It was with great sadness that I learnt of Dr Dan Murphy’s sudden death.
Dan Murphy was born in Iowa, in the United States, on 23 September 1944. From an early age, he showed himself to be a man concerned about social justice. His conscience was forged during the Vietnam War, when he became a conscientious objector. Not having been in the military, he ended up running a medical clinic for poor and migrant workers in the United States.
In the late 1970s, Dr Dan Murphy moved to Mozambique with his family to help modernise medical protocols in rural communities. It was in Mozambique that Dan Murphy learnt about the genocide that was taking place in East Timor.
Unable at the time to take action in Timor, he did so as soon as Suharto resigned, giving way to increased access to the occupied territory. And so, in 1998, he sold everything he owned in the United States and left for East Timor with only a small suitcase, his trusted stethoscope, and a basketball.
During this defining period, Dr Murphy ended up becoming the doctor who held the victims of the occupiers’ cruelty in his hands. The two years that followed were the worst in his life, permanently exposed to suffering and high risk.
He saved countless lives.
Because of his work and dedication, Dr Murphy was awarded the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Prize and the Medal of the Order of Timor-Leste.
In times of peace, Dr Murphy committed to building a clinic, which became known as the ‘clinic of the poor’, the Bairo Pite Clinic.
Thousands of Timorese people have been treated at the Bairo Pite Clinic each year. As President of the Republic, I want to express my sympathy and my gratitude to the clinic’s workers and employees, and ask you to continue to be worthy of Dr Dan Murphy’s remarkable legacy. It is in your hands and I have complete confidence in you!
To his grieving family in the United States, his homeland, and in Timor-Leste, his heart’s home, our deepest condolences and our heartfelt thanks.