25 April 2012

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): The Everlasting Trouble in Uatulari

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) was saddened to hear that a house had been burnt
down last week in the subdistrict of Uatulari in Viqueque district,
following the second round of the presidential election. This followed
the pelting of rocks onto a PNTL patrol car in the same area on the
16th of April.

These latest attacks are part of a long-standing pattern of violence
that has afflicted the area since 1942 and 1945. Major violence
troubled this area in 1959, 1975, 1999 & 2006. Violence tends to
aggravate during local and national election periods and during the
2007 election, over 200 houses were burnt down, causing widespread
destruction as well as the creation of numerous Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs).

The F-FDTL presence in the sub-district mobilized intentionally to
secure the presidential election was unable to deter these acts of
violence. This represents yet another failure in the response adopted
by the authorities in trying to prevent conflict from breaking out in
Ualulari Subdistrict.

The prevailing tension in Ualulari is deeply rooted in disputes that
go back generations, which have become extremely complex over time.
However, security actors have tended to resort to using paramilitary
techniques when seeking to resolve this issue. These have always
failed, simply quelling outbreaks of violence but never resolving the
root of the problems.

FM recommends that both state leaders and community leaders in
Ualulari work together tirelessly to find the right mechanisms so to
create dialogue among the local population in the subdistrict with the
aim of overcoming this everlasting problem. These are old, deeply
rooted problems, which the PNTL & the F-FDTL are attempting to resolve
using modern and heavy-handed techniques and they are failing.
Appropriate conflict preventative approaches are required when dealing
with disputes that are so deeply entrenched. FM sincerely hopes that
during the upcoming parliamentary elections, the people of Ualulari
are actively engaged in the election and not fall victims to it once
again.
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