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"But when we seriously analyze the situation, there seems to be no end to the causes [of violence]. They start from land disputes, political rivalry, economic problems, the non-recognition of sacrifices made by the clandestine movement and ethnic problems. The question now is whether justice can be meted out in addressing these problems." Hugo Fernandez

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Thursday 12 April 2001

The Roots Of Violence: Can They Be Pulled Out?

Talitakum magazine

lead feature 12 April ­ 17 April edition

By Hugo Fernandez


If  what Father Juvito do Regio says is true, the main factor for violence in this country is due to the mentality of people. Because of that, the people’s mentality must be changed.

Another dominant factor for the emergence of violence, according to Joao Da Silva or better known as Joao Becora is the wide social disparity among the Timorese. This factor was also acknowledged by Police Colonel Paulo Martins, the Director of the Timor Lorosae Police Academy.

Another reason is also the demand for justice for crimes against humanity that occurred during colonial rule [of the Portuguese and the Indonesians].  Such acts of violence could be due to the fact that reconciliation is being carried out without fair justice for the people.

This was acknowledged by Juvencio Martins, 40, a diplomat candidate for Timor Lorosae’s future Foreign Ministry. Juvencio said if “the people perceived that there was no justice, then they could resort to violence [to address the wrongdoings of the returnees]”.
Moving away from the factors mentioned, one possible consequence of violence is that the psychology of fear takes over the minds of the Timorese and could limit their participation in social activities. This was stated by Father Juvito do Rego Araujo, the Director of Radio Timor Kmanek.

Nugroho Kacasungkana, from Yayasan Hak, said violence was committed because there often was no alternative to address wrongs committed against people.  He stressed that violence was not in the culture of the Timorese people.

The long period of colonialism under two colonial masters ­ Portugal and Indonesia ­ with two differing systems of government made people greet independence as freedom ­ and freedom to do whatever they pleased. Thus the meaning of independence is somewhat confused.

Florenco Amaral de Jesus, 28, the coordinator of the anti-violence group ANTIK said the emergence of violence was mainly caused by the wide social disparity seen in the country.

“There are many here who are using money to create political disturbances and social unrest to further their political agenda,” said Florenco.

One of the groups accused of instigating violence is the CPD-RDTL. Reacting to this charge, Antonio Aitahan Matak, the coordinator of CPD-RDTL said the main reason for the recent spate of violence in Dili was due to discrimination [by the other political parties] on the presence of CPD-RDTL. On the charge that CPD-RDTL instigated the violence, Aitahan Matak said: “It’s just like a dog barking at the moon!”

The concentration of a large part of business activities in Dili also has caused the capital to be highly urbanized. This in turn causes a struggle to develop for very scare resources ­ thus giving rise to violence. This was put forward by Father Ricardo, the rector of the seminary in Fatumeta.

The clashes of two rival gangs, Kaladi and Firaku, have also contributed to incidents of violence.

But when we seriously analyze the situation, there seems to be no end to the causes. They start from land disputes, political rivalry, economic problems, the non-recognition of sacrifices made by the clandestine movement and ethnic problems.

The question now is whether justice can be meted out in addressing these problems.

Alexander S Nicholas, the deputy principal legal adviser to UNTAET said his unit was working hard to ensure that laws were in place in a functioning legal system. But he refused to comment on why people decided to take the law into their own hands because of the slow legal system.

Joao Becora said one way to prevent violent incidents was to ensure that there was enough work for the Timorese people.

“Manual work can be done by the Timorese, why do we need to have foreigners doing them?” he asked.

Joao Becora also said the implementation of laws, not in accordance with Timorese culture, also contributed to violence. He said this would be brought up with Xanana Gusmao, the CNRT/CN President.

The legal system in the country must be strengthened said ANTIK’s Florenco Amaral de Jesus. He said the slow administration of justice and the large backlog of cases to be heard could cause people to take matters into their own hands in order to seek redress.


See also:
Feb 12 Xanana: Symposium on “Reconciliation, Tolerance, Human Rights and Elections”  Speech added Feb 15
"To avoid or control this likelihood of violence there are several means if properly used could reduce existing tensions and will also help in the promotion of a collective awareness about the need to enhance a tolerant society in the country:
A- A greater involvement of young people in open discussions about social problems;
B- A greater involvement of the civil society in public debates on these same problems;
C- A greater involvement by political parties leaders in Youth education; and
D- A greater involvement of the media in the civic education process." President Xanana


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   April news
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