|Subject: Timorese gangs paid to kill
Timorese gangs paid to kill
October 09, 2007 12:00am
EAST Timorese youths have been paid to kill people during periods of
political unrest, a Catholic priest has alleged.
Father Martinho Gusmao has told The Courier-Mail that provocateurs have a
graded scale of fees for for rock throwing, burning houses and murder.
His information comes from hearing the confessions of dozens of youths.
"According to estimations, they say if they throw a stone, they will get
$20, if they burn a house: $50, if they kill a person: $100," Fr Gusmao
"I think this is very terrible."
The Dili-based priest says he has a strong suspicion who has been paying the
youths but refuses to name names.
Young men were paid before and after the June national elections to commit
acts of violence, he adds.
Confessions relating to such acts were still being made as recently as last
"They come to talk to us, they want to have counselling because they feel
guilty," said the priest, who is also a member of the church's Justice and
Peace Commission. There were outbreaks of rioting surrounding the June polls
in which no single party won enough votes to form a government.
After much negotiating Xanana Gusmao formed a coalition government with
smaller parties. However Fretilin, the former ruling party, initially argued
that the new government was unconstitutional as Fretilin was the largest
While Fr Gusmao would not point a finger at who might still be stirring up
unrest, Miguel Manetelo, the newly appointed State Secretary for Youth and
Sports, does not hold back.
"In Timor Leste, many youths if they receive some money from someone, some
groups or some political parties, they make trouble and violence," he says.
"It's because they don't have work, so it's very easy to politicise them."
Mr Manetelo says political parties have been manipulating the youths to
Unemployed young men loiter on Dili's hot and dusty streets and jump out at
passing cars waving mobile phone card top-ups.
Unruly youths are much feared. Taxi drivers say guarding their beaten up
sedans is their first priority, and most refuse to drive after 5pm.
"If I drive at night, I never know when I'll be hit, maybe there'll be
someone down this road, or jump out here," said one driver
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