TL commemorates 30th anniversary of Santa Cruz Massacre to honor young heroes

TL commemorates 30th anniversary of Santa Cruz Massacre to honor young heroes


DILI, 12 november 2021 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre with the theme: “With the spirit of the Santa Cruz Massacre, young people play leading roles in fighting Covid-19” to remember and honor young heroes who sacrificed their lives for the independence of the nation.

The Santa Cruz Massacre took place 30 years ago, in the Santa Cruz Cemetery, on November 12, 1991, in Dili, the Capital of the 27th province of Indonesia, known as Timor-Timur (now Timor-Leste).

Timor-Leste had made November 12th a National Youth Day to be celebrated every year in memory of the death of the young heroes at the Santa Cruz Cemetary, in 1991, in Dili.

Speaking at the commemoration, the President of the Republic, Francisco Guterres Lu Olo said that: “In 1991, our young people fought for independence, whereas our today’s generations are working together with the government to fight and protect the communities from Covid-19.”

“I would like to call on the survivors of the Santa Cruz Massacre to keep setting good examples and becoming role models for our young generation to follow. Young people play a crucial role to move a nation forward. Young people are like a source of water in the middle of nowhere, in a desert land, which gives life to many people,” Lu Olo stressed.

The massacre was filmed by British and Timorese filmmaker and journalist, Max Stahl, who arrived in East Timor (now Timor-Leste) several weeks prior to the massacre. It became one of the most dramatic moments of the country, as the images of the massacre were spread around the world and changed forever the history of the nation.

Lu Olo said international solidarity to Timor-Leste’s struggle grew with the spread of the footage and images of Max Stahl.

Santa Cruz Massacre was the largest and most visible demonstration against the Indonesian occupation since 1975.

“The Santa Cruz Massacre revealed our collective wish of living as an independent country among many other independent countries across the globe,” said Lo Olo.

On November 12, 1991, a peaceful demonstration carried out by young people with a long march from the Motael Church to Santa Cruz Cemetery, to honor the death of a young Timorese hero, Sebastião Gomes, a supporter of independence for Timor-Leste, who was taken out of the church and shot by Indonesian troops.

After entering the graveyard, Indonesian troops opened fire on hundreds of unarmed civilians. More than 250 young Timorese were killed in the massacre.

Timorese people honored and praised Max Stahl as one of Timor-Leste’s greatest heroes among others.

Lu Olo said: “Let’s honor and praise our young heroes who died here at this cemetery 30 years ago, including Kamal Bamadhaj, an international political science student and human rights activist, who was killed among our young heroes.

“After the restoration of the independence, in 2002, the nation had been searching for the remains of those who are still missing. The State will support the family of the victims to lessen their suffering and sorrows they had been experienced for years,” said Lu Olo.

“As the President of the Republic, I pay my special homage to one of our great heroes, Max Stahl. Today, we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre in Dili, whereas the funeral service of Max Stahl was held in Brisbane, Australia,” Lu Olo emphasized.

“On behalf of the State of Timor-Leste, as the President of the Republic, I send our big hugs to Max Stahl’s family in Brisbane, Australia, as well as to the families of the victims in Timor-Leste,” he said.

The commemoration was ended with laying flowers at the Santa Cruz Cemetery.

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges Rosario


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