11/30/2023, 16.18
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Timor-Leste gives award to Sri Lankan journalist who supported its fight for independence

by Melani Manel Perera

Freddy Gamage, a Catholic activist, received the Order of Timor-Leste, the country’s highest award, from President José Ramos Horta for his support of its right to self-determination. With his online publication Meepura, he promotes human rights at home.

Dili (AsiaNews) – Timor-Leste President José Ramos Horta presented the country’s highest award, the Order of Timor-Leste, to Freddy Christo Gamage, a well-known Sri Lankan Catholic journalist and activist who supported its fight for independence from Indonesia.

The ceremony coincided with the celebrations for the 48th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from Portugal in 1975, followed a year later by the Indonesia’s invasion and annexation, which lasted until 2002.

Freddy Gamage played an important role in promoting the cause of Timor-Leste's independence, campaigning around the world, as well as in his own country, Sri Lanka.

“He formed an organisation called ‘"Friends of the Third World’ and engaged in various social activities. Because of this, he had to face death threats and had to live in the Philippines as a political refugee to save his life during the 88/89 terror,” said Aruna Shantha Nonis, convenor of Janodanaya Movement.

During his exile he worked with the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), an advocacy group based in the Philippines, and it was in this context that he began to work on the cause of Timor-Leste.

Back in Sri Lanka, he continued to fight for justice by starting a new regional publication, Meepura, which plays a leading role in the struggle for human rights in Sri Lanka.

Gamage is also the convenor of the Action Committee for Media Freedom, a platform for journalists' organisations in the northern, eastern, and southern regions of Sri Lanka.

“We respect him for his great dedication to creating a better society and congratulate him on receiving the prestigious award from the State of Timor-Leste," said Aruna Shantha.

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