Subject: Interview with Comandante Ular Rihi / Virgílio dos Anjos
In October of 2009 I conducted a long interview with Comandante Ular Rihik, aka Virgilio dos Anjos. As he has recently passed away, I would like to make this available to others. His interview, with a short eulogy, is attached, in English - translations welcome.
Comandante Ular Rihik / Virgílio dos Anjos
Virgílio dos Anjos was born in 1953 in Bibileu, a small town in the Viqueque district of East Timor. As the son of a liurai [royal] family, he grew up with privilege, attending the Catholic primary school in Ossu before training as a teacher. Compulsory military service interrupted his teaching career, and dos Anjos was serving as a Furiel, or Sergeant, in the Portuguese army when the Carnation Revolution brought down the fascist regime in Lisbon in April 1974. When a civil conflict erupted in his homeland in August 1975, he fought on the side of conservative political party UDT[*], at one point capturing Xanana Gusmao, and taking him prisoner. Within weeks, dos Anjos was himself taken prisoner in Bobonaro, near the border, by the non-partisan Portuguese soldiers stationed there, as he had breached the official policy of apartadarismo, which decreed the political neutrality of military personnel. The threat of Indonesian invasion was looming, however, and dos Anjos’ military skills soon saw him transformed from detainee to field commander, as local troops prepared to repel the invaders. From that moment, in September 1975, and for most of the following twenty-four years, dos Anjos led Falintil soldiers in the guerrilla war against Indonesia as Comandante Ular.
During the Indonesian invasion war, from 1975 until 1978, Ular remained in the forest with the guerrilla army, Falintil.[†] There he deepened his political understanding and developed a strong class consciousness, while studying guerrilla tactics to further the war. He recalled those years as inspirational, in particular noting the uplifting speeches of Vicente dos Reis, or Sahe. Like most other resistance figures, he took on a code name, becoming Comandante Ular Rihik. The ular rihik, a tiny but highly poisonous creature, was his lulik[‡] totem animal, a magical coincidence for him, as he was not aware of this significance when he chose the name.
After he and his platoon surrendered in late 1978, Comandante Ular was recruited into the paramilitary group RATIH[§] to assist the Indonesian occupation troops. For the next five years, he studied the enemy forces, while building an effective Clandestine network in Viqueque. In August 1983, Ular led a local levantamento[**] against the occupiers, killing sixteen Indonesian soldiers before escaping to the forest with their weapons and rejoining Falintil. Reprisals were severe. A series of killings over the following weeks became collectively known as the Kraras massacre. Among the murdered were Ular’s father, uncles, and his wife and unborn child. During this interview, Ular spoke of his desire to place a memorial at the massacre site, and to film a re-enactment of events, voicing his determination that the civilian victims of Kraras be adequately remembered. After the killings, Ular vowed not to marry again until Indonesia had left East Timor; he kept that promise, remarrying only in 1999.
Comandante Ular Rihik was the Deputy Commander of Falintil’s Region 2, in the East, from 1983 until 1998 the same position, ironically, he had held while serving in the Portuguese army. From Region 2 he carried out numerous incursions against Indonesian forces, until in 1998 he was made overall commander of Region 4, encompassing Dili to the border. He remained in Region 4, based in the mountains of Ermera, until after the UN sponsored independence ballot in August 1999.
I first met Comandante Ular at the Falintil cantonment in Ermera on 20 August 1999, the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the founding of Falintil. It was a massive, three day party, with accommodation, food and entertainment provided for the thousands of people who attended. In November 1999 we met again, while living in the ruins of Dili, a city he had not seen by daylight for 24 years. After Falintil was demobilized, Comandante Ular was recruited to the new national army, F-FDTL, becoming, once again, Virgílio dos Anjos.
In the year 2000 I met Comandante Ular a third time, in the family kitchen he had become my Uncle Virgílio, through marriage. We stayed in touch, and the following interview was conducted over three days in October 2009 at his home in the F-FDTL base at Tase Tolu, near Dili. Ular’s memory was extraordinary; the interview might have continued for weeks. He is candid in his analysis of the errors, in thought and deed, of both UDT and Fretilin during the early years of the struggle, and he speaks with a refreshing frankness throughout.
Colonel Virgílio dos Anjos died of a heart attack shortly after collapsing at his home on 6 January 2010. Following is the longest interview he ever gave, in his estimation; and his last. He is survived by his wife and five children.
I grew up in Bibileu, in Viqueque, with my parents, brothers and sisters. My father’s name was Celestino dos Anjos. He used to work for an Australian company that had been given the rights to search for oil; he was a member of the Timor oil association[††]. They were exploring for oil near Suai, and by 1970 my father was working for the Australians, searching for oil in the seas off the South coast. My father was trained by the Australian army after the Japanese invasion in 1942. He has been recognized by the Australian government for his services helping Australian servicemen during World War II.
I went to the Portuguese state primary school in Ossu, and went on to the Teachers’ College at Monitor Escolar. I had been teaching for one and a half years, in Lacluta, when in February 1975 I was called up for mandatory military service in the Portuguese army. All Timorese men over the age of twenty had to perform this military service. Due to the wars in Angola and Mozambique, everyone had to join up this was under the dictator Salazar. At 18 you could volunteer, but after the age of 19 it was obligatory to serve for three years. I was stationed in Baucau, and I had the rank of Furiel, or Sergeant. I was in the logistics section.
Before I joined the Army, while I was teaching, I was a member of the political party UDT. We were not really politically mature, at the time. We joined parties on the basis of our family allegiance, not really on the basis of conviction, and because my family were liurai, we joined UDT. It was such a short period of time [1974-5] in which we were allowed to have political parties. We didn’t really understand what the political programs or policies were, and I hadn’t been in the party for long when I was called up to join the army, so I had to leave the political world behind.
Portugal was creating the conditions for decolonization, but their time frame was very long, while the political party Fretilin were ready to implement independence immediately[‡‡]. Fretilin were clearly the dominant party. I think Fretilin were the most popular because their campaign stressed total independence, and people responded very strongly to that idea. There was no intimidation going on, so people were free to choose whatever party or affiliation they felt was right. The people felt like they had been struggling for a long time, they had faced one struggle after another after another, and they were ready to stand free from domination.
At the time there was communal land, and there was land belonging to the liurai. Fretilin’s idea was that all people have the right to land, that no state or other person can remove that right. This was a class based idea and it was a very attractive idea for the farming classes. There were a number of cases where a liurai claimed some land that the people said used to be communal land, and these cases were being considered by Fretilin, but the war broke out before they could be resolved. During the Portuguese time, the Portuguese gave increased powers to the liurai, and the people had to work on the land and then give the produce to the liurai. People had to work for the liurai as ordenança;[§§] every month the ordenança staff would change over. Orders would come down from the village head and people would have to attend and work for the liurai. Both men and women had to work. They were not paid, this was just forced labour. We can’t generalize, but there were some places where the people of a town would have to provide women to entertain the Portuguese troops, but by my time that wasn’t happening so much.
When Fretilin talked about bringing down the liurai, there was a massive reaction from the people. It was clear that there was a very strong feeling against the liurai. But during the war against Indonesia, as it became apparent that many of the children of liurai were also struggling for independence, the issue became more confused. And now, we can see that in the villages, most people are electing people of liurai families to become the xefe suco [village head]. The tradition of the liurai is still very strong.
As members of the Portuguese military, we were not allowed to join political parties, although of course we talked about it. However, political people gradually infiltrated the military. The soldiers were not really ready, not really mature enough. There was manipulation in the campaigning, with soldiers being promised, for instance, that “When our party wins, you’ll become a commander, you’ll get a good position”. Then the forces began to split along party lines. Some went for Fretilin, some went for UDT. The civilians, who already were in political parties, were a big influence on the soldiers, in terms of following the parties. Among the military companies in the districts, only Bobonaro remained neutral. All the others were affiliated with one party or another. This partisanship began with the police just like now! The politicization of the forces began with the police.
From about July 1975, in the areas of Baucau, Viqueque and Los Palos, Carrascalão, the UDT leader, was spreading the word to prepare for a coup. Captain Lino, who was in Los Palos, was married to João Carrascalão’s sister, and that was why the troops in Los Palos were mobilized first. The troops from Los Palos were trucked into Baucau, and the troops from Baucau, four companies, joined them and we all trucked into Dili. We were told that we had to arrest the communists in the army bases in Taibesi. We were told we had to arrest Roque Rodrigues, Rogerio Lobato, and Major Mota, a Portuguese officer. The segunda linha [army reserves] were mobilized as well. Each company called up their segunda linha to report, and then weapons were distributed.
Before the coup, we had been told that we had to choose our position, which side we would go with. Prior to that, we were supposed to be neutral, and then suddenly we couldn’t be neutral anymore. The overall commander of the security forces, Major Maggiolo, was in favour of UDT, who were more pro-Portuguese, and he encouraged us all to side with UDT.[***] Maggiolo was in conference with the UDT leadership, and with an officer by the name of Captain Sung. Captain Sung was a Chinese-Timorese who had served in Africa as a commando leader. He was known and feared by the guerrillas in Mozambique and Angola. Now he was working with UDT. Fretilin had by far the most supporters, so we could see that they would be the winners of any political contest; therefore UDT planned a military coup.
Maggiolo still had a lot of influence with the police. Before the coup, the Portuguese army had begun dumping their weapons in the sea, and they had damaged a lot of weapons. At around the time of the coup there was a protest over the support the government and the police had supplied to UDT. The soldiers also protested over the dumping of the weapons, because the government was inclined towards the police. Before 11 August 1975, the police had expelled all the Fretilin members from the police force, and had distributed weapons to the UDT leadership. Major Maggiolo left his post to look for a new post in the new government: he left his post to conduct a coup, and to take power.
On 11 August I was still in Baucau, and we carried out the coup in Baucau. In Baucau we arrested the Fretilin Central Committee members, and took them into custody. We occupied Radio Marconi, the telephone exchange, and the Campo Avasaun [Airport]. All the Fretilin delegates were told to report to the army base so that we could watch over them, so that the UDT membership wouldn’t attack them. UDT were in control, and had weapons, while Fretilin didn’t have any weapons.
On 17 August we left Baucau. We arrived in Dili on the 18th, and on the 20th the counter-coup was launched. When we arrived in Dili we stayed at the primary school in Farol, and then we were assembled at the parachutist barracks in Falo Faso, with Major Maggiolo. Chico [Francisco] Lopes, the president of UDT, was with us too. We went to Xavier do Amaral’s house and pulled down the Fretilin flag. We arrested the person we found there, who turned out to be Xanana.
On 20 August, when the counter-coup was underway, Major Maggiolo was still using his power as a commander to influence the soldiers in the base at Taibesi, and he was on his way there to tell the soldiers not to rebel, when he was arrested. They said “You’re crazy, you’re stupid, you’ve already launched a coup and now you’re trying to assert your rank as a serving soldier! You can’t have it both ways!”
The counter-coup began in Aileu, in Aisirimu. The leader in Aisirimu gathered together the Fretilin people and the forces in Aileu, and on the 20th they came down to Dili and the counter-coup was executed. The soldiers who were pro-UDT had already begun to withdraw, as had the Military Police, like Leandro Isaac. They were leaving the ranks and joining with the UDT forces.
When the counter-coup was launched they arrested a number of people, and some UDT ran to the base in Falo Faso and informed us that it could be a counter-coup. On the morning of the 21st there had not yet been any shooting. We were ordered to Balide but nothing happened. Then in the afternoon, about 2pm, there was shooting around Sang Tai Ho, Vila Verde, that progressed down to the Palacio, Toko Lay, and to the Compania Intendência, the Portuguese military centre, where Casa Europa is now. Sergeant Januario Ximenes Soares was shot. He was my Sergeant at the time.
After the counter coup an Australian plane landed in Baucau. The rumour was that they planned to exchange coffee for weapons. Fretilin were already approaching Baucau, and the Fretilin within Baucau were rising, so the UDT leaders in Baucau felt threatened. A group of them threatened the pilot with a pistol and demanded he fly them to Australia. The plane took them to Australia, but they were arrested when they got there.
After the attack from Aileu, from 20-22 August there was fighting, then on the 23rd Chico Lopez asked me to follow him to Liquiça, to pick up his wife. From there we came back to Tibar and up to Ermera. We attacked the Fretilin forces in Aileu. We made it to Suloi, and then we were ambushed by some Fretilin troops. Joaquim Santos was killed. The rest of the section, eight of us, ran back to Gleno. Chico Lopez ordered me to stay in Gleno, while he and his family went to Maliana. He said he would send a plane to attack Suloi in Aileu. I was staying with civilians in Gleno, but they all had weapons, they were UDT. Chico Lopez’ plan, together with the Babo family, was to go to Indonesia and come back with more weapons, and troops, to back us up in Gleno.
So I waited and waited in Gleno, but the army Chico Lopez had promised did not arrive. The people in Aileu and the people in Gleno were related, even though Aileu were Fretilin and Gleno were UDT. I didn’t feel safe, because I was from Viqueque. So I decided to go to Ermera town. I said I was going to buy cigarettes, but really I wanted to get away from them. From Ermera I went to Aifu, a place where we often went to rest. I was looking for my friend Antonio. We had been together in Baucau, and because he was Fretilin, UDT had arrested him while he was on leave in Aifu. When I arrived, Adão Exposto, a UDT leader, informed me that Antonio, along with over forty other people, had been killed the night before, on the orders of Adão Exposto himself.
Together with Jose Alor and Exposto we went to look for the rest of Fretilin who were there, to set them free. Among them were three people from Fatubesi, including a teacher, Floriano, who was also a Catechist. I decided to set them free, because I thought there’s no way we will win a war by killing each other. At the time UDT were crossing the border into Indonesia. So after we freed the three Fretilin prisoners, they came with us to Fatubesi.
I decided to go on alone to Maliana. I ended up going with Rui Pina’s son. Rui Pina was the administrator of SOTA[†††], he was a powerful man. When we got to the Marobo river, Rui was there with a car. From Cailaco we went down to the airport in Maliana, and we heard that the Bobonaro forces had closed the roads to Indonesia. The Bobonaro forces were still under the Portuguese flag, and they were attempting to prevent UDT forces from crossing into Indonesia. That was what the people there told us. After an hour or so First Sergeant Barros and First Sergeant de Jesus arrived at the Maliana airport with a Portuguese flag. We surrendered to them and handed in our guns, about 8 guns, including 1 G3, 2 Mausers, and some 12 calibre rifles.
From the airport Sergeant de Jesus took us to the Maliana town hall, but we were ambushed on the way by a Fretilin group led by Virgílio Smith. It was at the crossroads to Atambua, so it was a place where everyone was very tense, because anything could happen. One of the troops was João Gomez, and he was a cousin of mine, so I called him by his nickname ‘Adua’. He threatened me with his gun, saying “I don’t care if you’re my brother, I’ll still shoot you!”, but de Jesus opened his shirt and called out “If you’re going to shoot anyone here, you’ll have to shoot me first”. So no-one ended up getting shot, and we were taken to the town hall.
The civilians were separated, and Adua told them “This one is military”, pointing at me. So I was held for interrogation. They asked me why I was in a political movement, when as Portuguese soldiers we weren’t supposed to be in a party. I told them that our commander, a Lieutenant-Colonel in Baucau who held responsibility for all of the Ponta Leste [Eastern] region, was the one who had ordered us all to join UDT. Then they held me in house arrest. One of the cavalry soldiers, called Inocêncio, was a relation of mine, and there were other relatives there, including some who were recruited at the same time as me. So I wasn’t too worried, I thought probably nothing will happen to me.
In September 1975 we were preparing to advance on Atabae, to attack Balibo, intending to free the Portuguese soldiers who were being held there by UDT. Then Captain Lino and João Carrascalão arrived at the airport, with five cars, and there was an exchange of fire. I was working in the office, as I was one of the few who could read and write. My cousin was killed. He was the first of the Bobonaro troops to die; his name was Leopoldo.
We were staying in the Diligência post [sub-district military quarters] when Indonesia attacked Maliana. They attacked late at night, maybe around 1am, with Bazookas, and blew a big hole in the Diligência. The UDT partisans were with them, wearing civilian clothes. There were two fronts: one to attack Ermera, and another to create a diversion in Maliana so that they would be free to assault Ermera. They went up to Ermera to get Guilherme Gonçalves[‡‡‡], and take him out to Indonesia. On the way, near Aifu, they shot one First Sergeant in a jeep with a Bazooka.
When the attack on Maliana began everyone ran, some wearing only their underwear, and without their guns. One of the First Sergeants asked me if I could lead the soldiers, command them, as he was just a mechanic. I said “But I’m a prisoner here! How will they ever listen to me?” In the end I said, “OK, but you have to go with me and talk to the others”. So we went around and organized the troops, got them all in their posts, and discipline was restored. The commander had run in his underwear, and the whole night he didn’t return. Sergeant de Jesus then restored my rank and uniform, I got my weapons back, and he made me a Section Commander. He took me to Bobonaro and fitted me out with a new uniform, new everything. Before that I had been living for a month with only one pair of trousers, one shirt, and one pair of underpants. I had been wearing the same uniform since I left Baucau.
Sergeant João de Jesus had combat experience from his time in Guineau Bissau. He had been captured by the guerrillas and stayed with them for three years. He began as a prisoner, but then they trained and armed him to fight the Portuguese. According to military theory, whoever has lived with the enemy is a great advantage to our side, because they understand the way the enemy operates. After the Carnation Revolution, de Jesus returned to Portugal, and then to Timor.
Sergeant de Jesus was very clever. He had a lot of experience with guerrilla tactics. He knew how to prepare the population and the forces to conduct guerrilla war. He was later killed by Fretilin, because he was of the opinion that the people should be organized to continue the struggle from within Indonesian controlled territory, that they should surrender, so that the military could focus on military operations. So de Jesus was charged with being a traitor, and killed. Xavier do Amaral was arrested for the same reason. But as it turned out, they were right. Now we are honouring those people, who had that vision.
In September 1975, Sergeant de Jesus and I began to go around Bobonaro conducting an aclaracimento, or clarification, among the villagers, to let them know that the army was still neutral, and they didn’t need to run to Indonesia. I said “Look, I am a UDT member, but I haven’t run to Indonesia”. We set up a network among the villagers, so that the army wouldn’t have to go to Lolotoe, the information would come from Lolotoe to us. Sergeant de Jesus drew on his experience from Guinea Bissau to prepare the people for a situation of guerrilla war. We in the forces had radios, but the people didn’t have any, so we set up a communications structure so that news could pass from one village to another, and we trained the people in how to disseminate information, so that people would know what was happening.
Around 15 September I was posted to Atus, Lolotoe. Indonesia were beginning to launch attacks. The first attack was against Maliana and Alto Lebos, but they attacked and then withdrew. When they first attacked, early in the morning, we were in Atus, and we advanced up to Alto Lebos. We confronted them in Lebos, and they withdrew across the border, carrying the dead and wounded. There was one casualty on our side. They crossed our border, and we chased them back across, into Indonesia. We took lots of weapons: pistols, grenades, bullets. They were attacking Maliana at the same time, and they were also repelled there.
We arrested a Nanggala[§§§] soldier in Bobonaro. Drawing on the guerrilla war tactics developed by Sergeant de Jesus, our cars were disguised with nets and leaves, and when Indonesia attacked, lots of them were injured, with broken legs and bullet wounds. We chased them to Tapo, and that’s where we captured one Nanggala. The liurai of Ayasa had brought the Indonesians in, and we arrested him as well.
With the Indonesian cross-border attacks our minds were opened. We realized that this was now the start of an invasion, that we were facing a war with a foreign enemy, and this aroused a nationalist spirit within us, the sense that we had to defend our land. Diak liu mate de que lakon ita nia rai Better to die than to lose our land. Originally, our goal was simply to stop the population running to Indonesia, and we were a neutral force. When Indonesia started joining in, crossing the border, we realized that this was not a matter of fighting UDT anymore, that we were now fighting Indonesia. It was clear that UDT were now under the command of Indonesia.
So we were aware, by now, that Indonesia were about to invade. De Jesus had begun preparing our provisions, and he went to the Sergeants’ meeting at the HQ in Taibesi to present a defence plan. Dili would be divided into six sectors, each handled by one company. He predicted that Indonesia would land parachutists in Dili. He proposed that Dili be evacuated along with any valuable or important possessions, and that all vehicles should be camouflaged. We would all wear Indonesian uniforms, to confuse the enemy. At the border, he planned that when the Indonesian forces were advancing, we would evacuate the people and plant land mines in their path. We began training with mines, assembling and disassembling them, blowing up big rocks. He knew, from his guerrilla experience, how to prepare for this sort of war. The people in Bobonaro were going back and forth across the border, and they reported seeing masses of troops, tanks and artillery along the border. But when he got to Dili, everyone said “That’s not going to happen, that will never happen”, so the preparations were not made.
Once Fretilin were in power, people felt that we had independence already. At the time of the proclamation of independence [28 Nov 1975], we took down the Portuguese flag in Bobonaro and raised the RDTL[****] flag. Yet those of us who were near the border there didn’t really feel that we had achieved independence, because we could see the danger that was in front of us. By the time the proclamation was made, there were multiple attacks across the border. Indonesia had taken Balibo and Atabae, so we couldn’t feel safe. We said “Dili, watch out! Don’t be holding parties every night, or you’ll wake up with the attackers in your house!” This was the message we sent to Dili from the border.
At the frontier they used to say “You who come from the East, you don’t really know Indonesia. We who live near the border, we know them. We will make this analogy: according to our traditional stories, those from the Western side are descendents of the female. We from the Eastern side are descendents of the male. It is the female who must surrender to the male, not the male who surrenders to the female.” They believed that, and they knew about the actions of Indonesia, they were afraid of Indonesia, and they were never going to surrender to Indonesia.
At the time of invasion we were in Bobonaro. Our commander was Manuel Soares Sergeant de Jesus had lost three fingers when a mine went off, so he was sent to Dili.
When the parachutes came down over Dili, the communications were still good, the radio networks were functioning. Each section had a radio, and from Dili they communicated to all the districts that the invasion had begun. On the 7th [December 1975] they also dropped parachutes over Baucau, but they were actually sacks of sand, not soldiers. They were just creating a diversion, so that the troops in Baucau wouldn’t go to reinforce those in Dili. On the tenth they dropped real parachutists over Baucau.
In Bobonaro we were on alert to repel the invasion. I was responsible for defending Odomau, Halimesak and Viasale. The Indonesian military had already occupied Maliana and were advancing, commencing the attack. They sent planes to conduct reconnaissance, to discover our positions, and the infantry carried out the attack. They shelled us with mortars. We managed to sustain the defence until about 20 January 1976, before Indonesia took Odomau and Halimesak, and they got as far as Raibuti and Marobo. The towns around Odomau were in a narrow valley, between the Tapa and Cailaco mountains, and we were able to hold them off for a while. Indonesia sustained lots of casualties, and so did we. After they got through Odomau, the terrain was more open, a plain, which was much harder to defend.
Prior to 20 January there were eleven fatalities among those under my command. Seven were soldiers, and the others were ordinary people who were assisting us, carrying ammunition, shells, etc. Most of the population had fled up to the forest, but some people felt that they wanted to stay to help us. In every village there were a number of people, the strong ones, who stayed to assist us, usually with logistics, and they didn’t retreat until we ourselves retreated.
The people of the border region were really brave, and I have to mention the women of Tapo, who were extraordinary. Those women of Tapo crawled commando style [dolar] up and down the mountains to bring us food. They would cook, crawl up to our acampamento [camp], and then crawl back. The whole time I was at war I don’t think I saw such bravery. Even when the bombs were falling around them they still crawled through the forest to bring us food.
Orders arrived that we should send a platoon to reinforce Aileu, which was under attack from the Indonesian forces in Dili. We were on the way to Dili, and got as far as Letefoho, when we heard that Indonesia had already reached the top of Mt Cailaco. The soldiers in the field requested that I return, they asked Manuel Soares to call me back, because they had confidence in me as a field commander, and so we returned to Viasale. We held them off for two days, but we were just one platoon and the enemy were many, many more, so I ordered the troops to withdraw to Raibuti.
From Raibuti we withdrew to Marobo. From 27 and 28 January the enemy were advancing on Bobonaro. Bobonaro was occupied on the morning of 29 January 1976. On 2 February we left Bobonaro, because the invasion was now happening on all fronts. We withdrew to Mt Lour. Communications were still good, and we were hearing about the attacks on Baucau, Fatuberliu, Ainaro and Viqueque. We still had all the necessary materials to charge our radios, communications were still fluent. The troops in Bobonaro wanted to keep me there, but we had troops from all over the place, and the tendency was for the Falintil troops to want to go and defend their own land. So I went back to Viqueque. Only the people from Bobonaro stayed to defend Bobonaro.
Eight of us left Bobonaro; three of us went back to Viqueque while five went elsewhere. When we got to Viqueque the Falintil forces were occupying my village, Bibileu. A Falintil command was being set up there. We stayed there from 1976 to 1979, before we surrendered. We set up a Base de Apoio [Support Base] there. There were a large number of people there, people from Viqueque, Manatuto, Baucau, I couldn’t say how many but a large number. At the Soibada conference[††††] they had divided Timor into three regions, because Indonesia had occupied the main roads.
At the time my morale was still high, because there were still many others with me. We felt that Indonesia was coming to steal our land, and that we must defend and protect our land however we could. We were very traditional people in many ways, our traditional beliefs were very important. We used to recite the traditional prayers always, the hamulak, in which we called on the spirits of ancestors, the spirits of the land and the forest, to give us strength and protect us. There were elders amongst us who would perform the ceremonies, and they would come with us into battle. They would provide things like sacred swords, belak and kaibauk [warrior’s crest and crown] to protect us.
The people thought I was really brave, and they wondered what sort of lulik I was using. One time in Viasale an elder came and asked me what ‘camouflage’ I was using. I pointed to my shirt and said “Only this, this is my camouflage”. But they meant what type of kohe, what type of birun, was I using[‡‡‡‡]. I said “I have none”. “Oh”, said the elder, “You are really tough [maka’as]’. They told me that all their birun and kohe came from the same uma lulik [sacred house] in Atsabe, and they requested that I get my birun and kohe from there also, so that there wouldn’t be a clash. The following day, in the early morning while it was still dark, they called me to come to the uma lulik. We ate betel nut, and the katuas lulik na’in [keeper of the sacred word] marked me with the betel juice, on my forehead, chest, hands, legs, and all the places on the torso. I was given a birun to wear around my neck.
Two days later, when we went into battle, the bullets were all around me, whistling past my head, past my arms, coming straight for me but not hitting me. I said to the katuas: “Before I had a birun, no bullets came near me, now there are bullets coming all around me, but not hitting me. What’s going on?” He just said “Birun tahan birun tahan” [tahan = withstand]. When we were in the field, and exchanging fire, we would repeat over and over “Birun tahan birun tahan”; that was our prayer. Maybe when the malai are at war they pray “Ave Maria”; maybe the muslims pray “Allah ho ahkbar”; but our prayer was “Birun tahan birun tahan”. Because of the birun we could feel relaxed, even when the battle was going on.
One day we were sitting under the trees and chatting while others were fighting not twenty metres away. A bomb landed right next to us. I was on the highest ground, and I should have been killed, but I wasn’t hurt. No-one was hurt, except one man who got a cut on his finger. I asked him “Are you hurt?” and I’m sure it was because of that that he was cut. If I had not said anything I’m sure he wouldn’t have been injured.
We would take turns fighting. One group would sit under the trees and relax, while the others were shooting twenty or thirty metres away. When someone got tired, they would signal with a finger, and someone would go and replace them. Depending on the terrain we might have to crawl [dolar], or maybe we could just walk. Now, we say “Ita tenki dolar maka’as mak hetan dolar” [We have to crawl hard to make a dollar].
In the Base de Apoio at Bibileu the people were really well organized, better than people were in the towns. Everyone knew what their role was the farmers, the youth, everyone had work to do, and people listened to each other really well. The people were really disciplined, they were so strong. Even a simple thing like verbal abuse would result in a criticism session, where everyone would stand up and tell you off, and say you’re not allowed to insult people, and the person would be really ashamed.
People were so concerned not to insult others that we wouldn’t even say “You have a hole in your shirt” [camisa ku’ak] because of the connotations of ku’ak [hole] the association with the sacred female place so they would say “You have an abrigo in your shirt” instead. [Abrigo = air-raid shelter, or hole in the ground.] One time when the Indonesian planes came, a woman was running to find shelter, and a man was running behind her trying to get inside the hole in her blouse. She asked him “What are you doing?” and he said “I’m trying to get in the abrigo, you have an abrigo in your shirt!’ After that, the woman reported what had happened to the assembly, and the people said “But that’s what we call a hole in a shirt!”. So we made a correction in the language, and said “Ok, hole is not a dirty word. If a shirt has a hole in it we will call it that. Otherwise, we will not be able to talk about anything that has an opening.” We had made air raid shelters, which were essentially holes in the ground, so that’s where that usage came from.
In Bibileu I became the Segunda Comandante Zona Viqueque,[§§§§] then I became the Company Commander of Zona 214, Ossu. After that I was made the Platoon Commander of the Brigada Choque [Shock Brigade]. This was after the Laline conference , when they reorganized the forces. Prior to that there had been a tendency for Falintil troops to go and defend their own areas. After Laline there was a demobilization, the Brigada Choque was formed, and Falintil companies were required to go wherever the overall command sent them.
There were lots of intellectuals in the forest, very clever people, who were skilled at debate, and would discuss political matters at length, but they were not so mature. The Fretilin policy was “Surrender: No and Never”, and anyone who diverged from that policy was a traitor. There was this division between the sergeants, who were professional soldiers, and the intellectuals who were on the Fretilin Central Committee. Towards the end of 1978, it was nearly 1979, Vicente dos Reis [Sahe] said that we should have faith in the people, but instead we are putting them in our pockets, and they are a heavy weight to carry. In other words, we don’t trust them, actually. We had been keeping the people in the forest under threat of the gun. He was acknowledging that this policy, of keeping the people in the forest, had been wrong
We were in Vicente Reis’ district, he was the national Political Commissar. There was the President, the Prime Minister, and then the Political Commissar. He was one of the five students who had come back from Portugal with this vision, to liberate East Timor. He was an incredible speaker. We could be feeling exhausted, dispirited, like we couldn’t go on, and then Vicente Reis would speak, and those feelings would all fall away. Listening to him, we felt that anything was possible, that we could overcome all the obstacles, he “Fo iis moris fali ba ita”; he gave us the spirit of life again.
For example, one time when we were in the Base de Apoio we were under attack. Soibada was occupied, Manatuto, right down to the Natar Bora plains, and they were advancing from the east, from Viqueque. We had left Bibileu and the people had come with us up into the mountains near Mota Batar-kain. Vicente Reis kept talking to us, telling us where they would come from, where we needed to place our troops. When we listened to him we felt safe, like we could do it. He sent a contingent around behind the Indonesian army, who were advancing from the north east, to attack them from behind, so that they would turn around to return fire, stopping the advance so that the people could get away to the south. This was when he said what we spoke of earlier, that we were keeping the people in our pockets, and they were too heavy. Some of the people got away, but many died.
On 20 August 1978 we held a national congress in Natar Bora to reorganize the army and the popular struggle. That was when we made the decision that people should be allowed to surrender; that was when we began to imagine a guerrilla struggle. The prediction from Vicente Reis was that during those three years in the Bases de Apoio the people had learnt many things. The army had been a sort of fence for the people, but the fence was too weak, and we couldn’t protect the people. We were learning from our mistakes, and we realized that it had been the wrong strategy to keep the people with us. Lots of soldiers also wanted to surrender, because their families were going home, and they were demoralized. Actually, it was only the civilians who were supposed to go down, but lots of soldiers went with them. Some returned to their villages, to Baucau or Baguia or Venilale, but those who felt safe with us and wanted to stay, stayed. Nós os quadros da Fretilin somos ou não capases de manter içada a bandeira Fretilin.[*****]
Vicente Reis said that at school the Indonesians will teach them history, about how Indonesia was colonized by Holland, and East Timor was colonized by Portugal, and when they learn about that, the new generation will also struggle for our independence. They will say “If Indonesia can be free from Holland, we can be free from Indonesia.” He thought that after three years in the forest, their parents would have learnt enough to teach them about our movement.
By the end of 1978, Nicolau Lobato had been killed, Vicente Reis had been killed, and the remaining soldiers were left to organize ourselves. We decided to surrender, and we went down to Viqueque. We made contact with the occupiers, using people who had already surrendered as intermediaries, and we surrendered in an organized way. There were 76 of us who surrendered our weapons to Indonesian Battalion 202, but we already had a plan: that we would surrender, reorganize, and one day go back to the struggle. The night we surrendered, Indonesia showed us a film about their independence. We said “Well if they can be independent, why can’t we?” And we began to organize the Clandestine network in Viqueque.
We worked hard to gain the trust of the Indonesians, and after a couple of years they asked us to become RATIH. We got all the people who had been in the forest to join, including Falur, all the people from the Viqueque region. There were four companies. I was made a Platoon Commander. We used the same command structure we had used in the forest, with the same ranks I had been a Platoon Commander, so I was a Platoon Commander but of course Indonesia had no idea. So we all got SP rifles from Indonesia. They never paid us, we just got a bit of food from time to time.
After leaving the forest, we reorganized and began to plan how we would take advantage of the situation to further our struggle. Indonesia, for their part, were saying to the world that Falintil had surrendered, and the resistance was finished. In the case of Timor, there was an impasse: for two years there had been no debate in the UN about the case of Timor. That’s why we planned the levantamentos [uprisings], so that the case of Timor would be raised again in the UN. That was one objective. The other was to augment the forces in the forest.
After the Marabia Uprising [June 1980] the Indonesian forces learnt about the existence of the Clandestine network, and in 1981 they arrested Alfonso Rangel Domingos Pinto, Chico Ximenes, and a great many other Clandestine leaders. Some of the people who had surrendered were already involved with RATIH, and were conducting operations searching for Falintil. But all of this went bad after one person from Uatu Lari was captured and he gave all our names to the Indonesians.
After Alfonso and Domingos were arrested, we worked even harder to create Clandestine. The church had created a youth group, called Buka Dalan. It was a recreational youth group to attract young people to the church. We infiltrated that group, and the young people became a Clandestine network. We tasked them with all sorts of information gathering and dissemination, the recruitment of other youths to build the organization, and some of them become estafetas. As the young men were under suspicion, often it was the young women who would do the leg work, going from town to town.
Eventually we began to work with the priest there, Domingos Maubere. Bit by bit we got closer to him, and began to talk to him about what had happened in the forest. We played him cassettes that we had recorded in the forest, and he began to learn about our thinking. He was interested to hear it, because all he had heard was that we were all communists. He began to think about how we could build a network to get information overseas. It got to the point where we could take him a letter from the forest and ask him to pass it on. We recruited him, more or less.
After the levantamento, the camat, [Indonesian appointed administrator] of Viqueque, Martinho, said that Domingos Maubere was a communist. Father Domingos said “What do you know about communism? I’m a priest, I have studied, I know what communism is, better than you; your understanding of communism is way beneath my feet.” We had sent the Father a cassette from the forest with a song whose lyrics went: “Jentiu ou sarani ita mesak Timor oan” [Pagan or baptized we are all Timor’s children]. That song was a reflection of the change in our political thinking. For a while, we used to think that the people in the forest were the Timor oan [Timor’s children], while the people in the towns were traitors, but then we began to accept a broader base, we became more like social democrats.
I was in the forest for three years fighting, and my convictions were not influenced anymore by UDT and Apodeti, I was more influenced by the thinking of Fretilin. I had studied the philosophies of UDT and Fretilin to decide which direction I should take. I decided that Fretilin was the one with the best philosophy, because they were the ones who wanted a revolution based on class; they had a class consciousness, a desire to free the oppressed classes. During the Portuguese times, I had been of the liurai class, there was always the possibility of getting ordinença. While we were going to school they were carrying our provisions, while we were riding the horses. During the war, we found ourselves in their position, carrying everything, performing manual labour, so we could put ourselves in their shoes. I began to learn what it was to be oppressed, and to understand how wrong class oppression was.
After surrender, we were cutting tua palms to make wine, and as we were carrying the trunks back we went past those same people who had served us before. They said “Uluk rai diak[†††††], you never carried tua like this. Why are you doing it now?” I told them that before we had never known how to cut the tua, and we had never felt what it was like to carry the tua, in front of everyone, we didn’t know how would that feel. One of my school friends came by and bought the tua we had made for his wedding party. He was of the dato [noble] class.
From that experience I began to feel what it was to be oppressed, what it was like to be at the bottom of society. This clarified things for me. I saw how important it was to struggle to wipe out class oppression. Lots of people thought that communism was about sharing wives, ‘your wife is my wife’, but that all turned out to be lies. The Indonesian officers used to say ‘Fretilin are all communists, without morals’, but those very same officers then called us to come and watch porno films with them, those same officers were committing sexual assaults.
One night in 1979 they called us all to come and watch porno with them. After watching the films, they invited us to come and rape a Chinese girl with them. They had arrested the father on a false charge, and put him in jail, the mother was dead, and the girl was helpless. We couldn’t do anything to save her. I told them “You will go back to Indonesia one day, but we will be staying here, so we can’t do those sort of things”. Her father was a good friend of mine. So we saw things like that and realized that their propaganda was all lies, that in fact they were the ones without morals. They were directing us to watch these films, and inviting us to come and rape girls with them, as though this would win our hearts, as though we would think “Wow this is a really good life with the Bapak”[‡‡‡‡‡], and so we wouldn’t want to go back to the forest. Actually, the reverse was true. We just felt that this was inhuman, that they were trying to destroy our humanity. Our conviction was increased, as was our determination to evict Indonesia from here, to defend our land.
Some of the women who were violated in this way were received back by their families, while others were not. Families may have been ashamed, but what could they do? The woman was a victim of war, it was not her fault. Lots of things happen in a war. Sometimes, because the woman was so ashamed, she would throw the baby away. There were often stories like that. There are still stories like that today.
In Kraras we maintained a close relationship with the people in the forest, so we never felt threatened by them. If Falintil planned an attack they would coordinate with us, so that we could prepare and conduct the operation from within the town. So the people of our village were not worried about Falintil, we had good communication. If they went to hunt in the forest, they were scared of one thing only, the military. In some places, where the relations between Falintil and the people had broken down, people were afraid of Falintil as well as the military. If you went near the forest, the military could suspect you were working with Falintil, while, because Falintil didn’t know you, they might think you were a spy for Indonesia. So the people were afraid on both sides.
From the early eighties we had begun to organize the underground network, but at the start only certain people were entrusted with the knowledge, so the network was not yet widespread. The way we spread it was primarily through the family. Clandestine people would contact other family members, or a handful of very close friends, and that was the way the organization grew. By the end of the eighties, the network was well established.
By the nineties we were saying the people are now ‘semi-Clandestine’, because the work was often not that secret anymore. In Ermera, in 1998-99, we moved around freely, we could go to the market, take our guns, shop; in Fatubesi we went to parties, we met with the soldiers!
On 1 August 1983 I received a letter from Xanana saying that we should take courage, and that within a certain time we should be ready to rise. We didn’t have an exact date, not in the letter, but the person who brought the letter communicated the date we were to rise, 8 August, they even gave us the time. The plan was that the whole of the Ponta Leste, from Baucau to the East, would rise at once. We were to attack the local military post and then go up to the forest. At Iliomar they were to launch the attack at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on 8 August. But on the 7th someone betrayed them to the Indonesians, and the Indonesians attacked them first. The messenger contacted the wrong person, and he informed the Indonesians.
Once the plan had gone wrong, and Iliomar had been betrayed, most people just ran up to the forest. They didn’t go through with the attack because the military were already on alert. In Nahareka, Ossu the levantamento didn’t happen because the RATIH were indecisive, concerned about their wives and children. So in the end, only Viqueque implemented the plan.
After what had happened in Iliomar, the army in Kraras were on alert, waspada even when they went to bathe they took their guns. So I created a whole lot of distractions, like a soccer match, but they didn’t go. Then I organized a group of youth to practice the tebe dai[§§§§§], supposedly in preparation for the celebrations for Indonesian independence day on the August 17. We set up a group of young women near the town hall to play the tebe tebe and dance, and the youths gathered to watch and give them directions. After a while the Indonesians went along to watch as well, to see the young girls dancing, and to give them ‘orientation’ to keep to the lines, to keep in formation. The commander, a Major, was there trying to keep them in line, saying “Yes. Yes! Keep the lines straight!” They had left their weapons in the base. While they were watching, I placed all my men in position.
In the afternoon, there was often a bell that would ring three times, ding ding, ding ding, ding ding. This usually meant that there was going to be a meeting in the town hall. The youth had been told, everyone had been told, that when they heard that bell, they should go home. When the bell went we launched the attack. I was organizing them. I wasn’t carrying a gun, I was giving them directions. I had determined who should fire first, and who they should aim for, and once the attack was underway, they just fired at whichever soldiers they could see.
There were two posts that we attacked. There were no casualties on our side, because Indonesia didn’t manage to return fire their weapons were all in the posts. There was a teacher we had placed in the post, who was chatting away with the Indonesians there. He was one of us. He had been a Portuguese soldier, and then he was with us in the forest. When he heard the bell, he took one of their guns and pointed it at them, so that they couldn’t get their weapons. Then he stood in the doorway, and prevented the other soldiers from entering.
The whole attack only lasted ten minutes. Indonesia suffered 16 fatalities and 2 injuries. Of the two who survived, one of them, because it was nearly night, pretended to be dead. Then he climbed up a tree, ai daak, to hide. That is where I would like the monument to be built, near there. We took the other survivor up to the forest with us but he got away. As soon as the attack was completed we all ran up to the forest. The teacher came too, and some of the people came with us.
At first only a few people came up with us, but before long Indonesia launched a counter attack against the people, and after that nearly everyone ran up to the forest. They burnt the whole village, and killed two elderly women, two old men, and a young man, people who were sick and couldn’t run. Then they chased us up into the forest.
The Indonesians captured a number of people in Bibileu, and took them to Beloi. On 16 September they took the small children and the old people, 45 of them, and killed them in Kasese. Two people survived. On 17 September they went to the village of Klalerek Mutin and took around 80 young people to the river in Tahu Bein, and killed them. In Tahu Bein they were told to stand on the river bank, and they were machine gunned en masse. Four people survived. One went up to the forest and later died, one returned to Klalerek Mutin and also died, and two are still alive. On 22 September, in Kaizu Laran, they killed my father, my wife, who was six months pregnant, and three of my uncles. On 28 September they went back to Klalerek Mutin, and they took out all the strong young men, 18 of them, and killed them in Lafonok, by Mota Be’e Tuku.
The whole action was carried out by RATIH together with the people. Everybody knew that the attack was going to happen, and nobody leaked the information. That village was one people, one voice. Then they were also all killed in massacres. The command had come directly from above, and this is why I have struggled until now for a monument to be built for the Kraras victims. The plan was for attacks to happen all over the eastern sector, but in the end it was only Kraras that carried out the uprising, and that’s why we suffered such horrible consequences. I was up in the forest, in Be Manas, above Kraras, when I heard the gun fire on the 16th. On the 17th I heard more gunfire. On the 18th some of the people ran up to the forest and found me, and they told me what had happened. We were devastated.
I stayed in Region 2 from 1983 to 1998. On 2 November 1998 I left, and drove in a car to Ermera. The car was organized from Dili, by a protestant clergyman who was a relative of Taur Matan Ruak. The responsavels[******] in Dili borrowed the car and took us to Ermera. All that time I had not been to Dili, since before the invasion. One time I went to Viqueque, because the Cruz Joven [Youth Cross] was coming to Viqueque as part of the Easter Ceremonies. Then on 2 November 1998 I went down to Manatuto, and drove through Dili. We stopped in Balide to eat at the house of Ete Uku, who was the Vice Secretary of Region 4. We left Dili at 3am, and we arrived at Ai Fu, in Ermera, at around 6am.
When we got to Gleno, we changed drivers, and the new driver we had was SGI[††††††] but he was also Clandestine. So he just drove on by, waving his hand, while we were all in the car with our guns. Meanwhile, all the young men I took from Viqueque to Ermera were Prabowo Subianto’s men, they were Nanggala[‡‡‡‡‡‡]. We had recruited them from the ranks of Prabowo’s force. We just called them to come, and they all came, they all wanted to get out. And they were all relations of ours. They still had their SGI business cards.
The Bapak maintained a really tight security system, constantly checking on everyone, and using the KTP[§§§§§§] system, but we always found a way around it. One time we arrived in Tibar and the police stopped us, demanding to see our KTPs. My driver said, “Don’t get out your KTP, I will get out my SGI card”. When the police saw that, they saluted him and we drove on.
In Ermera it was a totally different reality. In Ai Fu we stayed in people’s homes, with our guns and all. In Regions 1, 2 and 3, we lived in the forest. When I saw how completely with the people Falintil were, I thought “Indonesia will never get Falintil out of Region 4, because the unity with the people is so strong. They would have to kill everyone.” Around Fatubesi, we could say that Falintil were in control, it was a Falintil area. In 1999 the chief of police there used to say, “Even if all the people of Ermera vote for autonomy, autonomy will still not win.” In Tibar, the militia were all under our control. If the people of Dili had known, they needn’t have gone to Kupang, they could have just gone to Tibar and we could have taken them up to the mountains. But they all went to Dare and Kupang instead.
During my time in Ermera, I met with my mother again, in Gleno. The SGI who was my driver found her, and told me that I could go and see my mother again. My younger sister had married someone from Ermera and my mother had moved there. When I met my mum again I was really uplifted, my morale was so high. But I told the driver to tell my mum she wasn’t to cry, that if she cried I wouldn’t go. We had to pretend it was a normal meeting, not arouse suspicion. So we met, and we didn’t cry.
Would you say there was anything good about the Indonesian presence? Not everything was bad. They left some good things here, like preparing our children to become doctors, preparing us for independence, so that when we got independence we had educated people who could run the country. When Indonesia and Portugal began diplomatic relations, Indonesia criticized Portugal about the lack of education. [Then Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister] Ali Alatas said “Indonesia has been here only twenty three years and there are many university graduates, while Portugal was here for four hundred years and only produced five graduates. [His Portuguese counterpart] Jaime da Silva replied “I am a graduate of a military academy. I don’t know much, my schooling is insufficient, but according to my analysis, Timor is only half an island. The other half is Indonesia. The sea is all around. The arms Portugal left should all have been thrown into the sea. The bullets have all rotted. Regarding food, there is plenty of sago in the south, but not much else. So I really don’t know how, with only five students that we taught at university, East Timor has been able to sustain the resistance all this time, for twenty years, and you have been unable to get rid of it. If we had taught a hundred students at university, maybe they would have total control of Indonesia by now, and all the way to Portugal.” I think he was trying to tell Alatas that if you give them school, they will turn around and kick you, that’s what happens.
Did you consider to giving up the struggle? I never thought about giving up, because so many lives had been sacrificed, so we had to take the war forward to the end. Because of what we had to suffer, the hunger, and the deprivation, we had to think about the integrity of our country. Thinking about integration was not possible.
What would you like the world to know about Timor Leste?
I am still overwhelmed by the strength of the women who participated in the war. If we recall the things they did, our hair stands on end. They would put letters in their bras, and, if the situation was bad, they would even put letters in their – sorry – vaginas. And they would say to us: “If you surrender, we will kill you! We have even put things in our vaginas to save you, so don’t you forget it! Don’t you surrender or we’ll kill you!”
In the long term, with hindsight, we can reflect on the war, on what were the really valuable things. Like, for example, before, during the war, we thought women just sewed clothing we didn’t attach much importance to their contribution. Then, after the war, when we tried to sew clothes ourselves, we realized how hard it was, and our backs got sore, and then we saw how hard women had worked. Now we can really value the contribution they made.
In spite of the length of the war in Timor, the world still gave us light, so that they could see what was truly happening, what was just or unjust. The world recognized that the people had the right to be free. For that I am grateful. We didn’t struggle alone, we struggled with the support of many people around the world.
Zelda K J Grimshaw, interviewer
Roserio Loiluar, translator
[*] União Democrática Timorense, Timorese Democratic Union
[†] Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste, Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor
[‡] Lulik signifies indigenous East Timorese religious beliefs and practices.
[§] Rakyat Terlatih, Indonesian Civilian Defence Unit
[**] The levantmentos, or uprisings, were a series of armed rebellions against the Indonesian military held during the early 1980s.
[††] Timor Oil Ltd
[‡‡] Frente Revolucionária de Timor Leste Independente, Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor
[§§] lit: orderly, ordinance. Under the Portuguese taxation system, any person unable to pay their taxes – most people – was required to perform unpaid labour in lieu, known as ordenança.
[***] Major Maggiolo Gouveia was the overall commander of both the Portuguese army and the police. He was instrumental in organizing the armed uprising against Fretilin.
[†††] Sociedade Oriental de Transportes e Armazéns, a large trading company.
[‡‡‡] Gonçalves was a liurai and key member of the political party APODETI, Associação Popular Democrática Timorense, or Timorese Popular Democratic Association. Apodeti were in favour of integration with Indonesia.
[§§§] Nanggala was the name of the Indonesian Special Forces, later known as Kopassus.
[****] República Democrática de Timor Leste, Democratic Republic of East Timor
[††††] National resistance conference held in May 1976.
[‡‡‡‡] The kohe and the birun are both sacred charms; the kohe is hung in the lulik house, while the birun is worn around the neck.
[§§§§] Deputy Commander of Viqueque Zone
[*****] We, the cadres of Fretilin, will always keep the Fretilin flag flying.
[†††††] Uluk rai diak = before when the land was good. This phrase is commonly used to refer to the era prior to invasion.
[‡‡‡‡‡] Bapak, lit Father. Polite form of address for senior males in Indonesian, used in East Timor to refer to all Indonesian soldiers.
[§§§§§] Tebe dai and tebe tebe are ceremonial dances.
[******] Lit: responsibles; term used by Fretilin for those charged with certain responsibilities
[††††††] Satuan Tugas Intelligen, Special Forces (Kopassus) Intelligence Unit
[‡‡‡‡‡‡] Prabowo Subianto was the head of Kopassus for a number of years, and a son-in-law of President Suharto.
[§§§§§§] Kartu Tanda Penduduk, Indonesian identity cards