November 27, 2023 – On the occasion of the 48th anniversary of East Timor’s unilateral declaration of independence, President José Ramos-Horta has granted seven pardons, four of which were for humanitarian reasons. This presidential decree marks a significant event in the nation’s commemoration of its journey towards independence.

The pardons, announced in the presidential decree and published in the Journal of the Republic last week, absolve the recipients of the remaining time on their prison sentences. These pardons are set to come into effect on Tuesday.

In addition to the pardons, President Ramos-Horta decreed the awarding of national honors based on the recommendations of the Council of Combatants of the National Liberation. Eight individuals will receive the Order of Guerrilla, and two will be posthumously awarded the Order of Falintil.

Moreover, the President has decided to confer the Order of Funu Nain posthumously to 193 individuals and the Order of Nicolau Lobato to 1,696 individuals, some posthumously. These honors are intended to recognize and value the resistance of the Maubere people against foreign domination and the contributions of those who fought for the country’s independence.

The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) and its first President, Xavier do Amaral, unilaterally declared independence on November 28, 1975, with Nicolau Lobato assuming the role of the first Prime Minister. This declaration led to a civil war and the Indonesian occupation beginning December 7 of the same year. East Timor’s restoration of independence was achieved on May 20, 2002, following a referendum on August 30, 1999, where the Timorese people rejected the proposed autonomy by Indonesia and chose independence.