TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - East-Timorese Nelson Da Cruz (38) was one of the thousands of people that packed the public streets on Thursday to escort former president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (BJ Habibie) to his final resting place in the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery.
Nelson works as a journalist for Reuters in East Timor but asserted that he was present in Habibie’s funeral procession simply as a final salute from an East-Timorese. He also had the chance to take a picture at the former president’s grave while showing his “Timor Leste” scarf.
He recalled that information of the passing was major news in his country and that he felt the obligation to personally be at the funeral procession in respect to Habibie’s service for East Timor.
“He (Habibie) is personally my hero. Only he had the courage to give the people of East Timor options when we expressed the desire to separate from Indonesia,” said Nelson at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery yesterday, September 12.
Nelson referred to the time BJ Habibie held a referendum for East Timorese people in 1998; either to have a special autonomy or separate from Indonesia with independence. At the time, 78 percent of people in East Timor voted for independence.