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sábado, agosto 13, 2011

Timor Leste - Moving Towards Memory

Members of the International Coalition of the Sites of Conscience gathered in Dili, Timor Leste for the fifth Asian Sites of Conscience workshop, as the Coalition advocated for the country's nascent memorialization efforts. The group met with President José Ramos-Horta, leading Members of Parliament, consultations with victims' groups, and visits to emerging East Timorese Sites of Conscience, aimed to build support for bringing together all voices – from veterans to victims to educators – in exploring how to move from past to present, from memory to action.

The Asian Sites of Conscience Regional Network, including representatives from sites in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, and Timor-Leste, drafted a Declaration (PDF) at the close of the workshop that supports the establishment of this Institute for Memory. In addition, the Coalition shared examples of Sites of Conscience around the world that are addressing similar questions: how to remember painful histories, who should be involved in remembering, and how can the past be a pathway to healing and new beginnings? Sharing the experiences of members from Cambodia to Chile can provide much-needed support for emerging initiatives like those in Timor-Leste as well as reinforce the power of the past in building new and more just futures.
In 1975, after a coup toppled the Portuguese colonial government, Timor-Leste was invaded by Indonesia. For the next 24 years, the country experienced brutal repression and violence. In 1999, East Timorese voted for independence and held their first official elections as an independent nation in 2001.
Today the nation is working towards addressing the past while building a vibrant and stable democracy. In 2001, the government set up the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), which sought to undertake truth seeking for the period from 1974-1999, including working to facilitate community reconciliation for 'less serious' crimes. CAVR successfully adjudicated some 1,400 cases through a visionary community reconciliation program.
Now the country is exploring how to implement another recommendation of the CAVR's report: memorialization. Sites of torture, detention, and massacre loom across Timor-Leste but most are unmarked and their significance is not immediately apparent. But there is momentum to activate these places to remember what happened before and inspire "never again". Civil society organizations have been lobbying the government to ratify a law establishing an Institute for Memory which would spearhead efforts to memorialize a variety of sites. Under the Institute for Memory, these memorialization efforts could be an opportunity to bring together all stakeholders - across different perspectives - to collectively explore how to remember and reconcile with the past.

Elizabeth Silkes, Executive Director says: "Please join us as we build the global movement to move from past to present, from memory to action:make a contribution to the International Coalition or invite a friend to learn more about Sites of Conscience - in Timor-Leste, and everywhere else.
See more photos from the trip in this slideshow.
Source:  Sites of Conscience ; PeaceJam 

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