CAVR Media Release - 9 Dec 2003


National Public Hearing 15-17 December


The Timorese Political Conflict of 1974-76


President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao will give testimony on the Timorese political conflict of 1974-76, at a major CAVR national public hearing in Dili on 15-17 December. The President will be joined by key political leaders in giving testimony to the background and events of the conflict of August 1975, and its aftermath following the full-scale invasion later that year.


In what is to be the most politically sensitive hearing of the Timorese commission, other key national figures to give testimony will include Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, Rogerio Lobato, now Minister for Internal Administration, former key UDT party member Mario Carrascalao and the RDTL President of 1975 Francisco Xavier Amaral. Each will give testimony in his personal capacity. In addition, video testimony will be given by former Portuguese governor to Timor, Major-General Lemos Pires. Expert testimony will be provided by former Australian consul to Portuguese Timor, and renowned Timor author, James Dunn.


The historical political parties of the era have been invited to make submissions to the CAVR. The leaders of these parties have been invited to present their reflections on this period and lessons learned for the benefit of Timor-Leste, for now and the future.


Six survivors from violence of this period will also give testimony at the public hearing.


The CAVR mandate includes responsibility to investigate human rights violations that occurred in Timor-Leste between 1974-1999, by all sides, and to promote reconciliation.


In previous hearings, the CAVR has heard testimony from survivors of violations of the civil conflict of August 1975 when the two major political parties, Fretilin and UDT, fought a brief and bloody conflict. This is the first official opportunity for parties and key players of this period to come before the nation and speak about these events.


Aniceto Guterres Lopes, chairperson of the CAVR and leading human rights lawyer, said of the hearing:


“This is a chance for political parties to speak honestly about what happened in 1975. When the Indonesian invasion occurred in December 1975, and with the occupation continuing for 24 years, Timorese people have never had the chance to talk openly about the terrible events of August 1975. For many, these events are shrouded in mystery and rumour, and have the potential to foster half-truths, allegations and lies. They still have the potential to divide us.


“We need to open up the past so that we know the truth of what has happened. After this, let our fathers and mothers speak of a past in which there was darkness and suffering, but from which much was learned. We need the courage to take this road and the discipline to take it peacefully, in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, guarding the wonderful stability we now enjoy. It is the road to peace and prosperity for our new nation.”


Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos Horta will open an exhibition at the CAVR of historic photos and film from 1975 on Tuesday 16 December at 7pm.


For more information contact Kieran Dwyer on +670 723 4705 or +670 723 0768 or by email <>