Subject: NTT X ­ “When E. Timorese understand reconciliation”- church leader

NTT X ­ NTT Ekspres

NTT X ­ “When E. Timorese understand reconciliation” - church leader

The discourse about reconciliation for the people of E. Timor will still be actual as long as there are E. Timorese in refuge and complete reconciliation has not been realized. Moderator of the Protestant Christian Church in E. Timor, Rev.. Fransisco Vas Concelos, thinks the most important thing about the reconciliation discourse is peace among the people at the grass roots who have been victims of the political game of E. Timor political elite. “It isn’t enough to just talk about reconciliation with words. For some time now there has been a lot of discussion about that and contribution of ideas for a path to reconciliation, but how and from where do we begin to move?” The grass roots people Francisco is talking about are those who farm and fish, manual laborers, small traders in the interior, and those of the informal sector in the city who have been the objects of decisions made by the political elite. He thinks the best effort at reconciliation is if it is begun at the grass roots as social reconciliation.

This reconciliation differs from that implemented by the political elite that always begins with political negotiating, like if they return to E. Timor what position will they have in the government of the new country. Social reconciliation is far more important than talking about political reconciliation with a central theme ­ if one still accepts autonomy or does one acknowledge the referendum results that leads to fighting and divisions of power in government seats. According to Fransisco, whether one accepts autonomy or not is history for the people of E. Timor. Now the question is how to develop reconciliation among the people of Timor Lorosae to create a civil society that is democratic, peaceful, and prosperous. This is a long process that will require patience from all sides. Therefore, the refugees also need a long time to return to the land of their birth. “If there is mutual acceptance to live as one and as brothers in a village, then that’s where reconciliation is realized,” he said.

E. Timor social leader, Paulo de Fatima Martins said the people understand reconciliation to mean mutual realization of one new nation and a desire to live peacefully. To refugees he says there is no person in the world who is free of sin and mistakes, both those in refuge as well as those who have returned to E. Timor ­ all have weaknesses and past sins. The important thing is that in their hearts, each E. Timorese always whispers for peace and has a desire to improve life in the future. This is what is means by moral humanity. He thinks the most appropriate path to complete reconciliation has begun with the common folk and that the political elite should learn from them. Maria Fernades Pinto said she was in refuge in Atambua from 7 Sept 1999 until April 2000. When she returned to her family in Manatuto she was received well; they were all happy to know that she was still alive.

She said that as long as she was in NTT she always heard various kinds of information about E. Timor loaded with political intent that made refugees afraid to go home. Since returning to her area, she has written to family members still in refuge to tell them to return because the rice fields and gardens left in 1999 are now overgrown. Head of the PMP Task Force, Basyiruddin Yusuf, said that it is far better for the refugees to go home to Timor Lorosae so they can live in peace and mutual forgiveness.

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