09 June 2010
On 20 May the RDTL Parliament gave awards to several people, including La'o Hamutuk's Charles Scheiner, who had supported Timor-Leste's struggle for independence. The award came with $2,500. For reasons explained in the following open letter (translated from Tetum), which was printed in the Timor Post today, Charlie is giving the money that Parliament gave him to the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal.
27 May 2010
His Excellency Fernando “La Sama” Araújo
President of the RDTL National Parliament
I‘m writing to express my gratitude and appreciation for the “Princess Grace of Monaco” medal that the National Parliament awarded to nine people on the eighth anniversary of Timor-Leste’s Restoration of Independence last Thursday. I was honored to be recognized by your excellencies, and to be included in the company of people like Rob Wesley-Smith, George Junus Aditjondro and others from Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Finland who participated in Timor-Leste’s struggle to free itself from Indonesian occupation.
Like other activists in the East Timor Action Network/United States (ETAN) and around the world, I received much more from my involvement than I gave. I continue to feel privileged to travel with so many Timorese friends on the journey from occupation to independence, from being ruled by an oppressive foreign regime to having the power to make your own decisions.
That voyage is not yet over. Although Timor-Leste has achieved political independence, we live in a world of globalization, big-power politics, endangered environment, corporate greed, and huge hopes from the Timorese people. In the 21st century, no nation is truly independent. For Timor-Leste, emerging from centuries of foreign rule, decades of war, widespread poverty and very little sustainable economic activity, the challenges ahead are as difficult as the struggle against occupation. Like Parliament, La’o Hamutuk is working to help develop and implement wise and just policies – that, given Timor-Leste’s limited resources and experience, can meet the needs of its people.
I am grateful for the $2,500 that Parliament gave me and the other award recipients, but I did not expect and do not want financial rewards for my participation in Timor-Leste’s struggle. Therefore, I will give this money to a new generation of activists who are continuing this campaign for human rights and justice – the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI).
One of the most critical unfinished aspects of the struggle for independence is ongoing impunity. Until the major perpetrators of serious crimes from 1975 to 1999 are held accountable for their actions – which is primarily an international responsibility – the peoples of Timor-Leste and Indonesia will not live in peace. Cycles of impunity, lawlessness and violence will continue, preventing the stability, security and development which Timor-Leste’s people have fought for.
The student generation of the 1970s declared Timor-Leste’s independence and have led this country for the last eight years. Students from the 1980s and 1990s, including yourself, played key roles in restoring that independence and are now the heart of the state. Last week, Parliament recognized a few international activists who helped make these movements global, but this work is not finished.
Today, a new generation of young activists has joined Timor-Leste’s struggle for justice and human rights, through ANTI and other movements. Once again, I am fortunate to participate in their campaign, and I thank Parliament for enabling me to provide some much-needed financial support for their work.
A luta continua.