Pero. - Tears for My Friend

In Memoriam for my friend Pero Simundza
Zadar, 18.03.1971 - West Timor, 06.09.2000


From: Pero.Simundza
To: Peter.Casier
Date: 23-Sept-99 15:55
Subject: Hi !

Hi Peter,

Has been a while since our dinner and drink in Tirana. Heard you got into Kosovo safe and sound.
Me, I am back at my home duty station in Mostar. I'm stuck here until I find myself another job...just another sequel to the story I told you when meeting in Tirana...
73 de Pero

From: Peter.Casier
To: Pero.Simundza
Date: 25/June/2000 01:58
Subject: update


Hi Pero,

Through the grapevine, I heard you were (finally) reassigned to West-Timor. Good for you!!!!
I should be passing by Timor late summer. Will let you know!
life is busy and interesting...

Peter

From: Pero.Simundza
To:
Peter.Casier
Date: 26/June/2000 07:57:10 AM
Subject: de Pero

Hi Peter,
Long time no see.. How's life?
I just had the server installed, so now I have my good old e-mail address back, here in Atambua. You probably heard, I got the license and installed my little radio in Batugade, East Timor.
No real electricity power supply there, just the office generator after sunset until midnight. Still, it's a nice place to relax after the hard working week. Attaching some pictures.
We had a terrible flood in the south of our province, I was there for about ten days in the mud up to my neck, always wet and dirty, got the flu like everyone else (hi-hi).
About 150 people died in one night...so it wasn't all that fun as you can imagine.
I'm most likely to stay here for at least 7/8 months more...
Working hours are long (typically 12 hrs a day) but it's OK, team is good, still a lot of things to do.
When are you come over? write me sometimes, hope all OK with you,
73 de 9A4SP a.k.a. 4W6SP - Pero

From: Peter.Casier
To: Pero.Simundza
Date: 25/July/2000 09:04
Subject: coming over

hi Pero,

The pictures you sent surely look attractive. (except the curtains, hi)
I will fly in from Djakarta via Bali on 21st.. maybe we will meet!

Peter

From: Pero.Simundza
To:
Peter.Casier
Date: 26/Jul/2000 07:57
Subject: re: coming over

Hello my friend,
Looking forward to seeing you again,
I should be back in Atambua from 2 weeks leave on 28 August.
Maybe I could fly with you to Dili and back on that day, because the flight lands in Atambua anyway..
73 de Pero, 9A4SP (4W6SP)

From: Peter.Casier
To: Pero.Simundza
Date: 26/July/2000 09:04
Subject: re:coming over

Hi Pero,
I should be traveling from Kosovo to Pakistan, then Cambodia, Laos and Jakarta. Might have to do Sri Lanka before or after Timor.
Will let you know the exact dates for the visit!
Looking forward to see you too. Has been a while !
73, Peter

From: Pero.Simundza
To: Peter.Casier
Date: 26/July/2000 11:04
Subject: coming over

Ooops... Your mission is not going to be all that short my friend..
Like I said, I should be back in Denpasar/Bali on the 27th, to fly to Kupang on the 28th.
i expect to be back in Atambua on 29th (tuesday) with WFP flight...
See You soon I hope,
73 de Pero 9A4SP

From: Peter.Casier
To: Pero.Simundza
Date: 21/August/2000 21:07
Subject: LATE reschedule:

Pero,
change of plans. This is my new itinerary.
23/8: Jakarta-Kupang
24/8: Kupang-Atambua
25/8: Atambua-Dili
30/8: leave Dili to Cambodia.

Peter

From: Peter.Casier
To: Friends Email distribution list.
Date: 7/Sept/2000 08:07
Subject: Goodbye to a friend.

Friends,

It is with profound sadness and anger I heard today that Pero Simundza - a UN colleague and fellow ham, was amongst the three UN staff who were killed during a militia assault on the UNHCR office in Atambua, West-Timor yesterday.

The UNHCR office in Atambua was attacked by a vicious militia mob who overrun and trashed the premises and vehicles, stabbed three UNHCR relief workers who were working in the office at that moment, to death. They then dragged the bodies onto the street and put them on fire. Pero was one of them.

Pero worked for UNHCR in Atambua as an international radio operator. He joined UNHCR years ago, in Sarajevo. Later on, he moved on mission to Albania, where I met him in June last year. We spent a most enjoyable evening together, ending with me operating from his station. He stroke me as a young, very enthusiastic, truly passionate person.
Since then, we kept regular contact, sending eachother news from where we were, and where we operated from.

After returning from Albania, he continued working in Sarajevo for a few months after which he was appointed to Atambua, West Timor. He was real happy with his international assignment, close to the East Timor border. He regularly crossed the border to be active from the other side, in a small house where he had arranged his shack. He sent me pictures by Email of his shack and antenna.

I looked forward to meet him during my current Asia tour, which included West and East Timor. Unfortunately, I had to reschedule my visit to Kupang and Atambua by a few days at the last moment, so Pero and I missed eachother by 2 days. He was on R&R when I had meetings in his office in Atambua two weeks ago and I walked passed the radio room he worked in. Last week we exchanged Emails again saying 'there will always be a next time, people like us always meet again, one side of the earth or another'.

Unfortunately, Pero, I will not be able to keep my promise. You parted from us way too soon, in a senseless death. We all know the risks we face while working in emergency relief activities, but your departure due to inhumane and totally absurd violence shocked many of us.

Farewell, my friend, we will all miss you. Our thoughts go to your family remaining behind.

vy 73

Peter
ON6TT


Associated Press – Wednesday, September 6th 2000.

DILI, East Timor (Associated Press) –
Thousands of pro-Indonesian militiamen and their supporters stormed a U.N. office in West Timor on Wednesday, killing an American and two other foreign U.N. staffers who worked to help refugees and burning their bodies. A U.N. force flew into the Indonesian territory to evacuate remaining workers, officials said.

Witnesses said Indonesian security forces, long blamed for Timor's continuing tragedy, stood by and did nothing to prevent the killings and the torching of a U.N. office in the West Timor town of Atambua. In addition to the three dead, several foreign staffers for the U.N. refugee agency escaped and three were injured, one of them seriously, police in Atambua said.
The seriously injured staffer was a Brazilian woman who was hacked by an ax-wielding attacker, officials said. The three dead workers were identified as Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia, Carlos Caseras of the United States and Pero Simundza of Croatia.

West Timor is controlled by Indonesia, while East Timor voted last year to separate from Indonesia and is now administered by the United Nations. Pro-Indonesian militiamen in the region rampaged after the East Timor independence vote, and clashes between pro-Indonesian groups and U.N. peacekeepers have become more frequent of late.

``These were peaceful, unarmed humanitarians who gave their lives trying help those who had lost everything in conflict,'' U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata said in a statement issued in Geneva. ``Words cannot express the sorrow all of us at UNHCR are feeling today, and our hearts go out to the families of the victims.''
(…)
Wednesday's violence began when thousands of armed pro-Indonesian militia members and their supporters stormed UNHCR's Atambua office. Witnesses said militiamen beat the three foreign U.N. workers to death and burned their bodies in the street. They were the first civilian U.N. staff members to be killed in Timor.
``The militiamen beat them to death inside the building. They then dragged the bodies outside, put on them a pile of wood, poured gasoline over them and set them on fire,'' said one witness, who was too frightened to give his name. ``It was scary.''
(…)
Before Wednesday's attack, the United Nations had recorded 193 deaths of civilian workers since 1992, when the organization began keeping civilian statistics. Since 1948, the United Nations has lost 1,412 military peacekeepers, although the figure jumps to 1,654 when U.N. observers and police are included.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press


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2 comments:

Jufe,  17 July, 2007 02:03  

nice have found this blog,previously I joined UNHCR in Aceh as local staff.Com service asisstant.Would you like share your experience how to be an international staff?

Peter Casier 07 August, 2007 17:10  

Hi Jufe,

Please have a look at this post:
theroadtothehorizon.blogspot.com/2006/03/rumble-so-you-want-to-be-aidworker-hey.html

This will help you further...

All the best,

P.

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