ADDRESS BY H.E.

PRESIDENT TAUR MATAN RUAK ON THE OCCASION OF THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFERENDUM FOR SELFDETERMINATION OF THE PEOPLE OF TIMOR-LESTE Government Palace, 30 August 2012 Beloved people of Timor-Leste. Excellencies. The referendum for the self-determination of our people that we celebrate today was a turning point in our national history and also the time when the international community assumed its responsibilities towards Timor-Leste. In 2012 we also mark the 500th anniversary of the moment when the Timorese first met with Portuguese seamen, our first contact with peoples from Europe. 500 years ago our land was divided into small kingdoms. The liurais who leaded them often fought each other wasting their forces and resources. Warring between liurais weakened our people. We also commemorate this year the 1st centenary of liurai Dom Boaventura’s feats. Dom Boaventura united the people in a long campaign against the colonial administration and in so doing laid the roots of Timorese nationalism. Dom Boaventura showed us how the unity of the leaders and the people could shake colonial power. Just thirty years after the revolt led by Dom Boaventura, Timor-Leste was occupied twice with no fault of ours: by the Australian Army in December 1941, and by the Japanese army in February 1942. Yet another 30 years after World War II we were occupied by Indonesia. 60,000 Timorese died in the three years of the Japanese occupation. Some scholars estimate an even higher number. The Timorese casualties represent one of the largest massacres of the Pacific War at a time when our population did not reach half a million people. Again between 1975 and 1999 the casualties we suffered were even higher – two to three times larger. Our struggle for independence was an unequal fight. For too long, our people were entirely on his own, almost forgotten by the international community, with the pointed exceptions of our CPLP brothers, particularly Angola, Mozambique and Portugal. The democratization of Indonesia finally opened the way to self-determination and the victory of justice. In 1999, Indonesia, Australia, the United Nations and the international community faced up to their duties under international law, the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the civilizational values that give legitimacy to the international order. From History and my own experience in the struggle, I draw the lesson that divisions between Timorese facilitated occupation, in the ancient as in the recent past, and unity

resulted in victories, even when the odds seemed to be against us. The key to TimorLeste’s victory has been the unity and resolve of our people. From our contact with other peoples and cultures positive things have resulted. To prove it is the feeling of our national identity, characterized by the Catholic faith, the Portuguese language and the strong connection to the universal cultural values of the CPLP family that unite eight countries in four continents. Today we are a nation with many friends and are well integrated into the international community. We aim to establish good relations with all peoples of the world based on equality and respect among peoples and countries – big or small, rich and poor. We have friendly relations with our closest neighbors, Indonesia and Australia, with Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and other ASEAN countries. We also have close links with New Zealand, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, the United States, the European Union and Brazil among other countries. We have benefited from the support of our development partners, to whom our people are grateful and with whom we will continue to work closely for mutual benefit. We are proud of our regional and international integration. Timor-Leste wants to make a positive contribution to stability and peace in our region and beyond. The United Nations have for the last 13 years accompanied and supported us in our tasks in State and Nation building. Experience, competence and sensitivity of many mission chiefs and envoys contributed to the results achieved. I’ll mention especially Ian Martin, for his foresight and grasp of the resolve of our people, and the late Sérgio Vieira de Mello, whose diplomatic skills and human quality contributed to the success of UNTAET. To all UN staff who has worked with us I bear witness of my gratitude. The UN mission that has accompanied us for the last six years is about to end. While visiting our country earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon witnessed the progress we have made. UNMIT’s contribution in stabilizing the country, creating an atmosphere of trust and ensuring conditions to hold the 2007 and 2012 elections deserves recognition and will be long remembered as a success in peacekeeping operations. I salute the Acting Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen and all UNMIT personnel. I’ll mention in particular the UNPOL Commissioner and the men and women under his command for their contribution to the safety of our communities, the assistance given to PNTL and the logistics of the latest elections which, again, ensured the free expression of citizens’ choices after 5 years that saw confidence restored and a changed atmosphere in our country. I am also grateful to all those countries that, since 1999, contributed to peacekeeping forces operations in our country, from the Interfet to the ISF, saving lives and protecting property. In celebrating this anniversary we are accompanied by the memory of thousands of Timorese who were killed in the wave of violence that hit us after the referendum. I

honor the spirit of these brothers and sisters: their vote for independence was their final and courageous contribution for the liberation of the motherland. Also I honor the memory of the elements of the United Nations and other international organizations who died while working in our country. I extend my greeting to our brothers and sisters living across the border. Timor-Leste is theirs too and I would like to convey to them my wishes that they continue contributing to the land where they were born and their ancestors rest. Beloved people of Timor-Leste. Excellencies. The mandate of UNMIT ends later this year but our partnership with the United Nations will go on. Our country will soon present a plan with the goals we see for a UN mission in the new circumstances arising from the latest elections. By the effort of the Timorese people, the consensus generated in our society and the support the UN and the international community Timor-Leste has successfully overcome instability and uncertainty. In the ten years since the restoration of independence we made progress after being handed over a violence-torn country. Yet again we face fresh challenges of large proportions. After our 24 years struggle we won political independence. Now we have before us toughest battles to achieve economic independence. We fought for the right to build a more prosperous nation. While in the jungle we dreamed of a country where all the sons and daughters of Timor-Leste can live better. But we are not there yet. Political independence has to be made a tool to put an end to hunger, eradicate malnutrition, that still hinders the development of so many children in our villages, fight poverty and progressively lift the wellbeing of the Timorese families. These goals are within our reach. But we can achieve them only with hard work and the participation of all citizens. Development cannot be attained by the State alone. To succeed in the new struggle for economic independence, we need the united effort of everybody, the involvement of local communities in development projects and the mobilization of young people. The Timorese youth is ready. We need to achieve inclusion of our young people into the national economy and help them taking their responsibilities in building a country more prosperous and secure. And to win the fight for prosperity we need to work with honesty and live simply. We have to preserve and nurture our traditional values and culture even as we enjoy new technical, scientific knowledge and learning and good practices from the international cooperation. I appeal to all – the government and the people – to work together in earnest, honesty and spirit of sacrifice, to alleviate poverty and to use the wealth of the nation to build a better, more prosperous country for the sons and daughters of Timor-Leste.

May God Bless us all. Thank you very much. http://presidenttimorleste.tl/2012/08/address-by-h-e-president-taur-matan-ruak-onthe-occasion-of-the-13th-anniversary-of-the-referendum-for-self-determination-ofthe-people-of-timor-leste-government-palace-30-august-2012-%E2%80%83/