Youth National Day
Youth National Day is a public holiday that’s observed in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on the 12th of November. It’s a day that honors the hundreds of people who were killed during the Santa Cruz Massacre on this date back in 1991. What started out as a peaceable assembly at a cemetery would end with Indonesian soldiers firing on students.
It’s this singular event that was a turning point in Timor-Leste’s struggle for self-determination and the date is now widely observed by people all over the country. The general population has this day off, and many schools, businesses, and government offices are officially closed.
The History Of Youth National Day In East Timor
In 1975, Timor-Leste declared its independence from Portugal, but their independence was short-lived because they were almost immediately annexed by Indonesia. This would eventually lead to the War of Independence which would last until 1999. On November 12th, 1991, thousands of students and other young people attended the funeral of Sebastião Gomes.
He was an advocate for the independence movement who had been killed by the Indonesian army. When the mass concluded, the crowd marched to the Santa Cruz cemetery. It’s there that they began waving flags and singing songs about freedom. Unfortunately, Indonesian soldiers fired upon the crowd with automatic weapons. It’s estimated that as many as 271 people were killed during the event. It was this massacre that would become the rallying cry for independence. On August 30th, 1999 the East Timorese Independence Referendum was held.
Observing Youth National Day In East Timor
This holiday is observed with parades, political speeches, concerts, and sporting events. It’s a day off for many people in East Timor and is a day on which people can spend time with friends and family members enjoying some great food.
Speaking of food, some of the dishes enjoyed on this holiday include Fuuntaul Tong and Gailong (soup made with beef, lettuce, egg, rice, and red beans), Tapai (a fermented riced dish), and Feijoada (a dish made with pork, chorizo, and cannellini beans).