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David Scott Obituary

Giant of social welfare, and human rights activist David Scott AO and Ordem de Timor-Leste (Timor-Leste’s Presidential Medal – see story here), passed away this week. The funeral service will be held at Christ Church , South Yarra, corner Punt and Toorak Roads, South Yarra on Saturday the 28th of April commencing at 2 pm. Flowers welcome, but donations to the Brotherhood of St Laurence will be appreciated.

This obituary was written by Richard Tanter  and circulated by email yesterday.

On the 7th of December 1975 David called an emergency meeting at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Brunswick St, Fitzroy in response to the full scale attack by Indonesian armed forces on Dili earlier that day. The large number of people present resolved to set up the Australia-East Timor Association.”

David was well known in East Timor circles for this extraordinary commitment to the cause of self-determination for the people of East Timor from 1975 onwards. He told some of that story in his 2005 book “Last Flight Out of Dili: Memoirs of an Accidental Activist”, and more in another study of Australia and Timor Leste still to be published. Find links to chapters written by David for ‘Last Flight Out of Dili’ and omitted during publishing : All They Got Was Misery and Japan: the Reluctant Invaders. Chapters in Tetun: Japaun Relatante Invasores and  Timor Oan Hetan-terus

What may be less well-known in the wider Timor-Leste activist community is the fact that this was but one of the fields where he made an extraordinary contribution, both within Australia and beyond.

In the 1950s and 1960s David built the Brotherhood of St. Laurence into the most significant and progressive agency for social welfare and social policy in Australia. He founded Community Aid Abroad, the largest non-government aid agency and campaigner for global justice, which later became Oxfam Australia. His original vision for CAA, which was for many years a reality, was that it should be a genuinely transnational network linking people living communities in Australia with the people of communities in poorer countries, rather than a simple matter of donating money.

David was the chair of the Land Conservation Council of Victoria, and the first Commissioner for the Environment in Victoria. He also served on the Board of the State Electricity Commission, and in many other public capacities. He also played a key role over many years in the International Council on Social Welfare, and many comparable Australian welfare bodies. He was also the founder and publisher of the monthly magazine Australian Society.

One of David’s great achievements was his role, together with others, in preventing a ghastly miscarriage of justice in the case of Robert Peter Tait, who was convicted of a quite brutal murder in 1962, and sentenced to death, even though he was manifestly insane. Together with others, David led a huge public campaign against the government’s determination to hang Tait. David applied for an order that Tait be
psychiatrically assessed. The government refused, and David took the case to the Supreme Court and subsequently the High Court in an
emergency hearing which brought down an injunction against Tait’s hanging after the government challenged the authority of the High
Court. Tait sentence was eventually commuted to life imprisonment, and he died in a psychiatric facility. As a result of the public and legal
campaign, only one person was executed in Victoria subsequently.

Those of us who worked closely with David, and who were privileged by his friendship, valued his extraordinary combination of determination, political skill, and generosity of spirit. Social and political movements are never a matter of one individual, but there are times when the role of one person is critical. It is probably fair to say that without his central role in organising practical and political
support for the Fretelin external representatives immediately following the invasion of East Timor in December 1975 and the years
following, and his vigorous campaigning in Australia, the United States and at the United Nations, it is far less likely that the
people of Timor-Leste would have eventually gained their freedom from Indonesian colonialism.

What marked out David’s work in all these fields was a special kind of political creativity, which had a great deal to do with the way he
worked with other people building organisations. My own life was deeply affected by David in many ways that I can only begin to account
for. It is right to say that I was privileged with David’s friendship and trust and companionship in the darkest years of the movement to
support self-determination in East Timor, and in other endeavours. He had a great capacity to find people who could work with him on the
issues he felt deeply about, and to bring out the best in such people.

Richard Tanter
School of Social and Political Studies, University of Melbourne,
Senior Research Associate, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability

April 25th, 2012 jen Posted in News | Comments Off on David Scott Obituary

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Chamot’s Blog

Suai Media Space friend and active member Chamot has got his own blog going with very interesting information about Camenassa his own district. You can see it here and visit Chamot on his FaceBook page. Don’t be surprised to find yourself trying to read Tetun. The Timorese have been trying to understand us for ten years, now it’s our turn.

October 21st, 2011 jen Posted in Culture, News, News Tetun | Comments Off on Chamot’s Blog

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Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance & Survival Review

Review by Jen Hughes
Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance and Survival edited by Jude Conway and launched in Australia nationally in 2010, presents 13 oral histories from Timorese women, with each story accompanied by several pages of photographic snapshots from their lives.

The collection of stories reveal the role women played in East Timor’s independence struggle on the guerilla front, the diplomatic front and in the student movement inside and outside the country and afterwards.

The opening story told by Ceu Lopes Federer provides a lens through which to read the subsequent twelve stories. The work Ceu and her compatriots did to meet the financial needs of the resistance inside and outside Timor, to keep it alive and strong, and to provide them with accurate information about what was going on outside in relation to East Timor gives the reader an insight into how important women were in the solidarity movement that was the backbone to the diplomatic front. Mica Barreto Soares’ story tells how Timorese studied in Indonesia and the work they did for East Timor inside Indonesia. The two show the importance of the women’s solidarity work to the survival of the guerilla movement inside Timor and segue into the stories about the work Timorese women did all over the world. They also provide background for the sometimes small but extremely risky activities of other storytellers when they speak of secreting letters and notes, medicines or food, inside clothing and bluffing their way through Indonesian positions inside East Timor and Indonesia.

The simple device of providing an introductory paragraph about the circumstances of their family and ethnicity at birth in all the stories yields rich rewards by giving access to the intricate and personal character of conflicts of this kind, making a broader reading of how women and their families experience conflict possible. The stories make it clear, that war was everywhere and everywhere they turned every aspect of personal life was affected by it. Their family histories and the location in time and place of the storytellers dramatically impacts on the destiny of the women and their children.

The most heart wrenching story in the book is of a child who wished her mother, Dulce Vitor, dead because it was her military were chasing, and because of her they were hungry and had to run every day.

This collection of stories tells what the everyday embodiment of a conflict in your own community is like for families. It was in the fertile ground of dire need and ambition, in amongst the secrets, on the boundaries of family relationships, political and institutional alliances, the seeds of fear and distrust could be sewn by enemies, or serendipitously falling there, cause discovery and tempt betrayal. However it was in similar fissures and trusted spaces deeply embedded in the community that the resistant impulses became active too. The stories show, it was from the domestic spaces that courage, adaptability, resistance and resilience grew and spread over generations to the clandestine movement inside the country and the solidarity movement outside the country.

The various reasons for these women getting involved in the struggle for East Timor’s independence gives an insight into why these stories are critically different from oral histories about women’s involvement in war I’ve read before. Most of them became caught up because of their experience of the forced oppression and violence against themselves, their family and their fellow human beings. Carolina Do Rosario “As Timor women we felt worthless, little more than dolls. We felt that slaves had a history we shared, … that’s why…. we never walked away from the struggle, we kept fighting”. And Laura Soares Abrantes: “how can one practice culture without human rights”?

A book of oral histories runs the risk of losing the reader because the writing lacks the page-turning pulse that dramatic tension provides in a woven narrative. However the power of these stories resides in the realistic immediacy and verifiability of their first person narratives, published as they are while the protagonists still live. This personal as political approach to a historical record of an international political conflict, adds weight to the gender struggle that is on-going in East Timor, a deeply conservative male dominated society. The women want us to know the fight for equality was not introduced by foreigners but has grown from the struggle for independence. It is significant the stories have been published for a broader English-speaking readership. If the stories were recorded and used for research before being abstracted into a history authored by Conway rather than edited as they are they wouldn’t serve the same function politically or be as satisfying for the storytellers.

One of the strengths of the book is the history of the editor Jude Conway. Jude worked side by side with Timorese in Darwin and Dili for twenty years and many of the photographs in the book taken by her, amplify the stories, showing somewhat disconcertingly, how social life continued; how love and marriage, birth and friendship, educational achievement and the women themselves were growing older and their lives were changing during the time of the stories. The photograph albums for each storyteller are available on Conway’s FaceBook page here:

Step by Step is a highly readable, timely collection of oral histories that shines a light on the pivotal role women played in East Timor’s struggle for independence and afterwards, inside and outside East Timor. I highly recommend it.

Jen Hughes is a writer and filmmaker. Producer/Director of The Circle of Stones (2001), Time to go John and Black Bullion (2003) as well as producer and co–author of She has had eleven years involvement with East Timor, assisting the youth of Suai and the Friends of Suai: set up a media training group YoMaTre:.

July 28th, 2011 jen Posted in News, Timorese Autobiography | Comments Off on Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance & Survival Review

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Book Review – How genocide was avoided in East Timor

I just read the review in Inside Indonesia of Geoffrey Robinson’s new book How genocide was avoided in East Timor and I’m off to buy it. I highly recommend you read this review by Helene van Klinken and decide for yourself here.

July 12th, 2011 jen Posted in News | Comments Off on Book Review – How genocide was avoided in East Timor

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Tebe Liku Rai (Suai)

This tebe was filmed during the Cultural Festival 2010 at the President’s Palace in Dili. It was filmed and edited by Victor Sousa for Tatli ba Kultura. TATOLI BA KULTURA is a research project that aims to gain the materials and knowledge necessary to establish the future Academy of Creative Industries in Timor-Leste. I have taken a copy from YouTube to share on Suai Media Space.  The work on the Tatloli ba Kultura YouTube channel shows just how far East Timor has come with its healing. The existence of the tais, the head dress the amount of work gone into recording and editing these videos, show the huge amount of work being done in the country to strengthen traditional culture and learn new communication skills.

“Tebe Liku Rai (dancing drum) consists of 8 -16 of women lined up in two rows with small drums under the armpit and two men in the middle with a Surik (sword), a white handkerchief up in hand while shaking, dancing and shouting while the women dance and play the drums”. TatolibaKultura YouTube Channel.

Tebe Liku Rai iha feto na’in 8 to’o 16 hamrik halo lina rua ho likurai iha kalilin no mane na’in rua iha oin/iha klaran ho surik ou lensu mutin foti ba leten ho tebe, dansa no hakilar wainhira feto sira dansa no baku liku rai. Filme ne’e halo iha Palacio Presidente iha Dili durante Festival Kultura 2010.

July 4th, 2011 jen Posted in Culture, Dance, Friends Share videos, News, Traditional Culture, Video Archive | Comments Off on Tebe Liku Rai (Suai)

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