Subject: TLGOV: Timor-Leste’s most precious resource of all – its young people


MEDIA RELEASE Dili, November 10 2006

Timor-Leste’s most precious resource of all ­ its young people

Timor-Leste’s most valuable resource is not its oil and gas but its children and young people, Dr José Ramos-Horta said today.

Of course the oil and gas is important, but the youth of Timor-Leste are far more precious. While most of the world faces aging populations, we have a population that is growing even younger,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.

And these young people can show the adults how to forgive and live in peace.”

The Prime Minister was speaking to honor this Sunday’s (November 12) National Youth Day which commemorates the hundreds of mostly-young Timorese protesters slaughtered by the Indonesian military in the Santa Cruz massacre on November 12 1991.

The protesters were mainly students and they launched their protest against Indonesian rule during the funeral of a fellow student who had been shot dead by Indonesian troops the month before.

At the funeral procession, students unfurled banners calling for self-determination and independence, displaying pictures of the independence leader Xanana Gusmão (now the President of the Republic). As the procession entered the cemetery, Indonesian troops opened fire. Of the people demonstrating in the cemetery, 271 were killed, 382 wounded, and 250 disappeared. There are so many families in our country still grieving for their loved children from that terrible day,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.

And many of those injured at the cemetery still carry the scars.”

A special Mass, Procession and Reflection will be held at Santa Cruz Cemetery on Sunday, followed by traditional ceremonies.

But Timor-Leste is a special and strong country,” the Prime Minister said. “While we will cry for our children who were taken from us, we will forgive and also celebrate the future.

That is our strength. We will remember the past but live for the future. I urge everyone to stop and watch the volleyball matches over the weekend and the tug of war competitions. There will be poetry and music concerts.

Our youth are showing all of us how to live peaceful and forgiving lives and I believe that Timor-Leste’s future is guaranteed by the quality of the young people I meet every single day.”

Young people account for one in four of the total population of Timor-Leste. Every year the number of young people aged 15 is more than the previous year. According to the 2004 Census about 230,000 Timorese are aged between 15 and 30 years.

For further information please contact::

Joel Maria Pereira Information Officer Gabinete Primeiru Ministru Email: riko_joel @ Telephone: +670 7254740

Ivana Belo Information Officer Gabinete Primeiru Ministru Email: unugina2004 @ Telephone: +670 724 3559.

Julian Swinstead Communications/Media Advisor Office of the Prime Minister Email: jswinstead @ Telephone: +670 732 7776.

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