returned again from East-Timor

The same old story, over and over again

Other pages on east Timor

Elite forces scouted island from April

UN investigation only a first step

Army defectors 'training militias to kill UN forces'

East Timor: Army's Plot and A Human Tragedy.

I would do same again, leader says 'Xanana' Gusmao

What caused the Ambon violence?

Blood on their hands

East Timor Retrospective

A Profile of Jose Ramos-Horta

Indonesia's special forces

Violence in E. Timor had parallel in 1969

E. Timor Failure Puts U.N. On Spot Interventionist Ability in Doubt

Business interests are behind Indonesia's fight to hold on to East Timor

US trained butchers of Timor

The East Timor Operation

The Covert Dirty War


Hello, this is Ed Hollants, just returned from a more than three weeks stay in East-Timor.

Underneath, a first short impression, a more comprehensive report is following soon.

Beside the unbelivable numbers of burned houses you see everywhere in the country, you see now a slowly return of people out of the mountains and out of West-Timor. Many people are working in the fields, sewing because now it's the raining season.

Big parts of the UN and the reliefworkers seem to be not more than goo paid workers that drive around in four-wheel-drives as an outing and escape from daily routine.

Beside in Dili and Baucau, only a very few places are honoured by the establishment of relief-organisations. In most places people only see reliefworkers during the distribution of food and goods. They normally leave the same day.

One of the first actions in Dili was to open the 'Dili-bar' at hotel Dili. In the evening there are about fifty reliefworkers with a can of beer of more than three guilders (more than one dollar) a piece, enjoying some coolness. Most of them have no real contact with the Timorese, nor science about what is taking place within the Timorese society. Contacts are limited to those with the CNRT and the church. In Dili you can see a kind of homelands, in its utmost form. Principally white encalves with an overkill of food, refrigerators full of drinks, a car-park and communication-equipment, and that within a society that almost has nothing anymore. These are two separate worlds. The position I had as representative of a small NGO was difficult because you cannot enter as easy to means and information.

There's hardly any coordination of the reliefwork. It seems to be as an organizational mess. A small UN-office, that should coordinate the reliefworkers and that organises every evening a 'meeting' for everybody, doens't change any of this.

With many East-Timorese the critics on the UN and the reliefworkers is increasing. When I left for East-Timor I already feared a 'third invasion' by UN and reliefworkers. After my stay there that fear only has increased. Not the East-Timorese determine what happens but the UN and the reliefworkers dominate. So now there's a 'work for food'-program, which including that only people that work get a few kilo's of rice. This program isn't the initiative of the Timorese themselves. In other words: the outsiders determine which work should be done and they use help-goods as a means of currency. In this way an image has been settled down as if Timorese themselves cannot organise their rebuilding up and as if they can only be set to work when there's a reward.

On the area of human rights hardly anything is happening. Not concerning the situation of the last months nor concerning the future. There are hardly any direct small projects in cooperation with or from within the Timorese society nor is there reconstructing or support of Timorese NGO's.

It's exactly the work I (and the Autonomous Center) faces when we think of support for East-Timor, the kind of human rights work we do in the Netherlands too.

In the three weeks East-Timor I stayed beside in Dili also in Viqueque, Baucau, Los Palos, Watulari, Same and in the neighbourhood of Liquisa. Many contacts letting in for with people that I already met around the referendum and many new meetings with people. The Timorese remain very warm people and seeing their critical view, also to the own CNRT, about the future, there's good hope that the land is not sinking in a deep disconsolate well, as unfortunately happened after the liberation in many other countries.

I wrote down a lot during my trip and I hope to send it to you after a week, together with a plan we want to execute next year (may be in February-March-April and in September- October) in East-Timor. Anyhow: many finances are urged, so, if you have suggestions, please let me know.