and the fear just goes around and escalates everything all over the place?


My East Timor is:

The most beautiful smiles in the world. Fantastic tasting, organically grown fruit and veggies. More shades of green (in the wet season) than Ireland and Bali combined. Incredible sunsets viewed from Aria Branca. People in villages who have got nothing but will still share it with you. Miles and miles of untouched beaches. The great sound of rain hitting a corrugated tin roof. Stinking piles of rubbish in the streets. Fresh fish whenever you want it. Everyone is a potential baby-sitter. Old women with betel stained teeth cackling delightedly when you muck up the language. The coolest old dudes in the world who also happen to wear the coolest hats. The best shore diving ANYWHERE. Employees who think I’m a silly fatoldsod and who have never let me down. Small boys and old men who can stay underwater on one breath for nearly as long as I can on one tank. “One dollar mister”. The smell of roasting coffee beans. Dolphins. A buck for a pack of cigarettes. The odd rock through a car window. Insects you could put on a leash. Ants in everything. Natural waterfalls. Monkeys running across the roads outside Dili. Nudibranchs. Buckets of sweat. Five people on one motorbike. And a couple of chickens. Baby pigs and goats EVERYWHERE. Anything can be fixed with a bit of string and a hammer. The bloke who delivers my newspaper every day, even on the bad days. The bloke who dug the ditch outside my house last May. Johnny the Tooth (but that’s another story). Hermit crabs in the bedroom. Honey-eaters singing outside my bedroom window every morning. The world’s slowest taxi drivers. Crap Indonesian cover versions of corny C and W songs. “No have, finish”. “The number you are calling is switch off or out of reach”. Urchins! Neat arrangements of spices drying by the side of the road. Tais. “Tangerinas?” Old man Carrascalao driving very slowly when there’s trouble, and his wonderful beard. Nuns on motorbikes. Many flavours of cop. Yellow trucks full of gravel. Corn on the cob. No real traffic rules. Huge corals. Fish on a stick. Thumping bass and 12 year-olds driving mikrolets. Great thunderstorms. Cockerels crowing. Spitting. Waterspouts in November. Ramor Ambons in my dog. The view of Dili from the ocean at 7 in the morning. Potholes. Twenty year-old men who laugh like ten year-old girls. Unselfconscious nasal excavation. Kids having fun in the rain. The smell of Frangipani in my garden. Gum trees. Falling papaya’s hitting the roof with a sound like thunder. Humpback whales at the end of the year. Frigate birds. Mercenaries, missionaries and misfits. Big boys on small bikes....
Please, feel free to add your own 'East Timor' thoughts to this post.....

Security Briefings

I am seriously impressed by the new UNPol briefings. They can be found on:
and then clicking the UNPOL BRIEFINGS tab. They are succinct and up to date although not quite as funny as they were.


Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Non-Security Updates

Whatever has happened to the UNPol briefings on:
The site seems to have disappeared. How the hell will we know what is going on in Dili without these invaluable sources of information?
Or perhaps nothing is going on in Dili anymore.


Monday, 19 March 2007

Sex Blue Cheese

NZ to send more troops to East Timor
By Peter Lewis
New Zealand is to send more troops to East Timor ahead of next month's presidential elections.
It will take the total deployment from across the Tasman to around 200.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says New Zealand will send two Iroquois helicopters along with 32 flight and ground crew to provide additional transport support for United Nations (UN) operations in East Timor.
New Zealand's also sending a more senior officer to command its contingent which will comprise 180 defence force personnel and 25 police working with the UN mission.

I hope we won’t face any language problems. Reminds me of about 5 years ago when we were living in Comoro. We had a lovely Kiwi girl staying with us who one day asked me if she could have “sex blue cheese”. I thought my luck was in but after a while I realized she was asking if she could borrow ‘six blue chairs’.

Saturday, 17 March 2007


Closing remarks of SRSG Atul Khare at UNMIT Press Conference, March 15, Obrigado Barracks, Caicoli, Dili

SRSG Khare: Well I think we close the press conference here. And since I formally close the press conference, I want to say something, today is, since the three months that I arrived it is now my 14th weekly press conference and in the next press conference I really want to encourage the sole woman, Timorese journalist that I see every time to ask the first question no matter what question you want to ask, first question not matter what. Thank you.

Well, it don’t come much more patronizing than that…..
Maybe she should ask him when the UN Secretary General will be a woman.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Specialist Subject ? - The Bleeding Obvious !

Please note: everything in Bold Italics is mine

From: Timor Online, 15th March 2007

UNMIT – MEDIA MONITORING – Thursday, 15 March 2007
National Media Reports.
Some Leaders Supporting Violence.
Clementino dos Reis Amaral, the Vice President of Committee B for Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security Section of NNP said that violence in Dili is supported by some leaders. Information gathered in Bairopite indicated that the area remained calm when the ISF is on duty, yet when they leave young men ‘inflame’ the situation. It is suspected that there are some people supporting the youth for their individual and political interests and blaming others. Amaral said in some areas the youth have begun to behave peacefully and forgive each other through the oath in church. They promise that they will not contribute to the violence. (Well, that’s alright then).

Leandro Being Targeted by ISF, Involved in Alfredo’s Activities.
The ISF raid is not targeted only at Alfredo and his members, but also towards Leandro Isaac, an NP member who is directly involved in the activities of Alfredo. Leandro is suspected for his direct involvement before the raid in Same on Sunday (04/3) on Alfredo and his members. “I do not know where I am now, people brought me here,” said Leandro. “I still have contact with Alfredo through my messengers,” added Leandro from his hidden place. (TP)

Brig. Mal Rerden does not support Dialogue with Alfredo.
The ISF will not succeed in capturing Alfredo because he has many supporters since he (Alfredo) is the only one who fights for the truth and justice,” Fernando Dias Gusmão, an NP member from PSD side said. (TP)

The Church is Studying Government Proposal of Contacting Alfredo.
The Catholic Church is still looking for ways of solving Alfredo’s problem before the presidential election. The church realized that Alfredo’s problem is complicated, so it should have a different point of view and gather different opinions to help solve the problem. Dom Alberto Ricardo da Silva, Bishop of Dili Diocese, said that the organs of sovereignty, the Church and all the people should try their best in the limited time to solve Alfredo’s problem before the presidential election. (TP)


It's Not All Dili

I thought I'd post some pictures of East Timor to show that it's not all rocks, Ramor Ambons, gang fights and urgent SMS messages. And it's not all Dili.
You can find some great pictures of East Timor at Dutchpickle and Tayo Photo Group.


Wednesday, 14 March 2007

FOS Media Monitoring

The following are a few media tidbits culled over the past couple of days:

ABC Radio Australia, Foreign Correspondent programme, 13th March 2007:
Using contacts based in the hills and jungles around Dili, a team from the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program found their way to Reinado's hideout and interviewed the rebel leader.
Brigadier Mal Rerden, who commands Australian forces in East Timor, said he was confident his troops would be able to capture Reinado.
"We have to, obviously, locate him and we're working very hard to do that and, you know, the nature of the terrain is very rugged," he said. (Doh!)

Re the many flying objects around Dili since Thursday 8th March 2007
I personally saw at least two C130 aeroplanes come into Dili on 8th/9th/10th March each day and lots of fixed-wing activity (didn’t count them all) on the following days. Of course we also had the helicopter airshow on Sunday 11th between 1300 and 1500 local time, a lot of fixed-wing and chopper activity on the same evening until approx 0200 hours the following morning and more that evening until around 0200.
Some, but not all, of this can be explained by the following:
UNMIT Daily Media review 10/12 March
Australian 200 Armed Forces incrementTo stabilize East Timor Security in upcoming presidential Election, ISF Australia reportedly added 200 Personnel Armed Forces yesterday. With these increments the initial 800 Personnel has become 1.000 Personnel. These troops arrived on two planes from the PhilippinesMorning Flight (STL)
Also by the following security tree message received Sunday 11th at 1458
“NGO Sec tree 1458hrs. All staff pls avoid Farol. Pala paso. Mandarin area. Set operation ongoing”
No further details were available.

And finally, a very heartening ad. in the Timor Post today, 13th March 2007:
From Marie Stopes International, a clinic is to be opened in Bario Pite, Dili.
Opening hours: 0800-1230
Phone: 3322841


About time too…….

SMS News

“NOG Sec tree, 1250hrs disturbances IVO CARE compound. Bairro Pitte UNPOL on the spot. Avoid the area”

From a member of my staff who lives in Barrio Pitte
“Fighting again in Barrio P. 3 house burn, 5 people injure Rama Ambon”
This guy didn’t come to work today. I don’t blame him.

“NGO Sec tree, 1412hrs. avoid Bario Pitte and Banana road junction, rock fight started. UNPOL on the scene”

“sec tree 1720hrs. rocks being thrown on Comoro rd bridge and leader store. Avoid area”

“NGO Sec tree. New UN security directives in effect with immediate effect: Night movement restrictions fm 2300-0500. No movement during this time except emergencies cleared by FSO! Use of local taxis within DILI allowed for 2 persons or more during daylight only”
This is actually a good one. At least now they can go out for dinner.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Nothing To Report

It’s been a funny couple of days. Everything appears to be back to ‘normal’ which in itself feels strange. The shops are open, people are back on the streets and most of the bars and restaurants have been open in the evening. A lot of people are putting this down to the fact that the f-FDTL are back on the streets and the boys know that you don’t mess with them. This could be true.
A couple of interesting snippets from yesterdays ‘Timor Post’.:
The Minister of Justice has said that if prison guards have helped prisoners escape from prison they will go to prison.
And the Department of Water and Sanitation has had to place an ad. asking people not to beat up, threaten or throw rocks at its employees whilst they go about their business in Dili digging ditches for the new water pipes.
I find that very sad.
Talking of Water and Sanitation, whilst ‘de-stressing’ (thanks Squatter) the other evening in a local ‘de-stressing’ salon the talk got around to bravery and courage and its many manifestations. I offered the following anecdote:
Last May, from about the 20th onwards, a lone old chap was digging a ditch outside our house ready for the installation of the new water pipes. His only tool was a 1metre long piece of metal. The ditch was absolutely perfect, straight and true. On the 24th May, in the morning, while the old guy was digging his ditch a major gun battle erupted on the street. We rushed out to the old boy and tried to get him to come in to our place for his own safety. He refused. All he did was roll himself a big fat smelly durrie and his ditch then became a trench. He lay down, smoked the durrie and had a nap while the bullets were flying over his head. After about an hour, when the shooting had stopped, he got up and resumed digging the ditch. He came back for the next 3 days until his ditch was dug.!
Its people like him that make me love this country.

Friday, 9 March 2007

A Life On The Ocean Wave

The following are direct quotes from the Australian ABC radio programme ‘PM’ aired on Tuesday 6th March 2007

Lyndal Barrett says she's had no information about the unrest from the Australian Embassy, apart from a warning on a Department of Foreign Affairs website.

LYNDAL BARRETT: It's really bad. Once the two Timorese got shot at the airport, Australians were starting to be targeted. And then the four that were killed up with the Reinado thing, with the Australian Army, up at Same, were, has made it worse.And, I mean, it's not just Australians either. Everyone's getting their cars rocked. Police cars are getting windows smashed, and even the UN cars and all that are getting theirs smashed. But it hit home last night. My local cafe where I go for pizzas was stoned last night, with all these Timorese standing out the front throwing rocks through the door saying, "Aussies go home, we hate you."

Now a direct quote from the owner of said local café:
“Bullshit, she wasn’t even in the f**king bar”, “there were 4 Timorese throwing rocks and 1 hit an unoccupied table, that was it”.

PM quote
The North Air airline is booked out until next Sunday. That's why I'm leaving on a boat tonight, because I can't get a flight until next Sunday.

I was at Dili Airport on Wednesday 7th March. Seats were available on the AM and PM flights to Darwin, Also on the AM flight on Thursday 8th March.

PM quote
And I've had to close down the school, which is really unfortunate. I employ a lot of Timorese people, and I think they'll be out of a job now because I've closed the school, and yeah, it's just awful.
The first a lot of the parents knew of the school closing was when they heard this report on the radio or when they took their children to school next day and no Malae staff were present. The ‘Timorese people’ stayed by their posts and are attempting to keep the school running.

PM quote
DAVID MARK: So you're contact with the Embassy has come about because you've contacted them, but has the Embassy put out any information for Australian citizens in East Timor?LUNDAL BARRETT: Only through the DFAT website. When you ring them, that's what they tell you over the phone. Look at the Smart Travel website and make up your own mind. I mean, I've had emails from the US Embassy every couple of days, and they give you specific details about the danger areas in Dili - where to go, where not to go.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has told PM the Australian Embassy in Dili is maintaining regular contact with all Australians registered in East Timor. Australians in East Timor are advised by text message and email when travel advice changes.It appears that Lyndal Barrett was registered with the Embassy, but didn't provide a mobile phone number.

I am not posting this to make any specific point, but I found the whole thing very interesting.

SMS Alert

1155am 9th March
“NGO sec tree 1152 hrs – all staff avoid travel in taxis. Credible threats to kidnap internationals using above mentioned method”


Thursday, 8 March 2007


It is with regret that I am closing this blog to 'anonymous' comments for the time being.
It is still easy to post comments with a google sign in. Anyone can get one. It just takes a couple of minutes. Just follow the instructions on the screen.

Hotel News

It’s 1909 (7.09pm) and we have just had an SMS to avoid Beach Road between Dili Beach Hotel and Hotel Esplanade. This is a bit difficult for us as we live on the beach road between those two hotels. I’ve just gone out for a quick look and the local scrotes are cutting down palm trees and gathering on the street. The fruit and veg. lady across the road packed very quickly and left. We could be in for another sleepless night. I hope not because it’s getting very boring now. Three UNPol cars have turned up, cruising very slowly and letting their presence be known.
Just for a small insight into how we live here. We NEVER call the UNPols unless there is shooting involved. Every 3rd car that goes past is either UN, NGO or an ex-pat. with a mobile who (we hope) would call in any trouble. The reason for this is that on one occasion last year I called the UNPols when there was some trouble and the next thing we knew there were half a dozen police cars outside with one over-enthusiastic cop shouting at the top of his voice “who’s fatoldsod who called in an incident?” whilst the ‘perps’ were standing there. I told the cop, very loudly, that fatoldsod might be living next door but we had never heard of him. If there is trouble then of course we SMS the Security Tree but if the locals knew we ever called the police we would be burnt out overnight. The only security we have here is our three dogs, who are all as soft as jelly anyway, and our relationship with our neighbours.
After all, we’ve still gotta live here.

p.s. - no date set yet for Lobato's escape from prison.

Further Reading

I realise that some if not most of you will have already found the following blog but I’m going to post it anyway.
Political, and agree with it or not, it is certainly interesting reading and can be found on:


A Good Night's Sleep

Its been a relatively quiet 24 hours. Only one SMS message yesterday, about rock throwing in the Villa Verde area. Sat outside the courthouse where Lobato was being sentenced for about 2 hours, no protestors, lots of police and heavy rain. I also spent a couple of hours at the airport and nothing happened on the drives in or out. Overnight was one of the quietest I have (n)ever heard in Dili. I think we had possibly 6 cars driving by during the whole night.
We were talking to the lady who runs the fruit and veg. stall opposite us late yesterday afternoon and she told us that the people of her village are very frightened at the moment because they fear they will be attacked at night by Loro’sai coming from the direction of the old Comoro market. But, as mentioned the night was very peaceful.
I think a lot of us are waiting to see if there will be any back-lash following the Lobato verdict (i.e. some people thinking the sentence was too light, some too heavy) but our fruit and veg. lady had not even heard of him!
I’ll have a drive around Dili this morning, stocking up on essentials, including buying electricity as we are getting pretty low, and just generally trying to get a feel for the ‘vibe’ but I'll be keeping the British flags on the car for a little while yet.
My journo’ colleagues have gone back to Darwin this morning so life for me will get back to normal.
Oh, and by the by, I notice the UNPol security briefing was posted today. I wonder if they read our blogs or is that just my own vanity?

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Phew, What A Relief.

I’ve noticed that the UNPol security briefing, has not been posted to since March 2nd. I can only assume it has been quiet in Dili since then.

A Day Out

Yesterday, Tuesday 6th, was a pretty exhausting day. I was up at 03.00 and ready and waiting for 2 colleagues from an Australian news company for a long trip to Same. The guys turned up on time and after a hurried cup of coffee we set off.
Dili was very eerie at that time of morning. A large barricade been put up outside my house consisting of about 40 big rocks, a couple of smouldering tree trunks and various other bits and pieces. We picked up a Timorese ‘fixer’ in town about 0410 and headed to Tiger fuels to stock up on the essentials; water, chocolate bars, peanuts etc. There were two truckloads of Malaysian cops in Tiger, looking very very tired and armed to the teeth. We then drove through Dili, passing over and around various roadblocks to the south and headed up into the hills. The driving was slow due to the darkness and never knowing what was around the next corner. Normally on a drive to Same one would take a fairly direct road from Maubisse to Same but our ‘fixer’ told us this particular road was dangerous and held by ‘renegade’ Freitlin supporters, so we had to take a much longer and much rougher route around the area and come in to Same from the south. About 15kms before we hit Same our ‘fixer’ decided to leave us and travel back to Dili with a friend of his we had met on the road. The roads around Same were virtually deserted with little no traffic.
As in most situations like this, the banter in the car got less and less and the tension and black humour more and more. We didn’t know what we would find when we hit Same. Would the local people be aggressive towards us? Were some of Alfredo’s men, who it has to be remembered, had lost 5 of their colleagues on Sunday morning, be patrolling and angry. Would any Aussie soldiers mistake our vehicle for a ‘hostile’ and open up on us.
As it turns out we needn’t have worried. When we entered Same the mood of the people was subdued but friendly. We got a few ‘Hello misters’, a few timid smiles and quite a lot of indifference. Same itself was very quiet although the market was up and operating. Quite a few ADF were patrolling as well as manning various checkpoints over the town. After their initial surprise at seeing us, after all we were the first journalists in town since the assault on Sunday morning, and not expecting us to come into town from the direction we did, the ‘diggers’ were quite friendly and talkative. As usual with the ADF no-one would talk to us ‘on the record’ but the diggers were all smiles and glad to be told about what was going on in Dili. The poor chaps are a bit cut off up there.
I had a bit of a walk around town and noticed there was not much evidence of the battle that had occurred. Apart from a few burnt-out roadblocks nothing much had changed since I been been up there for a totally unrelated reason two weeks previously. I went into the hotel where I had previously stayed and managed to procure 3 ice-cold beers and the use of the only generator, with fuel, in town. The lovely owner/manageress said that Sunday morning had been very bad for around 2 hours but that they had just kept their heads down and waited for it all to finish. Oh, this hotel is about 1metre from the initial roadblocks into town so they were pretty close to some action.
Around about 1400 (2.00pm) there was a large explosion as the Australian troops were blowing up weapons/ammunition/explosive devices captured in the original action. We had been forewarned of this but the inhabitants had not. Some loud weeping and wailing then ensued from the people but this soon died down. These controlled explosions are normal practice in these situations.
At 1500 (3pm) we decided it was time to head back to Dili as we didn’t want to be driving around in the dark for too long. We left Same on the northern route and thus managed to knock off about 2 hours of driving time. Driving down from the hills into Dili was quite a nightmare as we hit low-lying clouds and visibility was down to about 2metres. We had also been getting SMS messages to stay away from the Taibesse area as shooting had been occurring there. Unfortunately we had no choice as this was the only way in. As it turns out we needn’t have been concerned as we encountered no scrotes, very few roadkblocks and only one stoning. In fact Dili was surprisingly quiet. Eventually got home around 2015 (8.15pm), had a feed and fell into bed absolutely cream-crackered.
So, all in all a day consisting of 12 hours of driving, about 5 hours of work in Same and 30 minutes of stress and tension.
Its now 0700 and I can’t sleep any longer. Today may be interesting as we have the long-running Rogerio Lobato saga hopefully coming to an end at 2pm. I suspect if the verdict is not satisfactory to certain parties (on both sides) it could all go off again.
Oh, and don’t expect to see the level of international media coverage that we have had recently to continue. The earthquake in Sumatra has meant that most of the journo’s in Dili are now trying to get to that beleaguered island. Earthquake pictures are much more ‘sexy’ than the odd 16year-old with a rock in his hand.
I’ll try and post again today if anything happens and with some updates.

Monday, 5 March 2007

A Watershed

Well, its finally happened. The World famous Dili Club has been attacked. The watering hole we all know and love (albeit in its new reincarnation opposite Leader) was attacked tonight by rock throwing chaps chanting things along the lines of 'Australia out, etc etc etc.'
The imdomitable owner and mine host, Flip, when called for a quote and to check that he was all right said 'Little bastards, threw rocks for about 10 minutes then f**ked off'. My God I love him.

Thats all folks, otherwise all pretty quiet.....

I'd Much Rather Be Diving

Here we go again. Not much sleep last night (well, none actually) as the boys had built a roadblock about 50metres up the road. Burning tyre type of thingy. Out and about in Dili today stocking up on the essentials. Money, beer, ciggies, water oh, and some food too. Dili is very quiet (well, at least on my street) with not many cars around.
There are various illegal roadblocks at the moment, some just ashes now, some still holding up. Various SMS messages telling us to keep away from the usual places.
I have to go the airport this afternoon to pick up some colleagues coming in from Darwin and am not really looking forward to it. A friend has just come back from there and tells me the boys are stopping cars and asking the occupants if they are Australian. I’ll be flying the Union Jack all over the place and trying not to speak with the Aussie twang I seem to have picked up over the past 7 years.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

SMS News

The following SMS messages have been received in the past two hours:

“Illegal road blocks in vila verde and banana road and Delta. All staff avoid areas”
“Tyre roadblock at heliport, also fighting at Taibesi, avoid areas”
“Burning road block at Comoro bridge. All staff avoid area”
“Warehouse at Bebenoc being raided. Avoid area”
“Activities underway with roadblocks being established in front of CARE compound. Police seen firing small arms to disburse gangs, Youths seen pouring oil on roadblocks on Comoro road”
“British Honory counsel advises the British community in Dili to take special care and stay indoors and lock doors. Illegal Roadblocks being set up around town and these are being defended aggressively.”
“Activity suggests further disturbances can be expected tonight. Ensure doors and windows are secure and maintain comms with sock and jingo” (Huh?)
“UN notice: During 1900hours and 0600hours tonight staff not to approach within 500 metres of the Formento building and Min of Ed.”

I think its time for a good book and a peanut butter sandwich.

For The Record

OK, let's get a few things straight.
1. There are NO tanks in East Timor. The vehicles the Australians are using are APC's
(Armoured Personnel Carriers).
They are what the name implies. A big armoured vehicle designed to take troops into battle zones.
A tank is basically a mobile canon. An APC is a troop carrier. I have even read in the 'respected' Australian media that tanks are here. They are not. A tank is a tank is a tank. An APC is NOT a tank.
2. Yes, there was some crap going down in Dili last night. Some shooting, some running
around, same old same old. Dili is very quiet right now for a Sunday. Most people are keeping their heads down.
3. The President's address on the radio is delayed.
4. Still awaiting word on the Reinado situation........

ps - whilst I very much appreciate and welcome comments, please do not put anything in Pork and Cheese. It brings me out in a rash.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Its Good To Be Alive

The following made me laugh out loud this morning:

UNPOL: Daily Security Briefing March 2, 2007
Yesterday, during the afternoon, a fight occurred in Bairo Pite area, leaving four people injured. During the night an abandoned house was set on fire in Kampug Merdeka. On Banana Road, six houses were irrigated with fuel, but the attendance of ISF prevented the worse.

Life is sweet.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Bored Now

After last nights anti-climax, what with being awake most of the time worrying about what might happen, making sure the run bags were packed and near to hand, calming the dogs etc etc. today has been very quiet. Drove around town doing a few errands and all seemed very calm. The only thing we have heard so far is an SMS telling us that some boys were fighting around the rice warehouses just past the Pertamina wharf and best to keep away from there. The local scrotes who were rocking cars on Tuesday night are back outside getting drunk again. They have been wonderfully conspicuous by their absence for the past 2 days following the off duty UNPol banging off a couple of shots in the air.
But, the day is still an embryo, who knows what the evening brings. We are out on the town tonight so a drunken post might be in order later.
The situation re Reinado is still unresolved and I am keeping an eye on that. We heard 4 or 5 large aircraft coming into Dili airport around 11pm and suspect more Australian troops are being brought in. Again, this is only my own speculation and is based on nothing but my own paranoia and scheming little mind. I also suspect the reason that the Australians have not yet moved against him is that fact that the moon is very bright and night-vision equipment would be 'whited out' by the moon, negating any advantage the diggers might have.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve got to say I’m in two minds right now. Major Alfredo Reinado, as you all know, is holed up in Same with about 150 fairly well armed supporters. The Australian army is surrounding the town and have cut off water and food going in.
Reinado has vowed that he will not surrender to Australian forces but is open to negotiation with official East Timorese authorities. i.e. The Prosecutor General or El Presidente.
Now, there are a couple of journo’s in town, one of whom is an old mate, who want to go to Same, naturally, and get the unfolding story. The old mate journo does not have a photographer with him and has asked me if I would go as his snapper. Of course, I am champing at the bit for the chance to go. Duty (and the US Dollar) calls.
But here’s the rub. I have it on very reliable authority that the Australian government has contacted various newsdesks in Sydney and Canberra and ‘advised’ news editors not to send any reporters to the area. Now why would they do that? That is like a red rag to a bull. Surely it would be in the interest of the Australian authorities for journalists TO be there to show the World that they operate in a fair and legal manner. Or is there a hidden agenda, or does the Australian Government, in its usual paranoid manner, just not trust journalists on basic principle?
Whatever, I really wanna get up there! The reason I am in two minds is that about 8 years ago I promised my wife I would never go to war zones again, but, I could argue " the war zone has come to me, darling".
By the way, in a previous life I used to be a journo and still try to keep my hand in.
Oh, and when I say 'old mate' I don't mean we've known each other a long time. I just mean he is old.

'Bunch Of Arse'

The following articles have been taken from the internet today:

Sydney Morning Herald – March 1st 2007
AUSTRALIAN soldiers have blockaded a town in East Timor's central mountains, trapping the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado and as many as 150 heavily armed men who are refusing to surrender.
Reinado said by telephone he would shoot any soldier he saw. "Tell the Australian troops to stick surrender up their arse," he said.
Reinado's defiant stand has prompted fears of civil war after he was joined in the town of Same by Gastao Salsinha, the commander of 600 mutinous soldiers who were sacked from East Timor's army last year. Mr Salsinha told a Timorese journalist in the town that he decided to bring 100 of his men to join Reinado because "I'm still in the military and I have a job to do".
Reinado and his men have a large cache of sophisticated weapons, including at least six rocket launchers, residents say.
Wanted for murder and rebellion, Reinado said that the men with him and the Opposition MP Leonadro Isaac were "all here ready to share a coffin". "Let my family in Australia know that I love them so much," Reinado said. His wife lives in Perth.
Mr Isaac, whose party urged Reinado to stand in presidential elections due on April 9, told journalists yesterday that the word "surrender" was not in Reinado's vocabulary. Asked what he believed would happen if the renegade soldiers were attacked, he said: "Civil war."
Mr Isaac said he did not have any weapons. He said he could not leave the town because the Australian soldiers were not letting anybody enter or leave.
A Government source said Reinado had asked to resume negotiations to surrender but the request was bluntly refused.

Australian Foreign and Commonwealth Office (National) - Tuesday 27 February 2007 17:44.
The Foreign Office today revised its travel advice for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor). We are now advising against all travel to the city of Same.The relevant points in the amended summary now read:
* We advise against all but essential travel to East Timor. Renewed outbreaks of violence in February 2007 have resulted in some fatalities. There have also been incidents of looting and attacks on vehicles. The security situation in East Timor remains uncertain and could deteriorate at short notice.
* We advise against all travel to the city of Same, due to the unstable security situation. The International Security Force and the UN Police in East Timor are recommending that foreign nationals leave Same.
* If you are currently in East Timor and are concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving. You should also ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date and readily available in case you need to leave the country at short notice. On 27 February, Indonesia temporarily closed its border with East Timor.

The Jakarta Post - Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Jakarta: The Indonesian military has deployed some 1,000 soldiers along border areas between East Timor (Timor Leste) and Indonesia, following the security crisis in the newest Asian country.MetroTV television reported the deployment was to anticipate possible penetration of East Timor rebels led by Maj. Alfredo Reinado, once the military police chief, escaped from prison in September after leading dozens of armed mutinous soldiers into the mountains.Indonesia has closed checkpoints between the two countries since Sunday to prevent any exodus of East Timorese into Indonesia.Foreign troops launched a manhunt for the renegade commander who allegedly stole a cache of automatic weapons from a police post over the weekend, weeks ahead of presidential elections in the violence-plagued country, AP news agency reported.

My own observations:
Dili – All seems to be quiet in town today but its early yet. Havn’t had any security alert SMS’s or calls from friends advising to stay away from certain areas. All the staff have turned up for work which is normally a good sign as some of them live in pretty volatile areas and they stay home when there’s trouble.
How weird is that? 10 seconds after I typed the above I got an SMS to avoid the Comoro Road in the Dom Bosco area. ‘Fighting has broken out, police on scene, avoid area’.
New one: 'Fighting at airport roundabout – avoid area'.

Is that better JJ?