Veterans and the politics of citizenship

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    Abstract

    Symbols of veteran identity are everywhere in Timor-Leste. National heroes and the major turning points in the 24-year resistance struggle are celebrated in monuments and public holidays. The remains of hundreds of deceased members of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (Forças Armadas da Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste – FALINTIL) combatants rest in a Garden of Heroes cemetery in Metinaro. Perhaps of most consequence, however, is the requirement in Timor-Leste’s constitution that the state ‘valorise’ the resistance by ‘protect[ing] those who participated in the resistance against foreign occupation’ and their dependents (RDTL 2002: s11.3), and develop[ing] mechanisms for ‘rendering tribute’ to national heroes (s11.4). ‘Rendering tribute’ includes the bestowal of medals and special uniforms, but is made most tangible through the provision of pensions to those who can successfully claim veteran status. Payments to veterans now consume a significant and growing percentage of the state budget (7.5% was allocated in 2017) and more is now spent on veterans than health (La’o Hamutuk 2017). 1 These payments are likely to continue until 2,122 and cost an estimated $2.8 billion dollars (La’o Hamutuk 2013). 2
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Contemporary Timor-Leste
    Editors Andrew McWilliam & Michael Leach
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    Pages185-196
    Edition1st
    ISBN (Print)9781317225225
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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