President of The Republic, Taur Matan Ruak.
Name: Taur Matan Ruak.
Date of birth: October 10, 1956.
Place of birth: Osso Huna, Baguia, Baucau Municipality, Timor-Leste.
Title: President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak.
Taur Matan Ruak, son of António de Vasconcelos and Albertina Amaral was born near the town of Baguia in the region of Baucau in the mountainous far eastern end of Timor Leste. He is the eldest of eight children, five girls and three boys. In 1960 he moved to Dili as a young boy with his uncle. In 1963 he began his primary studies, finishing five years later, in 1968.
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor and Taur Matan Ruak 19 years old took to the hills with the recently formed FALINTIL – FRETILIN’s armed wing. The next three years of war took huge toll on the Timorese People with an estimated 100,000 dead.
As a combatant Taur Matan Ruak participated in battles against the Indonesian military in Dili, Aileu, Maubisse, Ossu, Venilale, Uatulari and finally Laga, on the north eastern coast, where he eventually stayed.
He began to assume command positions within FALINTIL. His first official appointment was at the end of 1976. Around this time FRETILIN reported that they controlled just over 80 per cent of the territory.
From 1976 to 1979 Taur Matan Ruak rose through FALINTIL ranks in the two eastern military sectors, the Central East Sector and the Eastern Point or the Ponta Leste Sector. He was then a Company Commander. In late 1977 the Indonesian Campaign of Annihilation commenced which was to decimate the resistance forces. Over the next year 80% of resistance forces and their bases were destroyed by Indonesian forces.
On November 22, 1978 at Mount Matebian, the last resistance base in the mountains fell. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Taur Matan Ruak and other members of the Resistance regrouped the following day at the base of Mount Legumau and recommenced guerrilla operations.
The death of Commander-in-Chief Nicolau Lobato in December 1978 and other FALINTIL combatants signified the end of the initial Resistance leadership.
During 1979 and 1980, while the majority of the Resistance forces were relocating to the Central Sectors to reorganize and consolidate the resistance under the direction of Commander-in-Chief Xanana Gusmão, Taur Matan Ruak was ordered to carry out guerrilla activities in the eastern region.
During a mission to locate any survivors of the Annihilation Campaign, Taur Matan Ruak was captured in the Viqueque area by ABRI forces on March 31, 1979, but after 23 days he managed to escape and rejoin other FALINTIL forces in the mountains.
In March 1981 he was appointed Assistant Chief-of-Staff of FALINTIL responsible for the operational command of the Eastern Sector and latter the Western Sector.
In March 1983, Resistance and Indonesian military representatives agreed on a cease-fire. In August, the Kraras massacre signalled the end of this agreement. In September, a state of emergency was declared and a new Indonesian offensive, Operation Sweeping, was launched.
Later in 1983 he was transferred to the Western Operational Command (the region west of the Baucau/Viqueque axis) and appointed military adviser to the Deputy Chief of Staff of FALINTIL.
After 1986, Taur Matan Ruak was responsiblefor all the military operations throughout Timor Leste.
In November 1992, Commander-in-Chief Xanana Gusmão was captured in Dili. Taur Matan Ruak was promoted to Chief-of-Staff while Xanana Gusmão was held in prison in Jakarta and remained FALINTIL Commander-in-Chief.
On March 11, 1998 Commander Nino Konis Santana died and Taur Matan Ruak became the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of FALINTIL.
In July 1999, FALANTIL decided to unilaterally canton is troops to 4 cantonment sites and Taur Matan Ruak’s responsibility was to keep the armed FALINTIL guerrillas from engaging with Indonesian and pro-Indonesian forces.
On the August 30, 1999 the Timorese People voted overwhelmingly for their independence in an UN-sponsored referendum.
A period of intense violence followed the referendum that was finally stopped by the intervention of an UN-sanctioned International Force, INTERFET. This period severely tested the discipline of FALINTIL as they were forced to remain powerless in cantonment while the population begged for protection against rampaging Indonesian and pro-Indonesian forces.
On 10th December 1999, Taur Matan Ruak was awarded the Prémio de Direitos Humanos (Human Rights Prize) by the Assembleia da República (Parliament) of Portugal, in Lisbon, Portugal.
On August 20th, 2000 Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão resigned from FALINTIL and Taur Matan Ruak was appointed the Commander-in-Chief of FALINTIL.
On February 1st, 2001 Taur Matan Ruak was appointed Commander of the Defence Force, FDTL, with the rank of Brigadier-General, in a ceremony presided over by the late Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN Transitional Administrator.
On 20th May 2002, with the Restoration of Independence, Taur Matan Ruak became Chief of Staff of F-FDTL, FALINTIL- Força de Defesa de Timor-Leste.
On 7th December 2006, Taur Matan Ruak was awarded the Ordem da Guerrilha by the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
In 2007 Taur Matan Ruak was awarded a special medal by the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for services rendered during Operation Halibur, a joint F-FDTL/PNTL operation aimed at re-establishing law and order in the country in the aftermath of the 2006 political crisis.
On November 28th, 2009 Taur Matan Ruak was promoted to Major General by the President of RDTL, Dr. José Ramos-Horta.
On 20th August 2011, Taur Matan Ruak was officially demobilised from FALINTIL in the National Tribute to Thank and Recognize Former Combatants of the Struggle for National Liberation and awarded a medal for services rendered together with 235 other former combatants.
On 6th October 2011, Taur Matan Ruak addressed F-FDTL for the last time as Chief of Staff of the F-FDTL, during the F-FDTL Command Handover Ceremony, upon his request to resign was accepted by the President of Timor-Leste.
On 16th April 2012, Taur Matan Ruak was elected President of Timor-Leste. On 23rd of April, The Court of Appeal officially declared Taur Matan Ruak the newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
Taur Matan Ruak was sworn into office on 20th May 2012 and his mandate ends in May 2017.
President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, is married to Mrs. Isabel da Costa Ferreira, a legal expert who worked as an adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights, as the Vice-Minister of Justice, both during the I Constitutional Government, and as a member of the CTF. Currently, she is an Advisor for the Secretary State for Security and Commissioner of the Public Service Commission.
They have two daughters Lola, Tamarisa and a son Quesadhip.
President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, speaks 3 languages of Timor-Leste (Tétum, Noeti and Makassae), Portuguese and English.