DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home
Source of timeline:
East Timor (MMET): http://www.mmiets.org.au
[scroll down page]
last updated: 12 July 2006
Chronology of Events
What's happening in 2006?
Sister Susan Connelly, Assistant
Director of Mary
East Timor (MMET)
In March 2006 The East Timorese Government sacked 600
soldiers from its 1,400-strong force when they deserted their barracks
complaining of regional discrimination in promotions. A rally in
support of the sacked soldiers in April turned into a riot when
security forces fired on the crowd. Five people were killed and 21,000
people fled their homes.
Both the Timorese Army and the Police
Force splintered, taking sides in the dispute and dividing
loyalties. Security for the Timorese people disintegrated.
The Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said the violence was an attempted
coup. There were growing calls for him to take responsibility for what
was happening. There were also claims of interference by outside forces.
Mr José Luis Guterres,
Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to the UN, declared his candidacy for the
office of Prime Minister. When the Fretilin Congress agreed not
to have a secret ballot for the vote for Prime Minister, José
Guterres withdrew. On May 19 Mr Alkatiri was reaffirmed as
Secretary General of the party and therefore as Prime Minister.
The vote was taken by a show of hands.
Further clashes between rebel
soldiers and Army troops killed two people and wounded five.
Claims of numerous other deaths have not been verified. East Timor
requested assistance from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and
Portugal. Australia said it would send up to 1,300 troops and Portugal
agreed to send 120 military police.
An estimated 70,000 people were
sheltering in camps, mainly situated in Church grounds. The
number of displaced people continued to rise as the situation
deteriorated, estimated at 150,000 by June. Widespread fear and trauma
resulted from the instability and from the multiple rumours spreading
around the capital.
On May 26 the UN confirmed that nine unarmed police
were shot dead by troops in Dili. Three days later the full
contingent of 1,300 Australian was in place. Questions continued
to be asked about the apparent inability of these troops to stop the
looting and burning by youths in Dili. Further questions were
asked about the organisation of these gangs, the use of mobile phones
in apparent coordination and reports of payments made to the young
On May 31 President Xanana Gusmão took
control of the armed forces and declared a 30-day state of emergency.
East Timor's Interior Minister Rogério Lobato and Defence
Minister Roque Rodriguez resigned on June 1, with Lobato later being placed under
house arrest, accused of arming civilian militia groups. By June 16 rebel soldiers were heeding an order from
President Xanana Gusmão and began handing over their weapons.
On June 23 Rogério Lobato said that Prime
Minister Mari Alkatiri had full knowledge of the arming of civilians, a
claim which Alkatiri continued to deny. On the same day,
President Xanana Gusmão delivered a 90 minute speech broadcast
to the nation in which he berated Fretilin’s failures and challenged
the show of hands at the Congress as an unconstitutional method for
political parties to elect leaders. He said he would resign if
the Prime Minister did not.
East Timor's foreign and defence
minister, Jose Ramos Horta, tendered his resignation on June 25, making it clear he could no longer be
part of an Alkatiri government. The Prime Minister announced his
resignation on June 26.
East Timorese prosecutors summoned
Mari Alkatiri over allegations that a hit squad was being armed to kill
his opponents. There were large rallies for and against the Prime
Minister in Dili. Mr Alkatiri claimed that he had been deposed
and that mischievous forces wanted him removed. He would not name names.
On June 30 Mr Alkatiri refused to appear
before the court, awaiting the arrival of his lawyer from Macau.
He also refused to step down from Parliament, claiming immunity from
prosecution as an MP. Groups continued to loot and burn property
In early July José Ramos Horta acted in the
capacity of caretaker of the Government and called meetings of the
Parliament to address the issues.
On July 10, Mr Ramos-Horta was sworn in as Prime
Contact the author:
Assistant Director of Mary
Phone: 02 9623
MacKillop East Timor
Mary MacKillop Institute for East Timorese Studies (MMIETS)
This info last updated: 4 July 2006
MMIETS is a Sydney and Dili based charitable institute established in
Religious of St. Joseph (the order of the Blessed Mary MacKillop -
Australia's first and so far the only saint officially recognised by
Catholic church) in
response to an appeal for help by Bishop Belo (Diocese of Dili) and in
consultation with the East Timorese community. It was created to assist
in meeting the cultural, educational, health and material needs of the
people of East Timor. MMIETS is safeguarding East Timorese culture by
promoting the use of the language Tetum within the Church and general
education and is developing a Tetum literacy program to this end.
Director of MMET:
Sister Josephine Mitchell, RSJ (Religious of St. Joseph - "Brown
Assistant Director of
Sister Susan Connelly, RSJ
Reception / Secretarial:
of Linguistics & Editor of Tetun Materials (based in Dili):
Father Leão da Costa, Director of Catholic Education,
Fundação São Paulo
Tetun Oral & Literary language
(based in Dili):
Father Ricardo da Silva, Bishop of the Diocese of Dili
Father Ricardo was born in Dare, East
Timor and has been speaking Tetun all his life.
Educator (based in Dili):
Sister Teresa (Tess) A. Ward, FDNSC (Daughters of Our Lady of the
Timorese Tetun language expertise
(based in Sydney):
Luisa da Cunha Marques
Filomena de Oliveira
Health worker/educator, Nurse:
Sister Joan Westblade, LCM (Little Company of Mary)
MMET - Sydney, Australia:
20 Mamre Rd, St Marys
PO Box 299, St Marys NSW 1790 AUSTRALIA
Phone: 02 9623
Fax: 02 9623 1573
Institutu Mary MacKillop - Bekora,
Dili Timur, Timor Lorosae:
New larger premises now located in Bekora.
PO Box 427, Dili, East Timor (via Darwin)
FREE email Web-updates: email email@example.com
and include the words "Subscribe BACK DOOR" in the message
DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home