Development agency calls for government action on East Timor

By agency reporter
February 12, 2009

One year after East Timor’s President José Ramos Horta was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, development agency Progressio has renewed its call for the UK government to support a quest for peace and justice in the small, impoverished nation.

José Ramos Horta, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, survived the assassination attempt in February 2008 during a meeting with a rebel leader.

Following a violent 25-year occupation by neighbouring Indonesia, during which a third of the country’s population died, the attempt on the President’s life eight years after independence is yet another dramatic example of the continued violence that besets the young nation.

Progressio is warning that East Timor risks being trapped in a cycle of violence and poverty because few of the perpetrators of violence during the 25-year Indonesian occupation have been brought to justice. In response to international inaction over East Timor, Progressio has launched a campaign called East Timor: Who Cares?

Progressio’s Steve Kibble explains: "We are calling on the UK government to pressure the East Timorese government to take action on past crimes on behalf of its citizens. We want the UK government to provide technical and financial support for a proposed justice centre in East Timor that will provide support to victims of violence seeking justice.

"East Timor is a forgotten and impoverished nation. It must not remain forgotten," Kibble says.

Last year, Progressio’s efforts were given added momentum by the Vatican’s representative to East Timor, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, who stated: "There will be no true and lasting peace without justice. Forgiveness is not impunity." He also called for "legal provisions" to bring the guilty to justice.

For more information on Progressio’s East Timor: Who Cares? campaign, go to

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