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Subject: RDTL: Xanana speech on receiving CAVR report

[Original in Portuguese, this was scanned from a printed text provided by the President’s office, and edited to conform with the speech as delivered.]


Salão Nobre, Lahane Palace 31 October 2005

Your Excellency the Speaker of the National Parliament Your Excellency the President of the Court of Appeal Your Excellency the Senior Minister and Minister of State Administration Your Excellencies the Members of Parliament Your Excellencies the Members of Government Your Excellencies the Members of the Council of State and the Superior Council for Defense and Security Your Excellencies the Representatives of the Catholic Church and Other Religious Denominations Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps Your Excellencies the Presidents of Political Parties Your Excellencies the Chairpersons of National and International NGOs Dear Friends of the Business Community Representatives of the Media Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to start by thanking all of you for your presence in this very special occasion in the history of TimorLeste.

The history of a people is not reducible to books written about that people. The history of societies and peoples that we all learn about is a chronological description of important events be they political or, most importantly, economic in nature, which in their own ways, trigger the development of a country, a people or a society.

Only thus can the history of a people be understood as made by that very same people. That is the reason why, I believe, so many people care to understand the true meaning of these words: "made by the people". There may be a tendency to think that these words mean that the people are the ultimate and true actors of their own history.

"Made by the people" more commonly means the conscious involvement of a people in the process of its own transformation as a society. We have the flagrant and heroic example of the Timorese people's participation in the Resistance that lasted more than two decades, and most importantly, of the Timorese people's participation in the act that symbolizes the radical change: the events of August 1999.

"Made by the people" also means and this is also the case of the histories of several peoples the process by which a people, whether willingly or not, are obliged by the circumstances to become involved. In this sense, these words mean not only every deed practiced by a people, but also every act that is practiced in relation to these deeds.

If we adopt this understanding of history, we can all understand the reason why I have spoken of a special occasion in our history.

This is a special occasion because today, 31 October 2005, the CAVR is handing over its Final Report to me, containing all the work it pursued since its inception in 2001 by means of UNTAET Regulation No. 2001/10. I must emphasize that this Commission is a result of what was conceived by the CNRT back in the year 2000, which gave its first steps towards achieving Reconciliation by bringing many Timorese back home, with the assistance of UNTAET, UNCHR and IOM.

This is a special occasion because the Final Report speaks of a significant part of the history of our people. If history is a description of deeds, this report is about acts perpetrated in violation of Human Rights. Although the Report will not allude to that, our people have been able to meet the challenges of its own destiny with the utmost courage and determination, and they endured, for a quarter of a century, all the sacrifices the Homeland required for its own liberation.

We initiated the tasks entrusted to the CAVR fully aware of the heavy responsibilities that fell upon our shoulders. I wish to recall that in the very beginning of its mandate, this Commission was concerned about assisting those who were then refugees, dedicating its attention to solving a myriad of small conflicts within the various communities in such a way that all the Timorese, free in their thoughts and acts, could call upon and embrace one another, with the aim of building a new country together. The effort made by the CAVR must never be forgotten, and I must underline it since I know that many people are more interested in other aspects of the Report. The clear notion of our responsibilities as leaders of this heroic and suffering people also prompted the new State of TimorLeste to welcome the CAVR and to provide it with all the necessary support to ensure its success, without any political interference or deviation from its original mandate.

In general, I must stress that the responsibilities that befell upon us, the sons and daughters of a people whose mission was to guide that people in its march towards liberation, was a tacit acceptance of our own duties. But I must stress the words "in general", because I regret that in some public hearings, a number of political leaders failed to be humble enough to assume their individual responsibilities and, most importantly, failed to be honest with themselves.

Fortunately, it was not our behaviour as leaders that set the tune to the tasks carried out by the CAVR. So, we stand here today to accept this Report and the exhaustive work it embodies carried out under conditions of utter psychological hardship, a brainchild of patience, dedication, and sense of responsibility.

Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen

In this ceremony today, many diverse expectations are converged into the Report presented by the CAVR. It is only natural that Human Rights organizations are anxiously awaiting to read the Report in order to make their voices heard.

Some people, with narrow intentions, will merely want to know the naked and raw truth as a lesson from the past!

The victims will have their messages to convey to our society, to its leaders, to the State.

Those who committed human rights offences and here, much to the joy of some and the dismay of others, I do not only refer to the crimes against humanity that were committed in 1999 those, I repeat, may be wishing not to have been remembered in the public hearings conducted by the CAVR.

The Chairman of the CAVR has expressed well his final appeal in this manner:

"It is the deepest wish of all those at the CAVR that the Report will be received in the spirit in which it was written with openness, honesty, and deep compassion for those who suffered the most, an almost fanatical commitment to nonviolence and a determination never, ever to let any of what is contained in this Report to happen again to our beautiful country and people".

No one is in a better position than the men and women of the CAVR who, for almost five years, have listened to and dealt with people who suffered in order to understand the enormity of their suffering and their deep cry for peace.

I believe that such a spirit, to reveal the truth of the facts as lessons so that they may never, ever, occur again in TimorLeste, is present in all the institutions of our State, in all the political organizations and in its leaders.

I should remind all those who wish to learn our history that, as far as we the Timorese are concerned, the troubled years of 1974 and 1975 were the object of study and analysis that gave way to the changes in our political behaviour, from being one of confrontation to being one based on proximity. In due course, this process led to the creation of the Nationalist Convergence in 1984, and in 1986 to the CNRM, which in 1998 was renamed CNRT.

The spirit of reconciliation embraced in our struggle since the time of National Liberation represents the basis upon which the National Unity matured, and around which our sovereign State was founded under a new Constitution of the Republic. This is the underlying reason why, after the massive destruction of 1999, the hunting down or the marginalization of people of opposing ideas could be avoided: we consciously and genuinely adopted the principles of acceptance, tolerance and mutual respect.

We should not be overwhelmed by the sheer length of the 2,000 page report of descriptions of human rights violations. Over the last twenty years of our resistance struggle, a dreadful figure was often quoted and it was accompanied by the determination of our people to win; this dread fed our people with strength to endure all the sacrifices it made. This dreadful figure, resulting from the invasion, meant "more than 200,000 dead". This figure also meant "more than one third of the Timorese population" who died as victims of a war of aggression.

Early in August 1999, our dearest friend Ian Martin, then leading UNAMET, met me in Salemba, Jakarta, and, acting upon instructions received from New York, suggested that a popular consultation be adjourned sine die because of the spiral of violence taking place in TimorLeste. The postponement of the referendum was supposed to have spared blood and lives. Recalling the Western Sahara case, I firmly rejected the suggestion. I knew my people would rather die than let this unique opportunity vanish forever. So I rejected the suggestion because I was convinced to be truly interpreting the feeling of the Timorese people.

In times of sacrifice we rose to be heroes. Today, in times of peace, we are regarded as victims! Our people, the heroic and forsaken people of TimorLeste, do not deserve to be treated with so blatant a disrespect!

Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen

The law provides that in due course I must send the Report to the National Parliament, to the Government, and to the UN SecretaryGeneral. Fortunately, the law allows sufficient tine for the President of the Republic to read the 2000-page Report indepth and to draw my own conclusions, as Head of the State, in accordance with the spirit and the letter of Article 2 of Law No. 11/2005.

Naturally, I will make the utmost effort to ensure that all organs of sovereignty will, as much as possible, embrace at least a common perception, if not a complete consensus, of the superior interests of the State.

On the other hand, the law ascribes to the President of the Republic the task of making the Report available to the public. Because it is difficult to deal with a 2,000 page volume, particularly when dealing with local communities, the CAVR has prepared a booklet that has been christened as a "popular version". I hereby declare that the task of publicly disseminating the main findings of the Report will be carried out as soon as possible and in the same spirit that has guided the CAVR along these years.

The spirit and the letter of Article 43 of UNTAET Regulation No. 2001/10, and of Article 3 of our Law No. 11/2005, refer explicitly to the dissolution of the CAVR as well as to the issue of assets. I shall strive to work in consultation with the Government on all the measures to be taken, including the need to preserve and safeguard the archive in such a way that it may serve as a center for the formation of future generations.

The law also determines that the President of the Republic has three months to dissolve the CAVR. In this context; following the auditing and due handover of all the assets tasks that I hope will be concluded within one month I will then dissolve the CAVR. Soon afterwards, there will be a need to create a body that will lend support to the President of the Republic in its task of disseminating the Report, which will last up to three months.

Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen

Two days ago, all those who have been involved with the work carried out by the CAVR - except for a few expatriates and Timorese who could not attend have been gathered in the CAVR headquarters. Along with them were some of the people who have volunteered to speak about their bitter experiences.

Their faces revealed a deep sense of ownership we have done this, we have lived an important moment in our lives, as individuals and as part of our history as a young nation.

I witnessed sighs of relief and joy aroused by the feeling that the mission has been accomplished.

On behalf of the State, I wish to thank each and every one of you for the contribution you have given to this painstaking task ...the task of restoring the dignity of our People!

On behalf of the People, I wish to thank all those who have worked for the CAVR. A special thanks goes to the Regional Commissioners and, most importantly, to the National Commissioners. A deep thanks also goes to the internationals who knew how to share the pain of the Timorese in this difficult crossroad.

Dear Commissioners

The State has bestowed its confidence upon you, but the determining factor was the self-confidence you have demonstrated in the fulfillment of your mandate.

A final word must be registered to those friendly Governments of Australia, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and to International Agencies such as the Australian Volunteers International, the AustraliaEast Timor Capacity Building Facility, the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development, the Catholic Relief Services, the European Commission, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UNDP, UNHCR, UNOTIL, the World Bank, the Australian Business Volunteers, the HIVOS, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the U.S. Institute for Peace, and the UN Volunteer Programme for all the comprehensive and sincere support lent to the CAVR. Without the generosity demonstrated by all of you and without your unwavering commitment to this task, we would not have been here today, as we are, saying that we have achieved... something very precious and useful for the future of this magnificent people!

Thanks very much to all of you!

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