Subject: XG: 12 November Message to the Nation

Message to the Nation by the President of the Republic

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

On the 13th Anniversary of 12th November

Dili, 12th November, 2004

Dear compatriots Dear Youths

One more year has passed and again we commemorate the 12th November.

We call to mind the youths of the 1991 generation, many of whom are today married. Today, we rememeber the actions of the youths in November 1991, as having been very politically important for our struggle against foreign occupation.

On 12th November 1991, the youths held a peaceful demonstration to show the world the aspirations of all the people of Timor for the right to self-determination. It was a peaceful demonstration which the occupying government responded with guns, beatings, arrests and killings.

Once again, I would like to state that the 12th November should not continue to be a day for mourning and tears but rather a day for Reflection. Reflection on human rights; on freedom of expression; on freedom of opinion and on democracy.

Many of our fellow citizens died on the 12th November 1991, defending independence. This is a fact but they also accepted to spill their blood, for us not to forget the freedom we fought for during our struggle for self-determination.

For this reason, every 12th November should become an important Day of Reflection for the youths. The children of today may not know the true history of the 12th November. Some may have only heard of a massacre which took place at the Santa-Cruz cemetery, and so they think mainly of lighting candles and of praying.

The 12th November should develop and enhance pride in the hearts and minds of the Youths.

Dear compatriots

Today, in an independent nation, what we all ask for is how to achieve prosperity quickly for ourselves, without making the effort to study, to work or to even participate well in any activity around us.

On 12th November 1991, in order to defend the rights of the people, the youths organized a demonstration, without concern and fear for the consequences they would face for their actions.

In August and September 1999, the youths again displayed their courage to confront various dangers. This showed that the youths did not know how to retreat from what they believed to be their duty.

Today, in this new era of independence, we shall search and follow the same notion of obligation of the youths. Our independence is still difficult, because our capacity is still limited and because our process is still fragile in various aspects.

All these reasons make me think that it is better for the 12th November to be a Day of Reflection for the Youths. And if we speak of reflection, every year, we will identify issues on which to reflect, consider and discuss. If not, year after year, all we will do is just light candles.

The 12th November is a day in which the youths can seize to gain Unity on a Vision for the future. We speak of the future and we always mention that the children are the real treasure of Timor Lorosa’e, but the youths themselves have yet to find a platform on which to debate their future.

Perhaps on 12th November, if the youths can forget groupism, forget regionalism, and forget each other’s differences, then this can be an important step towards building the future.

If this were to happen, then in twenty or thirty year’s time, we can expect the children who are not of the 1991 or 1999 generation, to still search for each other, to gather together, united in one vision for our country.

Dear compatriots

These days, many youths belong to parties and are divided. In a democratic society, people can have differences of opinions but the major objective is to serve our country, and therefore we have to bring the whole of society together to defend this one objective.

It is very easy to speak about serving our country. But today we can see that each one is only interested in serving themselves. In many countries which gained freedom through war, as soon as the colonial rulers left, the people themselves began to behave as the colonialists. The power which was in the hands of the colonialists, once transferred to the people, was execised in a manner similar to the colonialists, if not the same. This happens in all newly independent countries. This is a fact which we can see in all the processes in Africa, America and also in Asia.

During the Indonesian time, we all shouted about corruption, about KKN (Indonesian acronym for Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism). Especially we, who participated in the struggle, when the Indonesians targeted us, we knew how to shout and stand up for our rights. Today, perhaps because we are governing ourselves, these attitudes have re-emerged among us. Today, just because you are a member of parliament or a member of the government or a member of a large political party, should not mean that you use the power left by the colonialists, which is now in our hands, for personal gains.

Dear compatriots

Our independence process is still fragile, still long, not only for State Institutions but also for all other aspects of human rights, democracy and social justice.

It is because of all this, that I state that the 12th November should be an Important Day of Reflection for the Youths to reflect on the political, social and economic aspects of our daily lives.

If the youths bear in their minds that they should think, discuss, speak and express, then they will not be properly prepared to one day receive the enormous task of holding the destiny of our country.

Today, we see that the youths only prepare themselves by studying at school. And what comes to their minds first is to get a good job, because their parents spent a lot of money for their studies.

Not only in secondary school, but especially in Univeristy, all students must have a notion about Democracy, Human Rights and the Constitution.

Some youths are currently working in different NGOs, to ensure that the truth reaches the people. However, we need to organize activities for the youths themselves to make the children grow stronger physically and mentally, and especially to make them think and understand the process and be able to assume responsibility.

If not, we will not prepare people to be subjects in the process but rather only as objects of the process; objects that just wait to see whether they can get a job or not.

Therefore, I would like to ask all the youths, from the generation of 91 to the generation of 99, together with the younger generation who are attending school, to profoundly think on this.

The youths need to acquire an appropriate mentality in order to improve the mentality of the whole society. The youths need to think and behave well in order to improve the thinking and actions of the whole of society.

All changes in the world come from the new generation, a new generation which is smarter and more responsible.

This is my message for this year. I hope that next year the Youths of Timor Lorosae will have gained new attitudes on how best to commemorate 12th November, by honoring that day with the right significance and objective

A very big hug to all the youths.

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