Another really quiet day – what gives ?

Before de-stressing in the time honoured Friday evening fashion, another day seems to have (almost) passed without incident (of note).

If I had been compulsorily evacuated to Darwin, I would be wondering what gives.

Firstly, the heightening of security concerns was driven by :

  • weeks of daily rock throwing, broken glass and lots of sleeplessness
  • threats against Australian citizens
  • fear of a backlash after the failure to capture Major Alfredo
  • fear of a backlash after the Rogerio Lobato verdict
  • fear that the return of armed F-FDTL to the streets would lead to trouble (kiddies, I am going to add a glossary to the blog soon to explain why the first F does not mean procreate)
  • fear that things would get worse in the run-up to the election

So you shuffle off to Darwin with your 10kgs and wait … nothing.  So I go running this morning … nothing.  So I go cycling this afternoon … nothing.  The tension on people’s faces … gone.  What gives ?

Someone said one of today’s papers said whoever has been paying the gangs has run out of money.  Could be.

Maybe the Rogerio Lobato verdict did hit the sweet spot and convince people that the justice system actually does work in the end.  Although Lobato’s lawyer says the sentence is unfair (too long), another politician said it was also unfair (too short).

Maybe the return of armed F-FDTL to the streets has put the fear of god into people, because in the crunch, people believe they have weapons and will use them.  I also noted armed UIR (PNTL rapid reaction force police) on the streets today.  Keep all digits in rest position he tells himself … you are not at home.

Maybe the threat of a state of emergency and some interesting adjustments to police powers, threats of curfews and restrictions on civil liberties have done it.

Some think it is the calm before the storm.  Time to de-stress.  Tomorrow is a another day.

12 thoughts on “Another really quiet day – what gives ?

  1. Squatter, I was just wondering how the whole F-FDTL patrolling is supposed to work operationally…? Maybe you’ll have the answers to my questions. I’m clearly not a military person so excuse any mistakes here in lingo. Who is commanding the F-FDTL in Dili? What exactly is their relation to UNPOL and the ISF? Is their patrolling merely for them to be seen? And what about the tension between PNTL (and ex-PNTL) and the F-FDTL, people aren’t apprehensive about this?

    Aside from declarations by Khare, the UN seems paralyzed at divulging information. Media Monitoring has still not updated since 1/3, correct?

    Glad you are feeling some relief in Dili,


  2. Wow, 3 days & nights of peace & quiet…one could almost become complacent. Just to let you know, TL has merited an entry in TIME Magazine, one that is fairly on target for the press. In your spare moments this evening check it out:,9171,1597237-2,00.html. If I were more computer savvy, I would properly import this link to this note.
    Daughter is still in her house in Taibesse, says things are quiet there. She’s going to visit her Timorese family in Remexio this wkend. Is life beginning to return to pre-May, ’06? Hope so. Regardless, it might be good to get out of Dili for the wkend. Worried Mama

  3. Squatter – if you can answer giant panda I think you should run for President and challenge God for Godship.


  4. I am surporised that people were expecting a backlash to the sentence on Rogerio Lobato. I had breakfast with a Dili resident in Melbourne yesterday and she also expressed this fear and seemed to be surprised that Dili was quiet. In case people haven’t noticed, FRETILIN is one of the best disciplined parties in Timor and has been holding their own rallies, education sessions etc. throughout the country while all this stuff has been going on in Dili. Also in many ways Rogerio’s imprisonment will help them as they won’t have to bear responsibility for his actions. There is too much very poor analysis of Timorese politics and history going on. I nearly wrote a letter to the editor of TImr Magazine pointing out all their errors of fact, but they probably wouldn’t print it. I notice they are perpetuating the myth that FRETILIN decided the language policy, in fact every political party and the independents within the CNRT agreed on language policy, although it is a great pity there has not been more learning of languages and literacy over the last five years. There is a great need for a much better informed discussion about Timorese politics. Squatter however does make some very good observations.

  5. The rice report was great and had the kernels for all the rumors I have heard over the past few weeks.

    Welcome to wonderland
    Squatter for Prime M

  6. Helenh
    I think the backlash people were fearing was not from FRETILIN due to the severity of the sentence but from opponents of FRETILIN due to the non-severity. Agreed, FRETILIN is well disciplined and well organised and should be applauded for their refusal to get involved in the violence that has been occuring in Dili.

  7. Easy FOS, easy. A simple reading of the week’s media reveals most of the answers.

    The PM announced that F-FDTL would be protecting government buildings in a static fashion. I have seen them with rifles at the Palacio and at the Ministry of Education and I assume they are at government rice warehouses now. I know this concerns some people as they are much more willing to use weapons and reportedly, have used them already to fire warning shots.

    As far as I know, there has been no change in leadership. I am sure the media would say something if Taur Matan Ruak was no longer the chief.

    How they interface with UNPol and the ISF is beyond me. In theory, F-FDTL have had OZ and NZ military advisors working with them for years so it is not as if long standing associations have never existed. The Australian DCP (Defence Cooperation Program) is well known, if only because they have the flashest accommodation compound in Dili.

    They are not patrolling, so if it seems they are, they are just probably on their way to work.

    I asked several locals what they think about this and they were very wary and said it would take some convincing that they could be trusted after last year. Despite a lot of negative press, I think many locals now appreciate the trustworthiness and discipline of the foreign security forces over their own. It really is a wait and see. Heaven help any gang that has a crack at F-FDTL.

    It is reported by the local media that 38 UIR (police rapid reaction force) are back on deck armed and will be used by UNPol when required.

    Both the F-FDTL and police re-deployments have been authorised by the President on about Tuesday – again all this is in the local press. Up until now, UNPol have required a warrant to go into a house which makes things difficult if you are chasing gangs through residential areas. That requirement has also been lifted.

    UN media monitoring is still there but the security reports went missing for about 5 days when things went bad. There is not much point doing these reports if they disappear when you feel you need them and come back when everything has calmed down. I feel less need to read that everything is fine than to read about what is happening when it is not (and movement is limited).

    FOS, the closest I ever got to President was when I did the accounts at my badminton club. I figured that if I couldn’t take the pressure when I insisted on a raise in club subscriptions (and failed), then running for president was out of the question. As for godship, I don’t even play guitar !!

  8. FOS, I need advice from an old hand like yourself. But I must have hit my head on something last night during de-stressing as I woke with a headache this morning.

    What do you recommend – aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetomol ?

  9. I’m in the same state this morning. I find Panadol does the trick, possibly followed, once the sun is over the yardarm, by what a friend calls ‘a heartstarter’.

  10. I think its the presence of FFDTL that has calmed much of the situation. The FFDTL still have respect of the Timorese because of their history as guerrila fighters, and Alfredo most people have never heard of him prior to crisis and his group in the hills pose more of a threat then FFDTL bringing security into the streets. It is also important to see that the TImorese themselves are now taking actions in providing security, its a positive step in regaining confidence because at the end of the day Timor is a sovereign country that needs to be responsible for their own security and also the protection of public assets from marauding gangs.

    Squatter makes a good point about the gangs who clearly showed that they support Alfredo by burning tyres and attacking cars etc as retaliation to ISF forces attempt to arrest the fugitive. It would not be good if they start having a crack at the FFDTL (we’ll wait and see).

    Yes I agree with Helenh, FRETILIN has been very well disciplined I have noticed consistently that all their rallies have not resulted in any violence, most notably the rally in support of Mari after his resignation last year.

    I dont want to get into Timorese Politics but it is good that there is some peace for the moment, I think the Timorese need a break.

  11. Squatter, any idea what all the ISF/chopper activity was around your way today between 1 and 3?

  12. Thanks for the information on the F-FDTL, Squatter. I think that when UNMIT can’t post Media Montoring info (for what reason I’m not sure), they should just link to your blog.

    The folks at ETAN told me that Media Montoring is still “monitoring,” just for some reason they haven’t been posting to the UNMIT site. You can find their releases at the Rise Up East Timor list.


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