Dili, 12 November 2016
I salute all young Timorese people on this National Youth Day, a date that reminds us of the heroic sacrifice of many young people who rose against the occupation of our country and for the liberation of this land and our people.
I pay tribute to the memory of the Santa Cruz martyrs and all others who fell in other massacres – in Dili and in other places.
I warmly salute the families who are here and all the families whose sons and daughters fell defending the dignity of our people and the independence of our land.
25 years have passed since the Santa Cruz massacre. Unfortunately, there were other terrible massacres in our land. But the Santa Cruz massacre, in particular, brought worldwide attention to the sacrifice of our youth – and our people – because there were journalists present in Santa Cruz, including foreign journalists.
The images recorded by those journalists and the articles they wrote travelled the world and spread news of the crime committed in Santa Cruz on 12 November 1991.
I extend my tribute and reiterate our recognition to journalists Allan Nairn and Amy Goodman, who were present in Santa Cruz, in 1991, and especially to a great friend of Timor-Leste, Max Stahl, also present on that tragic day, who with their work, their professionalism, and their courage, showed the world the sacrifice of the Timorese people during the occupation.
This way, the free press and the values of journalism contributed to the freedom of Timorese people.
I salute also, therefore, the media professionals who, directly or indirectly, contributed to tell the world about the struggle of the Timorese people. Our special thank you to journalist António Sampaio.
25 years after that tragic day, Timor-Leste is independent – and freedom of the press remains a value of the greatest importance, to give voice to society and to our citizens against violence and all forms of abuse.
During the struggle, we were united to defend the dignity of the people and to fight the invader.
Back then, fighting for well-being and for development meant to liberate the country. The Timorese people demonstrated our capacity, as a people. We showed courage and great determination in not giving up until the goal of national liberation was achieved.
There are other great national goals, very important goals that we are yet to achieve.
Independence is, for us, an important instrument to fight for and overcome new challenges: the challenge of development; the challenge of eradicating poverty; the challenge of improving education, health, and well-being for the people.
These goals are yet to be met. It is in our hands to work and remain united, to build more well-being in our country.
Eradicating poverty and advancing on the path of national development are challenges that require the participation of all Timorese people – especially the participation of the younger generations of men and women.
We must improve the economic policy in Timor-Leste to better serve the country, to stimulate the national private sector, and to create jobs to include our youth in the national development effort.
The development of our society and of our country requires everyone’s participation.
I call on the all young men and women of Timor-Leste to take inspiration from the example of participation, of service to the country, and of union set by our youth on 12 November – and other moments of our history.
In the past, we shed blood for national liberation. Today, we must shed sweat to advance the construction of our nation and to seek well-being for our society.
We must honour the good examples of service to the country: working towards the common good, rather than serving only personal interests. We must defend the dignity of the nation, because it represents the assurance of free expression of our culture and the protection of our identity as Timorese people.
The participation of the younger generations – and of all citizens – in the development of the country is the best way of honouring the memory of those who fell during the struggle for liberation and cannot be here with us today.
At a time when we honour the memory of the martyrs of 12 November, I call on the country to unite, in favour of stability and development.
On a day of such importance to the National Liberation Struggle, we cannot forget the role played by the youth of resistance in the Clandestine Front, who was responsible for the planning of the demonstration and organization of the Timorese youths who bravely demonstrated on the streets of Dili, towards the Santa Cruz cemetery.
Some of these youth took responsibility for organizing the demonstration and were arrested by the occupying forces, tortured, and held in jail. I pay them my most sincere tribute.
After the Restoration of Independence, the work started by the youth of the resistance in the Clandestine Front was continued by the 12th of November Committee. Since then, the 12th of November Committee has been playing a role of the highest importance in the preservation of our collective memory of the tragic day of 12 November 1991, and it is a very active organization in the Timorese civil society.
At a time when we commemorate 25 years since 12 November 1991, in addition to the recognition extended in the past to all who bravely stood in Santa Cruz, the President of the Republic appeals to the entire youth organizations of the resistance to reunite, so that the collective memory of the tragic events of the 12th of November 1991 may never be forgotten.
Today is also a day for celebration, because it signals the start of a new committee’s activities, the Steering Committee for the Drafting of the History of the Organization of the Youth’s Struggle for National Liberation, to whom I extend my sincere congratulations, my personal esteem, and support.
The country can count on me, to shed more sweat and continue to work so that, together, we may create a country with more stability and an economy with more prosperity.
May God bless us all and bless the beloved land of Timor-Leste.