Subject: TLGOV: Martial arts leaders pledge to end gang violence


MEDIA RELEASE Dili, November 25 2006

Martial arts leaders pledge to end gang violence

Leaders of Timor-Leste’s major Martial Arts groups have held long discussions and told the media that they would end gang violence that has caused so much loss of innocent lives.

Prime Minister Dr José Ramos-Horta convened a meeting at the Library in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation between the Martial Arts groups. The Prime Minister spoke to the leaders for 30 minutes.

In a frank discussion the Nobel Peace Prize winner told them: “Now that you are all here and you have heard me, you may continue to talk to each other on your own and find a way to live peacefully with each other and contribute to peace and stability in this country, or you may leave and continue your stupid, irresponsible and criminal behavior.

“If you continue this violent behavior, let me assure you that none of you will go unpunished. If at the end of your meeting you decide to work towards peace and wish to come forward to me, we will request assistance for any constructive and meaningful purpose that you like, and the Government will find a way to assist you.

“The country belongs more to you than to me because you are young and there is a long future ahead of you. You can change now and work for peace today and peace tomorrow for your future, or you can continue to damage your country and your future.

“I have no interest in hearing your mutual accusations or any rational for the killings. I came here for you to listen to me and what I have to say. I am not accusing anyone in particular. I am holding all of you responsible for the behavior of your members.”

After making this statement the Prime Minister left the meeting, but the leaders of the Martial Arts groups continued to meet for two hours afterwards and pledged to work towards ending rival gang violence.

The Martial Arts groups are scheduled to meet again on Monday and Wednesday to work out ideas and mechanisms for dialog, exchange information and work towards the stabilization of the situation. For further information please contact::

Joel Maria Pereira Information Officer Gabinete Primeiru Ministru Email: <> Telephone: +670 7254740

Ivana Belo Information Officer Gabinete Primeiru Ministru Email: <> Telephone: +670 724 3559.

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

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