Media Release 8 November 2002

Dili East Timor

First Public Hearings for East Timor Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) will hold its first national public hearings in the new nationís capital Dili, on 11 and 12 November. The hearings are to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, a day of solemn remembrance in East Timor and the nationís most powerful human rights day.

Thirteen victims of human rights violations, one from each of the nationís districts, will give testimony at the hearings. They will testify to violations that occurred over the course of the 24 years which are the mandate of the CAVR: from 25 April 1974 (the Carnation Revolution in Portugal which set in train the decolonisation process) and 25 October 1999 (the official establishment of UN responsibility for the administration of East Timor with the peacekeeping mission UNTAET).

Chairperson of the CAVR, human rights lawyer Aniceto Guterres Lopes said:

"This hearing is a very important part of the healing process for the individuals giving testimony, for their families and for the nation as a whole. Through recognising the suffering of individuals, we are recognising the suffering of all Timorese, we are listening to our national story. This will contribute to healing, to building a spirit of reconciliation, and to lasting peace in our new nation."

He added:

"It is important that we hear from victims from all periods of our mandate, including victims of from all sides of the conflict. The CAVR is independent and has a responsibility to maintain this impartiality in all its work."

The CAVR commenced work in February this year, and has since established teams working in each district in East Timor. The CAVR has a strong community focus, taking statements and holding hearings in villages across this mountainous island country. The Commission mandate runs until April 2004, when it will report to Parliament with its findings and recommendations for the future protection of human rights in East Timor.

For more information, or to organise an interview with Mr Guterres Lopes or other National Commissioners or participants in this process, contact Kieran Dwyer at CAVR

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