31 December 2014

EWER Sit Review Nov 2013: Impacts of sorcery accusations: Violence caused by accusations of sorcery in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 3112/2014 (Liquica) Man chopped with machete by in-laws: In Leomora village (sub-district of Bazartete), an accusation of sorcery escalated into a violent murder, in which a member of the umamane (wife-taker) family accused his male in-law of using aikulit (tree bark). Acting upon these suspicions, he chopped the accused into pieces with a machete.

The attack was followed by the umamane family burning houses owned by the victim’s extended family members. The conflict between these 2 families had a much wider societal impact, with many of the community members fleeing from the area out of fear. The perpetrator was jailed, and both families intend to conduct dialogue and mediation to resolve the issue (Nahe Biti Boot, a stretching of the big mat), however this is yet to take place.

(Dili) House burnt down in Santa Cruz based on suspicions of sorcery practice: Two attempts were made to burn down a house after suspicions arose in the community that the family was practicing black magic and using aikulit (tree bark).

The first attempt burnt down the kitchen, however the second attempt burnt the entire house. The identity of those responsible for the attack is still unknown.

Unexplained illnesses or death are frequently attributed to sorcery. The conflict potential of such suspicions and accusations are a cause for concern, given their demonstrated capacity to escalate into wide-scale conflict within communities and families, sometimes with heavy resulting impacts and possible follow-up incidents if the issue is left unresolved.

Source: http://belun.tl/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SitRev-Nov-2013-ENG-FINAL.pdf  

See also
Witchcraft and Murder in East Timor
Witchcraft, Conflict and Resolution in Timor-Leste
East Timor Legal News 7-8 May 2009

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