Paulina Quintao – Timor-Leste President Taur Matan Ruak used commemorations for the 25th anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre to call on young people to study and work hard towards a better future and continue the struggle to improve people's well-being because it was the heroes' dream.
He said in the past young people had dedicated their lives to defend the country during the illegal occupations rather than going to school and as a result many had a poor standard of education once Timor finally gained independence. The President said there was no longer any reason for people to be illiterate,
"If you do not want to take chance you will lose," he said at the official commemorations and the National Day of Youth at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili. "Do not forget, the opportunity only comes once."
The President also thanked the families of the dead on behalf of the state for the sacrifice made by their sons and daughters for the future of the country.
Hundreds of young people died on November 12, 1991 after being shot by Indonesian forces during a peaceful demonstration while marching from Motael church to Santa Cruz cemetery.
The demonstration occurred after Indonesian forces attacked Motael church on October 28, 1991, killing pro-independence activist Sebastiao Gomes died.
He said the government had decided to designate November 12 as National Day of Youth to encourage young people to maintain the fighting spirit of those that died fighting for independence.
As the head of state, he said he was proud of the commemorations this year as the government had established an organizing committee, as well as a team to research and write a historical book documenting young people's struggle for freedom.
He said the book was very important for the new generation so that they could have a better understanding of the history and not lose the fighting spirit as this was the key to success.
During commemorations, the government also launched a new monument honouring victims of the massacre which will be constructed in front of the Santa Cruz cemetery.
Meanwhile, President of the November 12 Committee and survivor Grigorio Saldanha said this year's commemorations were held under the theme 'Serving is an honor for the heroes'.
He hoped this would inspire everyone to work hard to change the daily mentality and establish a good future for Timor.
"You should study hard, respect and love one and another, avoid violence, avoid liquor, drugs, staying awake all night and being too lazy to work because you are our hope that the struggle will continue for people's well-being and to establish a good Timor-Leste in the future," he appealed to young people in a speech on the day.
He said the sacrifice made by the youth and Maubere people to win independence should inspire everyone to follow.
He said everyone should make a promise to make sacrifices every day and that public servants should work hard and maintain high standards and avoid bad behavior such as violence, corruption and nepotism because these attitudes only brought suffering to people.
Meanwhile, President of the National Youth Council of Timor-Leste (CNJTL) Dadi Magno said young people had an obligation to continue the struggle for a better future and keep the dream alive of those that sacrificed their lives in the past.
"For the youths who are lazy, undisciplined and have no vision and dream, wake up, stand and move forward to show that we young people are able and we are," she said.
As the new generation, she said young people must continue to hold on tightly to their cultural values, religion and history in order to bring change in Timor, especially in terms of improving the lives of people, which was a good way to honor those that fought for freedom.
To remember victims of the massacre, thousands of people attended a mass at Motael church before participating in a procession to the Santa Cruz cemetery.