José Ramos Horta, President of East-Timor, Nobel Peace Prize winner and a good friend of the Order was shot yesterday in an attempted coup by rebels. He remains in a serious condition. We ask that all members of the Order and friends include Mr. Ramos Horta in their prayers for a fast and complete recovery.
President Ramos Horta first received a delegation of the Order in 2004 in his capacity as (then) Minister of Foreign Affairs of East-Timor. The delegation was comprising the Master Fr+ Antonio Paris, the Chancellor Fr+ Luis de Matos the Secretary Fr+ Ardino and the member of the Portuguese Parliament Nuno da Camara Pereira. Several plans to include East-Timor in our Order’s priorities for relief campaigns and ethical development projects were laid out and we urge all those interested in cooperating to contact the Chancellery.
From the press:
East Timor’s enduring tragedy
(The Boston Globe – Editorial) THE PEOPLE of East Timor have suffered plenty enough already. The tiny East Asian nation passed directly from Portuguese to Indonesian control in 1975, after President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesia a green light to invade. A quarter century of genocidal repression followed, until Indonesian forces left in 1999.
more stories like thisThis background makes Sunday’s attempted assassinations of East Timor’s two top leaders all the more desolating. President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was wounded in an attempted coup; Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, a former resistance leader, was unhurt. The episode sends a warning: The world’s newest independent nation must not be allowed to fail.
East Timor’s political leaders must take primary responsibility for the reforms and reconciliation needed to avoid disintegration. Ramos-Horta was trying. He had met with the leader of the attempted coup, former military police chief Alfredo Reinado, seeking a compromise to end a revolt that began in 2006 with a mutiny by 600 soldiers, mostly from the west of the country.
Some 150,000 people fled their homes then, and many of the displaced have yet to return. They fear criminal gangs as well as clashes between armed groups from the east and west of the country. Efforts to end those conflicts and bring rebellious soldiers back into the fold may be more successful now that Reinado has been killed in the attack on Ramos-Horta. Reinado was not the sole leader of the antigovernment forces, but as Sunday’s flamboyant assassination attempts suggest, he was the most zealous to overthrow East Timor’s elected authorities.
A key for reconciliation is to grant amnesty to those military rebels of 2006 who had legitimate grievances while legally pursuing those who took up arms against the government for criminal purposes.
Both reconciliation and reform may be served if a much wider circle of police and military veterans, including those who fought in the anti-Indonesian resistance, are granted pensions. Pensioned officers will owe their livelihood to the government, and they will yield places for new recruits who may then receive properly professional training.
Above all, the government must seek advice from all quarters as it reforms the security services and governance. The United Nations mission to East Timor can help by devoting enough staff and resources to provide the government with substantial help in consulting with disaffected soldiers or police. Because the United Nations administered East Timor after 1999 and international security forces have been keeping the peace since 2006, a failed state in East Timor would also represent a failure of the international community.
FACTBOX: Five facts on wounded President Ramos-Horta
(Reuters) – East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot in the stomach on Monday when rebel soldiers attacked his home, a military spokesman said.
Here are five facts about the president of the tiny country, which became independent in 2002, more than a quarter of a century after Indonesia annexed the former Portuguese colony.
* Ramos-Horta, 58, was an anti-colonial journalist and activist when Portugal ruled East Timor, and was seen during that period as a fatigue-wearing rebel with bushy black hair.
* He spent years abroad as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesian occupation. Fluent in not just the country’s Tetum language, but also Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, Ramos-Horta lobbied foreign leaders to highlight East Timor’s plight under Jakarta’s often-brutal rule.
* In 1996, having earned the respect and friendship of a number of foreign leaders and with a high profile as a diplomat, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo. He returned to East Timor in 1999 after two decades abroad.
* Ramos-Horta took over as prime minister in 2006 after the country’s dominant Fretilin party was blamed for failing to control riots that spun into deadly violence in which more than 30 people died.
* He won a resounding victory in presidential elections last May. Outgoing president and former resistance hero Xanana Gusmao then became prime minister after parliamentary elections in July. The pair are generally seen as allies and somewhat more friendly to international investment and the West than Fretilin stalwarts.