On 20 May, Timorese across the world celebrate the restoration of Timor-Leste’s independence, declared on 20 May 2002 after it was occupied by Indonesia in 1976.
The University of Oxford Brookes, in the city of Oxford, UK, hosted the event “20 May”, organized by Timorese resident in the country. The event had cultural and sporting elements, including the fourth football tournament “20 May Cup” organized in partnership with the Timorese Sports Association.
The author attended the event and spoke with Acácio Marques, one of its organizers. He said:
Hau hanoin loron espesial ne’e furak tebe-tebes ba ita hotu, atu hametin liu-tan ita nia unidade. Atu hateten katak hau haksolok tebes ho ita hotu nia prezensa iha fatin ne’e hodi hahi’i, hanai ita nian loron Restaurasaun Independensia.
For me, this is a very special and beautiful day for Timorese, it is a way of strengthening our unity. I want only to say that I am very happy with the attendance of everybody in this place to honour our day of restoring independence.
Joaquim da Fonseca, the current ambassador of Timor-Leste in the UK, attended the event. At the opening ceremony, Fonseca and Marques called on youths to always remember the values of the celebrated date.
In an interview, Fonseca highlighted:
Iha ita nia istoria iha loron barak ma’ak marcante, importante, maibe dia 20 de maio ita hili hanesan loron ida, de facto, ohin, ita restaura ita nia independensia. Entaun, tinan-tinan, ita komemora no hanoin katak 20 de Maio relembra buat hotu-hotu nebe’e akontese durante tinan barak, desde estranjeiru sira tama iha ita nia rain, hanesan seculos barak portugues sira iha timor, iha indonesia nia tempu to’o ita ukun-a’an. Komesa husi buat sira nebe’e halo ema triste, halo ema haksolok, sakrifisiu, esforsu, avansu, retrosesu, ne’e ma’ak ita hanoin, entaun, ohin ita halo reflexaun oinsa Timor ne’e konsegue rekonquista nia liberdade?
The history of Timor-Leste has many important dates, but the day of 20 May, [for] us, the Timorese, we mark out as a day, in fact, today, [in which] we restored our independence. So, annually, we commemorate and reflect that the 20 May recalls everything that happened, since the entry of foreigners in our country, for example, centuries of imperialism by the Portuguese in Timor, the invasion of Indonesia until independence. Happiness, sadness, sacrifices, struggles, advances, setbacks. That’s how we think, then, today we reflect on how Timor managed to regain freedom.
Several British cities joined the football tournament 20 May Cup IV, among them: FC Académica, FC Tazlekar, FC Timor Peterborough, FC Cultura Peterborough, FC Unidus A Yarmouth, FC Unidus B Yarmouth, FC Santa Cruz, FC Timorese, AC Mayluan, AS Makara, FC Souro, FC Fortuna, FC Brigwater, FC Ox-Til and two teams from Northern Ireland, namely FC Foin Sae Timor and FC Assuwain NI.
The Northern Irish team, FC Foin Sa’e Timor (in English, “Timorese Youth Football Club”) won the championship for the third time consecutively. The coach Hélio Alin said:
Ami mai iha ne'e hodi defende ami nia titulo no lori piala ba ami nia uma dala ida tan.
We are here to defend our title and to take home the cup once again.
Alin was awarded the title of best coach for this tournament.
The event then continued with a show of dance by the performance group Wehali from the city of Northford, and finished with the dancefloor opening to everybody present.