05.02.2014 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Timor-Leste Minister of Education Launched the Publication ‘The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste’ at Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO in Dili, Timor Leste on 4 February 2014

H.E Mr. Bendito dos Santos Freitas, the Minister of Education and Chair of Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO, H.E Mr. Roque Rodrigues, Advisor to the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and H.E Ms. Maria Isabel de Jesus Ximenes, Secretary of State for Arts and Culture (SSAC), organized a launching ceremony of the publication entitled ‘The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste’ at Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO in Dili, Timor Leste on 4 February 2014. This event gathered some 150 people including US, Australian and Korean Ambassadors to Timor Leste, UN Regional Coordinator in Dili, national officials, academia, local NGOs, local media, community members, intangible heritage practitioners and UNESCO staff.

The book was jointly published by UNESCO, National Geographic and the SSAC within the framework of Timor Leste Emergency Funds-in Trust, in order to raise awareness of the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Timor Leste. A key focus of this publication has been placing communities at the heart of the ICH safeguarding process. To this end, the publication includes quotes from practitioners of ICH in Timor-Leste who explain the significance of their ICH in their own words. These interviews were collected alongside SSAC staff and in accordance with the principles of community-based inventorying, and the book is a direct result of this collaboration with all of these stakeholders contributing to these safeguarding efforts. The images for the publication are from National Geographic along with contributions from a number of prominent photographers from Timor-Leste.

Ms. Maria Isabel, Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, thanked UNESCO and National Geographic for the joint publication of the book The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste, which aimed at reaching a wider audience to reflect on Timorese culture and cultural heritage. She clarified that “the Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture has, since 2011, been working closely with UNESCO to identify, preserve and promote the rich diversity of expressions of intangible cultural heritage that make up our country. By conducting training courses, study visits and the production and translation of resources materials, UNESCO has played an important role in strengthening the capacity of the stakeholders (government, civil servants, non-government organizations and community members) and raising awareness on the importance of intangible cultural heritage for the sustainable development of Timor-Leste. This publication is a true milestone in the process of asserting the importance of Timor-Leste’s intangible cultural heritage and I hope it will also help stimulate a constructive dialogue in the society of Timor-Leste.”

Mr. Hubert Gijzen, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office Jakarta, expressed his gratitude to the President of Timor-Leste for this initiative to launch the publication. He further thanked the President’s strong supports to this project by the contribution of the foreword in the publication in which the President outlined his vision to safeguard the rich heritage of Timor-Leste. Mr. Gijzen emphasized that “Timor-Leste is home to a rich and diversified intangible cultural heritage. This heritage is the precious possession of communities, groups and individuals – only they can safeguard and pass it on to future generations. This is the key message of The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste, a publication that gives voice to the people of Timor-Leste and provides them with a platform to share with the world their rich and diverse living heritage traditions”. He went on expressing his wish that this publication contributes to provide communities in Timor-Leste, especially women and youth, the opportunity to express knowledge of their living heritage, thus raising awareness about intangible cultural heritage and its safeguarding locally, nationally and internationally. 

Following the book launching ceremony, an exhibition titled ‘The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste’ was also held on 4 February at Largo Lecidere in Dili, Timor-Leste. The exhibition was opened by the Minister of Education, Minister of Tourism, Vice Director of the President office, and the SSAC with support from UNESCO and National Geographic Traveler.

Download Speech from the Director of UNESCO Office, Jakarta, Prof. Hubert Gijzen here

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