Documents from the armed resistance inside East Timor in the early occupation years are very rare. In this post we throw more light on an important 1981 record of the re-organisation of the resistance.In March 2012 we examined a 50+ page record of the March 1981 re-organisation of the Fretilin-led armed resistance and the formalisation of Xanana Gusmao’s leadership. See original article and link to document here.
While acknowledging that the document content broadly matched other accounts of the historic event, we did raise questions about its authenticity as a complete record. In particular, we wondered about the provenance of the document – who produced it and was it a retyped or rewritten version of an original document created at the meeting in the mountains of East Timor?
We can now answer some of these questions.
The 1981 document appears to have been prepared in November 1983 by Abilio Araujo, the then Lisbon-based head of Fretilin’s external delegation. It was based on audio recordings received that year by Araujo from an unidentified source.
The missing pages
We know this because we have now seen a more complete copy of the document – one that includes the three introductory pages missing from the version we examined in 2012. This more complete version was seen by CHART in August 2013 in the unprocessed archives of long-time Timor researcher Prof. Barbedo de Magalhães.
The missing pages, over the name of Abilio Araujo, briefly describe the source materials of the larger document. Most of the missing pages are, in the highly rhetorical language of that period, Araujo’s reflection on the significance of the document for the resistance inside and outside East Timor.
A question on whether this document is a full record of the March 1981 meeting still remain. We noted in 2012 the surprising absence of detail about the newly-created Revolutionary Council of National Resistance (CRRN) and now note no reference to it in Araujo’s introductory pages. There are a number of possible explanations – the most obvious being that parts of the record did not reach Lisbon.
Any doubts about the authenticity or completeness of this 1981 meeting record can be answered by examining the original source materials given to Abilio Araujo in 1983. We can hope that one day these original materials will be returned to Timor-Leste and be kept in a suitable public repository for present and future generations to study.
Many thanks to Luis Pinto for drawing our attention to the document in the Barbedo de Magalhães archive.
Top Photograph: In the collection of the Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum (AMRT), Dili. See full image here.