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"It takes courage to stay and fight but it also takes courage to run when you don't know if you're going to be shot in the back or to go to the invader's country capital and enter a foreign embassy by force with the risk of being caught even before you try it." Carmen Melo

Posted to the Timor Language Discussion List

Subject: Feelings of East Timorese who have never left East Timor towards 'returnees'

Carmen Melo

APLS - Associação Portugal Loro Sa'e

January 20th, 2001

Dear All,

The matter we have been discussing here [the feelings of East Timorese who have never left East Timor towards East Timorese 'returnees'] about who stood in ET and fought and who fled is quite serious and reminds me of an episode I heard from some members of Falintil (Xanana himself spoke about this episode on a press conference one of the times he visited Portugal last year).

This is what happened:

Xanana and his men were on their camp, somewhere on a mountain of ET. There seemed to be no enemies around so some men were sitting quietly by the fire while others were resting on the tents. Suddenly one of them - who was listening to the radio - came out, jumping and shouting "we are alive, we are alive". All the other men come running to see what was going on but all he could do was keep on repeating the same words "we are alive, we are alive". Xanana finally managed to calm down the man and he explained "I heard it on the radio, we are alive" "What do you mean? What did you hear on the radio?" Xanana asked, and his answer was "I did not understand it because they were speaking in English but I understood one word: EAST TIMOR. and all the other men joined him on a cry of joy.

Try to picture yourself on these men shoes. They are there, alone on the mountains, fighting an enemy who invaded their country, raped and killed their families and burnt down their houses... they have no idea of what is going on on the rest of the world but they keep waiting for help, for an international help that doesn't seem to arrive. And all of a sudden, when they are about to think that the whole world has abandoned them, they hear the name of their tiny little country mentioned on the radio. They have no idea of what has been said but the fact of hearing the words EAST TIMOR means that they were not forgotten and those simple words gave them the hope they needed to carry on!

Now, maybe if it wasn't for those who fled away and devoted a big part of their lives to spread the word of what was going on in ET the world would have never known the truth and would have maintained its eyes closed (don't forget that no press was allowed to enter ET by those times). It took too long but finally the world began to react to the words of these men and women who fled from ET and told everyone who was willing to listen about what their brothers and sisters who remained in the territory were being subjected to.

It takes courage to stay and fight but it also takes courage to run when you don't know if you're going to be shot in the back or to go to the invader's country capital and enter a foreign embassy by force with the risk of being caught even before you try it.

This, I believe, is what some East Timorese have to understand: they all fought together the same war, the same enemy; only the weapons were different: some shot bullets, others shot words and facts! And this combination is what made all of them, the survivors, stay alive.

Regards,

Carmen Melo

APLS - Associação Portugal Loro Sa'e

Email: cmelo@gilead.com
Webpage: http://www.terravista.pt/ancora/3345/


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