Subject: AAP: Gusmao's wife reflects on East Timor attack

12:36 AEDT Fri 25 May 2001

Gusmao's wife reflects on East Timor attack

The Australian wife of East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao believes an attack on her by a group of thugs last month highlights the fledgling nation's desperate poverty and emerging social problems.

Kirsty Sword Gusmao, who married Gusmao last year, was punched, stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver and robbed on a beach outside the capital Dili on April 24.

The attack, by a group of young men, made headlines in Australia and around the world.

But it was just one of many recent incidents of violence against foreigners in East Timor.

Ms Sword, 35, said the attack showed that East Timor's problems did not end with independence.

"I think lots of people have this very simplistic view that the United Nations and international aid agencies are in there doing their best for the East Timorese people and they should be grateful," she told The Australian Woman's Weekly.

"But there are actually less savoury sides to all of that assistance and one of them is the creation of a dual economy and economic injustices and disparities that arise.

"These deep social and economic imbalances have to be addressed.

"The salaries of the internationals are something like 20 times the salary of the East Timorese ... so you can imagine that this could be a source of frustration and anger."

Ms Sword said publicity surrounding the attack could have a positive effect by drawing attention to East Timor's ongoing plight.

"It draws the attention of Australians to the fact that it's not a black and white problem of just getting as much aid as you can into East Timor and that will solve the country's problems," she said.

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