Subject: XG: Falintil Day Message

Embargoed until 09.15am (Dili time) on 20th August, 2003




First and foremost, as a former FALINTIL guerrilla, I wish to salute all those, living and deceased, who were part of the glorious generation of the Ever Glorious Armed Forces for the Liberation of Timor-Leste FALINTIL.

Secondly, and as the President of the Republic, due a program with particular incidence on present internal stability, I regret not being able to be here all day, because I do have to depart early to be with the population of Beco and Salele (Suai) and Lour (Bobonaro), in the southern end of the border and, on 22 August, to reactivate the border reconciliation meetings.

Since this event is to mark the day of FALINTIL, there are some opportune issues that I would like to discuss here, in Uaimori, and not to be left for next year.

1. After the coup of 11th of August 1975 by UDT, several attempts to encourage dialogue between UDT and FRETILIN, initiated by the (Portuguese) colonial government and the Timorese Army, within the spirit of MFA (Movimento das Forças Armadas) that led the 25th April (Revolution) in Portugal, failed completely.

As a response to adherence to the coup, on the part of the companies of Baucau and Lospalos, FRETILIN also instigated the taking up arms by the Company of Aileu on 17th of August 1975, after the CCF’s proclamation of the General Armed Insurrection on 15th of August, in the outskirst of Dili, in Talitú.

These were the political basis for the creation of the FALINTIL, on 20th of August that year through the joining-in of the Timorese military of the General-Headquarters (colonial) and of the companies stationed in Díli.

FALINTIL THE ARMED FORCES FOR THE NATIONAL LIBERATION OF TIMOR LESTE were born under the umbrella of a political party, FRETILIN, to fight another political party, UDT.

After the infiltration of the Indonesian troops along the border, since the end of September but more intense in October with the clear aim of territorial control, seen in its continuous advance inside East Timor territory and, even more so, after the 7th December of that year, FALINTIL embraced the real magnitude of the meaning of ‘National Liberation,’ because it started to fight a foreign army that was violating the integrity of our homeland.

In 1977, the wrong policy of ‘arms for the defence of ideology’ instigated the assassination of several senior commanders of FALINTIL, including those who were considered traitors of the Motherland, but in fact, were good commanders and nationalists.

As a consequence of these killings and after the great defeat suffered in 1978, FALINTIL forces were reduced to a few hundred men and weapons, due partly to the incitement of some members of the CCF who denied the principles that they defended so harshly.

The policy of revising the concept of National Unity, in 1981, allowed the first steps towards national reconciliation, between the Timorese, to take place, which in turn, enabled the gradual participation, spontaneous and defiantly, of all the components of the Timorese society, ranging from the political parties to those who, in the past, defended integration and those who served the occupying forces, after the invasion.

2. In 1984, due to the irresponsibility and inaptitude, visible since August 1983 by the General-Staff of FALINTIL, stationed in the Regiões Centrais of the Homeland, which was causing continuous loss of guerrillas, it became necessary to put an end to the demoralising situation within the Armed Forces and overcome the Companies’ complete lack of operational actions, by giving them a higher degree of ability to enhance their operational capabilities.

Facing with such a situation, what was to become General-Staff of FALINTIL, in turn, endorsed a premature attempt to persuade the Forças to revolt against the Superior Command of the Struggle. Fortunately, the guerrilla fighters showed great sense of maturity and refuse to resort to violence to solve internal conflicts and opposed any attempt that may result in bloody confrontation.

Such a show of maturity made it possible for a conflict which was merely military and disciplinary in nature and, afterwards, became ideological, revolutionary, because of the refusal to accept the shifting away from the single-party ideology towards one of multiparty democratic system, to be resolved without resorting to armed confrontation.

However, because they continued to be embedded into their ideas, Mauk Moruk, who was the Deputy Chief of Staff and First Commander of the Brigade, removed himself and surrendered, with weapons and ammunitions. Olo Gari, the Second Commander of the Brigade, was asked to remain active in FALINTIL, but he declined the invitation and withdrew from the Organização until, a later time, when he was ill, he went to reside in the villages, and Kilik, who was previously the Chief of Staff, killed in one of the combats between the guerrilla and the enemy.

I mention this incident because I know that, today, many who do not even know the development of the resistance, want to or continue to bring up this issue, as if it is an open wound to be healed. As far as the facts go, many witnesses are still alive and they can tell the truth.

3. In 1986 we also succeeded that UDT and FRETILIN, in the diaspora, accepted the to set up the Nationalist Convergence, a political act that was necessary to respond to the advanced stage of the policy of National Unity, inside the Homeland.

Having thus achieved the goals of National Reconciliation, it was decided, in 1987, to turn FALINTIL into a non-partisan body so that it can become the fundamental foundation for the strengthening of the resistance as a whole, thus able to lead the Luta until the final victory, achieved on 30 August 1999.

This was, in short, the history and this was also, in short, the goal of FALINTIL: To Unite the People for the Liberation of the Homeland!

4. Having achieved the goal that all the people have taken upon themselves which was to liberate the Homeland, after being an independent and sovereign nation, what should now be the role of the Armed Forces? Should it be to liberate or to defend? This is the question, which allows us to understand that each and every social and political process is never a dead process. It ought be a dynamic process, a living process, and one that evolves.

Had FALINTIL not going through an evolving process, during the struggle, the National Reconciliation and National Unity policies would not have succeeded and the victory which we accomplished would have been extremely unlikely.

Today, regrettably, some aired opinions still question the shift from FALINTIL to FDTL. The FALINTIL forces, whilst being Forces of Liberation, have fulfilled their mission! I repeat: after we have been given membership in the United Nations as the 191st sovereign and independent Nation, should our Armed Forces be given the mission ‘to liberate’ or one ‘to defend’ the Nation?

5. Indeed, we are a democratic society, but if democracy is for us to take into account any and every individual opinion and/or the opinions of only one group, democracy will become chaotic, and we would not be able understand each other and it is not worth having a State, institutions, laws and norms to regulate the participation of the citizens.

People, in many places, have already asked me this question: what type of democracy do we nurture in Timor-Leste? According to the Constitution, there are two mechanisms to ensure our democratic existence: the representative democracy, through the pillars of sovereignty of the State, elected and make decisions, within the framework of the national interests, and the participative democracy, one which gives the citizens, the population, the society, on the one hand, the right to voice their opinions and, on the other, to actively participate in the process of development of their own communities.

Here, we have necessarily two levels of decision-making: one is national and another is the local level. Here, there are also are two forms of voicing opinions: one, through the elected representatives, and another, individually.

If we lack this understanding of the need for legal mechanisms to build a democratic State, any opinion becomes law and this cannot be democracy.

I often resort to one example of our own process and one which the people should not lose sight of, to understand the spirit of democracy, one which ought to be healthy and constructive. In the final stage of debates of the Constituent Assembly, some parties voted against parts of the Constitution; when the Constitution was to be approved, all parties with seats in the Constituent Assembly, as legitimate representatives of the people, signed that important document, which today is the guarantor of liberties, rights and duties of each citizen.

Only the political parties, which the people believed and elected, and have seats in the Parliament, which is a Pillar of Sovereignty, can say that they have legitimacy to speak on behalf of the people. Any other group, political in nature, that wants to appear ‘of behalf of the people’ must, through the existing legal mechanisms, do so subject to elections.

In some sucos I have visited, there were those who claim to speak on behalf of all the People, the ‘Maubere People and the Bibere people.’ They turned up to defend the Constitution of 1975; they turned up to defend that FALINTIL’s name should not be changed and I ask them their age and what they have done during the 24 years of the Resistance.

Many who defend the Constitution of 1975 were under underage in 1975. And many of those who defend the no-change of FALINTIL never guns in the armed struggle.

At the beginning of 1976, I was platoon commander until the First Organisation of the Resistance, in May, when I became a political cadre. In March 1981, I became in charge of the Command of FALINTIL and present here with us today the Ever Glorious Commanders who were in the service of FALINTIL, to search for the goal of National Liberation accomplished on 30 August 1999. In August 2001, I left the FALINTIL with the same conviction about the process, just like day one.

Well, after the liberation of the Homeland, some youth emerged to claim for themselves the authority to understand the process and even to understand FALINTIL. And all of this is generating concern, and certain instability, within the people and, particularly, in some areas.

I appeal to everybody to respect the process. And the point is that those who initiated the process (and I do not even belong to that list) are still alive, and with more experience, obviously filled with bitterness for their mistakes and with joy for their successes.

Let us not be subjective, because the lack of objectivity always leads to intolerance and to intransigence. And, as the President of the Republic, I will not tolerate this to continue, especially if it is to destabilise the process in one way or another.

6. When speaking about destabilisation, we must not think only of certain conflicts provoked by one unsatisfied group or another and we always like to point our fingers to CPD-RDTL (maybe that is because some former hansips and former militias also joined CPD-RDTL) and to point our fingers to Colimau 2000 (maybe because the people of Colimau 2000, who were active in the clandestine resistance and were persecuted by the Indonesian police, are frustrated today because they see some police officers who used to persecute them during the Indonesian time, and who once again became police officers and behave as if they were Indonesian police still and not the police of the new Nation that is Timor-Leste.)

Because we are at the beginning of the process of building a democratic State based on the rule of law, (a beginning which is still fragile by virtue of our own weakness and a certain lack of maturity) the democratic destabilization can be also a result of other factors, other than violence as we understand it from the statistics of the police.

Lately, the people have followed the arguments that the politicians come up with to sell to the people, as the supermi of the countless kiosks that are ubiquitous as a sign of economic development throughout the whole country.

We are learning how to use democracy; we are learning to understand the true meaning of democracy. Our people is trying to understand democracy, by seeing how their politicians, how their representatives, shine with the weapon of democracy.

And our people get frightened because the politicians talk about a coup. And our people are afraid that our politicians want the coup, because our people have suffered, in the past, in situations of coup and contra coup. It was not the politicians who died, it was the people, those who believed in the wisdom of the politicians, they were the ones who lost their lives and suffered in the prisons.

Is it the intention to try to intimidate the people, by reminding them of the lack of common sense in ’75? Is it because this is the best way to prepare mentally groups or factions, to violently defend this or that political party?

Who will make the coup? With what means? What for? - These are the questions that spring from the mouths of the people.

7. Also lately, there has been a certain ill-feeling, greatly explored by society, between the PNTL and the Falintil-FDTL. The coup will be with PNTL or will it be with the Falintil-FDTL? People ask these questions because the politicians are talking about a coup.

I have already emphasised that FALINTIL was born out of a situation of war between brothers and sisters, that is, a war where Timorese were fighting each other. And no one can forget that, afterwards, having embraced the true meaning of its mission, FALINTIL committed themselves to unite the People, free from the influence of any political party and, today and in the future, Falintil-FDTL will know what is their true mission in a democratic State based upon the rule of law.

PNTL was created, in the process of transition towards independence, achieved on 20 May last year, to be a new police force, different from the Indonesian police as the people knew it in those 24 years. I am aware of the total lack of ethics and professionalism in the (Timorese) police force and I have received many complaints, from the population, about abuses of power and lack of discipline, never dealt with, from some, and not a few, police officers, nurturing the sense that they are the proprietors of the State.

With regards to this, I know that UNMISET, the Government and the Police itself agree with the idea of holding an open debate to attempt to fix this uncontrollable and unacceptable situation, which takes away any credibility the police might have and may become the source of future and serious spots of instability. I am of the opinion that the public, in general, should participate in this open forum so that the institutions of the State may become acquainted with these mistakes and fix them before too late.

With all of this, I must say that it is totally reprehensible the triviality with which the politicians and the people in charge of the process of building democracy, enjoy getting the people frightened, instead of nourishing trust in the people in regards to the democratic process which everyone is committed to.

8. In my capacity as the President of the Republic (and I still have another four years of mandate), I ask all of the components of society and, above all, the politicians to refrain from making foolish statements and I want to reassure to the People that, as the guardian of the Constitution, I will not allow whomever it is to provoke the slightest of political manoeuvre which cause suffering to the people suffer.

I am appealing to the people as a whole to believe in the democratic process, which we have already started, and not to waste time to think whether there will be coups or not. The people are already sick of suffering and I will not allow this to happen again.

There are countries in this world that have been independent for tens of years and today are still playing with violence making their people suffer. And this is because they did not take due care of the process of independence., but because they believed that independence is merely having a flag, a corrupt President, a puppet Parliament, an inefficient Government and an incompetent Justice system. There are wars in these countries today. There are coups and coup attempts in order to take control of power.

Independence in these countries has the meaning of ‘power.’ It is about who has the power, who give orders, who can do as s/he likes. Independence in these countries does not allow one the opportunity to think about ‘those who you suppose to serve.’ Independence, in those countries, was only an opportunity for the politicians and those in government to stay in power, at all costs, even if that means perpetuating the suffering of the people.

Power in these countries obsesses the people. The ambition to retain power enters into contradiction with democracy and, in this manner, power starts to mirror intolerance and starts to frenetically strengthen itself through the inappropriate use of its intelligence services with the practice of spying on the movements of political rivals, the practice of intimidation by using dissemination of rumours.

9. Today, some people, like our brothers of CPD-RDTL, question our sovereignty, placing emphasis on ending the mandate of UNMISET’s, PKF’s, UNPOL’, and so on, as if this were the way to enable us, the timorese, to be in charge of this or that. But this is wrong!

We should all question the issue of sovereignty, but of the people, from yet another angle, one which gives true meaning of our independence. The sovereignty of the People, in their decision-making during the general elections, and the sovereignty of the People in their direct and ongoing participation in the building of our Nation starting at the local community level.

We are all still waiting for the Government and the Parliament to decide on the fundamental question of ‘Local Power.’ Democracy will only be a conscious practice of our people when it can be guaranteed that the people will actively participate in finding solutions to their own local problems.

That is where the question of sovereignty lies, as it is understood by the Constitution. Sovereignty does not mean just having a Constitution that proclaims us independent from other States. Sovereignty must be an active component of the day-to-day existence of our people, so that we will not deceive the people into thinking that they are sovereign only because they elected their representatives who speak on their behalf, but who often, either they do not speak out or they only think about themselves, more worried about how to keep themselves in their positions, on how to stay in power.

This is why I ask the people to unite to defend the democratic process, to nurture amongst the community members the spirit of criticism but with due tolerance, the spirit of creativity and participation.

And when all the people are united in this process of building our State based upon the rule of law, we will be ready to build our Nation. And no one will be worried just because a fool decides, again, to frighten the people with coups.

When the entire people enjoys the right to actively make decisions in the process of Nation building, in their own local communities, I believe that the intellectuals, politicians and those in government will then clearly understand that this people do want to build peace, founded upon tolerance and social justice, want to develop the country, having discipline, professionalism and hard work as the foundation and based on fighting corruption and nepotism.

I appeal to the People to look ahead towards the future, and once more, to believe in themselves.

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