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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Fernando "Lasama" de Araújo

Interviewed January 8, 2011

In those times, one of the difficulties we experienced was precisely in the area of communication. However, I think, had technology became as advanced as it is today, perhaps it could have created more difficulties for our resistance struggle. In those times, what we often used was various forms of camouflages which they used in order to enter into the prison and visit us. Many times we had to pass letters outside of the prison and in the beginning, it was very difficult, we had to put the letters inside shampoo bottles in order for the letters to arrive to us inside the prison, we had to – those friends who came inside had to try to hide letters, information which they took in to us, using many various ways, and one other way in the communication was we took advantage, I don’t want to use the word “use”, our Indonesian friends. They go in and out of the prison freely.

And we also have the relays. Those who go into the prison to meet us, when he come out another one would take the information to Dili using another way and if the situation does not permit, he will take to a point and then from there this other person will take until its destination, just as when we communicate to the outside.

Mostly, we did in writing, and sometimes we did recordings in cassettes, and we send outside. With regards to smuggling the communications instruments into the prison, it was indeed difficult, but because we had assistance from our Indonesian friends and activists and even the security guards of the prison, whose names I will not mention as I do not want them to have any problems, it was due to all of their support that ensured for us…, Xanana Gusmão, and I, as a supporter, but more towards the student group, ensured that we managed to direct the work from inside the prison.

Later on, telephone – mobile phones managed to be smuggled into the prison but we had to hide it. When we are to use, then we give to Xanana and then we had to take quickly to hide in the chicken cage in places which we felt, if a raid was made, they will not discover. Later on, the road became more widely open after Soeharto’s fall, it begun to open up, and the Indonesian society also continued to think that – many began to say realize that those Timorese people indeed have a right to determine their own political future.

And many other things we did like this. We had to have our own secret codes. In RENETIL we used to communicate to each other by sending each other telegrams, we used to say, for example saying “quickly send me this book” or “we need such money” but what we meant was something else, such as “people are about to apprehend you, be careful” for that we said “your book is not very good, you have to quickly revise this book quickly. This shows that the situation of this friend of ours is not good, we communicated through telegrams, freely, as the Indonesians did not know what was going on as we change our codes. The military who reads our telegrams simply saw a normal communication between students, talking about the studies, about the lecture materials, about books, but they could not decipher our hidden communication in it.

We define all these things by ourselves, we managed to avoid detection. The same thing goes when we do through the telephones, sometimes we spoke about other ordinary things, but the significance was something else. These are some small manners, which we used during the time of Indonesian occupation.