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Will on Vote Despite Excommunicate, The Survivor's Dilemma of Psychosocial in the Timor Leste Election

Will on Vote Despite Excommunicate, The Survivor's Dilemma of Psychosocial in the Timor Leste Election

?Apolinario Soares de Deus, a resident of Bahu Village, Baucau City, Timor Leste has recovered from his illness. Since 2004 he has suffered from psychosocial disorders. Because he was deemed to have recovered, he received the right to vote in the Timor Leste general elections.

The presidential election in 2022 will be the first opportunity for him to exercise his right to vote. He felt happy when he headed to the polling station. But when he arrived there, he had an unpleasant experience. The community made statements that bullied him because of his history of illness.

Numerous discriminatory behaviors he experienced, when he wanted to exercise his right to vote as a citizen. The discrimination that he received was not only when he was cured, he often experienced it even when he was still undergoing treatment/therapy. Wherever he goes, he is often excommunicated, both from his own family and other people.

In a report on citizen journalism written by Mijelina Oliveira da Costa, it was revealed that Apolinario was excommunicated when he want to use his right to vote. Even he was bullied by the unpleasant statements. They underestimate him and say that Apolinario didn't have to effort going to the polling stations to vote, they say to him it's better just take care of other activities that they think were more important to him.

“It is true that I have been sick before, but I still know how to choose a candidate that fits my preferences. I'm cured now, but people still see me negatively,” said Apolinario in response to those who excluded him. ( Maret 2023/ Citizens Recuperated from mental iilness can vote; Apolinario got bullied in the voting).

A similar story was also told by Maria Auxiliadora Soares in a report on citizen journalism written by Juvinal Cabral. Maria has several times voted in the election. While still undergoing treatment, his mother helped her to the polls. She feels grateful to have a mother who still cares for her. When she was declared cured, he came alone to vote for the candidate of his choice, no further assistance was needed.

Even though she has passed the recovery process, the community and even her own family still view her with cynical eyes. They still call her a mental disorder. Hearing those unpleasant epithets made her sad. Even so, she gradually accepted the reality and controlled herself when such unpleasant words were said to her. Even though she was sad, she began to make peace with the situation.

Therefore, she asked the public not to discriminate against them both verbally and physically. Moreover, in terms of elections, they have shown their effort in participation, in fact, they are also needed to valued like other people in general. ( Januari 2023/ recovered psychosocial patients willing to vote but they are often excluded).

According to Timor Leste's law, there is nothing that limits anyone from exercising their right to vote as a citizen. However, the facts on the ground still face various obstacles. Particularly persons with handicaps and psychosocial disabilities.

The Director of the Association of Persons with Disabilities (ADTL), Cesario Dasilva expressed concern about what happened to disabilities in the Timor Leste general election. In fact, people with disabilities have tried to follow the invitation of the government and political parties to participate in the election. But the situation on the ground, they even get bullied.
According to the Timor Leste Presidential Election Law, a persons with aggressive psychosocial disabilities are not allowed to take part in the elections. But if they have recovered, then it is permissible for them to exercise their rights, including those who are still being treated.

Cesario asked the government to provide full support to persons with disabilities in upholding their rights. He begs that the government should be able to minimize all kinds of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Likewise, society in general, must respect the struggle and participation of persons with disabilities in elections. They have a lot of effort to come to the polling station, and sacrifice at the ballot just to exercise their democratic rights. Hopefully, the next election will be better than before. 


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