Bishop Deakin was a great supporter of Timor-Leste during Indonesian occupation and a strong supporter of Ryder-Cheshire and Klibur Domin. He visited KD on at least three occasions. He delivered the Leonard Cheshire Memorial Address in 2003 speaking passionately about the struggles of the Timorese people and encouraging support for their country.
Sadly he passed away on 28 September 2022 at the age of 89 years.
Statement by Xanana Gusmão on the passing of Bishop Emeritus Hilton Forrest Deakin.
It is with the deepest sadness that we mourn the passing of Bishop Emeritus Hilton Forrest Deakin.
Bishop Hilton was a man of great intellect, compassion and principle. He was a longtime supporter of our independence struggle and he gave us strength and hope.
At a time when the world was silent, Bishop Hilton’s voice rang out demanding justice for the Timorese cause. He was one of our most steadfast defenders and refused to bend to demands to cease his advocacy. While Bishop Hilton was a gentle man, he was fearless and unyielding in his fight for Timor. He acted on his principles even though this meant sacrificing the great potential of his career.
Bishop Hilton had a deep relationship with the Timorese community in Australia and was widely loved. He was Chair of the East Timor Human Rights Centre, an NGO set up in the 1990’s in Melbourne to inform the international community of the situation in Timor. He was close friends with so many Timorese and, even in the darkest times, always stood with us in solidarity. In 1996, Bishop Hilton was arrested and deported from Malaysia for participating in a conference supporting Timorese self-determination.
Following the referendum in 1999, Bishop Hilton travelled to Timor and was warmly embraced by FALINTIL fighters in their cantonment in Uaimori where he gave mass and baptised the local children.
Bishop Hilton was also a great humanist who fought for social justice and a more humane, compassionate and caring society. He crossed faiths and beliefs to touch the hearts of so many. He would captivate with his presence, and with the cleverest sense of humour. While he understood the frailties of humankind only too well, he appealed to the goodness in us all. He walked through life putting people at ease and treating every person as equal.
While Bishop Hilton may have humbled us, he was also an inspiration. He taught us that it is not material things that matter in life but rather how we act to make the world a better place.
After the Restoration of Independence, Bishop Hilton continued to advocate for our people. He was a longstanding and outspoken advocate for Timor-Leste in our pursuit of a permanent maritime boundary with Australia. He was also the proud recipient of the Order of Timor and the Order of Dom Martinho Lopes.
Bishop Hilton was a man of great principle and a beloved hero of Timor-Leste. He was a good and dear friend of mine and I know he will be deeply missed by so many. The world is a sadder place with his passing.
29 September 2022