Telegram to Timor

Metropole MAR 13 – Communication difficult – tracking Timor events via sms & web – voice not option. Skype disabled. Please confirm existence phone company Timor territory. Metropole will fund Indo sat phone

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Sirana

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Thanks to João Paulo Esperança who drew my attention to a unique window into Timorese life, post 1999. The film “Sirana,” he suggests, is the first Timorese feature film. The protagonist is a young woman who is caught between a number of worlds in Dili. The film deals with gender relations, domestic violence, teenage angst, class divides in Dili, the impact of the international presence, and language.

There is a side plot honoring Rosa Muki Bonaparte, one of the founders of the OPMT who was martyred by the Indonesians on the day of the invasion of Dili [correction: day after]. A link is made between the struggles of early Fretilin activism for womens rights and the continued problems with domestic violence and patriarchy in independent Timor. I have to confess, I find it very moving to see Timorese people present their stories in film.

Directed by Ivete de Oliveira, the film is in the style of improvised, documentary style and the soundtrack is really memorable with Bibi Bulak and the new Cinco do Oriente. The sound is a little difficult at times, and I have trouble following all of the life-like, fast conversation in Tetum. Sirana appears to have had support from CARITAS, CIIR (now Progressio), Fokupers, Sahe Institute and Bibi Bulak among others. I hope this is just a taste of things to come after the Youtube revolution!

To’o ona

In my earlier post, I was optimistic about a solution with the Petitioners.

Yet intensifying and worrying rhetoric between AMP and Fretilin leads me to believe that at this point, the greatest danger to the current situation in Timor is not the Petitioners themselves, or the security forces.

It is in fact the inability of the political elites to stop attacking each other and spinning conspiracy theories. Both sides have come up with theories explaining why the other is guilty for the attack on the PM and President.

Early this evening, I spent nearly an hour translating some of these theories. They come from some named people — quite prominent — and some unnamed people. I almost posted them here. But I feel that I would be entirely hypocritical to give this thinking any space on my blog. If you’d like to read this stuff, be my guest, at Odanmatan, Timor Online, STL newspaper, Forum Haksesuk. If you would like to read my translations of this slander-fest, let me know.

I do not want to make prescriptions for Timor. Neither do I want to incessantly heap blame on the ema boot. But I do feel strongly that what they do over the next couple of days and weeks will determine possibilities for the ema ki’ik.

Some, like Allan Nairn, have suggested that leaders “hand over to the next generation.” But the next generation is in fact made up of people who have been just as partisan as the oldies.

It is time for a paradigm shift.

Hudi

I think the developments of past days are positive, but nonetheless strange when seen from afar.

Susar, or Amaro da Costa, one of Alfredo’s closest confidants, surrendered with some peers and a couple of attack rifles. He was admittedly involved in the attack on Ramos Horta on February 11.

It seems hard to believe that a man implicated in the near death of President Ramos Horta could be given a hero’s welcome — he was given a meeting with TMR and Xanana and photo-ops with the press.

But we have to remember, face-saving will prevent further violence and is clearly called for, as there are presumably more men with automatic weapons in them thar hills, and Lt. Salsinha has yet to surrender. (And plus, Ramos Horta has apparently ‘forgiven’ Alfredo.)

It seems that an interesting character named Bernardo Costa, a veteran of the resistance, was key to the break-through. To arrange his surrender, Susar rang Xavier do Amaral, who remains an important figure in Timorese politics still, who I have written about frequently.

The cantonment of Petitioners in Aitak Laran is supposedly swelling at over 600 people. I wonder whether the petitioners like their new blue track suits, or feel like prisoners?

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In any case, it seems it will not be long before the novelty of being together and looking the same will wear off. The government must move quickly to establish guilt for the crimes of 2006 and the attempts of last month.