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FALINTIL out East Timor Defence Force in

FALINTIL out East Timor Defence Force in

Address of Commander TAUR MATAN RUAK, Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff of FALINTIL
On the occasion of the Transition Ceremony from FALINTIL To the Defence of
East Timor

Aileu, 1st February 2001

Excellencies, President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Transitional Administrator, Reverend Bishop D. Ximenes Belo, Lieutenant-General Boonsrang Niumpradiit, Commander of the Peace Keeping Forces,
Members of the National Council, Members of the Transitional Cabinet, Senhora Maria Paixão, Administrator of Aileu District, Members of the Leadership of CNRT/CN and the Political Parties, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, People of Aileu, Ladies and Gentlemen, Valiant Commanders and soldiers of the glorious FALINTIL,

Permit my first words to be a special salute to President Xanana Gusmão.
With us you lived through the most difficult period in our history. Just
the same as all of the FALINTIL soldiers here today, you were a participant
in and a witness to the heroism of FALINTIL and, just like us, you are well
aware of the decisive role played by FALINTIL, in the victory attained by
the People of East Timor.

Permit me to elaborate a little about the reason for this ceremony. In
guaranteeing the victory of the People of Timor, FALINTIL paved the way for
this new phase. It is this phase that we initiate with this ceremony today:
the formation of the new Defence Force.

Yes, it is a new Defence Force because, it's structure, doctrine, training,
operational methods, conditions and philosophy will be distinct from those
of FALINTIL, however, the seed from which this new Force is germiniated is
FALINTIL's. The recruitment for the first ETDF contingent was completed
exclusively within FALINTIL ranks. Therefore we are guaranteeing the
continuity of the spirit of FALINTIL, the legacy of its history, its
symbolism and its bond with the People of East Timor.

The mission of ETDF is to guarantee the defence of our Homeland, of the new
sovereign state of Timor, fully respecting the new democratic institutions
and the political representatives democratically elected by our People.

This is the reason why I state: there is no vacuum! Certain fears have been
introduced that present this transition as the "death" of FALINTIL. The
introduction of these fears aims to destabilise the situation and create
confusion amongst our People by impressing upon them the idea that they are
loosing one of their principal historical references.

There has been alot of discussion about the name of the new Defence Force.
The name that has been adopted the East Timor Defence Force is, obviously
a transitional one. The Armed Forces of East Timor, to be instituted on the
day of the independence of our country will adopt the name and acronym,
decided up by the democratically elected political representatives and the
institutions that will be created.

I affirm once again: there will be no destabilising campaign that will
annul the institution that is FALINTIL and its identity, that will erase
the role that FALINTIL played in the history of our Homeland or destroy the
relationship, forged in their joint actions and suffering, that it has with
the People. Our People know in their hearts the integrity of the sons and
daughters of East Timor who fought within the ranks of FALINTIL!

This is an historical day because it is without precedent: it is the very
first time in history the armed wing of a liberation movement has became
the raison d'etre for a mobilisation of the international community.
Significant in this mobilisation are the studies by King's College in the
U.K., the Institute of Defence and Military Studies in Portugal and the
holding of an international donors conference to support the establishment
of a national defence force. It is just of us today to remember that the
donor's conference decided to allocate distinct support to the defence
force, independent of the donations made to the trust funds of East Timor.
In doing so, the international community unequivocally expressed its trust
and respect of FALINTIL.

The establishment of a new East Timor Defence Force does not mean the
automatic integration of all FALINTIL soldiers. The selection process took
into consideration not only the needs of the new force, but also the
personal wishes of many of the soldiers. The FALINTIL Command, the World
Bank, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and USAID jointly
devised the FALINTIL Reinsertion Assistance Program to help FALINTIL
soldiers begin their new lives. The heroic soldiers, who are about to begin
new lives, would have done so from nothing. Many have lived the last 24
years away from their families or lost their families; they could not study
or get any kind of training that would allow them today to resume civilian
lives; they never had a job or an income that would now enable them to
restart their lives. Their heroism, their dedication and commitment, their
sacrifice to such long and difficult years cannot be ignored. No matter how
much this Program may offer them it will always be small compared to their
importance to our Homeland and the People.

There is another group of people we must acknowledge today: the widows and
the orphans and all those who have been handicapped by the war. We do not
yet have any organised programs to support these groups but we are making
every effort to create the dignified support that they deserve. However we
wish to clearly state: you will not be forgotten, because to forget you
would be to forget our martyrs and heroes!

I now wish to address all those, both Commanders and Soldiers, who have
been selected to begin the training. I know personally that many of you
wanted so much to return home and resume your civilian lives. After so many
years of sacrifice we ask you to continue to give up what is an individual
right of each one of you: the right to live in harmony and peace with your
most loved ones.

We know it will not be easy for you to commence upon this new phase. Once
again you have been called upon to perform your duty to your Homeland. Yet
you will continue because you are conscious that your mission has not yet
ended: The stabilisation of our country is not yet guaranteed and the
threats to our homeland continue. This situation demands that we perform
the supreme duty to defend our country and our People, to enable the
establishment of the new nation and the sovereign state of East Timor. This
cannot be considered the exclusive responsibility of the international
community. As Timorese this is first and foremost our responsibility.

I wish to express to all of you who have accepted to remain in the Force to
once again demonstrate the FALINTIL motto of Homeland and People, and that
it is still our motto, the motto of each and every one of you.

In the same spirit that we consider our mission is not yet ended, and that
we must continue to fulfil it with the same spirit of discipline and
responsibility that characterised FALINTIL, we also wish to address a word
to our President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. You took upon yourself the Command
of our Struggle after the murder of so many of our dear brothers and
sisters, of the whole leadership. Together we struggled and suffered,
together we lived through the tears of victory and defeats, together we
taught and learnt and together we tasted final victory. We often discussed
the future of our Homeland once it was freed. We made plans, we expressed
our wishes and dreams... and we made an oath. We swore loyalty to our
People, to our Homeland, and to the reason why we struggled, we swore that
we would begin an internal process in each of us that would ensure we did
not develop ambitions for personal power once freedom began calling us
toward new responsibilities. Only we know the true meaning of that oath,
the unbreakable bond that we created between us.

On behalf of FALINTIL, of all its Command and its Soldiers, I solemnly
affirm that our sacred oath continues and will continue to be respected.
However, we have been called upon to continue our mission even if it means
taking up new positions and responsibilities. We feel that our Homeland
still needs us! Our People and all of us in FALINTIL know our President and
you, President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, also know each and every one of us.
In the near future Timor will have to choose its head of State. Our
Homeland still needs Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão; our People still need the
leadership, the vision... the affection of our Maun Boot!*

In finishing I wish to convey our gratitude to all those who made this day
possible. To UNTAET and the donor countries for the resources and
specialised support they have provided and will continue to provide to the
East Timor Defence Forces. Currently Australia and Portugal are the main
donors and to them our sincere gratitude for taking up such a huge
responsibility and thereby demonstrating your trust in us. An
acknowledgment is also due to the Command of the Peace Keeping Force and
the United Nation Military Observer Group and the Office for the
Development of the Defence Force, in particular to Mr Cady.

During the difficult years, the years of enormous suffering FALINTIL
survived and played their historic role, despite international isolation.
The Church of East Timor understood our mission in a clear and unequivocal
way. We wish to pay special tribute here today to Bishop D. Martinho da
Costa Lopes for the courage and strength with which he always defended our
Homeland and identity. To our Reverend Bishops of Timor, D. Carlos Ximenes
Belo and D. Basílio do Nascimento, to all the clergy and nuns of East
Timor, we pay our respect and express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude
for the numerous times you took us in and cared for our wounded, for the
strength and encouragement you gave with the warm words of comfort you
expressed in moments of our greatest grief and suffering.

Our final words are reserved to express our deepest and most respectful
tribute to the People of East Timor: for their determination and their
steadfastness which motivated us; for the love that you always gave in
feeding us, nursing us and encouraging us; for the heroism in resisting
which inspired us; and for teaching us to be humble and to fulfil our duty
to defend our Homeland.

Together we liberated our Homeland; together we will defend our Homeland!

For the future, Viva the Defence Force of East Timor!

Taur Matan Ruak


John M. Miller Internet:
Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network
48 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
Mobile: (917)690-4391
Web site:


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