02 May 2012

Police arrest 84 in Timor Leste May Day protest

Posted: 01 May 2012 1711 hrs - DILI: Police in Timor Leste's capital city Dili fired warning shots and arrested 84 people to disperse some 500 May Day protesters calling for higher wages on Tuesday, police and a witness said.

Police said they were forced to intervene after protesters began hurling stones and marching to a nearby hotel where some staff had recently been laid off.

Three policemen and a private security guard were injured, police said.

"It was an illegal demonstration because by law any demonstration needs permission four days in advance," said Dili District Police Commander Pedro Belo.

"When we tried to explain they didn't want to listen and threw stones at the police and our vehicles. We've arrested 84 people -- nine females and the rest males," he said.

"Three policemen and one private security guard were injured. Two vehicles were damaged and seven windows broken," he added.

A witness said the protesters were calling for higher wages.

The half-island nation of 1.1 million, which this month celebrates a decade of formal independence from Indonesia, ranks as one of the world's poorest countries.

It is labelled by the International Monetary Fund as the "most oil-dependent economy in the world", relying on a petroleum fund that reached US$10 billion this year.

- AFP/wm

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