Every 12 November, Timor-Leste (East Timor), observes National Youth Day to honour the memory of the brave youth who demonstrated in Dili in favour of independence on that day in 1991, leading to the infamous Santa Cruz Massacre.
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After over 15 years of occupation by Indonesia, despite fierce reprisals, the desire for independence in Timor-Leste did not die nor wane. One independence leader who was murdered in 1991, Sebastiao Gomes, caused a rally for freedom even after his demise.
Friends of the fallen independence leader, many of them young people, bravely attended his funeral on 12 November,1991, even though Indonesian troops were keeping their eyes on the event.
Hundreds of those attending the funeral spontaneously began singing and waving patriotic banners as they marched from the funeral building in the Motael Church in Dili to a nearby cemetery in Santa Cruz. A demonstration in favour of independence broke out at the grave site.
Even though protesters were 100 percent peaceful, Indonesian soldiers began assaulting and shooting them. About 250 in all were killed that day.
To solemnly honour the heroes of the Santa Cruz Massacre, there are ceremonial events held on National Youth Day, including the lighting of candles in the dark to symbolise the light those young patriots gave to future generations.