Saturday, August 11, 2007

Somet on East Timor, David Bacon

Opening with a press release sent to the public account. This is from SOMET.

SOMET Calls for End to Violence and Instability in Timor-Leste
New York: John M. Miller (ETAN), +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391; email:
Philippines: Gus Miclat (IID/APSOC), +63-82-2992574 & 75; email:
Netherlands: Endie van Binsbergen (VOT), +31-30-294-5599, +31-6-2320-8594; email:

August 9 - The Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET) is deeply worried about continued instability in Timor-Leste, despite recent credible elections. Although media reports and past traumas have exaggerated the implications of the limited, sporadic violence of the last few days, we remain concerned that prolonged unrest and allegations of government illegitimacy could undermine Timor-Leste’s fragile democracy.

We urge people to express their views peacefully and legally, without violence. Supporters of all sides should be free to voice their opinions but not to impose them through violence or intimidation. We agree with leaders from across Timor-Leste’s political spectrum who have spoken out against violence, and we hope they will persuade their partisans to remain calm.

Timor-Leste needs a stable government and a peaceful environment to allow it to overcome both long-standing and short-term problems, including those of poverty, security, unemployment, health, justice, infrastructure, and education. Some of these and other critical issues underlie Timor's current insecurity.

SOMET believes that the newly-elected Parliament and President represent the will of the voters, and SOMET reiterates our praise for Timor-Leste’s electorate and electoral officials in conducting three largely free, fair and peaceful elections this year. We continue to believe that legal, constitutional processes are the only way for Timor-Leste to move from its current post-independence adolescence to become a mature, democratic nation.

The four parties which make up the Alliance for Parliamentary Majority include more than half of the members of Parliament. The new Government headed by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão appears to be the most likely to survive constitutional hurdles, providing essential stability.

Any parties that disagree can use the process provided for in the Constitution by introducing a parliamentary motion of no confidence. If it passes, they will have the opportunity to form their own Government. However, if Parliament affirms its confidence in Xanana Gusmão’s Government, FRETILIN and other parties should accept its legitimacy and serve as a responsible, vigorous and constructive parliamentary opposition. A cycle of repeated Government dissolution and creation and will only add to Timor-Leste's political uncertainty.

We encourage all political parties not in the Government to be strong watchdogs, proposing and advocating alternative policies and legislation. We also expect the Government to respect the opposition and to respond to its views, as well as to those of civil society. Everyone should learn from the policies and attitudes over the past several years and work to restore the confidence of the people in democratic institutions. Timor-Leste needs more cooperative relationships among politicians from all parties, as well as between the government and the people.

SOMET will soon issue its detailed report of its observations of the June 30 election and its recommendations for future electoral processes. Previous SOMET reports are available online at

Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET) is a nonpartisan observer mission including both international and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor the 2007 Presidential and parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste.

SOMET was created by the US-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), in cooperation with Stichting Vrij Oost Timor (VOT) of the Netherlands, Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) based in the Philippines, and the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA), in response to requests from several civil society organizations in Timor-Leste. In Timor-Leste, SOMET cooperates with Asosiasaun HAK, Timor-Leste NGO Forum, La'o Hamutuk, FOKUPERS, Bibi Bulak and the Kadalak Sulimutuk Institute.

We're a little more casual on the weekends (look at the morning entry I do on any Sunday) so we can fit that in even though the focus is Iraq. (And we've noted them before.)

David Bacon is someone we've also noted before (many times). He is one of the few labor reporters left in this country. He is also an artist with an exhibit entitled "Living Under Trees" focusing on the indigenous Mexican farmworkers in the state of California that is being shown now through August 23rd, at the Arte Americas at 1630 Van Ness Avenue in Fresno (93721 zip for anyone attempting to use Yahoo or Google maps). The cost is $3 per person ($2 if you are a student or a senior citizen) and hours are 11:00 am until 5:00 pm Tuesdays through Saturday (closed on Sunday and Monday -- open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays).

Margaret Slaby examines the the showing in "Visual Eloquence: Photo exhibit at Arte Americas reveals a rich community among poor farmworkers" (The Fresno Bee):

A reality check is the way David Bacon describes his collection of photographs and text narratives of indigenous Mexican farmworkers in California on display at Arte Americas in downtown Fresno.
"It shows the realities of their lives," says Bacon, a photojournalist and writer who lives in Berkeley.
The exhibit, "Living Under the Trees," features 42 color photographs (including six measuring 3 by 4 1/2 feet) and six text narratives (in both English and Spanish). The photos show faces that are sun-bronzed from long hours in the fields and the dirt-covered hands of a worker who spent the day picking olives. They show the wooden shacks and tents many workers call home -- and the sagging mattresses inside. The exhibit also depicts a rich culture, including dancers in brightly colored costumes and a Sunday mass in a ravine near Del Mar.

I think we're at the fair use limit on that article. It will have other showings in California as well and I've got them marked in my date book so (hopefully), I'll remember to note that when those dates come up. Those interested in seeing the exhibit but not able to make it to Fresno can consult the article which does include later dates and locations as well as some photographs.
You can also click here to see some of the photos (Political Affairs). I assume everyone knows that photos in a paper or magazine (or film) are never captured to the degree that they are in person (that's a warning to anyone able to check out the exhibit who tells themselves, "Oh, I saw two online.").

Cedric's "The Black Commentator has been delinked" went up this morning and gets special mention because these days Cedric and Wally do their joint-posts (and they'll have one of those up shortly this morning). This is a solo post by him and, to add to it, Gina was also a leader on this issue and, in fact, made that the topic for the roundtable (conducted Thursday night, ran in Friday's gina & krista round-robin).

This isn't the main entry for the morning, by the way. This is me going through the e-mails and typing with one hand while drying my hair with the other.

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