Ainaro Lia Foun

Spring 2010

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Ainaro Visit Builds on Past Projects

My Time in Ainaro

Two Ways to Support East Timor on May 23

Action Alert: No U.S. Training for Notorious Indonesian Military Unit

Madison-Ainaro Delegation 2010

This spring, three members of the Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance traveled to East Timor. We are pleased to present some reflections and news from our sister city.

Ainaro Visit Builds on Past Projects

by Kate Owen, Ainaro/Ballarat (Australia) Friendship Program

From L-R: MASA's Eliot Stokes and Kit Foley, Ainaro's Agio Gomes, and Kate Owen of the Ainaro/Ballarat Friendship Program

Editor's note: Last year, the Madison-Ainaro Sister-City Alliance raised funds for the Ainaro Vulnerable Persons Unit (VPU), which specializes in domestic violence cases and prevention work. Our donation, along with others from Australian friendship groups, allowed the Ainaro VPU to purchase a much-needed camera and motorbike.

On March 26, Kit [Foley of Madison], Agio [Gomes of Ainaro, who visited Madison in 2008] and Elliot [Stokes of Madison] met with Senor Chiquito, the recently appointed District Planning Officer from the Ainaro District Administration to talk about the sister city relationship and general matters such as communication and possible projects.

We also met with the new Ainaro District Commander of National Police, Senor Sebastiao, to highlight the support Madison has provided for the VPU Project to enhance their capacity to respond to domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. The VPU have commenced the second phase of the community awareness and training program. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss broader police and community issues.

Senor Sebastiao mentioned one of the biggest challenges for police is relation-ship building with local communities. The VPU Community Program is an important opportunity to address this. Their six programs to date have been held in a wide range of community settings across the District, with up to 50 people attending.

The major problem for police of transport has been assisted by the purchase of the motorbike last year. This is a wonderful joint Friendship Group Program also supported by Blue Mountains along with Ballarat and Madison.

My Time in Ainaro

by Kit Foley, Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance

When we arrived in Ainaro, we met local permaculture expert Agio Gomes, who our group brought to Madison along with Father Evaristo "Lito" Soares in 2008. Agio took us to the temporary permaculture training office. Elliot presented him with permaculture books and posters in local languages, purchased in Dili with a grant from Madison-based Family Farm Defenders.

Agio said they could use support for holding small teaching workshops for materials. They're also hoping to secure a permanent office. Agio showed us the building that they have been promised. It needs repairs, but has a yard big enough for gardens.

Agio and Kate Owen from Ballarat then took us to meet local officials, as delegates of the Madison-Ainaro Sister-City Alliance. Ainaro's new police chief, Senior Sebastiao, thanked us for our previous support. I gave him a Willy St Co-op tote bag, for his wife to use when she buys food at the market for VPU community program meals.

Later, Elliot and I visited Padre Lito. He told us that he has many new responsibilities, since he is now the head priest of Ainaro parish. He shared his disappointment that the Madison Catholic Diocese wasn't more supportive, when he visited in 2008.

Electricity goes off during the night in Ainaro, so evenings and early mornings are very dark. Still, we enjoyed a simple breakfast with Timorese coffee by lantern light, before heading back to the capital city, Dili.

Two Ways to Support East Timor on May 23

Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 23. It's the eleventh annual "Tour de Timor" sister-city bike ride fundraiser. And thanks to Mother Fool's Coffehouse, you can also drink tea for Timor that day!

The Tour de Timor starts at 1 pm and goes around Lake Monona, an approximately 13-mile ride. Once again, we'll begin and end at the always fun WORT Block Party, on Bedford Street near Doty in Madison.

Your $25 ride registration gets you an organic, union-made Tour de Timor T-shirt. We also encourage you to collect pledges -- download pledge sheets at The highest pledge-raisers will receive prizes from Tour de Timor co-sponsors, including Family Farm Defenders, Machinery Row Bicycles, Yellow Jersey, Rainbow Bookstore, Planet Zebulon and The Progressive magazine.

In addition to co-sponsoring the ride, Mother Fool's is donating 10 percent of its May 23 sales to our organization! So please drink tea or coffee or enjoy yummy baked goods before or after the ride at Mother Fool's: 1101 Williamson Street in Madison.

Action Alert: No U.S. Training for Notorious Indonesian Military Unit

The Obama administration is considering resuming training of Kopassus, "special forces" units of the Indonesian military notorious for human rights abuses. In addition to its past crimes in East Timor and Aceh, Kopassus is responsible for ongoing violations in West Papua, according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2008, the Bush administration proposed resuming U.S. training for Kopassus. The State Department legal counsel reportedly ruled that the ban on training of military units with a history of involvement in human rights violations applies to Kopassus as a whole.

The Obama administration may try to justify resuming training by claiming it's needed to fight terrorism. Yet Indonesia's successes in counter-terrorism are due to its police, not the military.

Please sign the petition opposing U.S. training for Kopassus at