National Youth Day and Commemoration of the Santa Cruz Massacre
November 12th, 2017 was the 26th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre and East Timor National Youth Day.
To commemorate, on November 11th, 7 organizations including the IPYG, Timor-Leste Youth for Peace, Dili Rotary, Club, Youth for Human Rights, co-hosted a peace seminar at the KnuaJuventude Fila Liman in Pateo Plaza. The two-day event consisted of a peace conference on the 11th and a national peace walk on the 12th.
On November 12th, 1991, hundreds of youth walked in peace to the Santa Cruz cemetery to pay respects to Sebastião Gomes, a youth who was killed after attending mass at Motael church in Dili. This peaceful walk turned protest was the largest protest since 1975 and it was held against Indonesia’s takeover of East Timor. 250 people lost their lives that day because of the Indonesian army dispatched to end the protest.
Their walk of peace has become an annual event where people wave their flags to express their desire for freedom and justice. November 12th has been proclaimed National Youth Day in honor of the courage and determination the youth showed through the peace walk on that day despite the danger.
The Peace Seminar held on November 11th began with the commemoration speech of Mr. Herculano Amaral, the organizing committee leader of the event as well as the director of the International Rotary Club of Dili Lafaek, and continued with speeches from various NGOs including the president of Committee 12th November and the Secretary State of Youth and Labor. The testimonies from the survivors of the Santa Cruz Massacre also instilled the importance of peace into everyone’s hearts.
Ms. Marcia Pascoela Castro Alves, a staff member of Dili Rotary Club, introduced HWPL, the IPYG and IWPG and held a question and answer session. A participant was surprised at the WARP Summit and its thousands of participants, and he said he hopes peace will be actualized eternally in the world soon.
Participants sang songs of peace along with musicians and held passionate discussions about the role of youth in sustainable development. They stated that they learned much about peace activities that could be applied to their friends, families, and their environment, that everyone must work together for peace, and that spreading world peace should never come to an end.
On November 12th, 2017, around 2,500 citizens gathered to take part in the national peace event and walk in the peace walk from Motael Church to the Santa Cruz Cemetery. The host organizations along with participants of the Peace Seminar walked together and commemorated the youth heroes who were sacrificed during the massacre. People walked with flags and national flags, and the IPYG showed their presence through banners and balloons.
Mr. Herculano Amaral, who led the Peace Seminar as a representative of the IPYG, stated that because this peace walk was a big event for East Timor, he hopes that another commemoration event will be held next year. He is also planning on holding more peace seminars and peace sporting events for students. He hopes that through various the IPYG and East Timor events, more people will participate in the work of peace.