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By Maj Sandra Turner
ADF personnel have attended a memo-
rial service to commemorate the
10th anniversary of the Suai Church
massacre, which occurred in East
Timor’s Cova Lima district on
September 6, 1999.
Almost 3000 people attended the som-
bre service to commemorate the loss of
more than 200 lives.
Wreaths were laid in memory of those
killed and several guests, including New
Zealand Ambassador Dr Tim McIvor,
addressed the assembly.
As part of Interfet, it was the New
Zealand Defence Force contingent, aug-
mented by Canadian and Irish detach-
ments, which deployed to the area follow-
ing the massacre.
Commander ISF Brig Bill Sowry said
that 10 years on from when Interfet forces
first landed in East Timor at the request of
the East Timorese Government, that it was
important the people of Suai still had the
support of Australia and New Zealand.
“ There is a long history since 1999
for both the Australian and New Zealand
Defence Forces in East Timor,” he said.
“ Interfet was led by an Australian,
then Maj-Gen Peter Cosgrove, and New
Zealand soldiers were in the Cova Lima
district restoring security shortly after the
massacre,” Brig Sowry said.
WORLD NEWS 13
Army October 1, 2009
In memory: Brig Bill Sowry
reflects for a moment after laying
a wreath (left).
Worship: A crowd of almost 3000
at the church service (above).
Photos by LAC Christopher Dickson
TRIBUTE has been paid to the
courage and professionalism of
Australian and coalition troops on
the 10th anniversary of Interfet, the
Australian-led International Force
for East Timor.
Defence Minister John Faulkner
said the Interfet troops rapidly
worked to assist the fledgling nation
and prevent further bloodshed when
they deployed to Dili on September
“The speed and effectiveness of
Australian forces in stemming the vio-
lence during the early days of Interfet
bears testimony to the quality and
professionalism of Australian troops,”
Senator Faulkner said.
At its height, around 5700
Australian troops were deployed
as part of the mission, the largest
deployment of Australian troops since
Vietnam. Australian forces were ably
supported by troops drawn from 21
regional and international partners.
“All Interfet veterans, many of
whom were deployed more than once
to East Timor, should be particularly
proud of the contribution they have
made to regional security efforts,”
Senator Faulkner said.
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