Some 14,500 people have signed a petition organised by the Mary MacKillop East Timor Mission supporting the nomination of Timor-Leste for the award of Companion of the Order of Australia (Honorary). It will be presented to parliament next month.
In nominating the country, the Mission said that such an award would recognise "the unique contribution of the Timorese people to Australian soldiers during World War II," the Mission said in a press statement. The petition will be presented to the House of Representatives.
"The loyalty and care given to Australians by the Timorese is unique in the annals of war. The nation of Timor-Leste certainly deserves our tribute," the Mission quotes Labor politician Tom Uren saying.
"At the very least, 40,000 Timorese civilians died as a result of their assistance to Australia," said Sister Susan Connelly of the Mary MacKillop East Timor Mission.
"We must not forget what they did for us. The practical measures many Australians are taking to assist the Timorese to overcome the effects of their more recent history must be accompanied by a clear statement of our World War II debt to them."
"The people who have signed the petition asking for Parliament's support are from across Australia.
"There are senior citizens, soldiers, mothers and fathers, school students and teachers, members of clubs and churches, priests and politicians, people of many religious faiths and of none. They are Australians all, and they are keen to see official acknowledgement of Timor's unique wartime effort on Australia's behalf."
The cut off date for the petition is August 30, she added "so there is still time to sign".
Thousands of Australians call for award for Timor-Leste (Mary MacKillop East Timor Mission)
PETITION and LINK @
Mary MacKillop East Timor Mission