16 July 2009

From your hearts to the heart of Parliament: The voices of East Timor

7 July 2009 Progressio DILI - “I stand before you hopeful, and so lucky to have the opportunity to share my story in a way that many of my countrymen never have” said Zequito de Oliveira, a Timorese living in the UK, as he addressed parliamentarians, activists and the general public at the unveiling of Progressio’s photo exhibition Trapped by the Past at the Houses of Parliament on July 6.

“I have lost most members of my family in violence in East Timor, my sister, my two brothers. But I have hope when I see people coming together in a room like this, so far away. It is up to all of us to work for the future of East Timor.” Zequito’s testimony gave a human voice to the powerful images lining the upper waiting hall in the houses of parliament, echoing the sentiments of the silent images of the East Timorese people.

Zequito and Christine Allen, Executive Director of Progressio, then handed in a collage of supporter and campaigner photos to Ivan Lewis, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in an expression of solidarity and support for the people of East Timor. The collage was representative of all people in the UK who have participated in the campaign showing their support for continuing justice initiatives in the nascent nation.

Speaking on behalf of the Foreign Office, Ivan Lewis said, “We politicians must always remember with our heads and our hearts,” adding that the British government would continue to work through the United Nations and the EU to support East Timor.

“The future of East Timor must be led by the Timorese, and supported by the UK, international and multilateral institutions” he continued, after praising the role organisations like Progressio play in tackling poverty in countries around the world.

Progressio’s campaign East Timor: Who Cares?, has been asking for funding and technical support for a justice centre in the country leading up to the 10th anniversary of the vote for independence on August 31, 1999.
Timor-Leste Land Law and Policy Information Centre

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