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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Fernando "Lasama" de Araújo

Interviewed January 8, 2011

So each time the Indonesian flag was raised, we also raised the Timorese flag, to signify that we worked together in order to democratize Indonesia and to achieve self-determination for Timor-Leste. This was one of the actions which we Timorese students developed together with the Indonesian students. And I could say that perhaps Timor-Leste would not have achieved its goal of self-determination even until today, had the Indonesian regime remained the same. Had Soeharto remained in power in those times, had the democratization process not begin in Indonesia, then Timor-Leste would not have managed to obtain its self-determination either.

And then, after Soeharto stepped down from power, as everyone knows, Habibie took over from Soeharto and that was a time, which was very difficult for President Habibie. But he gave two options to Timor-Leste, that is, to choose via a referendum, either to be independent, or to get an extensive autonomy within Indonesia. It would be up to the people, who would decide. Personally, in those times, I felt that Timor’s Liberty started at the time when Habibie declared, or gave us those two options in the referendum: autonomy, or independence. For me, our independence started at that time. I was convinced that if there was going to be a referendum, then the people of Timor-Leste will not choose integration with Indonesia. The people of Timor-Leste would choose self-determination.

It was in those times that I experienced a very great joy because the light of our self-determination started to beam then, when Habibie uttered the words, giving the two options to the people of Timor-Leste.