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Solidarity statement on the arrest of young Timorese students

Joint Statement - September 1, 2009

To Ex. Dr. Longuinos Monteiro,
General Commander of the Timor-Leste National Police

1 September 2009

We, representatives of different international solidarity organizations, call for the immediate release of the three university students who were arrested at the press conference in front of the Hotel Timor on 30 August 2009. We call for all charges be dropped. On that day, the students gathered to express their solidarity with other places in the world facing severe repression and violence, including West Papua, Sri Lanka, Western Sahara, Burma, Maluku, and Mindanao.

We are inspired by their enthusiasm to speak up for their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and we are deeply saddened that the Timor-Leste police felt threatened by their enthusiasm and chose to silence the students, repressing their right to free expression, as guaranteed in Article 40 the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

From 27-29 August 2009, a solidarity conference was held in Dili to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Timor-Leste's referendum on independence. At this conference, speakers shared stories about past international solidarity for Timor-Leste and explained current struggles that need support. Participants gathered in workshops to learn more together and to plan actions for continuing solidarity. Young Timorese activists resolved to support oppressed people in other parts of the world, just as the international solidarity movement had supported their own nation's struggle for self-determination.

Some of us were with the students in front of the Hotel Timor on 30 August 2009. All of us strongly defend the importance of free speech in Timor-Leste and around the world. Often, only the enthusiasm and courage of young activists makes social change and progress possible. We congratulate the students for standing up for what they believe, and we thank them for the inspiration they give to us and others.

Article 10 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste directly and strongly commits the state to offering solidarity to other parts of the world facing struggles for self-determination and human dignity. Timor-Leste is a country of very young people. In the challenging process of nation building, we believe the youth have a huge role to play. We call on Timor-Leste's leaders to recognize and encourage the youth and we again call for the immediate release of the three students still held in detention and that all charges be dropped.


  • Freddy Gamage – Friends of the Third World Sri Lanka
  • John M. Miller – East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (US) Tim Howard – Indonesia Human Rights Committee (New Zealand)
  • Saskia Kouwenberg – (The Netherlands)
  • Jefferson Lee – Australia East Timor Association
  • Pedro Pinto Leite – International Platform of Jurists for East Timor
  • Simo Hellsten – Board member, Committee of 100 (Finland)
  • Joerg Meier – Watch Indonesia (Germany)

(more to be added later)