The power of traditional dialogue mechanism for peace and reconciliation
Dili, 15 April 2016 – Community Conflict between people in Uma Wain Leten, Viqueque in December 2015 resulted two people killed and valuable properties including houses and motorbikes destroyed. The two perpetrators were captured to face justice by the law. Whereas family and relatives of the victims and the perpetrators where left with the feeling of unsafe and fear of each other. They were willing to come to the table to dialogue and re-build their relationship but no one in their village has the skills and experience in facilitating conflict resolution through community dialogue meetings.
- Through the traditional dialogue, the representatives of the conflicting parties signed the peace deal in the presence of local authorities.
- By signing the peace agreement, they agreed and stated in the act of declaration that they forgive one another and end their attitudes and actions that could cause conflict in the future. They also agreed not to use violence but this unique mechanism inherited from the Timorese ancestors to solve any problem or disputes they may have.
- The dialogue is part of the peace building efforts of the government (MSS) in partnership with UNDP and funded by the Government of Japan.
Therefore, Dialogue Team of the Department of Peace Building and Social Cohesion (DPBSC) in the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS) was requested by the community leaders to facilitate the dialogue process. After a series of consultation or pre-meetings conducted by the Dialogue Team with local authorities and the conflicting parties, all agreed to use traditional conflict resolution mechanism known as “Nahe Biti Bo’ot”, a traditional Timorese custom that strengthen peace and reconciliation through the power of public agreement.
Through the traditional dialogue conducted on the 15th of March 2016, representatives of the both parties signed the peace deal in the presence of local authorities such as Lia-Na’in (Elderly), National Police, District Administrator, Suku (Village) Chiefs, and around one hundred and sixty one community members including representatives from the justice institutions, women’s groups, youth groups, students, and local NGOs.
By signing the peace agreement, both parties agreed and stated in the act of declaration that they have forgiven one another. They will put to an end, any attitudes and actions that could cause conflict. They also agreed to not using violence but this unique mechanism inherited from the Timorese ancestors to solve any problem or disputes they may have.
“Before the dialogue we feel unsafe and fear, but now we are very happy that this agreement can tie us together to keep peace, forgive each other and will not repeat the act of violence.” said Agostinho Soares, son-in law of one of the late victims.
Mr. Florencio Dias Gonzaga, the National Director of Social Development of MSS congratulated both parties for taking the initiative to resolve their conflict and enhance their ties. “We are happy that both of you (parties) are willing to leave behind your differences and disputes to forgive each other and find a way to solve your problem. Thus, you all can live in peace and harmony.“
In the dialogue, both conflicting parties agreed to recover to each other the things that have been lost during the assault. The Ministry of Social Solidarity will provide assistances to re-build houses.
The dialogue was successfully organized as a result of good cooperation between Department of Peace Building and Social Cohesion, PNTL of Viqueque Municipality, Local Authorities, representatives from Suco Council and NGO BELUN. It is part of the peace building efforts of MSS in partnership with UNDP and funded by the Government of Japan.