|Subject: Falintil: Speech by Taur Matan
FALINTIL - 25th ANNIVERSARY August 20th, 2000
SPEECH DELIVERED BY TAUR MATAN RUAK, COMMANDER OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMED FORCES OF EAST TIMOR (FALINTIL)
His Excellency, Xanana Gusmão, CNRT President,
His Excellency, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General,
His Excellency the Right Reverend Bishop D. Ximenes Belo,
Your Excellencies Members of the Transitional Government,
Your Excellencies Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions,
Comrades and Friends,
It is 25 years to this day that the leadership of FRETILIN took the decision to establish FALINTIL to organise our People in the struggle against the forces which sought to perpetuate foreign occupation of our Homeland.
Being confident of victory during these 25 years, FALINTIL guerrilla fighters galvanised the Timorese People throughout the national territory to resist the oppression and humiliation imposed upon us.
Unable to subdue the will of the People, year after year, the invading forces continuously tormented defenceless citizens, women, children and elderly people. As the aggression against our People reached its worst peak, backward-looking forces in Indonesia, deployed over 30,000 men armed with sophisticated equipment which inclued tanks, long-range artillery, helicopters, aircrafts, warships and other weapons to commit genocide.
In a territory with less than twenty thousand square kilometres, with no rear bases nor military assistance beyond our borders to support the struggle, this huge military force was unable to shake the unwavering will of the Timorese People to be free and independent.
We went through immense difficulties to survive, we went through terrible grief and mourning, we buried valiant comrades, we witnessed the massacre of countless thousands of citizens of our Homeland, all perpetrated without pity or mercy.
Defenceless and without any means to protect themselves, our children and our women expressed their revulsion for the invader in everyday gestures and had to face a genocide which took the lives of more than a third of our population.
On this occasion, in which we celebrate 25 years of existence and, on behalf of our armed guerrillas serving the Timorese Nation, from the bottom of our hearts, we pay tribute to the more than 250,000 people who lost their lives.
This genocide did not weaken the decisive support rendered by our People to FALINTIL in their struggle for freedom and independence. The process of this struggle fostered the unity between FALINTIL and the People. In spite of the strong presence of the occupying forces, FALINTIL managed to be operational througout the whole national territory.
The People accepted even greater sacrifices. To defend their Homeland, our People stood up en masse, offered their sons, fed the guerrilla soldiers, gave shelter, cared for the wounded and thus further encouraged the struggle for the Liberation of our country. The People, the entire Nation, upheld the FALINTIL banner as their own.
This unconditional support of the People, together with huge international solidarity with our struggle made it possible for FALINTIL to accomplish its historic mission: TO LIBERATE OUR HOMELAND!
The independence of our country is rooted in the resistance of all its people. It is founded on the sacred legacy of our compatriots who were martyred in the defence of freedom.
At this hour, we remember in particular the FALINTIL fighters who consciously gave their lives to create a free and independent nation. It is with great emotion that we recall Commander Nicolau Lobato, Commander Konis Santana, Commander David Alex, Commander Txai, Commander Ferraz, Commander Mau Karo Tiga Nol Lima, Commander Mau Lani, Commander Mau Vani and countless other heros and distinguished FALINTIL fighters who died for the Homeland of East Timor.
In this path on which we set foot twenty five years ago, other illustrious sons of our people gave, and continue to give, the very best of themselves and their strength to the cause of freedom, democracy, progress and the material and spiritual well being of our people.
We also greet all the commanders and FALINTIL fighters who, on a daily basis, as they carried out their roles, remained vigilant in the defence of the Timorese nation.
From among the many, we must highlight the figure of President Xanana Gusmão, the Commander in these two last decades who so wisely led us to the present moment. President Xanana, the most beloved son of our People, whether in the mountains or in the dungeons of the foreign invader, knew how to keep himself with great dignity in the role of command and to continue to lead our struggle to this point of victory which we are celebrating here today. Today we have reached a new juncture which is appropriate to the construction of a democratic state. We are certain that in the process of establishing a modern, regular armed force at the service of the Timorese Nation, we will continue to benefit from the visionary guidance of President Xanana.
Comrades and Friends,
In recent times, last September, when barbarity tried to anul the Popular Consultation during which our people were able to say yes or no to the independence of East Timor, it was due to the decisive command of President Xanana that the FALINTIL accepted the sacrifice which was required of them; to contain themselves when faced with the provocations of the backward looking which were decimating the people and destroying their livelihoods.
That was the hour in which the world wanted to know what the Timorese People truly wanted. The people had had their say. In spite of the climate of terror and intimidation, the People said yes to independence! This affirmation embodies the essence of the whole struggle for freedom and independence carried out by FALINTIL.
This discipline and strong sense of responsibility enhanced the prestige of FALINTIL, both at the national and international levels. Today we are establishing the beginnings of the future armed forces of East Timor.
The medal which we have just received from the hands of President Xanana, which represents the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed upon two illustrious sons of our Homeland and which was given today to FALINTIL by our brother Dr Ramos Horta, reflects the just cause of the struggle of FALINTIL in fighting for peace and liberty. This most unique gesture explicitly recognises that the armed defence of our people is intrinsic to the fight for peace and liberty!
At this moment when we assume the command of FALINTIL, in the context of structuring the new armed forces of East Timor, modern and impartial, and in keeping with the spirit which has always guided our struggle for liberation, we reiterate our commitment both to defend the Homeland and the Timorese nation in the face of each and every type of hostility towards our national independence and our commitment to the creation of a democratic state.
We are alert to the forces of destabilisation which continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of our compatriots. Once again, we reiterate our total willingness to cooperate with the Peace Keeping Forces to re-establish order and tranquility throughout the entire national territory.
New and difficult tasks lie ahead in this long and complex process of liberating the Homeland and the people. In this process, we commit ourselves to remaining faithful to the principle of subordination to the democratically elected political authority to safeguard independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Our actions will always be directed towards harmony and cooperation amongst nations. With our neighbours, particularly with a democratic Indonesia and with Australia, we share the principles of equality, mutual respect, good neighbourly relations and of mutual assistance to consolidate peace and democracy.
Vivam as FALINTIL (Long live FALINTIL)!
Viva o Povo de Timor Leste (Long live the People of East Timor)!
Commander Taur Matan Ruak FALINTIL
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