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East Timor police use tear gas on students protesting government spending

[JURIST] A UN spokesperson said that East Timor [JURIST news archive] police used teargas on a group of 200 students who were demonstrating before the National Parliament [official backgrounder] on Monday. Police reportedly used force against the students and arrested 21 protesters who disregarded police instructions to disperse. The protesters had accused the government of spending over $2 million on luxury cars for legislators, using funds that the protesters argued should be spent on alleviating poverty and subsidizing rising oil prices. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Monday's protest comes amid rising tensions in East Timor, prompting comparisons to the run-up to the 2006 clashes between soldiers and police [BBC backgrounder] that killed 21 and displaced thousands. Earlier this year, the National Parliament declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in response to the attempted assassination of President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao [BBC profiles] by rebel forces. In June 2006, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] to establish an independent commission to investigate a surge in violence [JURIST reports] in East Timor. The UN sent more than 2,000 international peacekeepers to the Timorese capital of Dili in a month-long mission to help quell the violence.

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