At a glance: Timor-Leste

Youngest nation celebrates children’s rights

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2004/Ashok
President of Timor-Leste Xanana Gusmão and his sons participating in the celebration rally on International Child Rights Day
By Madhavi Ashok

DILI, Timor-Leste, 30 November 2004 – The world’s youngest country, Timor-Leste, celebrated its first ever International Child Rights Day (anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child) on 20 November.

Nearly 1,000 children and adults, including the country’s President Xanana Gusmão and his two children, participated in the celebration rally. A cheerful mood prevailed as crowds marched along the streets, many singing songs, others chanting ‘child rights slogans’. (The Convention spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.)

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2004/Ashok
Children and adults took turns in citing the core rights from the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The hour-long march attracted attention from widely diverse groups, ranging from street children to UN peacekeepers. It eventually ended at Democracy Field, where performances by groups of children were held.

With a history of 450 years of Portuguese colonization and 24 years of Indonesian occupation, the nation of Timor-Leste took this opportunity to display its self-determination and optimism on behalf of its children.

Several UNICEF staff also participated in this extraordinary event. UNICEF’s Assistant Information Officer Gizela Moniz da Silva and her 3-year-old son were in the first row of the rally. Gizela shares the hope and confidence with her fellow Timorese that every child can now have a normal and happy childhood – something many of the inhabitants of this island nation did not have, during the nation’s long struggle to independence.


 

 

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