Chega! for Us: Socializing a Living Document

By Maria Manuela Leong Pereira

The Asosiasaun Chega! Ba Ita (ACbit, the “Chega! for Us” Association) aims to promote the values and principles that underlie the work of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Friendship (CAVR), including human rights, justice and reconciliation. We are committed to bringing the lessons of the past to guide our decisions and choices as individuals and as a society, working towards the fulfilment of the promise for a better future for all.

ACbit has four major programs. These are to facilitate outreach, education and policy debate on the CAVR findings and recommendations; to conduct innovative research and training using participatory methods; to carry out advocacy and community organizing on the implementation of CAVR recommendations, particularly on gender justice; and to support victims in asserting their rights though access to assistance programmes from the Ministry of Solidarity Social and other relevant institutions.

ACbit receives funding from international donors and the government of Timor-Leste. Current and past international donors are the United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF); the Dutch development organization HIVOS; and the Indonesia-based group Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR). We also receive funds from the Timor-Leste Ministry of Social Solidarity and funds for Civil Society from the Office of Prime Minister.

Our major task is socialization and dissemination of the Chega! report. Since 2010, we have organized a school visit programmes to bring students to visit the Chega! exhibition site – we facilitate about 25-30 students in each visit, which last about one hour. In this school visit program, apart from showing and explaining to students about the Chega! report, we also organize small discussions and reflections with students to find out their understanding about the history of conflict in Timor-Leste and to what extent they are aware of the Chega! report and how they think about the report.

We organise “Chega Ba Ita! mobile” programmes to facilitate the socialization and dissemination of the Chega! report in the districts and some sub-districts. The target groups include students, youth, women and the community in general. In the districts and sub-districts, the exhibitions normally take about 3-4 days and attract many visitors.

In 2013, we organized and facilitated training programmes for youth groups to become guides for the Chega Ba Ita! mobile activities in the districts and for them to learn and understand Timor-Leste’s history and the impact of the conflict on their lives. The feedback showed the training program was not entirely successful because they (the youth) asked to be paid for their time spent in guiding the exhibition. ACBIT did not have enough financial capacity to address such issue and we considered it as a failure. To fill the vacuum, staff from ACbit were and are the ones directly in charge of all the exhibitions so far. There might be a possibility to resume the training for guides programme in the future but it depends on the availability of funds.

With the help from the ICTJ (International Center for Transitional Justice), we developed a simple and short version of the Chega! report to help readers reach a quick understanding of the content of the report. This simple and short version of the Chega! report was completed, printed, and distributed in 2013 to all the secondary schools in Timor-Leste. We then worked together with school teachers and developed a guide to help teachers in education about about Timor-Leste’s history and conflict at schools.

For us, socialization is important. The report belongs to everyone in Timor-Leste. Since 2010, we have been campaigning on the findings and recommendations of the CAVR using the slogan, “Chega! Ba Ita,” Chega for Us, the Timorese people. This refers to our deep conviction that the people of Timor-Leste have had enough of conflict and injustice, and need to genuinely implement the recommendations of the truth commission to ensure that these violations are never repeated. The saying “Chega! Ba Ita” also underlines our belief that the CAVR report was written based on the experiences and voices of the people, for the people. It is not a document that should be shelved and forgotten. It is a living document to be understood, debated, and re-invented for generations to come.

Excerpted from a chapter for Flowers in the Wall, based on a spoken text by the director of ACbit (Chega! for Us
Association), translated by Laurentina “mica” Barreto Soares.

Click here to read the whole chapter.

For more information on ACbit see their web page.