EWER Trimester Report 8 (Jun-Sep 2011)

February 21, 2012

EWER Trimester Report 8 (Jun-Sep 2011)



This report presents an analysis of the monitoring findings of CICR and Belunai??i??s Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) program, between June and September 2011. The report marks the eighth conflict analysis monitoring report published each trimester since EWER monitoring began in February 2009. This trimester, local monitors based in a total of 42 target subai???districts returned situational reports measuring 62 indicators of social, economic, political and external factors affecting communities, as well as incident reports containing description of violent incidents.

Analysis of data collected during this reporting period revealed a significant increase in the total number of violent incidents, from 205 in the previous trimester (February ai??i?? May 2011) to 267 in this trimester. The average conflict potential level, presented through a ai???Conflict Potential Index (CPI)ai??i?? developed by the EWER Program, has also risen from 757 in the previous trimester to 771 in this trimester. 1 Alongside the increased number of violent incidents, several concerning themes were identified during this reporting period.

Although fewer martial arts group members initiated violence (15 cases, which is a slight reduction from 21 in the previous trimester), the two incidents (including murder and arson) that occurred in Zumalai subai???district (Covalima district) in August, demonstrated the extent to which community stability can rapidly deteriorate into a state of widespread community conflict and cause nationai???wide alarm in reaction to criminal acts committed by martial arts groups. The broader issue of youth violence also remained a serious security concern, most notably exemplified in Baucau district (Baucau Vila and Laga subai???districts) where youth were identified as assailants in a majority of the reported incidents.

Another issue of concern is that political party members emerged as initiators of violence this trimester on five occasions. In previous trimesters, divisive political activity had only been noted through EWERai??i??s monitoring of situational change but had not broken out into outright incidents. These incidents occurred in Bobonaro, Dili, Ermera and Oeai???cusse districts, featuring the burning of party flags, physical assault against members of other political parties and attempts to influence voting in favor of a certain party. Such events took place during a time period in which political activities increased rapidly throughout the nation and elevated tensions regarding the prospect of political change. As political tensions are likely to rise even further in the next trimester with the commencement of campaigning activities, the risk of similar incidents occurring will continue to intensify.

Conflicts based on religious identity continued. Violent incidents occurred in Dili and Manufahi districts following rumors (later found to be based on misinformation) that a member of a religious group (Seventhai???Day Adventist Church) had buried statues of significance to the Catholic faith. Two demonstrations led by the Catholic Church took place in Same and in related incidents a member and a leader of the Adventist Church were physically assaulted. The impact of these events in Same spilled over toAi??Dili district where an unknown group of people stoned and partially destroyed the Seventhai???Day Adventist Church structure in Comoro.

The need for conflictAi??sensitive community development was highlighted once again, with conflicts arising over development projects implemented by the government and private companies. In Laulara (Aileu) and Viqueque Vila (Viqueque), community members were disgruntled over compensation paid in relation to water projects administered by the National Directorate for Water and Sanitation (DNSAS). In Ainaro Vila (Ainaro), a local company verbally threatened the District Assembly responsible for contracting companies to implement projects through the ai???Pakote Dezenvolvimentu Dezentralizaduai??? (PDD: Decentralized Development Program), accusing the Assembly of corruption. In Same (Manufahi), community members demonstrated against the governmentai??i??s planned installation of an industrial plant in Betano because the government allegedly designated a larger area of land for this purpose than the community had formally agreed to yield. A private company was targeted twice in Viqueque Vila (Viqueque) as young people who did not gain employment in a project implemented by this company expressed their frustrations through verbal and physical threats.

Although observed only in a few cases, the issue of veteran status remains a point of contention in communities. In Ainaro Vila (Ainaro), fighting broke out between a veteran and a community member as the latter accused the former of having worked for Indonesian intelligence services during the struggle for independence.

This trimester witnessed a greater number of conflicts regarding culture and customs. Disputes between fetosaa (husbandai??i??s family) and umane (wifeai??i??s family) were observed in Remexio (Aileu), Ainaro Vila (Ainaro), Maubisse (Ainaro) and Bazartete (LiquiAi??a) subai???districts. In fact, three such incidents were witnessed in Bazartete during koreAi??metan (ai???untying the black clothai??i??) ceremonies, which mark the end of a oneai???year mourning period for the deceased.

Food security concerns increased during this reporting period, as food shortages were rampant in many districts despite the months of March through September being considered reasonably foodai???secure. Various factors such as unseasonal rainfall and pest activity appear to have resulted in the destruction of food crops during the harvest season. Fieldai???based monitors also noted accompanying increases in the price of local produce and basic household items, which severely limited the purchasing power of Timorese households. Such economic hardships have caused considerable stress in communities, which may have indirectly contributed to increased levels of violence this trimester.

A greater number of security sector actors were identified as initiators of violence. Six Policia Nacional de Timorai???Leste (PNTL) and three Falintilai???ForAi??as de Defesa de Timor Leste (Fai???FDTL) members were identified as assailants, up from four PNTL and two Fai??? FDTL members implicated during each of the previous two trimesters. In addition, government officials and local leaders were identified as assailants in a total of ten cases. It is troubling that security sector actors and public officials entrusted with the responsibility to protect and strengthen communities are increasingly engaging in acts of violence.