Covid-19. Ramos-Horta apologizes for Timorese who criticize foreigners


“I apologize to all our guests who work in this beloved land when some East Timorese disrespect you. As a citizen of Timor-Leste I bow, I bow my head, and I apologize,” he wrote in a message on Facebook.

“Some have already forgotten the solidarity of the international community. Some have thrown their hearts away,” he said.

Ramos-Horta’s comments follow reports of incidents involving foreigners, including Portuguese, who are associated with the new coronavirus, as well as criticism, including from a senior Timorese police commander at the work of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Already today, the UN coordinator in Timor-Leste expressed “great disillusionment and discontent” for the “irresponsible” criticisms of a Timorese police commander about the support of the World Health Organization in combating covid-19 in the country.

“It is distressing to see and hear a senior public official publicly declare on national television last night that he” is not satisfied with WHO, who are not helping the Government to fight covid-19, “said Roy Trivedy in a statement sent to Lusa.

“The statement made by the PNTL Operational Commander is factually incorrect, shows a lack of understanding of the role of WHO and is highly irresponsible,” he said.

In the Facebook post, Ramos-Horta recalled the support given by Portugal, other foreigners and the UN “during the long black years” of the Indonesian occupation, which allowed the country to restore its independence.

Ramos-Horta writes that the UN system is in Timor-Leste “because the East Timorese State wishes” and because the country continues to ask for such support.

“On Facebook I saw some criticisms against the UN, the ‘Malaysians’ [estrangeiros], China, and against the World Health Organization. Timor-Leste is a member of the UN and we are members of the WHO “, wrote Ramos-Horta.

The ex-President says that it is the Timorese state that asks WHO to be in Timor-Leste, spending “not a penny on WHO and its programs” in the country, being an organization “respected worldwide”.

“I have total confidence in the UN, 100% confidence in UN specialized agencies”, he stressed.

Ramos-Horta ended with an appeal to the Timorese to show that they have “hearts” and that “in good times and in bad times” they have always welcomed their guests.

“And, especially in times of serious crisis around the world, as Timorese we must warmly welcome those who came from other seas and who are among us, we welcome them”, he said.

Timor-Leste has a recorded case of covid-19 so far.

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