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New Peace House based on old tradition inaugurated today in Timor-Leste

September 14, 2011
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Photo credit: João Vas for Interpeace

Wednesday, 14 September marks the inauguration of a new “Peace House” in Baucau, Timor-Leste. Interpeace local partner, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), Interpeace and The Charitable Foundation and the Global Development Group (GDG) will join over five-hundred participants for the inauguration ceremony in Baucau.

Grounded in the tradition of the Timorese Fatin Nahe-biti

The new “Peace Houses” are based upon the traditional Timorese Fatin Nahe-biti - or the mat meeting place. These centers will be a neutral place where local solutions can be identified and implemented. The inauguration on September 14th will mark the second Peace House constructed this year. The first was built in Aileu and opened on August 5th, 2011.

A high profile and colorful ceremony planned

The inauguration will begin with a traditional ceremony and a religious service in the newly built Peace House. Afterwards there will be a moment of silence and a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony. The event will continue with a number of prominent speakers, including local traditional leaders as well as administrative leaders and representatives from Interpeace, CEPAD, TCF as well as remarks from HE President Ramos-Horta. The program will conclude with cultural performances.

On request of the citizens

The Peace Houses are being constructed at the request of the local citizens who wanted a community meeting place. The local participants were able to articulate their needs in focus group discussions run by the Programme of Research and Dialogue for Peace (PRDP), a joint programme run by Interpeace and the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD).

An initiative supported by Australian organizations

The Peace House project is funded by The Charitable Foundation (TCF) and the Global Development Group (GDG) both Australian based organizations that complement and sustain the dialogue activities undertaken by PRDP.

The aim is that these Peace Houses will bring people together to solve disputes and conflicts in a peaceful manner and serve as a model for conflict resolution throughout Timor-Leste.

Violence has flared up in the past

Violence has often been the channel for conflict resolution since Timor-Leste’s independence. Timor-Leste achieved its independence from Indonesia in 2002, after the UN-supervised popular referendum in 1999. But since then it has been regularly shaken with internal conflict.

A venue to solve problems peacefully

The construction of the “Peace Houses” is needed. Their creation provides an alternative channel for conflict resolution. They will provide a neutral location where participants are able to speak openly about their grievances and will be a venue where they can work through solutions to their issues peacefully.

A pilot for a larger initiative

As part of the ongoing development project two additional “Peace Houses” will be built, in the districts of Maliana and Ainaro. Together the four houses will serve as the pilot for a larger programme to support lasting peace in Timor-Leste.