Violence grips E Timor as thousands apply for UN jobs
DILI, East Timor, Jan 15: Violence broke out in Dili on Saturday when thousands of poor and unemployed East Timorese scrambled to apply for jobs offered by the United Nations administration, reports AP.
Some in the crowd of about 7,000 threw rocks at a small group of international peacekeeping troops and UN police officers.
Witnesses said they were frustrated that their applications for about 2,000 available positions with the world body had been rejected.
About 70 foreign, mainly Australian, peacekeepers and UN civilian police protected UN administrative officials. Many took shelter behind walls.
One Australian soldier and a television cameramen were injured by flying rocks.
Thousands of applicants had been waiting at Dill's main sports stadium since dawn to apply for a range of jobs with the United Nations, which has a two to three-year mandate to prepare East Timor for self-government.
A UN officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said many of the applicants became angry when told they needed at least a basic understanding of English, which some didn't have. Indonesian and Portuguese are mainly spoken in East Timor along with the local Tetum language.
"They are angry that their applications were rejected because of their lack of skills," he said.
About an hour after the violence started, Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta arrived at the stadium and appealed for calm.
"To come here and see people using violence makes me feel ashamed," he said.
Interrupting his speech, one East Timorese man called out complaining of unfair treatment."
"We stayed here and fought for 24 years, but those who traveled around the world and learned English are now getting all the jobs," he said. "It's not fair."
The peacekeepers dispersed the crowd after UN officials postponed its job interview program by a week.
Unemployment is chronic in East Timor after its devastation last year by militia gangs who opposed independence for the territory from Indonesia.