Nobel Peace awardee to visit Ateneo next year, 22 December 2008

DAVAO CITY, December 22, 2008 –The President of Timor-Leste and a 1996 Nobel Laureate for Peace His Excellency Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta will visit Ateneo de Davao University next year for a “lecture-visit on peace.”

The lecture visit scheduled January 14, 2009 at 2 pm is open to the general public and is part of a program to bring Nobel Laureates to the Philippines, coordinated by Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace and International Peace Foundation based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Horta, also a patron of the International Peace Foundation was born in Dili, the capital of East Timor. He was educated in a Catholic Mission in the small village of Soibada. Of his eleven brothers and sisters, four were allegedly killed during the struggle between Fretilin and Indonesian military.

Horta was appointed Foreign Minister in the "Democratic Republic of East Timor" government proclaimed by the pro-independence parties in November 1975. When appointed minister, he was only 25 years old. He left East Timor three days before the Indonesian troops invaded to plead the Timorese case before the United Nations.

Horta arrived in New York to address the UN Security Council and urge them to take action in the face of the Indonesian military onslaught which would result in over 200,000 East Timorese deaths between 1976 and 1981. During the 24 years of the occupation of East Timor he was the international voice of the Timorese people. In exile from his country from 1975 to 1999, he was the Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Timorese independence movement. The youngest UN diplomat in history and an international human rights figure, he is one of the three central figures in the country's struggle for independence.

In 1996 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Bishop Carlos Belo, the religious leader of East Timor, "to honour their sustained and self-sacrificing contributions for a small but oppressed people". A portion of the funds received from the Nobel Prize were used to establish the José Ramos-Horta Microcredit Fund for the Poor, which is in full operation today, with a payback rate of 97%.

Horta was also considered a possible candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as United Nations Secretary-General but he dropped out of the race in order to serve as East Timor 's Prime Minister, but he has indicated that he might run for the UN position some time in the future. In May 2007 Jose Ramos-Horta was elected President of Timor-Leste.

José Ramos Horta studied Public International Law at the Hague Academy of International Law and at Antioch University where he completed a Master of Arts degree in Peace Studies. He was trained in Human Rights Law at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg and attended Post-Graduate courses in American Foreign Policy at Columbia University in New York . He is a Senior Associate Member of the University of Oxford 's St Anthony's College and until today continues in his role as the international voice of East Timor. (Mark S. Ventura w/PR)