East timor turmoil

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 03:54 pm

Up to twenty people are dead in East Timor following gun battles with police. Australian troops—invited by the East Timorese—are now on the ground. Evacuees began arriving in Darwin last night. Here’s an earlier, subsequently updated report from the Bulletin’s Paul Toohey, currently on his way back to Dili for more coverage.

UPDATE. Australia has more journalists in East Timor than New Zealand has troops:

New Zealand officials are seeking more information before the government sends troops to East Timor, Prime Minister Helen Clark says …

“So that’s where we are at the present time. It’s very important not to walk into what is a factional dispute, in some respects, and be seen to be taking sides,” Clark said on National Radio.

“We have to also be mindful the (United Nations) Security Council is having consultations as we speak.”

Don’t take sides, and rely on the UN; it’s the Helen Clark way! The troops themselves are ready to go:

Defence spokesman Mike Shatford said troops were ready and on stand-by.

“It has to come through the prime minister and until we hear from her, we are not in a position to do anything,” he said.

Could be a long wait.

(Via Bill D.)

Posted by Tim B. on 05/25/2006 at 11:28 AM
    1. Bugger it. Not to seem too one-tracked—although I am—why is there always some guy named Muhommed in the mix whenever these kinds of headlines appear?

      Posted by SoberHT on 2006 05 25 at 11:51 AM • permalink


    1. “We have to also be mindful the (United Nations) Security Council is having consultations as we speak.”

      Well, then, this will be an excellent test of the UN preferred multi-lateral approach to peace keeping, eh?

      Oh, wait, Australia has troops on the ground?

      Well, then, this will be an excellent example of how the non-UN approved, unilateral approach to peace keeping outshines the UN approved crap approach.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 25 at 12:37 PM • permalink


    1. Bah!  Might as well piss in the wind as wait for the UN to do anything.  It amounts to the same thing.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 25 at 01:39 PM • permalink


    1. Might as well piss in the wind as wait for the UN to do anything.  It amounts to the same thing.

      No; if you piss into the wind, your pants will get wet. That’s more than the UN can accomplish.

      Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 05 25 at 01:55 PM • permalink


    1. Alright everybody, lay off Helen Clark. History has proven time and again that if you wait for the killing to stop on its own before taking action, then you don’t have to use force to stop the killing. Duh.

      Posted by tim maguire on 2006 05 25 at 02:40 PM • permalink


    1. A pity, it is.  The Kiwis that I served alongside in Afghanistan were really good troops.  Maybe the PM will pull her head out and release a few of ‘em to go help.  Waiting for the UN when the trouble is already happening, and there are friendlies already on the ground (go Aussies!) is nonsensical – just remember Rwanda, Srebenica, etc.

      Posted by Major John on 2006 05 25 at 04:39 PM • permalink


    1. #6 The Kiwis that I served alongside in Afghanistan were really good troops.

      Can we have an adopt a Kiwi soldier program and relocated them to Australia?


      Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2006 05 25 at 05:00 PM • permalink


    1. “So that’s where we are at the present time. It’s very important not to walk into what is a factional dispute, in some respects, and be seen to be taking sides,” Clark said on National Radio.

      You usually do take a side when resolving a civil war, usually on behalf of the civilian populatin.  Maybe Helen can use of her witch-craft to make it stop?

      Posted by darrinh on 2006 05 25 at 05:51 PM • permalink


    1. Is Helen Clark having a bad hair day? Military mutiny, 20 people dead in the streets and she is worrying about taking sides?

      Posted by Greywolf on 2006 05 25 at 06:04 PM • permalink


    1. Those of us who have to live under the whip of Helen Clark, the Wicked Witch of the Left, are used to this type of inaction and double speak.

      She obviously hopes by procrastinating, it will all be over before any Kiwi troops have to get involved.

      And if there are any military coffins to come out of East Timor, they’ll have Aussie flags draped over them, not NZ flags.

      Much less embarrassing for our gallant Kiwi PM and less likely to draw criticism from the leftie/lesbian group of close advisers she surrounds herself with.

      Posted by kiwi jack on 2006 05 25 at 06:16 PM • permalink


    1. East Timor must be causing some concern for the left, given it was (and still is) a pet cause for them.  Remember all the Free East Timor car stickers?

      They can’t blame this one on Bush, so they’ll probably try and blame it on Howard somehow.  (You stole all their natural gas!  Timor Leste would be a socialist paradise now otherwise!)

      Of course twice now Australia has had to go in while the UN still debates what to do. But surely the army is imperialistic war-machine working at the behest of a warmongering war-criminal PM?

      Oh wait, that is only when they liberate civilians from a muderous regime.  Er, murderous Iraqi regime.  Definatly not the Indonesian government, as we have to be friends with them.  Except when it comes to West Papua.  But we still have to mend fences that were broken when we made the mistake of invading East Timor and upsetting the RoPers.

      What was I saying?  Oh yes, it was all Bush’s fault.  Somehow.

      *Watches moonbats heads explode trying to figure out this one…*

      Posted by corvus on 2006 05 25 at 07:16 PM • permalink


    1. But according to Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio the establishment of an independent East Timor was supposed to be the New Eden.  I guess she forgot about Cain and Abel.

      Posted by Pat Patterson on 2006 05 25 at 07:27 PM • permalink


    1. Hold everything!

      The Security Council is having consultations.

      As we speak, no less.

      (But with whom? Need to get to the bottom of this one. Must form committee.)

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 05 25 at 07:43 PM • permalink


    1. “So that’s where we are at the present time. It’s very important not to walk into what is a factional dispute, in some respects, and be seen to be taking sides,” Clark said on National Radio.

      No wonder NZ has a problem with international diplomacy. ‘Taking sides’ does not enter into it.  There is just one side: the elected government of East Timor. By hinting that armed gangsters are equal in authority to the government and that NZ could perhaps support them, Clark reveals herself to be the idiot she really is.

      In related news an op-ed in The Australia yesterday discussed how well-trained and effective NZ soldiers are. Good article. It then went on to stay good soldiers require air support – and NZ can’t provide its own air support; it is forced to rely on other nations to supply air support.  How dopy was emasculating the RNZAF?

      Posted by walterplinge on 2006 05 25 at 07:50 PM • permalink


    1. Defence spokesman Mike Shatford said troops were ready and on stand-by.

      The whole squad?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 25 at 08:34 PM • permalink


    1. Corvus

      They can’t blame this one on Bush

      Ha!  By the end of this week, and it’s already late Thursday, there’ll be five-to-seven rationales in circulation explaining all about how guilty he is.  Most of them will be heavily detailed about why he did it, few if any will explain how, but he did it, there’s no doubt, and they’ll be telling us, stay tuned.
      It’s not like they have very much else to do, you know.

      Posted by Huck Foley on 2006 05 25 at 08:38 PM • permalink


    1. #14

      Its a bit more complex than elected government on one side and armed gangsters on the other.

      Small as it is, East Timor has a parochial east-west divide (kind of like Sydney vs Melbourne, WA vs the east and Queensland vs everywhere).

      It would seem that this effected the army as well, with those from the east recieving preferential treatment according to those from the west. When those from the west made complaints and nothing was apprantly done, they went on strike and as a result half the army was sacked.

      A protest by the sacked soldiers and their supporters turned into a riot after security forces fired on them.

      Since then it has spiralled downwards, with even the police fragmenting along east-west lines.

      Now we have police who had surrendered their weapons being shot and killed by government troops after the UN brokered a ceasefire, with UN police also being wounded in the incident.

      Posted by corvus on 2006 05 25 at 09:05 PM • permalink


    1. I wonder if the Kiwis have sorted out their propensity to leave forward scouts lying wounded in the bush for the enemy to torture, castrate, skin and murder, whilst the rest of the section buggers off back to base to clean their undies…

      Posted by murph on 2006 05 25 at 09:52 PM • permalink


    1. Kiwis are on their way to Timor l’Este according to Cheif Air Marshall Huston as at 12:30 PM AEST.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 25 at 11:14 PM • permalink


    1. damn, i before e except after c


      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 25 at 11:15 PM • permalink


    1. Was talking only last week to a friend who is, though a lovely guy, ex-DFAT and a rusted-on Howard Hater.  He was holding forth on the folly of things like RAMSI and Australia trying to act as the region’s policeman.  His answer?  It should all be done through the UN.  I suppose the spectacle of East Timor begging Australia to send troops put a spoke in his theory.  And didn’t I hear on the news that unarmed UN peacekeepers already in ET were standing by helplessly in the violence?

      Posted by cuckoo on 2006 05 25 at 11:38 PM • permalink


    1. Heh.  NOW would be a good time for Australia to invade NZ.

      “Whoops – what’s that you say?  This is Auckland Airport that we just secured?  And that rabble we just rounded up and now have under lock and key was the NZ Cabinet, not the Timor rebels?

      Oh well, shit happens.  Now we are here, we might as well keep the peace anyway.  At least we know the locals won’t be can’t be bombing us.”

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 26 at 01:11 AM • permalink


    1. It gives me no pleasure to be proved right about East Timor- a costly folly to appease chatterboxes in Sydney and Melbourne with as much understanding of geopolitical reality as I have for the nuances of modern performance art.

      Having stuck our beak in there, we’re stuck with it; the only possible positive is that the odious Fretelin regime might go tits up, leaving an opening for a non-commie government to be established.

      The rent-a-crowd are remarkably quiet about the stunning success of their long-supported Castroesque pinheads in Dili- they are however quite voiciferous for us to repeat the idiocy in West Irian.

      We need more basket-cases on our doorstep.

      Posted by Habib on 2006 05 26 at 01:40 AM • permalink


    1. I also just heard on radio one of the above flapping his malorourous soup cooler that the cause of all the ruckus is the evil Howard government’s failure to provide an adequate share of Timor Gap oil and gas revenues.

      Great plan- give a closet marxist rabble access to buckets of commercial revenue to blow on SS20s to point at Darwin.

      Do these peabrains ever graduate their freshman year (if they ever actually make it into one of our esteemed houses of indoctrination learning?

      Posted by Habib on 2006 05 26 at 01:45 AM • permalink


    1. Teah NZ Airforce 12 o’clock high -oh wait..
      Interestingly, evacuees to Darwin from E.T. are to be housed in the Berrimah DETENTION CENTRE….Even as we ponder Donnah is whingeing her way above the clouds to Berrimah with rent- a -pitifully small crowd of protesters to interspose her frail frame between the barbed wire and them.
      Amazingly the evacuees prefer to be at a detention centre in Oz than in a civil war.

      Posted by crash on 2006 05 26 at 07:46 AM • permalink


    1. #25 My bad “y”.

      Posted by crash on 2006 05 26 at 07:47 AM • permalink


    1. If you are saying that the geopolitical reality of 1999 should have been –

      1. We will encourage and oversee a referendum in East Timor about independence from Indonesia and if you vote for it (as they did, approx 80% as I recall), then
      2. We will then sit idly by and do nothing while the militia, with the aid of the TNI, slaughter thousands of you, then

      say what you will about geopolitical reality but I disagree with your concept of moral reality. In those days I was in the Dept of Defence and spent four months in East Timor during the INTERFET phase in 99/00 (not as a combatant). It was obvious during the planning phase and after that there was a quite powerful group within Canberra (political, ASIO, DFAT and journalists) that were totally against doing anything that might upset the Indonesians. The so called “Jakarta lobby”, or “Southern Taliban” as some in Defence called them, who made things as difficult as they possibly could. I believe there is a court case still proceeding between an ADF officer and the ex head of ASIO relating to statements made about this. I trust you weren’t a member of the Southern Taliban?

      I don’t know who the chatterboxes in Sydney and Melbourne were, the impression I got was that the deployment took place with overwhelming support from the general public. Eventually a very small country that had been illegally invaded and brutalised for more than 20 years was free. And to see it in the eyes of the people was something I will never forget. We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here.

      Equating East Timor (armed to the teeth with SS20’s) with Cuba is a long bow to draw and just a tad conspiratorial. Any one of the Asian nuclear powers who want to onload on us can do so now without leaving their shores.

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2006 05 26 at 09:21 AM • permalink


    1. Anyone know anything about the Muslim aspect to East Timor?
      I heard on ‘Lateline’ tonight that the Prime Minister is a Mohammedan.
      Maybe I’m being paranoid…..

      Posted by Skid Marx on 2006 05 26 at 09:59 AM • permalink


    1. The free East Timor push has been a darling of the left/chattering classes since the ‘70s; sure the invasion was nasty, but why was it our business?

      At least Indonesia is making some attempt at democracy- having a bunch of unstable balkanised basketcases on our doorstep is not my idea of fun.

      Fretlin are avowed marxists as well- the current president was trained in such hotbeds of western democracy as Angola and Mozambique for fucks sake.

      I’d prefer a federation with a stable centralised government to the rats nest of failed states that the US has on its south-eastern doorstep any time.

      (BTW- I rekon if there was a plebiscite held in Queensland there’d be an 80% vote to secede from you southern parasites, but so what?)

      Posted by Habib on 2006 05 26 at 08:54 PM • permalink


    1. Say, Habib, as a Melbournian, can I vote for QLD secession as well?

      Your credentials are impressive, and you clearly have strong views on the matter. I am surprised, however, that you don’t see a long term strategic advantage of Australian intervention.

      Without disclosing sources, Fretelin was never going to be permitted to retain power.

      The current ADF deployment was not unexpected and its trigger—I suspect—was not organic in origin.

      Feel free to lay into me.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 26 at 11:02 PM • permalink


    1. If that’s the case and it’s the VRWC at work, jolly good show; it was only a matter of time before Fretlin, like the Sandanistas and every other academic left run government fucked up big time; this whole thing has cost us a poultice, so I hope it’s going to be recouped by swiping their oil and gas.

      A nice neo-con regime in the middle of Indonesia wouldn’t go amis either- the JSF could drop ordnance in downtown Jakarta without having to refuel if we had a strip there, sort of a new Butterworth.

      You can only support our liberation from the yoke of the rust-belt if you agree to take back all the whiny Mexican ex-pats as well- “the weather’s so much nicer in Melbourne; we’ve got much better shops and restaurants; the traffic’s terrible- don’t you people know how to drive? what’s this stupid rugby? Why can’t they forward pass (and wear dick-shorts and burst into tears if some bully calls them names)….” If it’s so bloody awful up here, why not fuck off back to Victoria, and take a few mates while you’re at it? And BTW, trakkie daks and thongs are never going to catch on here, no matter how many Brunswick bogan battalions are deployed.

      Posted by Habib on 2006 05 27 at 01:37 AM • permalink


    1. #25 Murph.  Are you generally putting shit on the KIWIS or are you referring to a specific incident. Do tell…other means if necessary
      #31 Habib…don’t encourage them

      Posted by KevGillett on 2006 05 27 at 03:01 AM • permalink


    1. On’ya Habib. I go where the money is for the moment. Got my eye on a little riverside estate just outside Erbil.

      (and twixt you, me & the “living statue” busking on Bourke St.—this burg is over-rated, over-priced and over-populated)

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 27 at 07:08 AM • permalink


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