20 October 2013

Violence Quelled at Home in Timor-Leste Explodes Abroad

ETLJB 20 October 2013 The recent Timorese government crackdown on Martial Arts Gangs has proven effective in reducing violence and gang activities within Timor-Leste. However, the ongoing violence and illegal activities conducted by Timorese operating in other countries highlights a need for government policies to increase monitoring and control of Timorese living abroad. Among the recent news of disturbances abroad include the activities of Timorese Martial Arts Gangs in Indonesia, violence between Timorese living in Ireland and Portugal, a stabbing by a Timorese person in Japan, and the rape of a Filipino woman by a Timorese man in the Philippines.

Timorese Martial Arts Gangs continue to be highly active in Indonesia. They launder money and smuggle drugs and other stolen goods into Timor-Leste, which has a detrimental effect on Timor-Leste’s security sector. It is crucial that the Timorese government find a way to reduce this Timorese involvement in organized crime, especially considering that Indonesia claims the highest percentage of Timorese students studying abroad. If these students are not monitored in any way then they may be coerced into involvement in illegal activities.

Fundasaun Mahein recommends that the government send a representative from the Ministry of Labor to Indonesia to both monitor and support Timorese citizens working and studying abroad. It is also Fundasaun Mahein’s position that any delegation sent for this purpose should not be allowed to study while on their post, as it would divide their attention and make them less effective.

Fundasaun Mahein also points to the example of Timorese working abroad in Korea as a model that can be applied to other countries where Timorese are living. The Timorese government holds a bilateral labor relationship with the Korean government, which has proven to be successful for all parties involved. Timorese students taking part in the program can study in Dili before traveling to work at state-sponsored companies in Korea. Every year, Timorese workers in Korea send $9 million dollars back to their families in Timor.

Why does the government settle for displacing violence and illegal activities abroad when there is a proven system for Timorese to work abroad peacefully and successfully?

Finally, Fundasaun Mahein suggests the creation of “communication centers” in each district. These centers will be available to the families of Timorese students and workers abroad to call their relatives at no cost. Fundasaun Mahein believes that encouraging regular communication with family members in Timor will have a positive impact on Timorese living abroad. This will help ensure they do not become involved with illegal or dangerous activities that will hurt Timor-Leste. Source: Fundasaun Mehein 07/08/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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