This is an attempt at a truly objective account of an incident in East Timor. I have said in the past that true objectivity is impossible. I'm sure people will find flaws with this write-up.
With the benefit of hindsight and seven newspaper accounts (three specifically are used here), I can report the following, which I reasonable believe to be true. Parentheses indicate sources. Note the time confusion could be because of differing timezones. Because such reports are impossible to confirm at this point, I've left out any speculation of what specific people or groups may have caused these events to come to a head.
- East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 1999.
- Since that time, there has been no major incidents of violence until this one.
- On Wed 4 Dec 2002 (Herald Sun) or Tues 3 Dec 2002 (ABC News, assumed but unclear from report), police went to the 28th of November school and arrested a student accused of murder (Herald Sun) or gang violence (ABC News).
- On that same day an estimated 500 students (government spokesperson) gathered at Dili police headquarters to protest this detention.
- Other contributing factors that may have led to the protest and eventual rioting:
- Most East Timorese live in poverty.
- The condition of East Timor has not substantially changed since independence.
- On Thurs 5 Dec 2002 (Herald Sun) at 9:30am local time (The Age) police fired on protestors (The Age) or into the air (Herald Sun), possibly in response to stones being thrown at police and UN peacekeepers.
- Three people (ABC News citing witnesses, Herald Sun citing city hospital) or two people (The Age, UN sources) were fatally wounded. Sixteen others (The Age, ABC News, Herald Sun) were injured.
- Seventy-four (Herald Sun quoting UN CivPol commander) or 80 (ABC News citing Dili government) people were arrested.
- Many of the shooting victims claim to have been shot hours after the rioting. They claim to have been followed from the riots to suburbs and fired upon by Dili police (The Age).
- At least two of those shot were not involved in the protests or rioting (The Age).
- Thirteen police officers have been temporarily suspended or remanded for their conduct (The Age citing UN).
- The prime minister's house was damaged by fire (six articles, government and witnesses confirm, some say it was destroyed).
- The East Timor government has ordered an inquiry into the riots (The Age and ABC News, both citing government).