Monday, October 12, 2009

No-confidence vote in East Timor

AFP reported that "Lawmakers in East Timor [Timor Leste] shouted jibes at each other Monday in a fiery censure debate over a government decision to free an Indonesian militia leader accused of crimes against humanity."

The opposition party accused the government of Prime Minister Xanana of breaking the law when it allowed the release of militia leader Martenus Bere.

Matt,  Lost Boy, Censure debate underway
OK screw it. I’m going to back to parliament.

Almost 8 pm and the lawmakers are really going for it now. Lots of back and forth and everyone is getting involved. .... It’s rowdy in there. I don’t know if anyone really expects this censure motion to be passed, but stranger things have happened. ...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Earthquake in Padang, Sumatra

Al Jazeera (via BM) reports: 

"Rescuers are continuing to dig through the rubble of collapsed buildings on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, several days after a deadly earthquake struck the region, but officials say hopes of finding survivors alive are rapidly diminishing."

"Only a handful of survivors had been pulled from the rubble by Saturday, three days since the 7.6 magnitude quake toppled tens of thousands of buildings in the coastal town of Padang and surrounding villages.

"Up to 4,000 people are believed to be trapped under the rubble following Wednesday's earthquake, the United Nations estimates.

"Villages wiped out...."

Bob McKerrow, Wayfarer (text, photos)

Bob, a New Zealander,  is head of the Indonesia delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.  He writes,  "I am a wayfarer whose life is packed with disasters, mountains, family, work, writing and books. Currently I am working in the Tsunami and earthquake operation in Indonesia...."   A Wikipedia article provides more background.

Some quotes from his most recent posts:

 The quake is very bad in Sumatra !, October 1, 2009:

Wayne Ulrich returned one and a half hours ago from a seven hour aerial assessment of the remote parts of the earthquake affected region. An experienced campaigner who has seen many civil wars in Africa for MSF, the Tsunami for CARE described what he saw today in the remote hills and valleys of the greater Padang area as like seeing the effects of an Atomic bomb being dropped on a huge region. He reported houses, mosques, clinics and schools flattened, and on hilly spurs, villages wiped out by landslides. When they landed in villages people walked about dazed not knowing whether to laugh or cry. No medical help visible as being walked about injured or sick.

A long day in the field,, October 3, 2009:

"Flew with Colin Tuck and PMI colleagues to inspect affected villages. What devastation ! I spend time with one elderly woman with a broken back and a large gash in her arm. Tuckey went back to the helicopter and got the firs aid kit and we dresses her room. I will write about that later. Came back after 3 hours and then two planes with shelter materials arrived from Australia. We are moving relief supplies out quickly and the medical and rescue teams continue their work."


"It's almost 2 am on Sunday morning. Yesterday, Saturday 3 October is one of those days etched in my life and brain forever.

"I nabbed 4 hours sleep last night and woke up restless thinking of all those people trapped under buildings in Padang, perhaps 2000 of them. who knows. I awoke about 5.30 am, had breakfast with Pak Irman from the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and then went walkabout alone. . . . .

"I WALK FOR AN HOUR SEEING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. THANK GOD THE SWISS RED CROSS/GOVERNMENT TEAM HAVE WORKED THROUGH THE NIGHT WITH THEIR LOCATER DOGS AND SEEM OPTIMISTIC. Red Cross people from 8 countries have come to help. We are starting to get on top of the relief phase but a huge task ahead of us. I have ordered another helicopter today so the PMI medical people can get out to those villages cut off and make sure people don't die of injuries and infection. Juggling priorities is difficult."

Philip Proctor moved to Padang from Scarborough with his wife and daughter at the beginning of September. His intention was to teach English there. BBC

"We live about four or five miles from the centre of Padang. Our house was built around 1975. Older houses like this are much stronger and the amount of structural damage where we are is minimal. It's the newer buildings in town that have had the biggest damage."

Dorian Bell manages the office of a surfing charter company in Padang. He says he is still in a state of shock.  BBC

"In the whole of Padang, 30% of the houses were completely destroyed and of those still standing 80% are damaged and may have to be demolished later on.

"Our building was still standing, though it was tilted over to one side. There was no electricity and I found a complete mess inside. I grabbed some clothes and other essentials and went back to the car.

"I wanted to spend the night in a hotel, but most hotels were destroyed. The biggest one was still standing, but it was closed. That was lucky, because that same hotel collapsed during the aftershock today."

Dave, Dave's landslide blog,  Emerging news of landslides triggered by the Sumatra earthquake

"It is interesting to note that in all three of the large earthquakes upon which I have worked (1999 Taiwan, 2005 Pakistan, 2008 China), the media has tended to initially focus their coverage upon urban areas, whilst the real story has actually been in the rural hinterland. . . .  the main reason is of course that in upland rural areas landslides kill large numbers of people whilst also destroying communications links and power infrastructure. Thus, the disaster in these areas goes unreported for some time; even the government is often unaware of this situation. As I tell my students, in this case no news is definitely bad news - if no information is coming out about these upland rural areas then the situation is probably dire."

Carolina Rumuat of Global Voices   Indonesia: Strong earthquake hit West Sumatra,
Includes videos of the earthquake, reactions from Indonesian bloggers. 

Mong Palatino, also of Global VoicesIndonesia: Thousands still trapped under rubble
Links to reactions from Indonesian bloggers, and some twitter users.  Discussion of recover efforts now underway:

    Human chain protest in Kerala against ASEAN-India FTA

    "Hundreds of thousands of Left activists stood in a row at 5pm yesterday, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, holding their hands aloft in a human chain from Kerala’s northern district of Kasargod to the State capital of Thiruvananthapuram, asking the Central Government to revoke the free trade agreement signed with ASEAN....

    "CPM estimated around 3 million people joined the human chain. The CPM in Kerala perhaps holds the patent for Indian version of human chain protest. On August 15, 1987, DYFI organized the first human chain in the country.  (Peninsula, Qatar)

    Vishwajith, Human Dignity "Today was completely awestruck because of the Human chain by the comrades of Kerala including my Father. From southern tip to Northern tip of Kerala, comrades took part with heavenly attitude, great brethren ship and unending enthusiasm to make the slogan 'ASEAN AGREEMENT IN ARABIAN SEA'. As usual the normal traffic was blocked, the party vehicles were in a rampaging mood and all the traffic rules were as the slogan, in Arabian Sea. I was stuck in a block for nearly half an hour."

    Another Indian blogger, not associated with the chain, Keralamnlo, dissents: 

    "Yesterday there was a human chain in Kerala, from Kasaragode in the north to the gates of the Rajbhavan in Thiruvananthapuram. Some say it was 777 km long. With only some gaps, one at Changanachery where the Nair Service Society is located, a usual ill omen that, another nearby at Thiruvalla. This chain apparaently was to protest against the recent Free Trade Agreement (FTA) arrived at between the ASEAN nations by the Governmment of India, why the point of end was the Rajbhavan, rekindling the memmories of the British Raj. Deep down it was a desperate attempt to white wash the darkened image of the Communist OParty in the state, which is waiting for the worst in the next elections. The concept of fighting neo-colonialism is fine, but ASEAN is no WTO and this is even a small way of challenging the western hegemony, some how the comrades did not realize that. Good nevertheless, any movement of the people against the vulpine global order is welcome"