Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ethnicity, Violence, & Land and Property Disputes in Timor-Leste

Original Citation: 2007 ETLJ 2 Ethnicity, Violence, & Land and Property Disputes in Timor-Leste

Andrew Harrington
B.A (Hon.), LL.B / M.A. International Affairs
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs &
Faculty of Common Law, University of Ottawa
Joint Candidate

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Enquiries should be addressed to the author (contact above)
Dili, Timor-Leste & Ottawa, Canada, 2006 ©

In the not too distant past, the world’s newest nation seemed to have a bright future. The end of 24-years of struggle against Indonesian occupation was seen to mark the end of conflict and the beginning of peacebuilding for Timor-Leste. Kofi Annan called Timor-Leste the poster-child for successful international intervention, lauding it as ‘the’ example of effective nation building, while World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz crowned the country a shining example of post-conflict development during his visit in April 2006. These views have proved prematurely optimistic.

Most foreign observers and international staff who worked (or are still working) in Timor-Leste were unaware major divisions existed within Timorese society. While some were aware of obvious political divides stemming from the brief post-Portuguese civil war in 1975, few had any inkling of an east-west divide which has become the focal point of the current crisis facing Timor-Leste.

The current outbreak of violence marks the emergence of a new round of a preexisting internal conflict, largely unknown to outsiders and buried for years under Indonesian occupation. Broadly speaking, the recent conflict is rooted deeply in large scale horizontal inequality between ethnic identities in terms of land and property access and ownership in Dili, with a significant portion of destruction and violence stemming from the failure to address this issue in the wake of the 1999 scorched earth campaign. These problems, combined with the internal schism institutionalized in the F-FDTL, East–West divisions fanned by certain politicians and the anaemic economy have all contributed to the current situation in Timor-Leste. Ultimately, violence may have been triggered by political mishandling of a delicate situation, but there are multiple important underlying causes that must be examined to properly understand the situation. This is crucial to prevent such breakdowns in the future for United Nations nation-building missions and to inform current international efforts in Timor-Leste.

Country Background [1]
Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) is the world’s newest democratic country. After nearly 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule and 24 years of Indonesian military occupation, independence was formally gained in May of 2002. It is a small country, covering half the island of Timor and currently has a population of less than one million. Timor-Leste is a village-based society with over sixteen distinct language groups, characterized by dramatic geography, isolation, and diverse local cultural traditions.

The country has a violent history. After a brief civil war, Timor-Leste declared independence from Portugal on November 28th, 1975. It was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later, under the auspices of crushing a Communist revolution at the request of one the defeated internal faction, the União Democrática Timorense (UDT). It was then incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur, in violation of international law prohibiting the acquisition of territory through aggression. This move was internationally recognized only by Australia.

An extremely brutal, yet ultimately unsuccessful campaign against local resistance fighters followed over the next twenty-four years, during which the occupiers, killed, starved, sterilized, and executed between 104,000 to 183,300 Timorese citizens — out of the then 800,000 population. On the 30th of 1999, the United Nations (UN) supervised a popular referendum asking the people of Timor-Leste whether they wanted special autonomy within Indonesia, or not; a vote against special autonomy was a vote for outright independence. An overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste (78.5%) voted "No". Within hours of the final tally, violence broke out. Between the referendum and the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force in late September of 1999, pro-Indonesian Timorese militias (organized, trained, and explicitly supported by Indonesian military), and the Indonesian military itself, commenced a countrywide scorched-earth campaign of retribution. They killed approximately 2,000 Timorese - foreigners and journalists as well - and forced nearly 300,000 people into Indonesian West Timor as refugees while displacing over two-thirds of the population. The rampage destroyed the bulk of the country’s infrastructure. Homes, irrigation, water supplies, schools, government buildings, banks, stores of all kinds, and nearly 100% of the country’s electrical grid were all ruined. Formal institutions and governance structures disappeared almost literally overnight.

On the 20th of September 1999, Australian-led peacekeeping troops of the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) deployed to the country and terminated the chaos and violence. On the twentieth of May 2002, after 3 years of UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) governance, Timor-Leste was formally recognized internationally as an independent state.

The UN mission to Timor-Leste has been renewed three times as: UNMISET (United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor, May 2002-2005), UNOTIL (United Nations Office in Timor-Leste, May 2005-2006), and finally as the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT, late August 2006-2007) – currently operating with authorization for 1,600 international police and 300 troops under its command. The changing mandates from initial INTERFET peace enforcement to UNOTIL political assistance mandate represent the gradual withdrawal of the UN presence on the ground subsequent to the successful 2002 elections. While UNOTIL remained under the command of the United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations and under a Section VII mandate, the mission’s focus was on skills transfer to the nascent government and capacity building in the security and public sectors.

Situation Background & Triggering Events [2]
What follows is brief account of triggering events for the recent widespread violence and destruction in Timor-Leste. It is based on personal discussions with multiple local and indigenous leaders, local media reports, United Nations personnel, international NGO staff, and international media reports.[3 ]

January 11th 2006, a group of soldiers within the Timorese Military (FALINTIL - Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste – F-FDTL) lodged a series of formal complaints with Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak. The majority of these soldiers were from the western Districts of Timor. The grievances cited poor service conditions, lack of opportunity for promotion, and abusive discrimination by eastern officers against western soldiers and officers.

By early February talks to resolve the issues broke down and nearly 400 Petitioners deserted their posts in various F-FDTL bases. By mid-February, the number grew to 594 – 40% of the total force of 1500. February 23rd, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak unceremoniously dismissed all 594 of the petitioners after they failed to return to their barracks. The Brigadier General simply stated, “Thank you”, and fired them.[4] While questions remain over his legal ability to have done so, the decision was endorsed by then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

After a tense period of discussion and moves by government to address the situation (e.g. forming numerous commissions), the Petitioners requested and received permission from then Minister of the Interior Rogerio Lobato to hold a series of demonstrations. April 24th marked the beginning of 4 days of protests by Petitioners and thousands of civilians who joined their cause. Thinly veiled threats of violence were made. On April 26th, while perhaps unrelated to demonstrations, market stalls and properties belonging to easterners were attacked. Notably, members of Colimau 2000, a quasi-militia anti-government group from the western portion of the country joined the ranks; the spokesman issued direct threats against police and government.

The final demonstration on the 28th of April turned violent. Mixed groups of civilians and petitioners broke off from the main demonstration and attacked the Government Palace, burning a government vehicle and smashing windows. The Timorese Police forces (Policia National de Timor-Leste – PNTL) were unable (or unwilling) to control the situation and withdrew. Public order and security deteriorated rapidly.

The violence spread to the Dili’s western Sucos, Comoro and Taci Tolu. In light of the inability (or unwillingness) of the police to re-establish order, now deposed Prime Minister Alkatiri deployed remaining F-FDTL forces onto city streets to quash the violence. Proper legislative procedure was not followed, and the act was in apparent violation of the Timorese Constitution. Armed civilians were seen in the F-FDTL ranks deployed in Taci Tolu. Official reports saw the violence result in 5 dead, 47 wounded, with around 100 homes burned, mainly those belonging to easterners. Church officials allege up to 60 people were killed in a supposed massacre and subsequent cover up – however, despite confirmed reports of heavy automatic gunfire supporting these claims. Allegations subsequently have been dismissed, though the impact on perception of the F-FDTL was undoubtedly negative. 10,000 people were initially displaced.

The now famous Major Alfredo Reinado deserted his post afterward with his Military Police platoon, taking significant amounts of military hardware with them. They cited the unconstitutionality of the order as their reason.

The events between the 23rd and 25th of May perhaps proved the final tipping point. On the 23rd of May, during a filmed interview between Major Reinado and SBS reporter David O’Shea in Fatu Ahi, a group of F-FDTL soldiers approached. They were apparently unaware of Reinado’s presence and the incident sparked may have been engineered. Reinado was filmed warning them off and counting down from “10”, raising his scoped M-16 rifle, and firing. When prompted by O’Shea, Reinado replied “got one”, apparently having shot an F-FDTL soldier while being filmed.[5] The resulting battle appears to have been a set-up, with Reinado’s men strategically placed in a locale where they knew F-FDTL forces would pass. The interview was apparently arranged by a Member of the Timorese Parliament, knowing F-FDTL forces would pass there.[6]

On May 24th, PNTL and civilian militia launched a sustained attack on military personnel in Taci Tolu. The now famous “Railos”[7] militia was apparently involved in the attack,[8] contradicting claims of having been armed and ordered to provide security to FRETILIN members and/or liquidate Petitioners. The fighting was intense; an F-FDTL maritime gunboat was called to provide heavy fire support for the F-FDTL, strafing the surrounding hills. A number of the attackers were killed and found in possession of weaponry issued exclusively to PNTL forces.[9] Later on that day, another concerted attack was launched against the personal residence of Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, again by a mixed group of PNTL and armed civilians, led by Deputy PNTL Commander for Liquiça, Abilio Mesquita. The attack was subsequently repelled. On this day, the Timorese government requested international assistance to calm the situation.

In response to perceived PNTL attacks on the Taci Tolu military base and the Brigadier General’s house, May 25th the F-FDTL launched a concerted attack on PNTL headquarters –less than 3 blocks from UNOTIL headquarters. PNTL Deputy Commissioner Ismael Babo’s house was also burned, as was a house belonging to then Minister of Interior Lobato’s family. This resulted in the death of 6 people including 4 children. After a tense standoff at PNTL HQ, a warning shot apparently sparked shooting. Under siege in the PNTL compound, UNPol Military and Police Training Officers attempted to negotiate a deal for safe passage of PNTL officers. The agreement reached seems to have required PNTL officers be disarmed before safe passage would be granted.[10] As the column of around 85 unarmed PNTL officers moved by a Ministry of Justice building, 6 men broke rank and opened fire at close range with automatic weapons. At least 10 officers were killed, 27 injured, including 2 UNPols. It has been alleged civilians carrying weapons –including senior easterners in the PNTL High Command – were present and dressed in F-FDTL uniforms, though not actively participating in the massacre. Following the incident, the PNTL disintegrated as a force in Dili and remaining F-FDTL forces were ordered to remain in their barracks. On the 26th of May, the first Australian soldiers landed in Dili and began securing the airport.

In the security vacuum following the virtual breakdown of both security forces, violence by youth gangs allied loosely with either faction, and both factions themselves broke out around Dili. Armed groups attacked residents, burned and looted homes, and terrorized the city throughout June. The violence caused a humanitarian emergency, with approximately 70,000 people registered in up to 52 camps in Dili with another 80,000 people having fled to back to their Districts. As of early October, 2000 homes were listed as damaged or destroyed.[11] The arrival of over 3200 peacekeepers somewhat stabilized the situation; violence has since diminished, but sporadic burning, looting, and street fights continue at present.

Framework of Analysis
Much has been written about recent violence in Timor-Leste in the attempt to explain it. International media focused on the events leading up to the crisis itself; in a half-truth,[12] Australian media levelled blame solely on deposed Prime Minister Alkatiri for firing “the
Petitioners” and sparking the crisis; led by John Martinkus, independent media have put together a narrative implicating Australia and/or the United States in a clandestine coup attempt; the UN has been blamed[13] for pulling international forces out too early and failing in their task of nation building (despite having been lauded just months before for their successes); the Timorese themselves have been blamed for the inability to govern themselves;[14] others blamed the economy and mob mentally for quick escalation of widespread violence.[15]

While there is no doubt political power plays and manipulations contributed to the outbreak of violence, this and the preceding explanations fail to touch upon or address underlying causes of the recent crisis, pointing only to current political events. The explanations posited by many observers do, however, raise important questions that must be answered in relation to root causes.

The key question that must be asked: Why did dissident soldiers’ alleged discrimination on the grounds of their western East Timorese descent provoke such widespread conflict? Even local Timorese experts were shocked with the speed and scale with which violence erupted.[16]

Richard Curtain raises some further questions in his recent paper the crisis in Dili:

1. Why did the mobs direct their anger at people from the east and not at the government?
2. Why have the outbursts of violence been largely limited to Dili?
3. Why were the communal leaders in Dili so ineffective in stopping the rumours?
4. Why did they fail to bring strong enough pressure on the young men in their communities to stop the violence?[17]

Curtain focuses mainly on the economy, poor governance, political manipulation, and mob mentality to answer these questions. While they undoubtedly played a role in recent events, they are insufficient without discussion of root causes to explain exactly why wholesale violence broke out across Dili.

This paper aims to combine streams of research, recent reports, and first hand knowledge gained from personal experience in Timor-Leste to produce a tentative explanation of root causes for recent violence in Timor-Leste. It uses a framework based on conflict theory and horizontal inequality. The paper is intended to point the way for further research and to help inform policy choices regarding the country and is in no way intended to present a complete explanation for the recent crisis. It should be read with a view that it is only one piece in the explanation puzzle rather than a singular explanatory piece.

Conflict Theory
Broadly speaking, the first stage in the cycle is ‘latent conflict’ or unstable peace.[18] This is a situation in which individuals, groups, political parties, communities, neighbourhoods, and/or organizations have differences or grievances causing friction. Long standing grievances, or root causes, may include race and linguistic identity, and are generally long term issues.[19] Proximate causes are more dynamic situations that may be altered in the short term; they include political and economic climate, security situations, fluid ethnic divisions, and various legal issues. These conflict-driving factors may be insufficient to motivate one party to act in alteration of the situation, but have the potential to spark conflict.[20] Intervening factors may accelerate or outright prevent the outbreak of conflict, if they are of sufficient strength and importance, e.g. external or internal influences, which feed or stifle conflict, such as economic conditions, and/or international pressure. Should grievances or frustrations be strong enough, ignored, and mitigating factors are absent or sufficiently weak, a triggering event may cause the emergence or eruption of conflict.[21]

In Timor-Leste, numerous factors pointed first to the existence of latent conflict while recent political and security sector incidents have proven triggers of overt conflict on a scale few could have predicted.

Historical Dispute
Conflict should be understood in the context of its historical roots and causes as the first step in attempting to resolve it. In the case of Timor-Leste, those attempting to explain the conflict have done so absent discussion of it historical roots. The history of people participating in conflict and that of the issues themselves serve to influence a conflict’s course; history itself can provide momentum for the development of conflict. Complicated conflicts with historical roots remain difficult to resolve without proper understanding of historical interactions between disputants, and the degree to which the dispute has become a part of the disputants’ identities.[22] Additionally, power structures and inequalities among groups should be considered, as institutional strength/dominance or resource dominance is a common root for many conflicts. Accordingly, it is important to analyze the current conflict through a historical lens to identify its roots.[23]

Horizontal Inequality
Building upon historical aspects of disputes, horizontal inequalities between groups along resource or access to power also plays a major role. Perceived injustices regarding a variety of issues can be dangerous – especially so if merged with issues unrelated to the roots of a conflict (e.g. personalized disputes in a conflict which originally erupted over land usage/access).[24]

Stewart defines the ‘horizontal inequality’ concept as “the existence of severe inequalities between culturally defined groups” in political opportunities, social access, economic assets, employment and income. This is distinguished from ‘normal’ inequality which gauges inequality over an entire society, or ‘vertically’, rather than horizontally.[25] Measurement of vertical inequality may serve important purposes in gauging inequality in homogenous nations with few ethnic divisions or problems, however it misses important factors which tend to play key roles in determining when and where conflict or strife between competing identity groups might take place. Others, such as Gurr (author of Minorities at Risk Project[26]) explain relative deprivation, e.g. disparity between groups, is a necessary component for civil strife of any kind – necessary, though not sufficient.[27]

Inequality is, however, not always a cause for conflict. Qualitative case studies show societies highly unequal in terms of income distribution (i.e., Thailand, Kenya, Pakistan and Brazil) are not invariably ridden by conflict. However, when grievances are politicised within an ethnic framework, the risk of conflict increases exponentially, intricately related to the degree of disparity.[28] In fact, ethnic conflict has been noted as worse in situations where economic (e.g. vertical inequality) inequality in society is low, noting an inverse relationship.[29] When inequalities in resources, access, and outcomes coincide with cultural differences, culture can become a powerful mobilizing agent that can lead to a range of political disturbances.[30] Historical conflict between two identity groups intermingled with horizontal inequality along those same lines clearly fosters conflict, though such a result does not inevitably result.

Root Causes
Firaku and Kaladi: Key Concepts
Many internationals staff and foreigners are sceptical of reports citing ‘ethnic split’ as the cause of recent conflict; certainly an unreported east-west divide could not have arisen or remained hidden since the 1999 referendum? Mild jokes about east and westerner Timorese do circulate, but they are of a trivial nature and furtive at most. Many locals, national NGO staff, and community leaders agree – there is no real problem between east and western Timorese. However, with incomplete knowledge, those inquiring into recent events are perhaps asking the wrong questions.

With enough background knowledge of the situation, one might phrase their questions differently. The use of two ‘magic’ words (or ‘concepts’) entirely changes responses from the Timorese. It would become clear the international community was oblivious to a serious pre-existing internal dispute, one with now threatens to sunder the country in two.

Violence along east-west lines in Timor-Leste is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it has been noted as early as the 1940’s, yet did not receive much attention from foreign scholars present. At the time it was misinterpreted as common conflict between Timorese kingdoms, typical of the colony at the time. The distinction and conflict between firaku and kaladi, or broadly speaking between east and west, has since been widely accepted within Timor-Leste, though not all Timorese would identify with either group.[31] Indeed “on the streets of Dili, among local East Timorese, there is a popular distinction made between talkative easterners (firaku) and more taciturn westerners (kaladi).”[32] The issue, however, has become deeply politicized in recent times.[33]

The terms themselves, firaku and kaladi refer broadly to a geographical distinction between those from the Eastern portion of Timor-Leste, and those from the West. The division is geographic and somewhat political, not per se ethnic using traditional definitions thereof, as each group comprises multiple ethnicities, languages, cultural identities, and language families.

At this point, it is useful to define what is meant by the term, “ethnic” as discussion focuses on differences and tensions between ethno-racial groups in Timor-Leste. Rather than using a ‘traditional-academic’ definition for ‘ethnic’, it is useful to look at situation where the concept of ‘ethnicity’ is of sufficient importance to warrant a precise and authoritative legal definition.

In order to apply article 4 of the 1945 Genocide Convention[34],a key piece of international human rights legislation, it is necessary to define “ethnic”. More specifically, for “genocide” to occur as defined in the Convention, there is a requirement that the prohibited act of “genocide” be carried out against a specific group, namely involving: (4) (i) killing members of a national or ethnical, racial or religious group. “Ethnicity” is therefore one of the features required to legally establish a protected group under the Genocide Convention. In this paper two subjective-objective established in a number of cases heard by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are used. Per Ikayishema and Ruzindana:

An ethnic group is one whose members share a common language and culture, or a group which distinguishes itself as such (self-identification); or a group identified as such by others, including perpetrators of the crimes (identification by others). A racial group is based on hereditary physical traits often identified with geography.[35]

Rutaganda further expanded the subjective nature of the definition:

The concepts of national, ethnical, racial, and religious groups have been researched extensively, and … at present, there are no generally and internationally accepted precise definitions thereof. Each of these concepts must be assessed in the light of a particular political social and cultural context. Moreover, the Chamber notes that for the purposes of applying the Genocide-Convention, membership of a group is, in essence a subjective rather than an objective concept. The victim is perceived by the perpetrator of genocide as belonging to a group slated for destruction. In some instances, the victim may perceive himself/herself as belonging to the said groups[36]

This definition should be kept in mind when ethnicity and the concepts of firaku and kaladi are subsequently mentioned in this paper. Using these definitions, estimates show firaku make up a minority between 30-40% of the population and kaladi a majority of 50-70%.[37]

Dionisio Babo Soares, current head of the Timorese side of the Truth and Friendship Commission with Indonesia, explains in his 2003 thesis multiple opinions exist on the origin of the two terms. The most popular view sees the terms as being Portuguese derived, referring to the attitudes and comportment of inhabitants from eastern and western TimorLeste. Accordingly, the terms may be phonologically derived from Portuguese, namely the terms, ‘calado’ (silent, quiet, hushed) and ‘vira o cu’ (to turns one’s backside to a speaker in a rude manner). ‘Calado’ was apparently used in reference to westerners “because of their slow, quiet, taciturn attitudes”, while ‘vira o cu’ was used for easterners “because of their temperamental attitude and stubbornness. As a group they would not hesitate to turn their backs – or backsides – to their masters when called to observe instructions.”[38]

Districts Commonly Associated with Firaku and Kaladi
Lautém (Los Palos)

Cova Lima

This most common view sees the two ‘pidginized’ Portuguese pronunciations of kaladi and firaku and perhaps points to colonial roots of the distinction. Such colonial inventions have often served administrative purposes, particularly in Africa (e.g. Hutu & Tutsi in Rwanda);[39] the full origin of this historical split merits additional research.

Regardless of the origin, evidence suggests the stereotypes were popularized by the 1940’s in Dili (though perhaps earlier) where both ‘groups’ congregated seeking access to designated market spaces and property. They made their way to Dili, populated slum areas, created ‘ghettos’, and began running small businesses. Dili itself may once have been considered a Mambai area, e.g. kaladi, but as the colonial capital, it was an obvious draw for Timorese merchants from other areas who flowed into the city from east and west, “controll[ing] transactions in the local market, including the selling of fruits, vegetables, and other items.”[40]

Arguments and violence were common, leading to “street battles and killings among [east and west]. The absence of law enforcement at the time – which concentrated more on protecting the colonial government’s interest – turned this rivalry into a kind of tradition.”[41] There was intense competition over limited land and market space in Dili’s Mercado (now known as Mercado Lama).

As people continued to move into Dili, association with one’s geographic origin as a ‘community’ –loromonu and lorosae – became the norm for both ‘groups’. Individuals likely identified with their respective communities based on perceptions of shared beliefs and a shared common ‘enemy’.[42] Community in this sense refers to the aspect of people’s identity deriving from feeling connected with groups they can identify with, feel recognized by, and thereby feel validated.[43] In this way it seems the concepts and terms, firaku and kaladi, have become ingrained in Timorese culture, and fits with the definitions. The distinction seems to be relegated largely to Dili where both groups are in close contact with one another.

FALINTIL Resistance
After the 1975 Indonesian invasion of Timor-Leste, by and large these tensions were subsumed by the existence of an enemy common to both groups – but not entirely.[44]

At certain points, FALINTIL (Forças Armadas para a Liberação Nacional do Timor Leste who fought against the Indonesian occupiers) guerrilla forces were removed to the eastern portion of Timor-Leste.[45] While numerous possible explanations for this exist, it is certain the resistance movement was centred in the firaku-lorosae region of Timor for at least some time. The result was less FALINTIL presence in the kaladiloromonu regions of Timor-Leste during certain periods.[46]

While this does not mean the west had no role in the resistance, it does however seem to have fostered a common view in 2nd generation resistance leaders that operations were carried out mainly in the lorosae region of the country. Others acknowledge lower levels of resistance in the west, noting several platoons retained symbolic presence but sent most troops to fight in the east. Given the resistance concentration in the east at some points, it is logical subsequent FALINTIL leaders came from that area, and were/are of eastern origin.[47]

The temporary firaku-lorosae concentration of activity and origins of many senior FALINTIL leaders have led to the downplaying of kaladi-loromonu role in the independence struggle. This has been exploited at various points to suggest Timor-Leste should be run by firaku, and by some leaders to consolidate their power/roles.[48] Ethnic symbols and the enhancement of ethnic identities and roles (often by reworking historical memories) can be used as powerful mechanisms to mobilize support for a cause or purpose.[49] Post-independence, existing discrimination, division, and prejudice, were subsequently institutionalized when FALINTIL was demobilized and transformed into the F-FDTL, discussed at length below.

No less than three months after the 1999 referendum and the removal of Indonesian repression, conflict and hostilities between the two broadly defined groups – firaku and kaladi –began to emerge. The international community misinterpreted and downplayed these ‘battles’ as common “clashes [between] two rival gangs”[50] common to many urban areas across the globe, rather than manifestations of a long standing broader divide.

In late December of 1999, a fight broke between Timorese youths near Areia Branca beach, just outside Dili. The issue at stake was sacrifice during the war; apparently the firaku youths felt they bore the brunt of the 24-year struggle while kaladi kept to themselves. The insult propelled a minor dispute into a gang affair of scale when friends from both sides joined the dispute, which subsequently turned violent involving sticks and knives. INTERFET (International Force in East Timor) intervened forcefully to break up the fight. This perhaps marked the revival of open firaku-kaladi tensions developed in the 1940’s but subsumed under occupation.[51]

A few days later in January, 2000, more fighting broke out in the Mercado Lama. Most small kiosks in this building were owned by people from Baucau and Viqueque (firaku areas). Two people from Laga (a Sub-District in Baucau) were killed in supposed retribution for the Areia Branca incident.[52]

Within three weeks, another much larger incident occurred in Bairro Pite, traditionally a kaladi area. Multiple youths were injured in the fight which involved katanas and machetes. It was only ended when United Nations CivPol’s forcefully intervened. Allegedly, the kaladi “could not tolerate the insult from Laga [firaku] that loromonu people did not participate in the fight against Indonesia during the 24-year struggle.” Former FALINTIL members were involved, fighting alongside firaku youths.[53] These incidents echo past ‘battles’ between firaku and kaladi groups in the 1940’s.

In recent events, east-west issues have arisen again. Curtain notes some protesters carried various banners, saying: ‘We want to seek justice and truth’ or ‘Brigadier General Ruak should declare 'westerners' were also involved in the independence struggle’ and ‘Viva President’. On 26 April 2006, during a petitioner demonstration, people attacked eastern market traders.[54]

These protests helped mobilize larger dissatisfied groups in the population, using the east-west division as a vehicle for their anger. One protester on 26 April 2006 noted they:

“also protest against the people who are from Lorosae (East) who dominate the selling of goods in the three [Dili] markets of Becora, Taibessi and Comoro.” If a solution is not reached, then people from the West will boycott all goods imported into Timor-Leste.[55]

This historical split and resurgence is insufficient to explain why the situation was so easily turned into broad scale violence. Many nations have such divisions, but most manage them without a total breakdown in their society. Having identified the historical the actors in Timor-Leste, it is necessary to analyze a number of key proximate causes to see how they interacted and resulted in recent violence.

Proximate Causes
Specific Role of Land and Property in Conflict
While perceived injustice regarding land and property (meaning real, immovable property, e.g. housing) can be very dangerous, it becomes even more so when merged with issues unrelated to land.[56] Horizontal inequality between kaladi and firaku is an important proximate cause in the recent conflict in Timor-Leste. Reiterating Stewart’s view, “the existence of severe inequalities between culturally defined groups” and “where there are such inequalities in resource access and outcomes, coinciding with cultural differences, culture can become a powerful mobilising agent that can lead to a range of political disturbances.”[57]

Land and Property Repercussions from 1999[58]
Immediately following the 1999 referendum, pro-autonomy militias and the Indonesian Military (TNI) pushed or forced hundreds of thousands of Timorese out of Dili and into West Timor as refugees.

After violence wound down, those who had not been forced into West Timor returned to Dili first. For a variety of reasons (e.g. time and relative distance from the city- discussed further below) the first people back were mainly firaku. Upon arrival, they found the scorched earth campaign had left housing particularly hard-hit; the militia had “significantly damaged” up to 30% of houses in Dili, while an estimated 80% of housing across Timor-Leste as a whole was rendered uninhabitable.[59] Housing was in short supply.

Those returnees who arrived in Dili first occupied various lands and properties. These included former Indonesian State properties, private residences, local militia members’ houses, and virtually any intact housing belonging to Timorese who had fled and yet to return.[60] However, the National Land Agency (NLA - Badan Pertanahan Nasional) was among the first destroyed, the records were taken onto the street, soaked with petrol, and burned.[61] This meant many formal title records destroyed, either in the NLA itself or by fire in houses where Timorese left when they fled. This left virtually formal functioning way to handle competing land claims. Since there was no formal system to speak of, incoming Timorese took the path of least resistance and simply ignored the formal regime.[62]For many of those arriving from outside Dili, a formal land system may have been alien given their lack of experience with it.[63]

The situation in Dili was made worse by returning refugees from West Timor and others displaced to the rest of Timor-Leste.[64] The UNHCR and IOM were mandated to plan and implement the return process, but neither organization took complete control over the process, perhaps due to overlapping mandates. Neither agency developed policy stating precisely where returnees would ultimately return; many were therefore returned where they requested, not to where they actually originated. Accordingly, the majority of returnees were sent to Dili, as requested.[65] Transit camps were established, but after spending some time there, returnees were then expected to find their own housing or use the shelter kits given to them (ironically brought from Indonesia).[66] As the only part of the country with economic activity, many returnees remained in Dili, opting not to return to their home districts (where intact housing may not have existed). Indirectly, IOM and UNHCR repatriation activities helped concentrate approximately 53,000 returnees in Dili.[67] Not to disparage either organization, but at the time, housing was not considered a key concern. Return and repatriation were the key aims while the situation was complicated by attacks on ex-militia members by communities, complicated further by militia attacks resulting in the death of three UNHCR workers in Atambua, West Timor.[68] There has since been a movement within the UNHCR to recognize housing and restitution as key issues to ensure sustainable and successful returns, enshrined in the Pinheiro Principles.[69]

The large number of returnees, acute housing shortages across the country, and the lack of economic activity outside Dili caused a population boom in Dili. Accordingly, there was an extreme shortage of housing. Squatters from various parts of the country, namely from the east (firaku) occupied what were then ‘abandoned’ lands and properties. Some occupiers were able to profit handsomely by occupying multiple houses and renting them out to locals and internationals. Rents ranged between approximately US$600 up to US$ 3,000 per month;[70] consider average income is currently an estimated US$1.01/per day, US$30.30/month.[71] This illegal rent collecting group consisted largely of easterners – including a number of civil servants and government officials – and caused significant resentment and jealousy among those forced to watch what might have been their own property (or that which they felt they had a valid claim to) rented out to foreigners for large profits.[72] Aggressive means were employed to exclude former occupants from their properties, stoking anger further. Many easterners new to Dili were unable to integrate themselves into their host communities, possibly stemming from aggressive behaviour in defence of newly ‘acquired’ properties and a lack of previous connections to the city.

Illegal occupation was extremely widespread. The promulgation of Law No 1/2003 required regularization of occupations in exchange for leases with the DNTP and guaranteed continued occupation. Approximately 6000 ‘illegal’ occupants submitted applications to the DNTP for regularization.[73] An estimated 50 percent of housing in Dili was occupied illegally.[74]

Considering the tradition-based land system which persists in some form today in Dili, many Timorese may not have filed any claim to their property. A lack of formal education and experience with the formal system means many Timorese simply may not have known why or how to file a claim. Under the traditional system,[75] land transactions are not registered with the formal system but regulated through local political and ritual authorities. Only if the traditional understanding of ownership is challenged through competing systems (Portuguese or Indonesian titling), or if there is disagreement over the traditional order – official authorities may be involved. The Chefe de Aldeia and the Chefe de Suco – both political authorities that mediate between customary and official system – are important actors. However, if they cannot restore calm, the conflicting parties generally address higher level official administration, such as the district administration’s land and property officers, legal aid organisations or the formal judiciary.[76]

Many Timorese may therefore consider themselves rightful owner of that property according to the customary land system, but they have no formal title. Accordingly, the extent of illegal occupations in Dili could be significantly greater than suspected.[77]

UNTAET Land Policy
When UNTAET deployed, there was no dedicated department for housing. When the Land and Property Unit (LPU) was finally operational months after being established, it was not given neither the funds to construct public housing nor adequate staff to deal with such issues.[78] UNTAET (or rather those in charge of policy) perhaps did not understand the historical role disputes over land and property has in driving intra-Timorese conflict in Dili – namely that described above between firaku and kaladi groups. Considering the breadth of UNTAET’s role in running the country, it is not surprising some issues were overlooked, despite UNTAET being widely considered as the most successful UN operation to date. Were the international community aware of these past disputes, a different course of action might have been followed.

The LPU’s subsequent efforts to address housing issues were largely unsuccessful due to a combined set of circumstances militating against success, namely reservations over addressing complexities of a sputtering socio-economic situation and institutional trepidations over the difficulties associated with such a task. The LPU drafted at least eight policy papers lobbying for more support and a broader mandate.[79] Wright notes at least some draft legislation drawn up by LPU to deal with land issues was actually rejected by the Timorese Cabinet itself, rather than UNTAET.[80]

Fitzpatrick, who served on the UNTAET LPU, noted the absence, first of a dedicated housing division, and second, the absence of any budgetary provisions for public housing construction in 2000.[81] Wright note further indications of resource scarcity in the LPU: despite assertions to the contrary, there actually were some methods to establish land ownership. Former LPU member Warren Wright notes that under the occupation, quasi-governmental officials, Land Deed Officials (PPAT – Pejabat Pembuat Akta Tanah) were mandated under Indonesian legislation to generate and retain documentation pertaining to land transactions. The PPAT was obliged to keep copies of land titles in their office, thus despite the destruction of the National Land Office, Wright notes many records apparently survived:

"I saw them in the LPU office and I found many in the rubble of the Formento building where LPU was initially located – including Land Books, certificates, maps, records of deed lodgement and so on." [82]

The real issue here was first, the availability of those existing documents, and second, the lack of LPU resources to handle them. Wright notes the PPAT officials and the National Land Office officials were mostly Javanese and took many of these records back to Java when they fled. Wright himself went to Jakarta and Bali to negotiate the return of these records:

"After much resistance and many lies, photocopies of a lot of records were eventually provided to [the UNTAET Land and Property Unit,] but there was not enough staff and resources to sort and file them so they remained in piles and boxes.”[83]

In addition to (perhaps because of) the lack of resources allocated to the LPU, Fitzpatrick notes UNTAET did not establish any conflict resolution mechanisms for housing, land and property disputes in general or disputes caused by the mass delivery of returnees to Dili. Some have asserted this was due at least in part to resistance among Timorese politicians with property interests standing to gain from the lack of clarity. While Court proceedings remained open to land disputants, the formal judicial system likely would not have been up to the task.[84]

The LPU did not provide any public housing (except for international staff, though an actual housing unit probably ought to have been created specifically to deal with the issue); an administrative system governing transactions of private lands was not established; and finally did not provide any systemic incentives for returnees to return to home Districts.[85] Overall, because the LPU did not have the capacity it needed, it proved an impossible task to handle (or prevent) extensive illegal occupations while trying to accommodate the disorderly flow of people into Dili.

In the attempt to deal with the situation, the LPU began granting “Temporary Use Agreements”[86] (TUA) for abandoned private lands, thereby regularizing illegal occupations and generating a modest income stream. Unfortunately this caused further disputes when ‘true’ owners who had were forced to flee returned and found their residences and properties occupied ‘legitimately’ under a TUA issued by the LPU. Some properties under TUA agreements were sub-let or sold illegally to third parties.[87] The LPU, as noted by Fitzpatrick, had no way to resolve these disputes. The LPU was also unable to ensure proper implementation of UNTAET Notification No. 16/2000 on fees relating to land, buildings and property. The requirement that fair market value rent be charged for all properties administered by UNTAET was not enforced.[88] Former LPU member Warren Wright noted “many Temporary Use Agreements were made requiring a nil or nominal rental fee of $1 per month.”[89] Some high profile cases arose where private properties being put to commercial uses had incorrectly been awarded low payment TUAs,[90] while others were sublet to international staff for large rent incomes (noted above). Such practices clearly constituted abuse of the system set up to accommodate homeless Timorese[91] – perhaps made worse by the fact that UNTAET spent the revenues derived from TUAs, instead of holding them in trust for the actual owners which UNTAET’s fiduciary duty to the Timorese ought to have dictated.[92] As a result of such abuses, TUAs were eventually revised to exclude private abandoned properties, but left a legacy of unresolved disputes and intra-community jealousy.[93] TUA housing occupations formalized horizontal inequality between occupiers (namely easterners) and those whose properties were being occupied (namely westerners). It helped to stir significant tension along these lines.

Fitzpatrick confirmed this, citing two problematic example areas of Dili, Quintal Boot and Comoro. Quintal Boot consisted of largely unregistered land plots[94] and was occupied by "displaced persons from areas other than Dili”; Comoro was relatively upscale (at least in parts), largely Indonesian owned, and occupied by “opportunists who rented out to foreigners.”[95] More specifically:

"[o]ne ethnic group in particular, from the region around Bacau [firaku], had moved into vacant houses in Dili, and allegedly violently resisted attempts at reoccupation by their original owners. Reportedly, it was social conflict caused by this group that led to much-publicised violence in and around the Dili markets."[96]

The violence he speaks of, social conflict related to land and property, is the same firaku-kaladi violence recounted by Babo Soares in his thesis. Both areas were host to large amounts of destruction during recent violence.

UNTAET did not introduce sufficient policy responses to deal with widespread property destruction and subsequent illegal occupations. Measures to prevent and rectify occupations of land and property on the basis of first-come-first-served were not taken, and this is precisely what occurred.[97]

Acceptance of Traditional Claims
As noted above, traditional land claims are the norm in Timor-Leste. Considering the lack of dispute resolution capacities, the

UNTAET Land and Property Unit recognized utilization of traditional law (adat[lisan]) and customary mechanism[s] to make urgent and [unifying] settlement of land disputes provided there was an apprehension of breach of peace and the customary law did not conflict [with] any provision of any UN regulation. Such settlements were temporary in nature and did not give or recognize title in land. It only recognized lawful possession and the right to use land until appropriate land law was enacted and [a/the] Land Tribunal was constituted to give authoritative decisions on such disputes. [98]

Local law was recognized by the LPU as a stop-gap dispute resolution method. Customary dispute resolution channels were recommended before turning to the formal system, namely the LPU itself.[99]

While perhaps expedient at the time, it was not enacted within a framework providing for the registration of traditionally resolved land dispute with the formal system. Many disputes have been resolved over the past 7 years; however, because traditional decisions or sales were not required to be registered with formal land authorities, there are now major discrepancies between formal and traditional land titles in Timor-Leste, particularly in Dili. Lands in Dili have sometimes changed hands multiple times since 1999, with no formal records exchanging hands. Formal legal title therefore cannot be used to accurately establish true ‘legal’ ownership of land.[100] Indeed, the use of traditional methods was not always appropriate; two lian nain (respected and important traditional word holders) in Kampung Alor had been embroiled in land disputes since late 1999. They had yet to resolve them before the current crisis, despite active involvement by the Chefe de Suco. Land claims are complicated further by the layers of possible claims bases. Timorese claimants may have up to five bases for a land claim: 1. Those occupying land since 1999 (Temporary occupation under UNTAET regulations); 2. Those occupying since 1999 under subsequent Timorese legislation (again temporary); 3. Those with Indonesian title; 4. Those with Portuguese title; and 5. Those with a traditional-based land title.[101] This hodgepodge of claims combined with 1999 chaos and recent destruction clearly complicates the land and property situation, undoubtedly contributing to the difficulty of resolving land disputes.

The failure to enact a land and property system harmonized with traditional claims and able to resolve disputes[102] resulted in large- scale inequalities in land resource access. The inequalities in land access coincided closely with ‘geo-ethnic’ identities in Timor-Leste, thereby mixing resource inequality with cultural differences; social instability at some point was virtually guaranteed.[103] Ethnicity became a mobilizing agent and vehicle for anger, serving to reinforce and enhance this division. As described above, firaku are considered strong willed, perhaps obstinate; to a kaladi observer it may seem a natural for firaku to aggressively occupy property and forcefully exclude the owners, as these are ‘ethnic’ traits. Firaku might see the inability (or unwillingness) of kaladi to protect their properties as being part of their perceived cultural docility and reserved nature, perhaps perceived as weakness through a firaku lens.

Formation of FALINTIL into F-FDTL
After the 1975 Indonesian invasion, firaku-kaladi tensions seem to have been subsumed by the existence of a common enemy – but not entirely. As noted above, the concentration of resistance activity in the east at times and the eastern origin of many senior FALINTIL leaders[104] seem to have fuelled a split within FALINTIL. Despite this split, the guerrilla movement was largely transformed directly into the formal F-FDTL, thereby institutionalizing the split. The upper F-FDTL echelons are comprised mainly of easterners (with some western officers) while lower ranks were largely kaladi before the Petitioners were fired.[105] The entire recruitment process angered many veterans who had served with FALANTIL.

Many former guerrillas from both east and west were excluded during the formation process. Some of those excluded found work within the PNTL while others formed splinter groups.[106] Ele Sete & the Sagrada Familia (East), Colimau 2000 (West), and the CPD-RDTL (East) are examples of excluded groups roughly organized along firaku/kaladi lines. Rees recounts

"a rise in the number of security groups (involving disaffected former FALINTIL fighters) operating throughout the country. Some of these are politically oriented while others have more criminal motivations… anti-[F]-FDTL groups [are] allegedly on the increase and FDTL commanders are interfering in the civilian democratic process by making politically charged statements to the press."[107]

Speaking specifically of the F-FDTL, the failure to properly (or equitably) integrate FALINTIL fighters led to simmering discontent by those excluded (and included but discriminated against) from the F-FDTL; underlying this failure is a larger issue, as Rees, a former UNTAET staff member, warned over 3 years ago:

"Early decisions regarding demobilisation and establishing the defence force and police services were made in a spirit of political and practical expediency rather than with a view to the long-term development of East Timor. A few UN officials in conjunction with a narrow section of the East Timorese leadership guided the process. This resulted in institutions that are characterised by many in East Timor as being illegitimate. This is clearly a dangerous equation. Old divisions in the anti-Indonesian resistance movement are being institutionalised in the new East Timorese state with one political grouping [President Gusmão's allies] finding a home in the defense force and dissidents [under the patronage of the Minister for Internal Administration] likely finding a home in the police service, and some elements of local government."[108]

The result was command structure within the F-FDTL largely dominated by those from the East, with those from the West generally feeling discriminated against without opportunity for advancement within the forces. Further, F-FDTL commanders were seen to be interfering in the civilian democratic process by making politically charged statements to the press.[109] This situation seems to have directly precipitated the Petitioner’s complaints, centring on poor conditions of service,[110] promotion irregularities (or lack thereof), and alleged discrimination from senior firaku officers against kaladi officers and soldiers. A letter of complaint singled out a high ranking F-FDTL Commander for his alleged public humiliation of kaladi subordinates, referring to them ‘sons of pro-Indonesia militia’, a huge insult for those who sacrificed many years of their lives in service of independence. As with the land and property issue, within the F-FDTL institution there was a volatile mix of unequal access to resources and perceived cultural differences. In the case of the F-FDTL, one might add unmet post-struggle expectations to the mixture for both those included and excluded from the formation.[111]

After finally being dismissed over their complaints, subsequent protests and violent events saw two ruptures: first, a split between F-FDTL members, roughly along east-west lines, as described above; Gastão Salsinha, spokesperson for the Petitioners expressed concerns firaku, including top military officers, accused the dismissed men of being aligned to pro-Indonesian militias. Salsinha also noted some of those making the accusations against his men were given rifles; "What are they for? We are worried about this[.]"[112]

Second, the already strained and politicized relationship between the PNTL and F-FDTL failed entirely.[113] The population and officers within both forces had already expressed concerns about differential treatments and inequalities within and between the forces. Friction between security forces began as early as 2002, accompanying the appointment of Rogerio Lobato as Minister of the Interior.[114] Efforts to undermine FFDTL in 2001 by dissidents, and subsequent attempts to politicize police by the same dissidents were followed by a rise in direct and indirect clashes between PNTL and F-FDTL in 2002 and 2003.[115] As Minister of the Interior, Lobato expanded his PNTL domain in budgetary allocations over the F-FDTL, increased the role of the PNTL to countering cross-border incursions and suppressing of rural domestic and cross border ‘insurgents’, treading upon defence policy and F-FDTL domain.[116] Lobato also equipped the PNTL with heavy military hardware, raising concerns among observers.[117] Significantly, the PNTL is said to be largely composed of kaladi Timorese.[118]

The final violent split between members of the F-FDTL and PNTL was caused by horizontal inequalities within the F-FDTL and friction between the two institutions. Events listed above ultimately triggered, though were perhaps engineered, the inter and intra-force fighting. Violence against the F-FDTL seems to have been conducted in a manner implicating the PNTL and westerners as the perpetrators.[119]

Intervening Factors

Economic Situation
The underlying root cause, firaku-kaladi split, combined with festering anger over horizontal inequalities in the land and property and the F-FDTL – both major proximate causes in this conflict – may not have proved sufficient to cause conflict were it not for the final intervening factor.

An intervening factor in a latent conflict situation may have a positive or a negative effect, either slowing or preventing conflict from breaking out. It may also have the reverse effect, accelerating a conflict as well.[120] The economic situation in a country can play either role and is heightened in small island developing states like Timor-Leste.[121] Small island developing states suffer particular economic vulnerabilities which play a special role in the lead up to persistent low intensity violence or intense criminal activities (e.g. Jamaica, Solomon Islands).

In Timor-Leste, the World Bank surmises unemployment rates (43 percent in 2001) have undoubtedly increased over the past few years,[122] while more recent sources (though unofficial) put the figures as high as 70 percent unemployment.[123] In 2005, Dili was ranked as the eighth most expensive city in Asia[124] while per capita income remains desperately low: US$370 per person, or US$1.01/per day.[125] At least 44 percent of Timorese subsist on less than $1 per day.[126] By and large, UNTAET neglected economic development as a priority. In addition, there is anecdotal economic evidence suggesting those identified as firakueasterners experienced significantly greater economic development than westerners in Dili, creating horizontal inequality with regard to economic resources and in addition to access to land and property.

These economic factors accelerated the breakout recent conflict. The impact of horizontal inequalities was heightened across the board, while the abysmal economic situation removed incentives to abstain from violence. Absent iron-fisted Indonesian control, competition in both the economic and political sphere intensified, while competing political groups exploited existing differences and inequalities to attract support along ‘ethnic’ lines.[127] The inequality in land and property facilitated this process by putting many Dili residents into direct conflict with the ‘opposing’ ethnic group. Informal discussions on Dili’s economic situation cited eastern market control as the reason for higher prices in the city,[128] again giving a face to attribute blame over circumstances directly affecting the population. Unmet post-independence expectations have also likely played a role; this is a topic which warrants more in depth research.

The Final Tally
For years, some UN organs, members Timorese government, and members of the development community in general feared land and property disputes might be a major threat to security, fuelling conflict and violence in the country.[129] The UNTAET Office of the National Security Advisor and the LPU released a joint report, warning land-related disputes were the major source of conflict and civil unrest in Timor-Leste in December of 2001.[130] UNTAET and the RDTL have since passed multiple laws and regulations to deal with post-1999 land and property issues, however many disputes and grievances remained unresolved at the beginning of recent violence and some crucial land laws have been stalled in Parliament for almost two years;[131] the latest round of housing destruction and illegal ccupations will only serve to compound land and property dispute complexity. The issue has been simmering and feeding pre-existing firaku-kaladi tensions. The societal impact of recent conflict threatens to haunt the country for years to come.

The recent breakdown in security and politics was a spark, igniting violence in the security vacuum. During this vacuum, the pre- existing ethnic divide was used by groups and their leaders to achieve political and economic goals. The vacuum gave those from the west the chance to finally reclaim lost or occupied land and properties and to exact vengeance on those who had claimed key properties since 1999.[132] Fear of this impending violence drove the mass exodus of both east and west, but easterners ultimately bore the brunt of destruction. As with many conflicts designated as ‘ethnic’, ethnicity (though neither group is close to being homogenous) was merely vehicle through which frustration and anger over horizontal inequalities in the political and economic situation; ethnic symbols, identities and roles, were used to mobilize support.

This divide and simmering conflict was largely contained by the Indonesian invasion and subsequent 24-year occupation, while the concerted countrywide effort to resist and repel the occupation further submerged the divide. Arguments over market access and land and property were directed against the Indonesians instead of between firaku and kaladi.[133] The divide was not forgotten, but only buried.

The east-west divide was dug up by topsy-turvy 1999 events, violence, and displacement, and subsequently reinforced by the ill-planned formation of the F-FDTL.[134] The firstcome-first-serve manner in which Dili was re-settled saw a massive influx of people, mainly from the East of Timor-Leste, dislodging many original residents in Dili. Those who arrived first and ‘strongest’ were able to gain control; this group was mainly the firaku as many did not flee into West Timorese Indonesia. Upon arrival, mass occupation of numerous property types began. To secure buildings, pre-formed firaku gangs and family members arrived were brought from home Districts to support occupations.[135] As noted above, this led to numerous violent confrontations when first, true home owners returned to find their properties occupied and were aggressively repelled by the occupiers, and second, when those who arrived first secured the best market spaces, thereby controlling market access.[136] Many owners were asked to pay exorbitant prices either for the care taken and improvements made upon their homes, or simply the return thereof; those unable to pay were forced to live in alternative dwellings awaiting government action for these illegal occupiers.[137] Others saw multiple houses rented out at high rates, garnering occupiers relatively huge incomes. Horizontal inequality between occupiers (namely firaku) and those displaced generated feelings of jealousy, envy, and injustice – especially if a house being rented out belonged to someone forced to live in squalor beside their former house. The return of refugees from West Timor and influx of people from the rest of Timor to Dili – the only place in the country with any significant economic activity – compounded the situation. Grievances caused by this situation were not great enough to result in open conflict, but were enough to cause persistent low-intensity conflict over the years, notably in the Mercado Central, Comoro Market area, Quintal Boot, along with other locations.

UNTAET, as noted above, was unequipped and therefore unable to deal with this huge problem and perhaps did not understand the full implications of ignoring it. Subsequent efforts by the Timorese Directorate of Land and Property, though concerted, were stunted by a lack of technology, money, human resources, and capital. Efforts have unfortunately proved inadequate to deal with the problem and have resulted in a horizontally unequal land resource situation between east and western Timorese living in Dili.

When violence finally erupted on the final day of protests in April, the dividing lines had already been drawn for the east–west rupture within the F-FDTL. The F-FDTL splintered with factions attacking the PNTL while F-FDTL deserters and civilian militias aggravated the situation. Violence can be broken down into three broad categories:

1. Civilians allying themselves along security force factional lines, meaning by and large east-west lines
2. Gangs organized, paid (monetary or otherwise), fomented and directed to destroy specifically targeted properties; most of these properties were occupied by easterners
3. Some political figures and community leaders exploited a perceived east-west divide to improve their relative ‘power’ position within Timorese society, inciting generic mob violence by gangs; factional east-west violence, looting, and generic property destruction.

These three strains of violence share one common theme, namely social split along perceived identities, eastern – ‘firaku’ – and western – ‘kaladi’ – East Timorese. The first strain of violence largely petered out with the arrival of international forces. The second and third continue and intermingle. These stereotypes were by and large a surprise to most internationals, even for those who have worked in Timor-Leste for many years. It is an even greater surprise these somewhat fictional differences could become such an efficient vehicle for violence and anger in the country. What is clear, however, is that segments and gangs within Timorese society have clearly identified themselves with either group. This type of phenomenon, namely ‘vehiclizing’ identities to carry out alternative purposes not per se related to such identities is relatively common; for example in neighbouring Indonesia, Christian-Muslim violence on the island of Sulawesi has more to do with resource based competition than ethnicity or religion.[138]

Land and property inequalities and disputes fuelled anger and the east-west split was the vehicle. Those enduring disputes for up to six years used the security vacuum post-disintegration of Timor’s security forces to exact retribution upon those illegally occupying properties around the city – exacting revenge on easterners. Pre-existing and impromptu gangs were mobilized into efficient retribution forces, commencing a large scale effort to remove people from occupied properties. Gang members have been caught by international police with hundreds of dollars jammed in their pockets and multiple cellular phones,[139] having been mobilized and paid to destroy illegally occupied properties along with those belonging to rival political groups,[140] by and large targeting firaku controlled properties and groups.[141] ‘Tua’ (local alcohol), virulent rhetoric against those from the east, and money helped goad these gangs and youths into action. Instead of attempting to stem violence, in some cases Chefes de Suco are alleged instead to have both driven gangs and actually participated in violence –like many others, Chefes suffered illegal property occupations. Others, having only been elected in November 2005 as virtual FRETILIN appointees simply lacked constituent support and the legitimacy necessary to control or mediate disputes. Interestingly, communities where little if any violence was experienced shared common characteristics, namely being wellknit with long-time mixed east-west composition, strong and respected Chefes de Suco and other community leaders (e.g. Kulu Hun, where a great number of ex-resistance live, both east and west, but have properly integrated), and finally good communication with and control over neighbourhood youths.[142] In Bidau Licidere the ex-Chefe de Suco explained huge issues stemming from illegal occupations, however, the only property burned here were kiosks belonging to easterners and local neighbourhood youths were apparently neither responsible, nor involved. The author personally witnessed this Chefe rounding youths up off the streets and back into their houses and IDP camps in the bairro. Some of those who had been occupying properties with their kiosks had normalized their relations with the neighbourhood, while those who did not were subject to destruction. Of particular note, one kiosk – a small mechanic stall – remained untouched out of a row of about 50 which had been burned. Upon speaking with the ex-Chefe, he explained it belonged to an easterner who was also brother-in-law to Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak – logically, this should have been the first kiosk destroyed. However, the owner had integrated into the community well and was liked; therefore, his kiosk was left alone by marauding gangs.[143]

The overall goal behind organized destruction was to push those occupying properties and controlling the markets out of Dili and back to Districts which they came from pre-1999.[144] This overarching goal of pushing people back to their Districts may be contestable, since ‘real’ coordination among forces is lacking. Regardless, many occupiers were from the east having arrived post-1999, and therefore it was they who have borne the brunt of this attack. It should be noted however, those kaladi illegally occupying properties suffered destructive wrath as well. Some witnesses detail levels of organization reminiscent of ethnic cleansing, noting gangs obtained lists of properties illegally occupied by easterners from Chefe de Aldeias.[145] This allowed efficient and precise targeting of eastern-occupied houses. Dislodging easterners from Dili markets which they were seen to dominate was another goal, though again, kaladi were also targeted. During the Petitioner rallies, one protester noted they “also protest against the … Lorosae (East) who dominate the selling of goods in the three [Dili] markets of Becora, Taibessi and Comoro.”[146] While the initial drive was to dislodge occupiers, this was accompanied and has now degenerated almost entirely into youth and gang violence along east-west lines.

The broad picture painted by this story is a firaku-kaladi conflict rooted deeply in large scale horizontal inequality in land and property access and ownership in Dili, with recent violence stemming from the failure to address this issue in the wake of 1999 destruction. These problems, combined with the internal schism institutionalized in the F-FDTL, East–West divisions fanned by certain politicians and the anaemic economy have caused the current situation in Timor-Leste. Mobs directed their anger at people from the east, not the government accordingly. Though sporadic violence has been recorded outside Dili, events have largely been relegated to the capital. Unlike the Districts, as the focal point for economic activity, Dili brings east and western groups together and thereby into direct contact and competition over scarce resources – mirroring the violence experienced between east and west in the 1940s.

It is anticipated there will be resistance in accepting some of the facts presented in this paper among many readers, especially the ex-patriot community in Dili. It should be borne in mind that intensive study of Timorese culture has not been undertaken since independence, making it entirely likely and possible aspects and nuances of the culture have been overlooked and misunderstood. Failure to take into account these facts could jeopardize the future of the country, perhaps perpetuating and exacerbating the roots causes of conflict within the country. While many Timorese – perhaps most – would reject categorization into either group, it is clear now that those perpetrating violence do not.

It is clear there are multiple causes of and facets to recent violence. The intent behind this paper is not to offer a ‘silver bullet’ explanation of recent violence, but rather it is intended to be read as a partial investigation and taken in tandem with additional research. When read in conjunction with other recent publications, such as Curtain’s noted above, the recent USAID Conflict Vulnerability Assessment Report, and a recent first-stab research report conducted by Scambury on the role of youth gangs in committing/perpetuating violence, the overall picture becomes clearer; none of the reports on their own produce fully sufficient explanations (including this one), but when read together and synthesized, they form a complete picture and explanation to most aspects of, and causes for, recent violence.

Whether one agrees with this analysis or not, it is clear the history of the kaladi-firaku split merits further research, as does the role of land and property in driving the recent violence in the context of other explanations posited by various authors.


1 Sources for section: Timeline of UN Presence in Timor-Leste. United Nations Office in Timor-Leste. (Accessed Monday, 26 June 2006);
Country Profile: East Timor. BBC News (Monday, 26 June 2006)
(Accessed Monday, 26 June 2006);
Final Report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) Part 12, Annex 2: Date and Statistical Methods. Archived on: East Timor Action Network (Accessed Monday, 26 June 2006);
United Nations Security Council S/RES/1599 (2005). (Accessed Monday, 26 June 2006)

2 This account was compiled by the author prior to the release of a UN special commission. The precise events and actors involved in
the 28th and 29th of April and the 23rd to 25th of May are the subject of intense study by United Nations Special Commission of Inquiry
for Timor-Leste, the events are intricately linked to the current situation and play a direct role as triggers. It is important to recap them
to situate interactions with root causes for recent violence.

3 Citations have been used sparingly as personal sources could face negative repercussions were they identified. Throughout this paper, all those to whom I spoke were guaranteed confidentiality unless they declined it. Regardless the UN report is available at: See: (Accessed October 17, 2006)

4 Quoted in: Suara Timor Loro’sae, archived on UNOTIL Daily Media Review (February 23, 2006) (Accessed September 13, 2006)

5 That video and interview of Reinado shooting at F-FDTL is widely available on DVD on Dili streets, while excerpts may be found easily on the SBS website.

6 Discussion, Dili, August 2006.

7 “Railos” is the leader of one of the militia groups apparently armed by then Minister of the Interior Rogerio Lobato with subsequent support from then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Lobato is currently being investigated and under house arrest for his purported role in arming the group with PNTL Border Patrol Unit weaponry. Liz Jackson’s report for ABC Television's Four Corners on this topic is suspect in numerous areas, but clearly sensationalized these events.

8 Discussion, Dili, August 2006.

9 Discussion, Dili, August 2006.

10 Good friend Officer Manuel Pinto who was involved put together a photo slide show detailing the events.
(Accessed September 14, 2006)

11 Timor-Leste: 2 mil casas destruídas entre Abril e Setembro.,Diario Digital (quarta-feira, 11 de Outubro de 2006) -- Portuguese language source. (Accessed October 11, 2006)

12 F-FDTL Commander Tuar Matan Ruak gave the actual order, dismissing the soldiers. Alkatiri did not object to the move and retains responsibility.

13 Special Representative to the Secretary General Susekiro Hasegawa has been specifically blamed by opposition parties for remaining silent over the past years while troubles within the defence forces became blatant. A letter authored by Fernando Lasama de Araujo, leader of the Partido Democratico requested Hasegawa be dismissed and replaced was circulated around the UN and diplomatic community in mid June, 2006. For a copy, contact:, or the author of this article.

14 Informal communication with Australian expert on Timor-Leste, Damian Kingsbury, July 2006 & ETAN Statement on Recent Events in Timor-Leste

15 Curtain, Richard . Crisis in Timor-Leste: Looking Beyond the Surface Reality for Causes and Solutions. SSGM Working Papers No. 2006/1 (27 July 2006). (Curtain)
(Accessed August 31, 2006)

16 Discussion with Dionisio Babo Soares, current head of the Timorese delegation to the Truth and Friendship Commission with Indonesia, August 2006.

17 Curtain, supra at note 15.

18 Brahm, Eric. "Early Warning." Beyond Intractability. Ed. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. 1 January 2005. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA. (Brahm)
(Accessed April 10, 2006)

19 Many more examples of this are amply available in mainstream conflict theory literature. Conflict framework from: FAST Analytical Framework. Swiss Institute of Peace.
(Accessed July 26, 2006)

20 Brahm, supra at note 18.

21 Kriesberg, Louis. "Conflict Emergence Stage." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September 2003
(Accessed April 10, 2006)

22 See: “What Causes Conflict: History”, in: Mayer, Bernard. “The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, March 2000) p 21. (Bernard)

23 Ibid p 21.

24 For discussion of post-conflict land issues, generally see: Unruh, Jon D. "Land and Property Rights in the Peace Process." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: January 2004

25 Frances Stewart. "Horizontal Inequalities: A Neglected Dimension of Development" Working Paper Number 81. (February 2002) (Stewart) (Accessed September 24, 2006)

26 See generally: Minorities at Risk Project

27 See generally: Gurr, T., “Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Confliict (Washington, DC, 1993 United States Institute for Peace Press).

28 Mancini, Luca, "Horizontal Inequality and Communal Violence: Evidence from Indonesian Districts." CRISE WORKING PAPER No. 22 (Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, CRISE, November 2005), p. 8.

29 Ibid.

30 Stewart, supra note 23.

31 Smith, Anthony. “Foreign Policy Focus: Self Determination Conflict Profile. East Timor.” Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Singapore. (2002) (Smith)
(Accessed October 11, 2006)

32 Fox and Soares. "Out of the Ashes: Destruction and Reconstruction of East Timor." Australian National University (2003 ed) p 22.

33 The following is not intended to be a definitive or exhaustive survey of historical east-west conflict, but an instructive baseline guide to tease out the root historical and proximate causes for recent violence. This account draws on conversations with numerous experts and academic works produced by: Babo Soares, Dionisio da Costa, “Branching from the Trunk East Timorese Perceptions of Nationalism in Transition” Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, ANU, Department of Anthropology (December 2003) Chapter 8. (Babo Soares) among others. (copy on file with author)

34 This has subsequently been codified in the Statute of Rome- International Criminal Court.

35 Ikayishema and Ruzindana, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, para 98.

36 Rutaganda, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, para 56.

37 Smith, supra at note 31.

38 Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, p 266.

39 Stewart, supra note 23.

40 Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, p. 268.

41 Ibid.

42 See “Identity-Based Needs” in: Mayer, Bernard. “The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, March 2000) p 24.

43 Ibid.

44 Some authors have insinuated the firaku-kaladi divide was actually coaxed by the Indonesians, perhaps explaining the common Indonesian belief that Timor is a simple gang of ungovernable violent tribes – however no evidence that this happened under Indonesian rule is available.

45 Edward Rees. "Under Pressure: FALINTIL- Forcas de Defesa de Timor-Leste. Three Decades of Defence Force Development in Timor-Leste." Working Paper No. 139, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) (Geneva, April, 2004) (Under Pressure) (Accessed September 28, 2006)

46 Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, pp 285 & 286.

47 Ibid.

48 Under Pressure, supra note 45. & Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, pp 284-296.

49 Stewart, supra at note 23.

50 Hugo Fernandez “The Roots Of Violence: Can They Be Pulled Out?” Talitakum magazine, April ed Bahasa Indonesia Headlines (Thursday 12 April 2001) (Accessed October 11, 2006)

51 Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, p 278.

52 Ibid.

53 Ibid.

54 Curtain, supra at note 15.

55 UNOTIL Daily Media Review (Thursday, 17 April 2006) (Accessed September 14, 2006)

56 For discussion of post-conflict land issues, generally see: Unruh, Jon D. "Land and Property Rights in the Peace Process." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: January 2004

57 Stewart supra at note 23.

58 This section draws heavily on a forthcoming Oxfam Australia document on the role of land and property in driving the current Timorese conflict. See: Oxfam Land Report.

59 Scott Leckie. “Legal and Protection Policy Research Series. Housing, Land, and Property Rights in Post-Conflict Societies: Proposals for a New United Nations Institutional and Policy Framework.” PPLA/2005/01 (March 2005) (Leckie)
(Accessed July 27, 2006); referring to: Jean du Plessis (2003) ‘Slow Start on a Long Journey: Land Restitution Issues in East Timor’ in Scott Leckie, (ed.) (2003) Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Transnational Publishers, New York,.

60 Neven Knezevic. Timor-Leste: Background Paper on Human Rights, Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Commissioned by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Information Section (DIP) (February, 2005) p 33, citing Fitzpatrick & Leckie. (Knezvic)
(Accessed July 31, 2006)

61 Daniel Fitzpatrick. Land Policy in Post-Conflict Circumstances: Some Lessons from East Timor. Archived in East Timor Law Journal (2001) (Fitzpatrick) (Accessed July 27, 2006)

62 Oxfam Land Report, supra note 58.

63 Community ownership over land in Timor-Leste is the norm outside of Dili; ownership thereof was generally decided by the community with no formal land titles exchanging hands (and likely not existing in the vast majority of cases). See generally: D’Andrea, Claudia, “The Customary Use and Management of Natural Resources in Timor Leste.” Oxfam Australia (2003)
(Accessed September 21, 2006)

64 Oxfam Land Report supra note 58.

65 This was confirmed by numerous community leaders. One Chefe de Suco stated: “This time, when returning people from the camps in Dili [2006], they should be taken back to where they came from, not where they ask to go.” Chefe de Suco, Kampung Alor.

66 Dolan et al "Evaluation of UNHCR’s repatriation and reintegration programme in East Timor, 1999-2003." United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit EPAU/2004/02 (Feb. 2004) (Dolan et al)
(Accessed October 11, 2006)

67 Knezevic, supra at note 60.

68 Dolan, supra at note 66.

69 “The Pinheiro Principles” United Nations Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (August 2005). (Accessed August 24, 2006)

70 Knezevic, supra at note 60.
For a comprehensive review of the overall economic distortion caused by the international mission in Timor-Leste see: Carnahan, Gilmore & Rahman. “Interim Report, Phase I: Economic Impact of Peacekeeping.” Peace Dividend Trust, commissioned by DPKO- Best Practices Unit (April 2005) (Accessed August 24, 2006)

71 “Timor-Leste Millennium Development Goal 2005: Where are we now?”
(Accessed March 6, 2006)

72 Of all the community leaders spoken with – those in Bairros and Sucos with significant violence, with little violence, with no violence, and from both the firaku and kaladi groups – they unanimously stated this as having been the case and cited inaction on the issue due to deep government involvement in the illegal rent charging crowds. While concrete evidence that government officials are participating is lacking, in a 2005 report on rental values in Dili “close to a quarter of respondents indicated that they know they are renting a government property from an irregular ‘landlord’ suggest[ing] that the practice of private individuals opportunistically collecting irregular payments from other private individuals for the occupancy of government properties, is relatively widespread.” 2005 Dili Rental and Valuation Report. Associates in Rural Development, Inc. (ARD) p. 10. ,>

73 This number is for all of Timor-Leste, inclusive of Dili, and many with legitimate claims to untitled properties may have applied. De SOUSA, Pedro Xavier- Director of the Timorese National Directorate of Land and Property. “East Timor, Land Management – a Long Way to Go, But We Have Started.” (December 2005) p 7. (Accessed July 27, 2006) Law No 1/2003 –10 March, “Juridical Regime of Immovable Property – Part 1. Ownership of Immovable Property”

74 Knezevic, supra at note 60.

75 There is some debate as to how strong the ‘traditional system’ is in Dili, however most Timorese spoken with indicated they made use of community leaders to solve land disputes, and community leaders indicated they did indeed resolve land disputes using traditional methods – whatever those methods might be.

76 Oxfam Land Report supra note 58.

77 Ibid.

78 Leckie supra at note 59, p 23.

79 Ibid.

80 Wright further intimates the land holding interests of a number of powerful Timorese families may have had something to do with this. Communications with author, January 2007.

81 Fitzpatrick, supra at note 61.

82 Communications with author, January 2007.

83 Communications with author, January 2007.

84 See: Harrington, Andrew. Institutions and the East Timorese Experience 2006 ETLJ 7.

85 Ibid.

86 Issued pursuant to: UNTAET Land and Property Unit. Property Administration Guidelines - Administration of Abandoned Property by District Administrations (15 August 2000). (Accessed August 24, 2006)

87 Warren L. Wright. UNAET LAND POLICY. 2004 ETLJ 2 (Wright) (Accessed July 27, 2006)

88 UNTAET Notification No. 16/2000, Clause 3.2.

89 Wright, supra at note 87.

90 See: The Pousada in Baucau- Under the TUA, a business consortium was paying only US$1/month, ibid.

91 Ibid.

92 Warren Wright, communications with author, January 2007.

93 Wright, supra, at note 87.

94 Given the specific targeting of the land registry and the underlying traditional system in effect, it likely would have made little difference were formal titles to exist.

95 Fitzpatrick, supra at note 61.

96 Ibid.

97 See generally: Leckie supra at note 59, & Fitzpatrick, supra at note 61.

98 Quoting: UN Judicial officer, written correspondence (November 2002) in: Hohe, Tanja and Nixon, Rod. Reconciling Justice - Traditional Law and State Judiciary in East Timor. United States Institute of Peace (January 2003) p 52. (USIP Report)
(Accessed March 6, 2006)

99 Ibid.

100 Oxfam Land Report supra note 58.

101 Land and Law Report. JSMP (27 September 2005), p 8.
(Accessed July 26, 2006) & Fitzpatrick, supra at note 61.

102 Oxfam Land Report, supra note 58.

103 See: Stewart, supra at note 23.

[104] The last four commanders were Taur Matan Ruak (Baucau), Lere Anan Timor (Lospalos), Falur Rate Laek (Viqueque) and Ular Ryhyk (Viqueque) – all from the eastern portion of the country. Three of these Commanders were awarded prestigious positions within the F-FDTL: Chief of the Defence Force, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak; Chief of Staff, Colonel Lere Anan Timor; First Battalion (Heroes Battalion) Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Falur Rate Laek.

105 Sven Gunnar Simonsen. “The Authoritarian Temptation in East Timor: Nationbuilding and the Need for Inclusive Governance (2005) (Simonsen) (Accessed October 11, 2006)

106 Under Pressure, supra at note 45.

107 Rees, Edward. "Security-sector Reform and Transitional Administrations." Conflict, Security and Development (2002). (Security-sector Reform)

108 Edward Rees. “The UN's failure to integrate Falintil veterans may cause East Timor to fail.” Online Opinion Australia. (Tuesday, September 2003) (Accessed April 10, 2006)

109 Security-sector Reform, supra at note 107.

110 It should be noted the overall service conditions with in the F-FDTL were far from ideal. All members suffered poor service conditions, however the addition of discrimination and perhaps some provocations by political figures, made this situation untenable for the Petitioners. See generally: “On the Findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) for the FALINTIL-FDTL” Palácio das Cinzas, Dili, 24 August 2004.

111 Under Pressure, supra at note 45.

112 Lindsay Murdoch. "East Timor tense as soldiers desert barracks" Sydney Morning Herald Australia-Dili (March 30, 2006) Archived on UNOTIL Media Monitoring Site.
(Accessed April 10, 2006)

113 “On the Findings of the Independent Inquiry Commission (IIC) for the FALINTIL-FDTL” Palácio das Cinzas, Dili, 24 August 2004.

114 Under Pressure, supra at note 45.

115 Ibid.

116 Ibid.

117 Some of the PNTL Border Patrol’s heavy armaments (HK-33 automatic rifles) found its way into the hands of the Railos militia group, allegedly armed by Lobato. During the recent crisis, even politicians were filmed carrying the PNTL’s ‘Steyr Stg.77 AUG assault rifles’ for defence.

118 Simonsen, supra at note 105.

119 While in Timor-Leste, the author learned of at least five separate occasions during which civilian militias were implicated as acting on the behalf of: F-FDTL, PNTL, the former Minister of the Interior, a group who fled to the East past Metinaro, and those armed by former FALINTIL Commanders and removed to a supposed training camp near Laga. The UN Special Commission of Inquiry has confirmed these rumors.

120 FAST Analytical Framework. Swiss Institute of Peace. (Accessed July 26, 2006)

121 Recent violence seems to fit into the SIDS Fragility Assessment framework posited by Carment, Prest, and Samy in: "Assessing the Fragility of Small Island Developing States," in Briguglio, Cordina, and Kisanga (Eds.), Building the Economic Resilience of Fragile States, (Formatek Publishing, on behalf of Islands and Small States Institute of the University of Malta and the Commonwealth Secretariat: Malta, 2006). Archived on “Country Indicators for Foreign Policy” site. (accessed May 15, 2006)

122 Youth Brief: Timor-Leste. The World Bank
(Accessed June 27, 2006)

123 Chad Bouchard, "East Timor's New Prime Minister Meets With Indonesian President" VOICE OF AMERICA, Jakarta (25 July 2006).
(Accessed August 23, 2006)

124 Lusa: “Report shows Dili is 8th most expensive city in Asia.” Selected Postings from East Timor. East Timor Action Network (ETAN) (August 2005) (Accessed March 6, 2006)

125 “Timor-Leste Millennium Development Goal 2005: Where are we now?” (Millennium Goals 2005)
(Accessed March 6, 2006)

126 Ibid.

127 Babo Soares, supra note 33, Chapter 8, pp 284-296.

128 Discussion, Suco Kulu Hun.

129 USAID-ARD Land Law Program II: Timor-Leste. Final Report (April 30, 2006) p 13.

130 USIP Report, supra at note 89, p 41.

[131] Copies of either draft law could not be obtained. One establishes a regime through which a system of restitution for post-1999 occupied properties would be subject to compensation for improvements, rather than arbitrary expropriation and fully establish rights for long term illegal occupants. The second deals with formalized land dispute mediation sessions, including the formal registration of results and a limitation on the types of cases able to be mediated. The efficacy of the bundle of land laws is difficult to assess in the absence of these two key pieces of legislation, however, it is possible to surmise that without them, gaps remained in the existing legislation.

132 Multiple discussions, Dili 2006.

133 Multiple discussions, Dili 2006.

134 Under Pressure, supra at note 45.

135 Multiple discussions, Dili 2006.

136 Fitzpatrick, supra at note 61.

137 Discussions, Kampung Alor, Dili 2006.

138 See for example: Indonesia: Managing Decentralisation and Conflict in South Sulawesi. International Crisis Group, Asia Report N°60 (18 July 2003) (Accessed November 14, 2006)

139 Discussion, Dili 2006.

140 Discussions with residents in Ai Mutin, Marconi, Dili, 2006.

141 Property belonging to the CPD-RDTL was attacked, while many kiosks belonging to members of the Sagrada Familia (Ele Sete’s gang) were burned; both are considered eastern based groups.

142 See: Oxfam Land Report, supra note 58.

143 Discussions, Bidau Licidere, Dili 2006.

144 Discussion with numerous gang members, indigenous leaders, and political activists, Dili 2006.

145 Ibid.

146 UNOTIL Daily Media Review (Thursday, 17 April 2006)
(Accessed September 14, 2006)

Published in the East Timor Law Journal on 01 February 2007

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1. The Rule of Law: Theoretical, Cultural and Legal Challenges for Timor-Leste




1. Justice for Serious Crimes Committed during 1999 in Timor-Leste: Where to From Here?

2. Joint Command for PNTL & F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law & Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste

3. Criminal Justice in East Timor and the Constitution of East Timor

4. Commentary on the Draft Arms Law in Timor-Leste

5. Deleted


1. The Law on Political Parties (No 3/2004) & the Decision of the Timor-Leste Court of Appeal in the case of Vitor da Costa & Ors v Fretilin

2. Ethnicity, Violence & Land & Property Disputes in Timor-Leste

3. East Timor: Reconciliation & Reconstruction

4. Legal opinion on the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of Government in Timor-Leste

5. A legal opinion on the Formation of an Unconstitutional Government in Timor-Leste

6. Commission for Truth Friendship East Timor Competing Concepts of Justice

7. 25th of May 2006 Massacre & War Crimes in Timor-Leste


1. Some Land Tenure Issues in Post-Conflict East Timor

2. Extradition from Indonesia to East Timor & the Serious Crimes Process in East Timor 1999 - 2005

3. East Timor: Internal Security, States of Seige & Emergency: A Note on the Constitutional Provisions & the Internal Security Law 2003

4. East Timor: The Constitutional Process Governing the Dismissal of the Government

5. Guidelines for Preparation of Outgoing Requests by East Timor for International Judicial Assisstance - Extradition Requests & Letters Rogatory - A Practice Manual

6. Roles of the President and the Prime Minister in the Current Constitutional Crisis in East Timor

7. Institutions & the East Timorese Experience

8. An Early Warning System for Timor-Leste: A Framework Concept of the Need & Possibility of an Early Warning System for the Timorese People


1. The Timor-Leste Maritime Boundaries Case

2. Deleted

3. On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Dispute Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste

4. General Facts on the Timor Sea & Facts on the Negotiations on a Permanent Maritime Boundary between Timor-Leste & Australia

5. Deleted

6. Morality, Religion & the Law: Abortion & Prosititution in East Timor


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2. UNTAET Land Policy

3. Some Observations on UNTAET Regulation No 27/2000 on the Temporary Prohibition on Transactions in Land by Indonesian Citizens

4. Sandalwood & Environmental Law in East Timor

5. Some Observations on the Report on Research Findings & Policy Recommendations for a Legal Framework for Land Dispute Mediation in East Timor

6. An Overview of East Timor's Law No 1 of 2003 on the Juridical Regime on Immovable Properties

7. Report on Research into Adat Land Law in East Timor

8. Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation

9. An Overview of the Constitutional Drafting Process in East Timor

10. Some Notes on East Timor Government Decree No 1/2004 on the Orthographical Standard of the Tetum Language

11. UNTAET Guidelines for the Administration of Public & Abandoned Property by District Administrations

12. Tara Bandu: The Adat Concept of the Environment in East Timor

13. Finding Ways of Resolving Land Problems in East Timor