Jakarta – Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has handed over awards in the form of medals and National Defense Patriot certificates to 11,485 former East Timor fighters.
Prabowo handed over the symbolic awards to 23 representatives – one of which was East Timor pro-integration figure and former East Timor pro-Indonesian militia deputy commander Eurico Guterres.
Prabowo said that the awards were to show the government's commitment to paying attention to its citizens who have sacrificed themselves for the nation and the country. In addition to this, government also considered their service and sacrifices.
"In making these awards, ex-East Timor fighters can pass on the values of nationalism and patriotism and the values [the state ideology of] Pancasila to the next generation", said Prabowo in a press release on Wednesday December 16.
Prabowo also took the opportunity to explain that the awards he gave out during a ceremonial event at the Department of Defense building in Jakarta are a form of respect by the country for citizens who serve to uphold sovereignty and defend the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
Former East Timor fighters, he said are Indonesian citizens who fought to maintain East Timor as part of the NKRI and this is embodied by their loyalty and decision to continue living in Indonesia.
"The country and the nation cannot be allowed to forget the sacrifices and the service of ex-East Timor fighters and their families", said Prabowo.
Prabowo himself has a military track record in East Timor. He is the former platoon commander of the Group I/Para Commandos which took part with other troops in the Nanggala team operation, one of the groups participating in the Seroja (Lotus) Operation which marked the military invasion of East Timor in 1975. (tst/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Prabowo Ganjar Ribuan Eks Pejuang Timor Timur Piagam Patriot".]