22/09/2003

'Mandela of Timor' to visit Northern Ireland

The man known as the 'Mandela of Timor' is set to visit Northern Ireland next month to deliver a speech at Queen's University Belfast.

Xanana Gusmão, the President of East Timor - the world's newest nation - will speak at the Amnesty International event on the theme, 'Peace, justice and reconciliation' on Thursday 16th October.

Patrick Corrigan, Programme Director of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland said: "We are delighted to be welcoming President Gusmão to Northern Ireland. Many local Amnesty members campaigned for years to highlight the plight of the oppressed people of East Timor and we have been delighted to see such positive changes there over the last few years.

"Human rights campaigners are accustomed to dealing with bad news on a depressingly regular basis. But, sometimes it is great to hear good news from a former trouble-spot and we think that will be part of President Gusmão's message to us."

Gusmão was East Timor's resistance leader during most of the years of the Indonesian occupation and spent most of the 1990's in prison in Jakarta after his capture in 1992.

He became the first head of state of the world's newest nation in April 2002.

(MB)

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