Monday, May 08, 2006

(East Timor Problems) A nation traumatised

The Timorese have fled Dili en masse based on unsubstantiated rumours; rumours which are apparently politically motivated and generally believed by most Timorese. Due to their past history and individual and collective experience of witnessing torture, execution and rape at the hands of the Indonesian military combined with their inability to access grief and loss counselling, the Timorese remain a highly traumatised nation and are highly susceptible to rumours which trigger this trauma. A week after the tsunami that hit Asia on 26 December 2004, people started a rumour that a tsunami was headed for Dili and despite the police assuring residents that this wasn’t the case, they fled en masse to the hills and districts that surround Dili. While they were gone, people looted and stole the few possessions people had from their empty dwellings.

Although Dili feels a little less like a ghost town, slowly people are starting to return. Most of my colleagues were at work today although the ones that fled to the districts have yet to make an appearance.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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