UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jackie Chan visits Timor-Leste

Jackie Chan with members of a martial arts group in Ainaro (Timor-Leste)

25 June 2008 – The action film star and kung fu expert Jackie Chan today urged young people in Timor-Leste to build peace in their tiny nation as he wrapped up a three-day visit as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Mr. Chan encouraged young Timorese people to use martial arts “only as a peaceful force and never to threaten or harm others.” He urged them to become productive members of society and channel their energies to positive use to make a better, more peaceful country.

At the climax of his visit on today, after travelling around the country, Mr. Chan brought together over 3,500 students in the capital, Dili, in an exercise at the national stadium to promote the peaceful use of martial arts.

Timor-Leste, which gained its independence six years ago, is one of the poorest countries in the region. With one in three Timorese between 15 and 29 years old, many young people are faced with limited opportunities. The martial arts have historically been very popular with the country’s youth, but as violence broke out after independence, some turned to crime and violence.

Timor-Leste saw an upsurge in violent clashes in 2006 and then attacks earlier this year that left the President wounded. Jun Kukita, UNICEF’s Country Representative said that “UNICEF is committed to working with the Timor-Leste’s Government to fulfil the rights of young people and to make sure they have the opportunity to learn, develop practical skills, and play an active role in the development of the country.”

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