The stories of ten women who suffered after the Marabia incident are told here. They were detained, interrogated and tortured. They lost family members, were forced to ‘entertain’ Indonesian soldiers, were raped and sexually humiliated. Two of them also involved as the researcher team. They encouraged other women to be involved in this research process, sharing their participation in the resistance work and their effort to survive severe torture. Their story underscores the potential for women victims to use their experiences in a positive way to help others.
Istória husi feto na’in sanulu ne’ebé sofre hafoin akontesimentu Marabia sei haktuir iha ne’e. Ema kastigu sira, halo inkéritu no tortura sira. Sira lakon sira nia família, obriga atende militár Indonézia, hetan violasaun seksuál, no inimigu hamoe sira seksuálmente, no pior liutan sai atan seksuál liuhusi kazamentu forsadu ho militár durante hala’o sira nia knaar. Ema na’in rua husi sira envolve mós nu’udar ekipa peskizador. Sira enkoraja feto maluk sira atu envolve iha prosesu peskiza ne’e, hodi partilla sira nia partisipasaun iha prosesu luta no sira nia esforsu atu sobrevive iha situasaun tortura ne’ebé todan tebes. Sira nia istória subliña feto vitíma hirak ne’e nia potensia hodi uza sira nia esperiénsia ho maneira pozitivu atu tulun vitíma seluk.
She and one of her brothers were held on Atauro Island for three years. They worked on a road project and farmed to survive. Augusta now lives with her three children after her husband passed away due to illness. She supports her family by selling produce and raising small livestock. She has never received any government assistance, and says, “If you speak of justice, I don’t feel like I have justice, I only have suffering.”
Her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law were detained on 10 June 1980. The army released her husband and brother-in-law but their father, accused of spying for the clandestine movement, was fatally shot.
They held my father-in-law then Hansip killed him, and before he was dead they dragged him to his grave and buried him alive. The Hansip that killed my father-in-law was called Victor and he has already passed away. At that time it was difficult to find his body, because the situation was still tense, and we had to wait to go and collect his body.
…. Justice should be ongoing, because only with justice can we get truth about what we suffered. There especially must be justice for all the women for whom independence cost them their dignity….
There is still no justice for my family, or for me. No one from the government has ever come and asked us anything. This is the first time I have told my story. I really want the government to pay attention to me, my family and to all the other victims.
I want to help my friends, the victims and fellow inmates, who also fought and sacrificed but have not received anything in return. There must be justice and an improvement in the lives of those who are vulnerable…. For this country, we suffered for a long time, but we also feel happy. I think the suffering we experienced must not be repeated.
Lucilia da S. Alves’s father was also captured by the military in the mass arrests of June 1980 because he was in the clandestine movement. After his release her father continued his support of the resistance. Once, the guerilla leader Xanana Gusmao hid in their house and later took him to a hiding place in the forest. After Lucilia’s father and brother were killed, Lucilia and her mother continued their clandestine activities supplying food for Xanana in his hiding place. Lucilia was arested, tortured and exiled to Atauro for three years. She is still nervous when she sees police or other security personel. Today she supports their husband and children by gardening and growing rice. She receives an old age pension, but no reparations or other recognition of what her family endured:
My father and brother died for this nation’s independence, but now we have independence, no one remembers their or my sacrifice.
On 10 June 1980, Augusta de Jesus Araújo was 12 when the Indonesian soldiers came and arrested her father, who was the village headman. A few months later the soldiers came back for the rest of the family. Her mother told her to gather dried cassava and pack a small bag with extra clothes. That night they were loaded onto military trucks, transported to the beach, and taken by ferry to Atauro. When Augusta’s father boarded but he was so swollen and weak that she didn’t recognize him. On Atauro, the shelter for prisoners was appalling, just a structure with no walls, no bathrooms, or kitchens. When they were finally given food it was two cups of rotted corn. Men, women and children were forced to do hard labor to repair the main road on Atauro. Augusta’s father, sick and weak from his torture, became ill and died. But Augusta’s family were resourceful and managed to scratch a meager living in the camp, although she longed for the education that she could have had as a young girl.
…I know this country will develop and have a bright future, but only if those in power recognize our sacrifices and suffering for independence, suffering that continues to today.
We were patient and dealt with it. We could not let our father suffer alone on Atauro. Even though I had to let go of the world of education and I felt the loss of not going to school, I was ok. At that time, I was a young girl and wanted to be like my friends… .I felt sad.
We suffered on that small island but when we returned we continued to suffer and be victims, we never felt the happiness life can offer. We want to ask the government to help us.
Our bitter experiences are unforgettable, but what do we get in return? There is no reward for our suffering, there is no justice for us. I grow and sell flowers in a vacant lot in the centre of town and now I am being evicted. No official has approached us and asked if we already have an alternative, or offered us another empty site to sell flowers. We just accept it and wait until luck is on our side. I feel really disappointed. We sacrificed in vain.
Amelia believes in the importance of truth and justice for her missing loved ones:
There should be justice for my family’s tragedy, for the loss of our parents. We want to know where our parents are… Every All Souls Day we call their names so they do not disappear.
If you talk about justice I always cry. I feel like I have justice, I can eat two or three times a day, but for many of my female friends, their life is still a struggle and they are thirsty for justice. The government still does not care, they don’t care and they don’t pay any attention. So I recommend that organizations must assist the women victims, because they are not yet at peace. They have to continue to ask the government or parliament to recognise the women victims.
If Fokupers had not helped me, I would have gone crazy. They helped me get to where I am today. However, I cannot say I am completely recovered. If I sit alone I always remember the past, everything comes back, but I can say that I am stronger, I work hard and reach out to women that require my assistance.