Dili, 17 March 2018
Companions from the Seventh Congress Organising and Executive Committees,
Companions from RENETIL’s Central Council,
Delegates to the Seventh Congress,
Brothers and sisters,
I warmly salute each of you and especially welcome all founding members of the RENETIL.
This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the RENETIL, on 20 June 1988, and I evoke the memory of its late founder, Fernando La Sama de Araújo. His determination, skill, and courage set an example in the fight against occupation for the young men and women of his generation. His memory must energise today’s youth to be part in the construction of a better future for our land.
The creation of the RENETIL opened a new front in the struggle of our resistance.
In 1988, the late president Suharto’s regime sought to present Timor-Leste to the world as a pacified territory. As the Indonesian regime claimed to have neutralised the armed struggle, Timorese nationalists instead took the resistance to the heart of the occupiers, with the creation of the RENETIL in Jakarta.
The RENETIL attracted youths from the entire political spectrum and transformed many Indonesian universities – in Bali and then in Java – into organised action centres against occupation.
In the years that followed, the courageous action of the RENETIL often sustained the work of our diplomats and activists in the External Front. And the work of the External Front often amplified the impact of the RENETIL actions, in connection with the several youth organisations and the political, clandestine and armed fronts in our homeland.
This virtuous harmony, the united action of the various fronts and the national leadership were strategic factors to propel our people to victory. In the end, we conducted a unified struggled under the leadership of a single political and military command, in the Armed Resistance, to liberate our country from foreign occupation.
Without unity of the leaders and of objectives, we would not have been able to isolate president Suharto’s regime and broaden the support for the resistance of the international public opinion, nor would we have conquered the right to the referendum and the Restoration of Independence.
The referendum corresponded to a strategy of political solution negotiated within the legal framework of the ‘restoration of international legality’ in Timor-Leste, which came to succeed in 1999 – when the overwhelming majority of our people voted against integration in Indonesia.
The presence of the RENETIL in many universities across Indonesia also helped inform the Indonesian people about the struggle of the Timorese nation and our people’s right to self-determination.
The relations of friendship and cooperation that the RENETIL established with organisations in Indonesia’s democratic opposition showed to the Indonesian public opinion and the world a core value of the resistance: our fight was against the occupation and the violation of the dignity of our people; it was not, and had never been, against the Indonesian people.
The struggle for self-determination and freedom in our land also contributed to the freedom of the Indonesian people.
Brothers and sisters,
The RENETIL was more than an important instrument of the struggle. It was also a school for citizenship and nationalism, helping educate a generation of Timorese youths who reached adulthood in our occupied country.
Thirty years later, we can say that it was a good school. Many members of the RENETIL now hold positions of high responsibility – in the State and in universities; they are distributed across different political parties; many are qualified and experienced technicians, whom the country badly needs.
It was with great pleasure that I saw the programme for this seventh congress and the established goal of revitalisation of the role of the RENETIL in securing the sovereignty of the nation and the people.
All Timorese professionals are needed to carry out the tasks outlined in our national development plans. We cannot leave anyone out. Now, it’s an even more pressing need!
The generation of nationalists formed by the RENETIL with your experience and technical expertise is needed to help consolidate the State and develop the national economy, especially so that we can quickly create a diversified and sustainable economy, capable of ensuring well-being now and for the next 10 to 15 years – because a new generation is already coming up behind you.
These goals are the new national priority and must become the new focus of national unity – unity of our leaders and unity our citizens. Without unity, nothing would be achieved.
In academia, in the business sector, in the consolidation of public services, in the improvement of the quality of the infrastructure, of education and health, we need more Timorese know-how.
This entails focusing on the quality of teaching and education, as well as being able to learn lessons from our experiences. We must increasingly count on the knowledge of Timor-Leste’s sons and daughters.
I have been calling on the participation of veterans – of all veterans – to assist in driving the country forward. This includes the RENETIL generation, made up of experienced, mature, and technically qualified citizens.
There is one other thing the country needs: spirit of service.
What the RENETIL generation showed during the struggle was that the youths understood the suffering of the country and were willing to sacrifice themselves for the survival and affirmation of the Timorese nation and identity.
After the Restoration of Independence, we built the State and established respect for the dignity, rights and freedoms of all citizens.
But the affirmation of the nation and the national identity of the Timorese people now depend on the development of the country, depend on the realization of the sacred hope that we finally create well-being and a better life for our people.
As I said on the National Veterans Day, our democracy has already brought us respect for dignity, peace, and security. But democracy is not just the right to elect leaders every five years. Democracy is also the exercise, by the citizens, of all their rights enshrined in the DRTL Constitution, especially the citizens’ right to a better life in their own country.
The respect for the good name of Timor-Leste around the world depends on our ability to make the Restoration of Independence an instrument of unity at the service of our people’s wellbeing.
This requires spirit of service by the citizens, by the political leaders, by all of us.
As was the case during the struggle, when we took risks and suffered in order to serve the national community, we now must continue to wield the resistance’s values to make this country stronger, with a richer economy and better quality of life for all Timorese people.
Our people protected and defended the combatants during the struggle because the resistance has always placed the people above all else. In order to build a more prosperous, stronger, and safer country, the State must also place the citizens above all else. Otherwise, the country cannot move forward – and even if some get richer, the nation as a whole would become weaker.
Of course citizens will work to improve their own lives and the wellbeing of their own families.
That is the reason we work to develop the country and create a diversified and sustainable economy. But we must be able to distinguish between what is in the national interest and what is not. The State must serve all citizens equally. To this end, we need an interventionist State, with policies, the means and measures in line with the objectives.
I called on the veterans before and again to help practice the values that brought the Timorese nation to victory:
- loyalty to the people;
- spirit of service;
- humbleness and honesty.
We must make the resistance’s values our guidelines and bring our youths to the values of a transparent State, of dedication to study and work and of each citizen’s responsibility for investing in a better future for all.
We must lead by example and spread these values to strengthen the trust of citizens in the State – to strengthen the trust in the institutions that the Restoration of Independence allowed us to create in our land.
The citizen’s trust in the institutions as well as the peace and the stability in our society are the foundations upon which national unity and development are built.
I call on all of you and on every citizen to contribute towards these objectives of serving the people, strengthening trust and strengthening the nation – at every level of society.
It is my view that this is what befits the topic chosen for this Seventh Congress.
Long live the RENETIL!
Long live the Timorese people!
Long live Timor-Leste!