Reconciliation and Human Rights in Timor-Leste (East Timor): more to travel than just beaches and beer

When I decided to take my own advice and re-visit Timor-Leste, I didn’t expect to find myself in a dark suffocating prison. Travel is not just about beaches, bars and mountain tops; its also about learning the history of the country and its people. I am sure the 13 odd government employees I brought with me to learn about post-conflict land administration and conflict management were hoping for the former. I can’t name where the officials are from as elements of their own government might not be happy we discussed ethnic reconciliation. If you know me well, I am sure you can guess. The Indonesian era prison is actually home to a permanent exhibit on the Reconciliation process that occurred in Timor after independence, called the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR). It is tricky business getting people together to admit to crimes they committed against their neighbors, but Read full article…

Development and Human Rights at Work

Considering that most of my posts are about travel and exotic locales it may be shocking to hear that I actually do have a job. Many of you may have wondered about what it is I actually do and what type of work a development/human rights/conflict resolution worker actually does. To shed a little light into my work life, and to help educate on some of the most pressing matters facing Sri Lanka, I am posting two recent publications that I wrote. The first publication was released through my former employer, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). It deals with the High Security Zones in Sri Lanka and how they have been used to deny citizens their human rights to adequate housing, and return to their former homes and lands after displacement. The full report can be accessed here: High Security Zones and the Rights to Return and Read full article…

On Tuesday May 19th 2009, the President of Sri Lanka announced the end of the civil war that has ravaged the small island nation for over 30 years and deprived over 70,000 people their lives and future. The military captured all remaining territory previously held by the LTTE, and the military announced the death of the LTTE’s leader, Prabhakaran. By all accounts today should be a day of celebration as the country’s young, those under 30 years of age, have never known anything but civil war. And yet as I sit here and write during a new public holiday, fire crackers booming away in the distance, I can’t help but feel unsettled by the weight of suffering still going on, the lives lost to “win” the war, and the uncertain path Sri Lanka’s leaders will take: towards reconciliation or consolidation. Since I moved to Sri Lanka over two years ago Read full article…

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