Magazine Feature / People

East Timor’s president has ties to DU

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta remains in an Australian hospital following an assassination attempt on Feb. 11 that also targeted the country’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao. Ramos-Horta was shot twice by gunmen, but Gusmao escaped unharmed.

While the small island country is thousands of miles from the University of Denver, there is a DU connection with the country’s top official. Ramos-Horta has visited the campus three times in the past few years, including the Peace Jam International Conference that occurred here in September 2006. That event was the largest gathering of Nobel Laureates outside of Oslo, Norway, with 10 in attendance for the three-day meeting.

“Jose helped rebuild the country first as foreign minister, then as prime minister and now as the country’s president,” says Peter Van Arsdale, senior lecturer in the Graduate School of International Studies. “He likes to energize people and use a grassroots approach to dealing with the country’s problems.”

Van Arsdale knows Ramos-Horta well having met with him each time he came to DU. The president also met with DU students during each visit. In addition, Van Arsdale and students have traveled separately to East Timor several times in the past few years. Several of the students contributed to the development of a youth center in Dili, the capitol.

Ramos-Horta shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his work on behalf of the East Timorese people during the country’s occupation by Indonesia, which lasted more than 20 years.

Read more about Van Arsdale’s courses in humanitarian assistance and ties to East Timor.

Comments are closed.