Dili, 26 August, 2016 – His Excellency the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, on Friday, at the Presidential Palace, awarded the Collar of the “Order of Timor-Leste”, the Timorese State’s highest honour, to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo. The Collar was awarded according to Presidential Decree no. 31/2016 of 24 August.
Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo worked tirelessly for the exercise of the right to self-determination of the Timorese people and was a determined defender of human rights during the national liberation struggle. His brave work was internationally acknowledged with the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1996 which opened the way for justice and for the creation of conditions for lasting peace in Timor-Leste.
In his speech, the Head of State said that the award is aimed at acknowledging the courage and sacrifice shown by Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo through every moment of Timor-Leste’s fight for self-determination.
“Bishop Belo never let himself be intimidated, even during the most difficult periods of our history. He never got tired of denouncing the atrocities committed in Timor-Leste, calling upon the entire world for freedom for our nation and peace for our people. He wrote to leaders from around the world […],” H.E. the President said.
“Today, we express our recognition to Bishop Belo, whose example will be a source of inspiration for future generations of a life devoted to the poorest, most underprivileged and oppressed.”
“It is therefore an act of the most elementary justice, affection and gratitude that today, on behalf of the Timorese people, the President of the Republic has the pleasure to award the highest honour of the State, the Collar of the ‘Order of Timor-Leste’, to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo”, he added.
On this occasion, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo thanked H.E. the President for the award which he accepted “on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste” as he did when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Order of Timor-Leste was established by Decree Law no. 20/2009, of 6 May, to express, with prestige and dignity, Timor-Leste’s recognition for those, both nationals and foreigners, who in their professional or social activity, or even in a spontaneous act of bravery or altruism, have significantly contributed to the benefit of the country, the Timorese people or humanity.