Students protesting, demanding to be heard has a critically important place in the history of the creation of Timor-Leste, and the modern country that these voices helped bring into existence.
There have been some tensions this week as students continue anti-corruption protests, and a terrible police shooting in Kuluhun, near my home. All of this is compounded by a long record of police violence.
Restrictions in my contract don’t allow me near crowds, but if I accidently walk through a small protest while heading back to work, then I suppose that can’t be helped.
Goosebumps rise as the protesters sing Ami Isin Maubere (our body is Maubere and our spirit is Maubere) as they face off against police officers. Last week these protesters were dispersed with tear gas and beatings. The heavily armed BOP paramilitary in riot gear is just around the corner. The paramilitary look relaxed, just another day in the office.
And so I go back to work, where everything is business as usual.
I have such deep respect for the people of Timor-Leste, and their constant, continual, and unending fight for justice, fairness, and what is right.
Viva Timor-Leste. From first to last.
Update: 26 November
Protesters gather behind parliament every day now, and the BOP paramilitary and/or police. Normally, the riot gear is left in the back of the troop carrier, sometimes it is stacked nearby, and occasionally it is worn – shields, helmets, big guns. Today was extraordinary: BOP were in full riot gear, the army lined the entrances to parliament and rows and rows in front. Lots of big guns today. And in amongst this, UNICEF marched: staff and children holding balloons straight past parliament, past the troop carriers, past the soldiers. And then the Japanese Ambassador’s car rolls past. It was an extraordinary moment.
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Protest march ending in massacre 1991: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_massacre