12 November 2016

Remembering the Santa Cruz Massacre, the Movement seeks Justice and Equality

Brief article, as an informative reflection for readers who continue the struggle for justice and social equality for the people of Timor-Leste

People in Timor-Leste and the international community know that the Santa Cruz massacre was an historic moment which represents the long suffering of the Timorese people. This massacre revealed the crimes against humanity committed in Timor-Leste during the illegal Indonesian military occupation to the whole world. This massacre, one of many other massacres and systematic and planned crimes against humanity throughout Timor-Leste’s territory, were no longer kept secret from the world.

At that moment, the 12 November 1991 massacre was not a surprise to the leaders of large nations like Australia and the United States. Since 1975, they had given strong support to Indonesia’s various crimes in Timor-Leste.  They support the Indonesian military to invade and occupy Timor.

But the massacre on 12 November 1991 opened the eyes of people around the world to the suffering and death of the Timorese people. They heard and saw evidence – video and testimonies from international journalists – and worldwide people were shocked and no longer trusted Indonesian propaganda and lies. Activists began to find ways to bring the cries of the Maubere people to global authorities. For example, in the United States, activist friends came together to build the advocacy network called the East Timor Action Network (ETAN).

Although the states of Timor-Leste, Indonesia, the USA, Australia and the international community don’t yet prioritize accountability for these serious crimes cases, people will continue to seek justice. Eventually we will end prevalent impunity. Impunity comes when the perpetrators of serious crimes walk freely and get high positions, and they continue to repeat their crimes in other places. Today, the Indonesian military conducts operations against the people of Papua, Maluku and elsewhere.

Earlier, international solidarity networks understood and responded to Timor-Leste’s suffering, and sought a just solution for the Timorese people. Today, through international solidarity, people from the USA, Indonesia and other nations stand together with the people of Timor-Leste to find a path toward justice and accountability for those past crimes.

The Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI) continues strong and has not reduced its struggle against impunity. It continues to campaign for justice for the Timorese people and accountability for criminals. ANTI and the justice-seeking movement continues to exist because impunity continues to prevail.

Many people continue to praise our young people’s determination and total dedication which has today made Timor-Leste and independent nation, free from foreign dictators. Now, Timor-Leste needs our youth and students to use their energy to continue the struggle against inequality, against corruption, against poverty, malnutrition and a poor quality of life. We carry on this struggle to achieve justice, peace, and long-term stability.

All young people, we need to be brave to struggle to escape from our dependence mentality. His dependency has two levels: personal and national. It is past time to wake up from our long drowsiness, to stop playing and start working. We have a huge task ahead, but the road to social equality will eventually be good for us all – as individuals, as community members, and as citizens.

To my young and student friends, please give time to read the historical facts which are written in the Chega! report. By knowing our history, we can make better decisions for the future of our land. Come together, as youth and students, to understand and correct the mistakes of our leaders. Every decision that the powerful take today will affect our long future on this journey of life, as a nation and a state. Communicate with international solidarity friends, because our struggle for social justice can succeed when people of all nations stand together.

The struggle continues!

The author, Celestino Gusmão, is a member of the Organizasaun Sagrada Família and ANTI and works for Timor-Leste through the La’o Hamutuk Institute.

Thank you.

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