Subject: AFP/ABC/Lusa: East Timor mourns loss of "great brother and friend"

Also - ABC: UN's de Mello remembered for work in East Timor and Lusa: UN's top troubleshooter Vieira de Mello mourned by Lusophone world

AFP, Aug. 20, 2003

East Timor mourns loss of "great brother and friend"

Flags flew at half-mast in the world's newest nation as East Timorese mourned the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the man who helped guide them to statehood.

"The people are extremely shattered by what happened to our great brother and friend," said foreign ministry spokesman Roberto Soares Cabral.

Vieira de Mello, the top United Nations envoy in Iraq, and at least 16 others were killed when a massive truck bomb devastated the UN headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Among many other posts the 55-year-old Brazilian had headed the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, which had prepared the country for independence after its bloody breakaway from Indonesia.

"Mr de Mello was a very close friend to most of our leaders," Cabral said.

"He was a man who always advocated peace, human rights, democracy and justice for the people of East Timor."

East Timor, which had previously been a Portuguese colony, voted in August 1999 to separate from Indonesia, sparking an orgy of violence and destruction by pro-Jakarta militias and some departing Indonesian troops.

Vieira de Mello arrived in the territory in November that year and stayed until independence in May 2002, overseeing UN efforts to build a nation from scratch.

Colin Stewart, who heads the Jakarta office of the UN's successor mission, said Vieira de Mello had been considered a possible future UN secretary general.

"For the UN and the world, he was a great man," Stewart told AFP.

"The UN success in East Timor rested largely on his personality. He personally guided the interim administration and engaged all East Timorese leaders, keeping them on track whatever the challenges.

"He was held in incredible esteem in East Timor and by the UN, which he provided with one of its greatest success stories."

Senior leaders in East Timor could not immediately be reached for comment on a public holiday.

Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta, in an interview with Portugal's Lusa press agency, expressed shock.

"He won our friendship and respect, and we are deeply dismayed... by this tragic and repugnant act," Ramos Horta said.


Go Asia Pacific Breaking News Asia
UN's de Mello remembered for work in East Timor

[This is the print version of story]

UN's de Mello remembered for work in East Timor

East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, says he is deeply dismayed at the death of the United Nations' envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad.

Mr de Mello served as the United Nations' head of operations in East Timor during its transition from an Indonesian province to independence in 2000.

He was one of 17 people killed on Tuesday in a truck bomb attack on the United Nations office in Baghdad.

The death of Mr de Mello has saddened many people who had contact with him through his work in East Timor.

Australia's foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, has described him as a good friend to Australia.

"We will miss him and we will miss him very much," Mr Downer said.

"He was a wonderful international civil servant, he did a superb job as the United Nations administrator of East Timor, bringing East Timor from a state of complete collapse in September 1999 to nationhood."

The chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, worked with Mr de Mello in East Timor and says he is deeply saddened at his death.

"I think I speak on behalf of thousands of young men and women in the Australian Defence Force who know Sergio Vieira de Mello from his tremendous mission of peace in East Timor," General Cosgrove said.

"I know the East Timorese people today too, man and woman, will be in mourning."

Indonesia has also expressed outrage over the bombing in Baghdad.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Marty Natalegawa, says that as a country which has become a victim of terrorism, Indonesia knows that terrorists are indiscriminate in targeting their victims.

Mr Natalegawa says Mr de Mello was no stranger to the Indonesian government because of his role in East Timor.

20/08/2003 14:16:04 | ABC Radio Australia News


Iraq: UN's top troubleshooter Vieira de Mello mourned by Lusophone world

Lisbon, Aug. 19 (Lusa) - Political leaders in the Portuguese- speaking world from Brasilia to Dili have expressed outrage and grief at the death of veteran Brazilian diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello who died Tuesday after a bomb devastated the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva announced three days of national mourning for the country's most prominent diplomat, saying he was "the victim of the insanity of terrorism".

Lula also posthumously conferred the National Order of Merit on the 55-year-old top UN troubleshooter, who took leave from his post as UN commissioner for human rights to reluctantly become the world body`s top envoy in Iraq.

Vieira de Mello, who had worked in several international hot spots during his 34-year UN carrer, including Cyprus, the Lebanon and Kosovo, was in his office when a huge blast ripped through the building and was trapped in rubble with serious injuries for several hours before dying.

An American military spokesman said the explosion was caused by a truck and could have been a suicide attack. The blast left at least 17 UN workers and Iraqis dead.

In Dili, where Vieira de Mello had led the UN transitional administration prior to East Timor`s independence in May, 2002, leaders mourned the loss of the man who oversaw the fledgling nation`s birth.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told Lusa: "It is extremely shocking for all of us .... Sérgio had a very special place in our affections.

"He left his mark in the history of Timor and it is all the more shocking as he is from a Lusophone country. The UN and international community have both lost a great figure".

Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso described the Baghdad attack as a "heinous act", telling national RDP radio: "It is not possible for anyone to remain distant, people have to be one side or the other in the fight against terrorism".

"Portugal is and continues to be at the UN`s side in efforts to build a peaceful and democratic Iraq", said the Portuguese leader.

Durão Barroso and Lisbon`s president, Jorge Sampaio, sent condolence messages to President Lula and both Portuguese leaders paid tribute to Vieira de Mello`s key role in Timor`s succesful independence process.

The Brazilian diplomat was "a friend of Portugal", Durão Barroso told Lula.


guardar ou imprimir

Back to August menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu