2 June 2006

Secretary-General, in Video Message, Calls on People of Timor-Leste Not to Despair, Stay United on Course towards Nation-Building

NEW YORK, 1 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's video message to the people of Timor-Leste on 1 June:

My dear friends,

Your country has a special place in the heart of the United Nations -- not just as our newest Member State, but as one that we are all proud to have helped reach independence four years ago.

You can imagine, therefore, with what anxiety and sadness we have watched, over the last few weeks, the growing political tension and violence in Timor-Leste, and its tragic effects: dozens of lives lost; tens of thousands of people displaced; property destroyed on a massive scale.

We have seen agonizing images -- ones that are all too familiar, to you and to us: fleeing women and children; burning homes; brutal violence against unarmed civilians; and, once again, international military intervention to end the suffering.

Your road to independence was hard, and I'm sure you did not expect the road from independence to viable nationhood to be an easy one.  But, in the last four years, you have laid at least the foundations of a democratic State.  You believed -- and we believed -- that resort to violence for political ends was becoming a thing of the past.  That's why this new violence is so deeply disappointing.  We need to reflect very seriously on why it has happened, and on the road ahead.

Let us not despair.  On the contrary, let us act together, urgently, to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.  Each of us has our part to play.

Leaders must take responsibility for the mistakes that have been made.  I have spoken to your political leaders and urged them to work, with religious and community leaders, to end the crisis.  Otherwise, your precious national community, which has impressed the whole world with its resilience and courage, risks being consumed, in chaotic violence, by narrow partisan and personal interests -- and you risk losing the political space in which parties can compete peacefully for power.

You, the Timorese people, must stand up against anyone who tries to divide you on regional or ethnic lines.  Don't allow anyone, by exploiting minor differences among you, to rob you of the peace, democracy and freedom from poverty, which you are right to expect.  Let no one deprive you of your hard-won freedom, of your right to live in security and without fear.

We too, in the international community, including the United Nations, must look critically at our role in the recent past.  And we must stand with Timor-Leste in the present, which is its hour of need.  We have invested much in helping you achieve your aspirations.  We must not now let that investment be thrown away.

I am heartened to see that, in this crucial test, Timor-Leste's leaders are making a determined effort to stay united, to end the crisis, and to take corrective measures within the framework of the Constitution.

I encourage you to continue on this course, setting aside your differences in the interest of the people and the nation.

I urge members of the defence and security forces to abide by their obligation to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

And I appeal to all of you to support the emergency measures announced on May 30th.

I salute those Member States of the United Nations -- Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal -- who have responded to the Government's request, by sending troops and police to help restore order and bring stability.

Many of you will remember Ian Martin, who served as my Special Representative in 1999, during the Popular Consultation, in which you chose independence.   I have now sent him back to Timor-Leste as my Special Envoy, to assess the current situation and help the various parties come together to address grievances and underlying problems.

Meanwhile, UNOTIL -- the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste -- will continue to carry out its mandate, until the Security Council takes a decision on what kind of help the United Nations can give you in the months ahead.

Dear friends, do not despair.  The United Nations is with you in this time of trial.  And it will stay with you as you resume your noble task of building a united and prosperous Timorese nation.  Viva Timor-Leste!

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