|Subject: XG: Message to the Nation on the
Celebration of Independence Day
Presidencia da Republica Gabinete do Presidente
MESSAGE TO THE NATION BY H.E. PRESIDENT KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF INDEPENDENCE DAY
DILI STADIUM, 28 NOVEMBER 2006
Mothers and Fathers
Young People, Brothers and Sisters
People of Timor-Leste
Today should be a day of celebration for all of us, but it turns out to be a not such a happy one. Today should really be a happy day, because today is an important date, one that reminds us that 31 years ago, we, the Timorese, leaders of the people of Timor, courageously declared independence for our Nation, knowing that we were about to face a serious war.
The reason why I say that we are celebrating today’s date with sadness is because we are also facing a serious crisis in our country, one that makes our entire people live in fear and despair. Since April last the good name of Timor has been downgraded around the world, surprising everyone, as before that month, Timor and its people were enjoying high prestige all over the world.
In just a few months, we all lost control; we all lost the sense of what is good and what is not good, showing that doing only the wrong things seems to be more important. Nevertheless, we can all be satisfied that the worse times, the saddest times, are behind us. Nowadays, there are still scattered problems here and there, but Dili is slowly returning to normal. On behalf of our People, we apologise to our brotherly people of Brazil, for the recent killing of one of their dearest sons here in our country.
Indeed, we all trust that peaceful times are slowly returning! The youth has expressed its commitment to put an end to the violence, to immediately cease stone-throwing activities and killings.
Even since violence erupted earlier this year, we all felt relieved that there was no violence in other districts. Lately, however, as Dili is returning to normal, we have been witnessing violence in other districts, including the burning of houses and killing, as what if what we are killing are flies or mosquitoes. We have lost respect for the lives of others. That is why I wish to express my support for the statement made by the Prime Minister to martial arts groups that under the cover of the notion of ‘arts’ commit the art of threatening people, the art of killing people, the art of promoting violence; these are not ‘martial arts’ because all they do is to hurt each other, to hurt other people, to hurt the youth and the simple people.
The Prime Minister said that:
Because of the behaviour of many members of martial arts groups, ‘martial arts’ which is supposed to mean the enhancement of the human spirit and physical development has become synonymous with crime and violence. The Prime Minister conveyed this message to martial arts groups that gathered in the library of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation last Friday. In that meeting the Prime Minister was not to accuse or to hear accusations made by one group against another. The Prime Minister told them as follows:
“all of you, the martial arts groups, in a small or big way, directly or indirectly, are responsible for some aspects of the violence that has caused so much suffering to the youths and the simple people”. The Prime Minister also appealed martial arts groups to seize that meeting as an opportunity to reflect and to undertake a joint oath aimed at immediately stopping violence amongst themselves.
That was a very good message from a leader of our Nation. I believe those words are shared by all the leaders and by the entire people.
In today’s message, I declare my total support to the appeal made by the Prime Minister. I also appreciate very much the statement made by the martial arts groups after that meeting, when they pledged to put an end to the violence, to forbid their own members from using violence, promising that they would identify their own members who have been provoking violence so that authorities can arrest them. This is a very important step towards achieving peace and harmony, for the benefit of our Nation and people. It seems that the rule of law has vanished in our country! We cannot go on like this! We have to stop this right now!
I asked the Government to speed up the screening of the PNTL! The PNTL must resume their duties again, to support the international police! The Government must seriously consider getting the F-FDTL to also participate in this process in order to put an end to the stone throwing, provocations and the killing of each other!
We must stop! And we must do this as soon as possible! We must stop now! We must arrest those who are provoking violence between the youth; we must arrest those groups that have been resorting to violence as a means of resolving their problems, thus multiplying the problems of our Nation!
We must not let the good name of our entire Nation be subjected to such a humiliation because of the actions of a few! Some people even have one, two or three houses but prefer to remain in IDP camps so that they can turn youths against each other and make them take sides and assault people.
The more the youths stay quiet, the more new and small groups that are now emerging show they do not think like us. I am addressing you (the new and small groups): you may be happy for killing one, two or three people, but you will soon fall into your own traps! Do not be so arrogant; do not say that there the law does not apply to you any longer! The rule of law is being restored and you shall face the law! You better stop now, before it is too late for you!
People of Timor-Leste
In the last four years we frequently hear people referring to the veterans of the resistance. The President of the Republic, with the help of some Friendly Countries and Agencies, established commissions aimed at registering people all over the country. The commissions faced problems and difficulties of all kinds.
In March this year, the National Parliament adopted the Law on the Statute of the Combatants of the National Liberation. Not all of you but many are already aware that this Law provides for a range of opportunities, which I shall describe:
1 Recognition and acknowledgement;
2 - Social assistance or socio-economic assistance, in the sense that those who are recognised will be entitle to retirement, a pension and other kinds of assistance, including medical assistance for those who really need it.
This Law also provides for the establishment of the Commission for Homage, Supervision of Registry and Appeal, which was sworn-in by His Excellency Prime- Minister Ramos-Horta last 13 September.
Because the current situation is not so peaceful and everyone is still facing insecurity, the Commission for the Verification of Database, could not return to the villages and sub districts with their finalised lists so that they could be submitted to the people for further corrections, which the database had been subjected to before although not all of it had been corrected, particularly as it regards the question of dates. Some people wrote that they were born in 1976, but were already armed in 1975, and if we follow what they have stated in the surveys, some of them should still be in the jungle, whilst others should still be in jail. Some filled up more than one survey, and whilst in one survey a person says that he was a commander, in another survey he says that he was an assistant, and still on a third one he says that he was a supervisor. Perhaps in such case, it really is three different persons, but because all three of them were born in the same place, may be it is the same person. This is why cross checking is required. Others, because they have passed way, two persons filled up surveys (for the same deceased person), and because the name is not the same in the two surveys, or the date of birth is stated in one survey as being in January and in the other as being in March, the same person becomes two different persons.
Nevertheless, my dear compatriots, in spite of all these difficulties, the State is working in a concerted manner to respond to the mandate enshrined in the Constitution to recognise the contribution of all those who took part in the struggle to liberate our Homeland.
According to the Law on the Statute of the Combatants of the National Liberation, there are the following Orders:
- The Order of Guerrilla, to be conferred to those who took part in the struggle, mainly as military personnel;
- The Order Nicolau Lobato, to be conferred to those Combatants who took part as civilian cadres;
- The Order D. Boaventura, to be conferred to those who were the Founding Members of the Movement for the National Liberation;
- The Order Funu Na’in, to be conferred to those Combatants who are recognised as Martyrs;
- The Order Laran Luak, to be conferred to those foreigners who provided support during the resistance era.
The Commission for Homage, according to what is permissible under the law, can propose the creation of other Orders to the President of the Republic, so that the President of the Republic has agreed to create two additional Orders:
- The Order of Falintil, to be conferred to all those Combatants of the Liberation who between 1979 and 1999, took part in the resistance during the guerrilla and died there;
- The Order Loriku Aswain, to be conferred to Youths who took part in the 12 November 1991 event, whether they are dead or alive.
There are three elected Organs of Sovereignty: the President of the Republic, the National Parliament and the Government. These Organs were given a mandate of five years, whose terms of offices will expire on 19 May 2007.
These Organs of Sovereignty hereby pledge that, before 19 May 2007, the mandate enshrined in the Constitution, which is to acknowledge and recognise the Combatants of the National Liberation, will be fulfilled.
This is why I inform the People today, 28 November, that I am giving due recognition to the Combatants of the National Liberation, particularly to those falling under the category of ‘Founding Members of the Movement of the National Liberation’ and to some of the Combatants of the National Liberation falling under the category of ‘The Order Nicolau Lobato’.
On 7 December next, we will also give due recognition to some of the Combatants of the National Liberation belonging to the ‘Order Funu Nain’, the ‘Order of Guerrilla’, the ‘Order Loriko Aswain’ and the ‘Order of Falintil’.
I wish to say that due to the existing difficulties, we are going to give recognition to the thousands to whom recognition is due. What we are doing today, 28 November, and also on 7 December, will only be for some Compatriots, as a symbolic gesture.
We must all work together for peace and stability, to put an end to the violence and the killings, so that in the new year, on 3 March 2007 and 5 May 2007, in all of the sub districts, the Combatants of the National Liberation recognised by the law, shall receive due recognition in their own respective places of residence.
Today’s event is only symbolic, because of our limitations to bring everyone to Dili at once. I say only symbolic, because although some are receiving their medals, it is more important to send a message to the People that, slowly but surely, the State honours its own promise…to give recognition and acknowledgement to the Aswains (the Freedom Fighters).
Our compatriots working for the Diplomatic Front and, in general, all those activists of the diáspora, will also be recognized in March and May next year, 2007.
Dearest People of Timor Lorosae
I appeal all of you to listen carefully to what I have to say! This act is to give recognition and to value the sacrifice made by the Timorese between 1975 and 1999!
This act is not extended to acknowledging the work performed by the Timorese, whether as politicians or Members of Government, or NGOs, who have been working since, let us say, 2000. The Law only provides for the recognition of the sacrifice made prior to 1999 and not between 1999 and 2006.
Hence, let us all welcome this act, with peace of mind, and let us put our hands together for those Timorese who, in the past, worked side-by-side with the people, leading this people to independence.
Let us also ask that those in Government get their acts together to continue to lead this Nation to the right path, free from violence, free from killings, free from the sense of enemies, and free from hatred.
Our People are crying for Peace and the Timorese with the know-how must nurture the seeds of Peace!