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Paperback East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance Book

ISBN: 0896085414

ISBN13: 9780896085411

East Timor's Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance

Escaped East Timorese resistance leader, Constancio Pinto recounts the story of the worst genocidal massacres of the century. This description may be from another edition of this product.


Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

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Customer Reviews

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unique and invaluable

This is a unique and invaluable book. It is the only first-person narrative in English of the East Timorese resistance from the 1975 invasion to the 1992 capture of Xanana Gusmão. The cataclysmic events of the Indonesian occupation that have been carefully chronicled before in several third-person accounts are presented here as moments of danger and decision in an individual's life. Pinto, with the editorial help of Jardine, has succeeded in giving the reader a vivid sense of how the East Timorese have struggled and survived through the torrent of violence that has been unleashed upon them. The reader follows Pinto from a worry-free childhood, when he played games such as kalek (which involves knocking fruits out of a certain type of tree), to a danger-filled adolescence and adulthood. At age 13, he fled with his family from his hometown of Remexio (southeast of Dili) while mortar shells and bombs rained down around them. For a year and a half, they lived in a town further south, just out of the Indonesian army's reach. There he learned guerrilla fighting and weekly alternated guard duty on the front line with farm work. Overcoming his initial trepidation and despondency, he gained the resolve to fight until death. When the Indonesian military (ABRI) escalated its counter-insurgency campaign in late 1977, Pinto and his family fled again. The thousands who took refuge in the forested hills became cut off from their food supplies: "sometimes we only had a piece of manioc to eat for the whole day." Each family spent the day hiding from the soldiers and the night searching for food. Pinto, with his parents, siblings and 50 other people, were captured after one year of hardscrabble life in the jungle. ABRI soldiers had forced several recently captured East Timorese to lead them to the others in the forest. His hometown Remexio, where ABRI resettled the captives, was turned into a concentration camp. It was a demoralizing time. He saw his friends, relatives and neighbors die of dysentery and malnutrition. He saw a manacled Xavier do Amaral, the head of the main resistance organization, brought before the townspeople to make a coerced `apology.' With the help of relatives, Pinto's family soon moved to Dili in late 1978. As many East Timorese were driven out of the forests and into the cities and towns, their terrain of resistance shifted from the liberated zones to the Indonesian-controlled territory. They learned the arts of dissimulation under the harsh conditions of a settler colonialism. Pinto describes how he would appear loyal and submissive before the Indonesians with whom he had to daily interact, while privately dreaming of independence and secretly scheming with friends. Pinto joined an underground movement in Dili in 1983 that worked undetected amidst the occupiers. It was this underground movement, constantly in touch with the guerrillas still in the hills, that was behind the highly visible civil pr

A very powerful book

Constâncio Pinto's life is an exemple of what it means to live in fear for most of your life and, despite that, maintain a constant sense of justice in a world that's not fair. As a brazilian, I certainly can relate with his testimony - of a catholic, portuguese-speaking man. He describes with incredible simplicity and humanity (and that's why the book is so powerful) all his life as an East Timor resistence member, seeing your friends being killed and being himself brutally tortured and persecuted. East Timor's fight is a methaphor for the most brutal opression vs. the faith in freedom, justice and peace. And with people like Constâncio, we are reminded that peace and justice are always achievable no matter how we suffer and no matter how hard is our struggle.
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