Posts Tagged ‘East Timor’

East Timor Seeks and Finds Peace

Monday, August 27th, 2012
East Timor

Young people and community members participate in a 2-day camp to discuss how to promote peace in their homes, communities, and wider East Timor. Photo by Jennifer Hardy/CRS

By Florentino Sarmento

I’ve seen my country, East Timor, mired in conflict. There were times when hopes were raised and then crushed. I have lived through 3 major periods of violence that swept Timor from tip to tip, from 1975 up until the most recent conflict in 2006-07.

In 1975 a civil war erupted between the two political parties and created an opportunity for neighboring Indonesia to invade, occupy and annex the territory for 24 years. Around 200,000 people perished during the civil war, military occupation, and more than 2 decades of conflict, massacres and extra-judicial killings.

In January 1999, the then-President Habibie of Indonesia bowed to international pressure and announced that a referendum was needed to end the conflict of East Timor. Two options were given: an autonomous region of Indonesia or independence. The overwhelming majority of Timorese voted for Independence. The departing Indonesian military and their Timorese militiamen carried out scorcthed-earth attacks and triggered waves of violence that swept the whole country. The violence destroyed most of the infrastructure, killed 1,200 and displaced 300,000 (about one-third of the population) who sought refuge in neighboring West Timor of Indonesia.

Prayer and Peace During East Timor Elections

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
East Timor

Young people and community members participate in a 2-day camp to discuss how to promote peace in their homes, communities, and country. Photo by Jennifer Hardy/CRS

East Timor, the world’s second-youngest country, experienced violence during elections in 2007. Now, with election season in full swing, CRS is supporting the Church’s efforts to promote a peaceful and fair election process. Darren Hercyk filed this report from the capital city of Dili.

As we approached the second round of the East Timor presidential election this week, we were not sure what to expect. There were reports of tensions rising and that the election would be too close to call. In the closing days there were large truckloads of supporters on the streets chanting for their candidate. None of this added to a festive spirit of the elections, it just seemed to add to the tension.

Timor-Leste: Changing the World through Prayer

Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Timor prayer

Catholic students in Timor-Leste pray at the kick-off march for a three and a half month long campaign, led by CRS and the local Catholic Church, for peaceful national elections. Photo by Darren Hercyk/CRS

By Darren Hercyk

During the first week of Lent, Catholic Relief Services in East Timor, along with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Dili, launched a program called “111 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful and Democratic Election in Timor-Leste.”

Our goal is to provide Timorese society—which is 96% Catholic—with daily prayers and reflections before and during the upcoming national elections in March and June. This nation has seen its share of violence in the past. With prayer, we hope never to go backwards.

To kick off the campaign, we helped organize a march in the capital of Dili, and thought that maybe a thousand people would show up. It was so overwhelming to see almost 10,000 Timorese turn out—in the heat of the day under threatening skies—for the two-and-a-half-hour “Journey for Peace” walk that day.

Preparing for Disasters in East Timor

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

East Timor

A first-aid training session run as part of a CRS Disaster Risk Reduction program in East Timor. Photo by CRS staff

“With a lot of the deaths that happen, it’s children coming from school and crossing a river. Sometimes during the rainy season, the current is too swift,” says Ryan Russell, former Livelihoods Coordinator for Catholic Relief Services in East Timor. “People get washed away—especially children and old people.”

High in the mountains, villagers in this impoverished country near Australia cope with flooding, landslides, and other disasters on a regular basis. “It’s pretty challenging terrain,” Russell continues. “Sometimes we can’t access the communities—we’d drive and the car would get stuck. One time we had to hike for two or three hours, covered in mud. When the roads are cut off like that, getting people to hospitals is hard.”

At certain times of the year, powerful winds strike the mountain villages, ripping branches from trees and spreading fire. During dry seasons, villagers’ palm-thatch houses are easily set aflame. “My house was destroyed,” says a local farmer. “The kitchen, its cupboards, everything.” Villagers also suffer burns and injuries.

Cracking Poverty in East Timor

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Crack the shell but don’t break the nut. It’s simple advice for farmers in East Timor, a small, impoverished island country near Australia. But this simple advice is part of the reason they are doubling or tripling their profits from the sale of candlenut, a waxy hard-shelled nut used for food and (you guessed it) candles.

In a village near the town of Baucau, a group of candlenut farmers talk about the difference Catholic Relief Services has made in their lives. “Before CRS came here, local traders offered only 10 to 15 cents a kilogram for candlenut,” says a farmer named Vicente. “CRS gave us training on the three classes of nut quality, including size, shape, and color, and formed us into an association.” If the nut is whole and large, farmers can receive more money.