The death of the New Zealander peacekeeper, Private Leonard Manning, today, twenty years ago, marks an important day for the people of Timor-Leste and their long walk to independence and freedom. Today, we do not only pay tributes to Len and his colleagues who served and sacrificed for the benefit of our nation’s security and peace but also we remember their heroic contribution as part of a long history of deep personal interactions and profound friendship between the New Zealand and Timor-Leste.
On 24 July 2000, at the age of 24, Private Leonard Manning was the first among the seven New Zealanders who fell to their deaths as the Pro-Indonesian militia ambushed the New Zealander while serving with the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Timor-Leste. Today it marks the 20th anniversary of his death and to pay tribute to his sacrifice several memorial services were held in the country while his legacy will continue through the functioning of three training centers.
With the death of the seven New Zealander peacekeepers, we commemorate the long shared history between the two countries and the strong bond it exists between their people. New Zealand and Timor-Leste continue to be in positive relations while New Zealand remains committed to supporting the development of our new nation through private sector development, education and training, and security and justice.
The 20th death anniversary of Private Leonard Manning reminds us to commemorate and reinforce the relationship between all the people and countries that have supported us in our long journey to rebuild a nation that is free, secure, and independent. Throughout this long walk to freedom, Timor-Leste remains committed to reinforcing the bilateral relations between the countries and it continues to promote peace and security through wide strategic cooperation that stretches back to decades. The cooperation in the security sector builds on the Government’s strategic plan for the security sector for 2007-2030 and it is focused on five main priority areas: 1) Legislation, 2) Infrastructure, 3) Human Resources, 4) Cooperation, and 5) Crime Prevention.