Level 5 – lingerie, soft toys, guns, confusion

The raising of the OZ travel warning advisory to level 5 probably confused a lot of people.  No guns, no restrictions on movement during the day etc. etc.  It was probably based on the situation with Major Alfredo and was probably setting things up for a resolution.

At a dinner last night, a couple of calls came in to other diners suggesting that steps were underway to get Alfredo but that he had escaped.  Fifteen minutes later, one caller apologised and said it was just rumour.  I can’t believe he escaped but if the rumour spreads amongst the locals …

At about 3:45am, I woke … extremely tired … then heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots.  I heard about 5 to 10 over the next half hour, then it went quiet until the choppers fired up.

This morning, there was active trade of information by phone as a lot of expats heard gunfire and it certainly put the wind up the locals.  The phone wires were probably running hot as many expats were trying to work out what was happening.

Radio Australia report that the OZ troops did make a move last night and supposedly have taken control of Same but no other details are available.  I went to do shopping this morning and things were OK but there were more “observers” than normal – locals on watch for anything out of the ordinary.

A friend confirmed that some locals believe Reinado has escaped and is going to attack Dili.  I would think this is not possible.  But the rumour mill is running again.

The OZ media report that OZ special forces have been sent here.  “The Age” and “All Headline News” report it as 100 SAS troops in 4 planes.  I saw 2 Hercules transport planes depart on Saturday afternoon.

One acquaintance reported a lot of activity in the Bairo Pite area and I understand the gunshots I heard were rubber bullets and other stuff that the GNR (ie riot police) use.

Another friend CM reported gunfire from the Becora area and many locals yelling out “Alfredo, Alfredo” as if he was coming in right now.  There were 2 deaths yesterday morning in Becora and it is quite possible that this morning’s events were payback which required more shots from security forces.

I have heard no evidence that any of Reinado’s group or supporters were involved in the firing of any weapon in and around Dili.

A number of expats have been requested by employers to stay indoors today with doors locked.

I expect official information to be coming out soon on the Same situation.  If only because locals will be phoning friends and relatives here in Dili with a sketchy view of what is going on and potentially feeding the rumour mill.

Postscript : The above commentary is how it tends to go here.  You piece it together from radio, internet, official warning messages and information from others who are located all over town.  You compare the number of gunshots you hear etc. etc.  The you ring someone else and they are completely unaware of any problem at all.

13 thoughts on “Level 5 – lingerie, soft toys, guns, confusion

  1. Dear Squatter.
    I cannot agree more with you. Our lives here are fueled and driven by rumour and speculation. So too for the Timorese, although I suspect/know that it is even worse for them. That is the way it is. Unfortunately this is the way we have to live at the moment.
    I am watching the boys outside my house as I type. They are getting pissed, doing the girly laugh thing and will no doubt be stoning cars when the sun has sunk. A couple of them, the same ones that got shot at on Wednesday evening, have even had their hair done a la ‘Apocolypto’. Life is sweet but sometimes I just wanna cry.
    My God, did I really just type that crap?

  2. I went out again this afternoon to get fruit & veg outside Lita. No problems but almost no white faces. In general, east of the heliport is OK but excluding Becora, Taibesse, Mascarenas (ie the southern most areas).

    However, a phone call on another matter revealed that there have been big problems in Delta 2 so I wouldn’t shop at Leader supermarket at the moment. I think Bairo Pite and Taibesse also have problems this afternoon.

    I understand the President, the head of the UN here and the head of the OZ military have all given media conferences today. The OZ press is already reporting on the President’s speech which confirmed 4 dead in Same but Major Alfredo still free.

    Good time to stock up on food if you are allowed out. It just might be a bit uncertain for a couple of days. Another bad time for bar and restaurant owners unless you have won the UN police popularity competition.

    FOS, you weren’t on the gin before 5, were you ? I will give you some latitude as it is cloudy so you can’t see the sun over the yardarm.

    Note : Delta 2, 3 and 4 denote small newer “suburbs” south of Leader supermarket on Comorro Road stretching from Comorro river to the east by a couple of hundred meters. I think Delta 2 is just behind the Dili Club, Delta 3 down near Banana Road and Delta 4 even further south.

  3. Afraid I was on the gin. And the boys are not stoning any cars because there are no cars!

  4. Australian volunteers being evacuated tomorrow, kicking and screaming mostly. Bairo Pite is bad again tonight, though last night was worse. Mind you, the evening is young.

  5. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Violence Returns to East Timor

  6. Hello,
    I am supposed to fly into Dili on the 17th (March) to spend 5 months working with a local NGO. As I am a volunteer there will be no sort of cover for me to get out. Your comments are slightly unsettling for a newbie and although I still really want to go, I am starting to wonder whether I should reconsider… Any advice?

  7. Dear Snowy,

    I do not do travel advisories. I do common sense. Check your government’s advice and any insurance repercussions. I would be surprised if any international NGO would be recommending any newbie come right now. If the local NGO has other expats working for them, seek their advice.

    There is not much point coming here and being restricted to being locked indoors and being unable to do anything. Your government will not thank you if you come, do not know your way around and they have to evacuate you. Your NGO may also regret it.

    I believe all OZ volunteers (AVI) and many AusAid associated people are scheduled to leave. Your NGO must have steel balls if they still want you to come.

    Take up bungy jumping.

  8. Hola Squartter, te he escrito en otra ocasión pero no sé si te habrá llegado mi comentario. Soy española, vivo en Madrid. Tengo un amigo muy querido en TiMor Leste, esta página que he encontrado y que traduzco, ya que mi inglés no es muy bueno, es de momento el único contacto que tengo, con este país. Me gustaría saber como está la situación en Timor, auqnque por lo que puedo leer no debe de ser muy buena.

    Yo me pregunto porque todo tieen que ser así, es ahí, en Iraq, en el Libano, por Dios no puede parar esto, Basta de guerras de conflictos, para que y porque?

    Un saludo y si lees esto, gracias!!!

    ——————– Babel Fish Translation below ————————————
    Hello Squatter, I have written to you on another occasion but I do not know if my commentary has arrived with you. I am Spanish, and live in Madrid. I have a very dear friend in Timor Leste, this page that I have found and that I translate, since my English is not very good, is at the moment the only contact that I have, with this country. I would like to know as it is the situation in Timor, auqnque reason why I can read does not have of being very good. I ask myself because everything tieen that to be thus, it is there, in Iraq, in the Libano, by God cannot stop this, Coarse of wars of conflicts, so that and because? A greeting and if you read this, thanks!

  9. Carolina,

    Maybe your first comment was eaten by my spam cleaner. I learnt Spanish once so that my South American holiday would not be so useless and after a month, I could actually understand what people were saying.

    Alas, my Spanish is now bordering on hopeless. All I can say is keep reading.

  10. Some NGOs are indeed evacuating non-essential staff. Also, some Australians had to leave. Nonetheless, many Australians remain because they enjoy their work, place or any other reasons. The Portuguese community is trying to keep cool, as is our MFA and govt, on what concerns evacuation. To see what follows.
    However, despite insecurity, the UN – namely the UNV – is after hiring a number of people to work in Timor-Leste (political affairs, human rights, etc.), and maybe you could try that Snowy. UN ensures your safety as much as possible – that is the feedback I have received from people on the ground. If this helps somehow: I know by experience that I would not go to Timor or a conflict zone if my security / evacuation / medical care were not well ensured by my organisation. You can only do so much as long as you are OK! Voluntary spirit is great (I know what I’m talking about), but sometimes it is not all (also know what I’m saying) :). Just make sure, if you go to ET, that you’ll be “taken care of”. Good luck!
    As for the others, keep reporting because I might need to be well updated 🙂

  11. Estimado ocupante ilegar,

    cual es tu nombre? es curiosidad?
    Llevas mucho tiempo viviendo en Timor? La verdad que en España no hay noticias de Timor Leste ni de nada de lo que allí acontence. La verdad que el haber encontrado esta página me da un poco de tranquilidad.
    Yo estoy aprendiendo inglés, así que espero algún día escribirte como tal, la verdad que me cuenta un poco.
    Espero de todo corazón que las cosas se calmen allí y en cualquier lugar del mundo donde allá este tipo de conflictos. Se que lo que espero no es muy realista, pero dicen que la esperanza es lo último que se piede.
    Un saludo para todos, veo que tu home es muy leída, seguro que ayudaras a mucha gente, sobre todo a mentenerse informada.

    Es una pena que en tantos lugares maravillosos alla cosas que nos quiten la tranquilidad.

  12. Thanks Teresa. Some people think things will get worse, while others think with such a big foreign security force presence that there is no room for things to get worse.

    I tend to think it will take a week to work out the new “normal”. But with the Lobato trial to finish up soon and some elections, it could be a bit of a roller coaster.

    When trouble occurs, it appears the GNR are the boys who have the required training and equipment to get things back under control, so I feel quite good about another 140 GNR arriving soon.

  13. Hola Carolina. El mondo en que vivimos es mismo así. Que hacer? Solo intentar ayudar como lo puedas a que se quede mejor, no? Un chico ha dicho algo que es muy verdad. Los Timorenses solo conocen la violencia gracias a décadas de ocupación. Más proyectos de capacity-building son necesarios para los Timorenses entendieren que es necesario trabajar para mudar su vida y que los gringos no les quieren mal, sino ayudarlos. También hay muchos intereses políticos por detrás de toda esa violencia.
    Pero mira Afganistan, Sudan, Etiopia. Muchas crisis, mucha pobreza, mucha tristeza. Mucho que hacer para esto mondo ser un hogar un poco mejor para habitar.

    Houdy Squatter, Sad to hear about the worsening situation, but many people remain positive. The GNR in TL are the military elite, very respected in my neighbourhood 🙂 and wherever they operate, incl. Afghanistan. RTP1, the national PT TV channel, has been showing news about Dili at lunch and dinner time. I feel like we went years back in time and I am still studying and thinking that one day I might go there. They show the Australian military, UNPOL, and the GNR walking around. They show mainly the most affected areas. But seems like the international community is not ready to give up on that Island. Dozens of job offers with UN, NGOs, and other agencies. If evacuation happens I do not know what will happen to the people being called in. Unfortunately I also think Lobato’s sentence will help instability and its to be seen whether elections will hold-up… Take care.

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