Becoming an East Timor Resistance Fighter
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Yes, we—my family and I, we fled into the mountains in 1975. It was in December 1975 that we had to go into the mountains. Almost everyone—I would say 90 percent of the population of East Timor—had to flee their home, went into hiding in the jungle. We were in the jungle for three years, and that’s why I directly involve in the movement. First I joined the guerrilla fighters in the front line and then became a nurse working at the clinics. But there was not a very fun life there. It was very difficult. Everyone worked, everyone participate in the struggle. We don’t expect any salary, so it was like just a good will of everyone to struggle. Despite of the continual strike, military offensive from the Indonesian side, bombardments—bombardments and terrestrial attack—we managed to escape. I mean, we—my family and I and many others managed to escape from those attacks. They were only three years. We almost moved from one place to another. There was no house, no shelter, just lived under the trees and so on, sleep on the dirt. So, despite all that, we were able to manage, to escape. And then in 1978, we were arrested. So we thought that that would be—our arrest was the end of the suffering in East Timor. We thought that we would, you know, go back to the city and back to a normal life. But it wasn’t: we were kept in the concentration camp instead, and it was about three months in the concentration camp. The whole town was used as a concentration camp. So, thousands of people were kept there without food. Food, we received like a cup—three cups of rice for a week, and that’s the only food we had at that time. There was no medicine; there was no vegetables, no salt, no cooking oil. So in the end, people died, again in the concentration camp, especially the elderly people and the children. And beside all this, people were generally threatened by the military, the police force. Torture and persecutions, interrogations and all of this, almost happen every day in the concentration camp.