Subject: Xanana's speech on Falintil 25th anniversary




Mr. Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General,

Lieutenant-General Boonsrang Nuimpradit, PKF Commander,

Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions,

Right Reverend Bishop D. Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo,

Representative of the Right Reverend Bishop D. Basílio do Nascimento,

Representative of the Portuguese Government, Luís Amado, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation,

Vice-President of the CNRT, José Ramos-Horta,

Vice-President of the CNRT, Mário Viegas Carrascalão,

Members of the National Political Commission of the CNRT,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cadres of the Resistance Movement and Dear Timorese Brothers and Sisters,

It is with immense joy that we welcome you here to Aileu to commemorate 25 years of the existence of the most Glorious National Liberation Armed Forces of East Timor FALINTIL. We could be celebrating a moment free from major concerns were it not for the present situation of threat against the territory’s internal stability. We are certain that the PKF is committed to guaranteeing the stability for which it received a mandate.

Last year, after so many years of being apart, FALINTIL celebrated their day, for the very first time, together with the population in the four cantonments and, we must recall that, in Uai Mori, nearly thirty thousand people gathered whilst in the other cantonments there were also huge gatherings. Freedom was attained ten days later through the Popular Consultation and, the events that followed led our People to a most dramatic situation. Therefore, this celebration falls short of what we had hoped to share with you.

FALINTIL Soldiers Comrades in Arms, Commanders and Guerrilla soldiers,

I hereby pay tribute to all the soldiers who fell from 1975 to 1979, remembering the great Commander, Nicolau Lobato, all of his Command Group, Sector, region and company Commanders. It is not possible to name them all one by one but a FALINTIL Commission will be tasked to gather all this data.

I hereby pay a special tribute to all the guerrilla soldiers fallen since 1980 and to political leaders such as Konis Santana, Mau Hodu and the valiant Commanders such as Alex Daitula, Falu Taxai, Kalisá, Venâncio Ferraz, Koro Asu, Mau Tei, Fera Lafaek, Ko’o Susu, Roodak, Mer and so many more who can not be named one by one given the time constraints! The same FALINTIL Commission will gather detailed data to ensure that future generations may know and always remember our heroes.

I also pay a special tribute to the veterans of the Liberation War, from the guerrilla soldiers to Commanders, and to our dear brother Ma’ Huno, whose health condition saddens us all! I also pay a tribute, from the bottom of my heart to all of those who, in recent years, joined the ranks of FALINTIL. I will not forget and would like to pay the most profound tribute to the hundreds of people from our population who organised themselves in the mountains and suffered together with FALINTIL. Last but not least, we pay our highest tribute to all the clandestine network, men and women, youth and the elderly and, in particular, the children, who were able to support FALINTIL and the Struggle.

FALINTIL’s noble mission was to liberate our Homeland! After the first 3 years of an unprecendented experience of waging war, the imbalance between the forces, both in number and in quality, resulted in the major strategic defeats of 1978 and 1979.

The total collapse of FALINTIL as an institution, which was the outcome of many factors external to FALINTIL itself, reduced the Forces to a handful of men determined to carry on with the Armed Struggle. The guerrilla war was initiated with this handful of men and it lasted for almost 20 years. This is the handful of men that you, valiant guerrilla soldiers and Commanders, are representing here today.

Had it not, from the very beginning, been for the extremely high commitment to self-sacrifice which enabled you to forget everything, even your own families, it would not have been possible to continue waging the war.

The three main pillars which sustained the survival of FALINTIL as Liberation Armed Forces were, first and foremost, the grandiosity of your souls expressed through an extraordinary attitude of self-denial to accept sacrifice; secondly, a profound sense of historic responsibility, leading to a high standard of discipline and, ultimately, tested to the limits of human capacity and, as human beings that you are, an unwavering trust in the Leadership of the Struggle.

Today, we witness an extraordinary act of political courage which reveals the deep respect and extraordinary admiration that José Ramos-Horta has always nurtured for you.

It is the first time in the Nobel Peace Prize history that a Laureate bestows the Prize upon another entity. The Nobel Peace Prize, as an award, including the medal, is not transferable. José Ramos-Horta was always aware that had it not been for the steadfastness of the Guerrilla war and the struggle for East Timor’s right to self-determination and independence, he would not have been able to pursue the diplomatic work that he and other Timorese were tasked to carry out abroad.

In Oslo, he was humble enough to state, during the ceremony, that he bowed before the guerrilla soldiers in the mountains of his occupied Homeland. Today, he wished to express his respect and admiration for the true Heroes of our Liberation.

Thank you, Ramos-Horta!

Timor Loro Sa’e Aswain (Warriors of East Timor)

You were guerrilla fighters for the Liberation and you learned the skills of war by waging the war. And your guerrilla war could not be restricted to the mere mission of fighting. You knew how to keep the flame of the struggle alive in the hearts of each Timorese, you were the catalyst of the people’s will to participate which enriched the history of Resistance in a unique manner. You were the link of unity, the blood that kept the Timorese social fabric alive, you were the reference point to every patriot.

Your political activity kept alive the faith of this fighting people, your military activity generated the well-deserved respect and profound admiration both in our Homeland and abroad. I wish to make special mention of the political vision of Commander Ruak and all the other Commanders during the long and difficult process of the Popular Consultation and, above all, during the dramatic month of September, in ensuring that the principles which guided us throughout the War, were kept by FALINTIL and by keeping within you, Guerrilla fighters, the high standard of discipline and the political core of your actions.


Comrades in Arms, Commanders and Guerrilla soldiers!

We waged this war together and we know each others ways. Despite all the complimentary statements, I know your reaction, here in Aileu, today, as was the case on other occasions, is one of sadness. Your present situation does not call for compliments nor will it be solved with promises. We have held a number of meetings and we all left them feeling sceptical.

However, I must stress that the whole world knows of everything or almost everything that has been happening in Aileu. The whole world knows of the unfair conditions under which you live, the whole world knows of the incapacity of the FALINTIL Command to solve your problems. The whole world is becoming aware not only of your living conditions but also of the miserable conditions in which your families live and that you had to leave behind for years, the whole world knows of the miserable living conditions of the widows, disabled veterans and orphans.

I deeply regret that, as the FALINTIL Commander, I abandoned you in inhumane conditions. However, I wish to reiterate the appeal: uphold your trust in the Command! The international community now shares a better understanding and the King’s College study helped shape that understanding.

I wish to make a special reference here to the ready availability of our respected friend, Prime Minister António Guterres to extend support to FALINTIL.

The future National Defence Force will take up a stance of non-aggression as its core principle and, to ensure this, the Government will look into military co-operation agreements with Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the ASEAN member states and with friendly countries such as Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Brazil and others, as the starting point towards regional peace and a better and more peaceful environment in this world still shaken by conflict.

As an underdeveloped country, considered the poorest in the world and, with no economic infrastructures, the National Defence Policy will have to take up the goal of guaranteeing stability to the country, without creating budgetary deficits, for an independent East Timor will not be satisfied with having only a flag, a national anthem, a president and a government. Independence must guarantee a gradual and secure process to raise the living standards of the population, to develop the agricultural and productive sector, to raise educational and professional standards, to extend health assistance, within a broad rural development programme, so that its People as a whole feel that it was worthwhile to struggle and to die for independence.

Comrades in Arms, Commanders and Guerrilla soldiers,

You were the heroes, as were those who died! You are the heroes! The UN Secretary-General is truly concerned and his Special Representative, Sérgio Vieira de Mello is personally committed, the World Bank has the will also to assist in other sectors. Please, uphold your trust in the Command!

As the Commander and as a human being, I was not able to help you in the way I had hoped to. Today, there are politicians here with us. I am sure they feel your problems and that they will find the solution you yearn for. Comrades in Arms, Commanders and Guerrilla soldiers!

The King’s College study is a precious document. I recommend that all Commanders undertake an in-depth study of the document and equally recommend that Commanders explain it to the guerrilla soldiers. I also ask the politicians to seriously reflect on the document.

The recommendations made by King’s College arise from the need to set up the future Defence Force of an independent East Timor. Sérgio Vieira de Mello is personally committed to this project and I will leave it for him to address this subject given the authority he holds.

During the meeting held here in Aileu, last April 19, with all the Commanders, I briefly touched upon two important issues: professionalism and sustainability. Professionalism requires of military men to abstain from belonging or extending support to political forces, groups which are involved in economic activities or any organization of a social nature.

Sustainability relates to the capacity of an underdeveloped country such as ours, with the particular characteristic of not possessing any economic infrastructure, bearing the maintnance costs of its Armed Forces. We have, therefore, a conflict between the need to have a National Defence Force as a guarantee of the much needed stability to ensure the social and economic development of the country and, the capacity of maintaining such Forces to the detriment of the overall development plan. The solution will obviously be found in the decision will shall be taken on the size of said Forces.

I was your Commander and I am proud of you! My sole capacity was to take along with me the title of “FALINTIL Commander”, I the most frightened guerrilla fighter of our mountains. It was you who fought, it was you who won the major battles, the decisive ones which marked the path of our Resistance War!

From you, I learned to wage war; from you, I learned to relinquish any sort of personal ambition; from you, I learned the awareness, that still lives within me, of only serving the cause which is of all, the national cause; from you, I learned the humility which you so poignantly embody; from you, I learned to be critically aware and learned the sense of reality; from you, I learned the science of forgiving and, from you, I learned the spirit of reconciliation.

Dear Comrades in Arms, Commanders and Guerrilla soldiers!

I have not forgotten the oath I took before you and before those who fell ... whereby, under no circumstance, would I be overcome by personal ambition and that I would not ever be a Cabinet member, much less President.

The present unfair conditions under which you live emphasize what I have reiterated many times: the heroes of yesterday are yester heroes. Today, the country needs new heroes, the heroes who will build and develop the well-being of our people.

Aside from negative or positive assessments, we accomplished our mission, that of Liberating our Homeland. Today, politicians, intellectuals and the civil society will proceed with the other mission, perhaps even harder, the one of Liberating our People from misery, ignorance, hunger, disease and many other hardships.

I have and will always keep the best memories which you, beloved brothers, have toiled into the soil of our history. And, allow me to bear the sad memories that I, as your military Commander brought upon you.

I was about to say that as of now you have a new Commander. But that is not so. You have always had Taur Matan Ruak, as your true Commander and not I! With impressive commanding skills, Taur Matan Ruak regenerated that which I had left as a mere legacy of my own incapacity. I left behind me an inadequate guerrilla force of less than 150 men but, under the clear-minded command of Taur Matan Ruak, not only did you grow into a force of over 1,500, but also you were able to set up a sophisticated communications system which went beyond anything we could envisage.

I wish the greatest success to your Commander, Taur Matan Ruak, I wish greater success to all the Commanders and to all of you, as the embryo of our future Armed Forces.

Also amongst us is the brave Commander L Forai Boot who will be my Military Adviser and who will work with PKF. Inappropriate actions followed by rumours lead to mistrust, the latter brought about uneasiness and division in the ranks and between some groups of youth and the Forces. The militia are back and want to lay waste this immense effort to rebuild... all of that which they destroyed ... so that we may move on to building our country.

Commander L Forai is on unlimited leave. Commander L Forai will report to duty on Independence Day and as all other veterans who wish to transfer into the reserve force, will receive due tribute and will leave with the honour and dignity they deserve.

I urge all the Commanders and soldiers to reinforce Unity. Only discipline will enable us to achieve that goal. Let us prevent the spreading of rumours which trigger mistrust. Dialogue, contacts and meetings must become common practice so that all may be crystal clear amongst you. And never forget the following: the militia are back to continue with destruction and terrorism. We must stay as ONE in order to defeat them.

Although still going through a difficult period, always stay confident and bear in mind that which made you different whilst in the mountains as guerrilla fighters: patience and the art of waiting. I often told you “let us continue fighting, continue to die if need be, while assured that our politicians and our professionals are being trained to lead a Nation that we are building upon the remains of those who fell during the struggle and consolidating with our blood and sacrifice”.

Today, dear comrades in arms, I share the tears of emotion with you for having accomplished our duty! But though militia activity encourages you to close ranks, we can also smile with the hope that our politicians, intellectuals and professionals will guide this suffering feel the worth of their sacrifices and savour the fruits of independence.

We shall be for ever united in the remembrance of difficult times and, sharing with you the same hope of a better future for our beloved Homeland and for our supremely heroic People, I hereby withdraw from FALINTIL!

As the very last gesture of one who was your Commander, I wish to greet each and every one of you, SOLDIERS OF THE MOUNTAINS OF EAST TIMOR, HEROIC FIGHTERS OF OUR HOMELAND!

Aileu, August 20th, 2000 Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão CNRT President

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