The need for information

It appears that this week has seen an increase in gang related violence, particularly in the Bairo Pite area. The official figure for the number of dead is 5 since Thursday last week. I know that a large number of injuries have also been treated. When things are quiet, there is very little helicopter activity. A tell-tale sign of trouble is helicopters circling over trouble spots.

This helicopter activity has been noticeable over the last few days, but I don’t know of any particular incidents. I had heard that about 100 Timorese attempted to get into the OZ military controlled heliport area, seeking a safe place but I don’t know much more than that.

I had heard there was fighting near the tennis courts in Bebonuk yesterday, but again I don’t know any detail. A UN policeman told me there is stuff going on all of the time. He commented about the stupid expats who move around as if nothing is happening. Well, when I look at the UN Security Briefings, I learn next to nothing. How else is one to find out but rely on word of mouth.

On a related matter, while travelling out east, something came to my attention that I had not really ever considered before, but once it got onto my radar screen, I deemed it worthy to note. But outside of Dili, there is no re-broadcasting of Dili radio or television. And no ready access to Dili’s newspapers. Each of the districts appears to have a RTTL (Radio Television Timor Leste) broadcasting antennae (and a Timor Telecom microwave antennae) but the RTTL antennae and associated broadcasting equipment has not been functioning for a couple of years (I recall someone said 3 or 4 years). Many districts have some form of local community radio but I don’t know to what extent it fills up the information vacuum.

What you do see is a smattering of IndoVision satellite dishes. Even in some pretty remote places, you might see this, even if electricity is available for only 3 hours a day. So you can be right up to date with what is happening in the world but be a bit behind on what is really happening here … like a forthcoming election.

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