News release by United Nations in Timor-Leste
For immediate use
UN Commemorates the death of UN staff during Popular Consultation
Families, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the 15 Timorese staff who died while assisting The United Nations Mission in East Timor during the period of the Popular Consultation in 1999.
The UN in Timor-Leste organised a commemoration service at the memorial site of Ana Xavier da Conceição Lemos at Gleno, near Ermera yesterday (14th August).
Members of the families of those who died in 1999 joined the UN Resident Coordinator, Roy Trivedy, and agency heads and local dignitaries, including the President of the District, Jose Martines Soares, local members of Parliament Elvina Sousa Carvalho and Ernesto Fernandes “DUDU” and The Principal of the Ana Lemos school Luciano Babo.
The United Nations in Timor-Leste has been a development partner since 2012, when the last peace keepers departed. It has been supporting the families since their loved ones were killed in the violence around the Popular Consultation with the first death of a UNAMET employee recorded on August 8, 1999.
The Resident Coordinator, Roy Trivedy thanked the families for the sacrifice which he said: ‘’has never been forgotten.’’
‘’We must remind those who feel that power grows out of the barrel of a gun and at the end of a knife, that they are wrong, that the most powerful force on earth, is the power of love, the power of the human spirit,’’ Mr Trivedy said.
‘’Today we honor the sacrifice of these 15 Timorese men and women, fathers and mothers, sisters and friends, by giving life to the mission and the values of the United Nations.’’
The Head of the UN Human Rights Office in Timor-Leste, Anjet Lanting, read the names of the 15 people who died.
‘’It was our UNAMET staff who ensured that the Timorese could exercise their freedom to express themselves, and to vote, either to assert self-determination or integration with Indonesia,’’ Ms Lanting said.
‘’UNAMET derived its authority from the UN Security Council, to organize the Popular Consultation, as foreseen in the 5 May 1999 agreement signed by Indonesia, Portugal and the UN.
‘’Many UNAMET risked their lives, being intimidated or attacked while serving the UN mission.
‘’This has been documented in detail by the Timor-Leste Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation – the CAVR. It has also been described in a report commissioned by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights titled “East Timor 1999, Crimes Against Humanity”.
‘’These two key documents describe how UNAMET staff, along many others, were the targets of violence by militia, and Indonesian police and army, pre- and post-Popular Consultation.
‘’Fifteen UNAMET staff brought the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives.
‘’It was here in Ermera that the first victims died after the voting, and both of them were UNAMET staff.
‘’And it was here in Ermera that five of the 15 UNAMET staff lost their lives.
‘’Along with great sadness about the loss of our colleague, we express pride for the service they gave to the United Nations.
‘’We honor our 15 colleagues who brought the ultimate sacrifice while serving our organization which was set up to maintain international peace and security, and to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all
‘’It is with compassion that we honor the families of our 15 colleagues who have had to bear the gravest pain and have had to come to terms with the loss of their loves.
‘’May their souls rest in peace.’’
For further information
UN House, Caicoli Street, P.O. Box 558
Dili, Timor Leste
Tel: +670 3311220
Mob: +670 77231802