ASSEPOL launches the Living Memory Garden

ASSEPOL launches the Living Memory Garden

Photo Tatoli/Francisco SOny

DILI, 07 december 2022 (TATOLI) – The Minister of Justice, Tiago Amaral Sarmento accompanied by the Association of Former Political Prisoners (ASSEPOL), former prisoners, and families launched the Timor-Leste Living Memory Garden at the Centro Nacional Chega!.

“December 7 is Memorial Day in Timor-Leste, dedicated to the memory of those who fought and died in the long and bloody struggle for freedom. Therefore, this Living Memory Garden is important as it would collect all the memories of those who suffered during the 24 years of resistance, especially the memories of political prisoners. All memories are necessary to be well preserved to pass them on to the new generation,” Sarmento made the comments at the launching ceremony of the Living Memory Garden in Balide, Dili, today. 

The Executive Director of ASSEPOL, Martinho Rodrigues Perreira, said that on december 7, Timor-Leste turned into a prison as Indonesian troops surrounded the whole island, making it difficult for the majority of the population to have contact with outsiders.

“This Living Memory Garden is created to preserve the living memories of all former political prisoners. We need to dignify these prisoners as they have contributed massively to the independence of the nation,” he said. 

It is estimated that more than 20,000 Timorese were arrested and imprisoned during the 24 years of resistance for involvement in the struggle against the Indonesian occupation. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of prisoners died in custody. 

“So far, we have identified about 6,000 political prisoners and we will continue our work of identifying all prisoners. We need to write down their stories to pass them on to their children and the next generation,” said Perreira. 

Indonesia launched the full-scale invasion of Timor on december 7, 1975. Many atrocities occurred. Sections of the international community knew about Indonesia’s invasion plan but did little to stop it.

On december 7, Australia advised its citizens to leave. On december 6, US President Ford and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger met with President Soeharto and agreed to the invasion. 

The US also allowed its weapons to be used by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI). 

Indonesia claimed its forces were made up of volunteers. But the Security Council and the UN General Assembly condemned the invasion, supported Timor’s right to self-determination, and called on Indonesia to withdraw.



Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges 


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