Dili resident squatter writes on Dili-gence:
Let’s face it, there is not much to do here any more if you are not a military or medical type. You would have thought that the Oz soldiers would have everything under control by now wouldn’t you ?
I had hoped it would be the case, but the situation on the ground is pathetic. There are no police any more – zip, nada. The streets are empty and as far as I can tell, not one single shop open. I know it is Sunday but there is nothing…
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It now seems clear it is time to seek higher ground in Australia and I will be taking steps to get there once I sort out a few things here. I have been told that the prisons have lost their guards and most likely lead to the release of prisoners. I am not sure what that means but it doesn’t sound any better. Some of the hardier people I know took the Hercules to Oz today. Not too many people to call any more.
I can’t see things improving greatly for a number of days except if you are a journalist. This is the reason they get up in the morning.
Yesterday morning, I heard a few shots in the distance but otherwise the night was quiet (or I slept through it). However, by 9am dark clouds of smoke appeared in the mid-distance. It think it was somewhere near Vila Verde. The locals in my vicinity were extremely unsettled and some who had held out at home, decided it was also time to go. I received word that it might now be a good idea to move somewhere safer.
Then things started to get rough. It seemed that gangs of machete-wielding youths were causing trouble in many places through town. I think the fear in the Timorese was the worst I had seen so far. It appeared to be complete and total lawlessness. By late morning, there were a number of smoke chimneys from houses that had been torched in the Vila Verde/Bairo Pite area.
On the streets, there was no sign of Oz troop vehicles and it was clear that although the C130 transports had shipped in many troops, they were a bit short on vehicles which were on the supply ships. At lunchtime, the first sign of Oz army vehicles appeared and like magic, there was a huge reduction in fear levels. Many people went home. But until every second street corner has a military vehicle on it, it is unlikely that full confidence will be restored.
Despite the mass evacuation of foreigners, there are still reasonable numbers of foreigners left. One acquaintance dropped around yesterday morning in his vehicle wondering what all the fuss was about. For lunch, another went down and bought pizzas – shorts, sandals, quick trip down to the Castaway Bar. No problem.
You just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many people are emailing or texting all sorts of people to inform them whether they are staying or going. I already have numerous “I am in Darwin (or Bali)” emails. And also the email to meet up at a bar for a few beers last night with those I know who have stayed and carried on as usual. I declined as the other half just couldn’t see the point.
I had a coffee at the Hotel Timor cafe yesterday afternoon with a few acquaintances prior to sticking my nose in on Prime Minister Alkatiri’s press conference. I thought I might be about to witness something significant, but no. It appears the government is in full control.
As I walk out past numerous gun-toting foreign troops, I don’t think so.