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Brutal Treatment in Remexio

Constâncio Pinto, East Timor Survivor

Oh, yes, but there were many camps around East Timor at the time. Some camps, the life was even worse than the others. Cases like, you know, when I say that people were killed or tortured in the camps, you know, they were killed. Some of the people in the camps were killed in front of their families, in front of their children, in front of their wives; and some women were raped in front of their families, their husbands and so on. I mean, this is what happened in the camps, and it’s becoming as a culture of the Indonesian army in East Timor at the time. I mean, rape, killings, and torture. Yeah. In the—in Remexio, the camp where I was, yes, I saw with my eyes torture, how the Indonesians tortured the guerrilla fighters in the military headquarters: kicking with the boots and beating with rifle butts and butt of—cigarette butts. There are even worse things: electrocution also was used during the period of interrogation, and there were physical and psychological torture. And I think psychological torture is one of the worst things for us, because physical torture you feel it right there, but psychological torture—even though you are free from the jail, you still think that, well, something might happen to me or to my family, because the same people who tortured you, the same people who threatened you, are there. So that’s the most painful thing.

In my case, for example, I was in jail not very long: I was kept in the cell for six days, but I felt like it was six years in the cell. Perhaps because I was a leader of the underground movement, they tried to not intensify the torture. They tortured me physically for almost one day, twenty-four hours torture, and psychological torture for about six days, like beatings with boots and with hands. It was very, very hard. I mean, from nine in the morning to one o’clock of the morning of the next day, continuous beatings. But I think they didn’t want to kill me right away, at that time. They wanted to spare my life so they can get more information and so on. And normally torture like that, that’s trying to force people to tell, to reveal whatever they did in the underground movement—basically to extract information as much as possible from the people who they’re torturing. In my case, they didn’t want to kill; of course they torture for try to extract information. But you know, once you already involved in the movement, you are responsible of the life of the others and the organization. It seems very hard for me to say, yes, I am in charge of this; this is the organization—the structure of the organization is like this; let us destroy it. It’s very hard. And because of that, many people die in jail because they resist to tell the enemy about the organization, about what they did in the underground movement.