Name of child: Cipriano, born 1969

: Ana Maria and Miguel Amaral

Place of origin:
 Beobe, Viqueque

Cipriono’s parents and family ask him to contact them:
‘If You Have Time, Please Come Home’: The Divided Families of Timor Leste,  

Citra Dyah Prastuti (Radio Asia Calling, 14 January 2012)

Duarte Sarmento (uncle – mother’s younger brother):

‘For many years, long before the invasion by Indonesia, a woman from Atambua in West Timor, Petronela Maria Inasio, lived in our village, Beobe, in Viqueque district. She was married to a Portuguese man, but he died before the Indonesians took over in East Timor. After 1975 Petronela Inasio became a member of parliament in Jakarta representing East Timor.

In 1977, Petronela Inasio approached a few families, offering a free education for their children. The children would be sent to Java to go to school. This program was organised by President Suharto through his Dharmais Foundation.

One of the parents she approached was my older sister, Ana Maria. Ana Maria and her husband Miguel Amaral agreed to allow their son, Cipriano, to be sent to Java to study. Besides Cipriano, we also agreed that a cousin of Cipriano’s, whose parents were already dead, could be sent with him to Java. A few days later Petronela Inasio returned to collect Cipriano and his cousin. She also took three other children from another nearby village. She took the children by military helicopter to Dili.


We handed our children over to Petronela Inasio voluntarily. No one forced us to. We agreed because at that time we were suffering a lot. There was not enough food and there were no medicines. We did not know if we would survive.

Despite the fact that we gave our children voluntarily, the Indonesians should have given us information about our children and their addresses in Java. In late 1977 Cipriano’s father Miguel Amaral and uncle Leopoldo visited Cipriano at Seroja child care institution.However, in 1984 we learnt that Cipriano had not been sent with the other children to Java. When the children came home on vacation Cipriano’s cousin, Rafael Urbano, told us what really happened to Cipriano


Cipriano did not go to Java with his cousin. After they left Viqueque, they lived at the Seroja child care institution for almost three years. At the end of 1979, Cipriano’s cousin was sent in a group of twenty children to Java. However, Cipriano was not one of them. Before they left, a soldier’s wife came to the institution and took Cipriano to adopt him. At the same time she also took a young girl from Ainaro.

We all feel very sad and miss Cipriano. We want to find our child who is lost. If we lost one of our animals, we’d spend all our energy trying to find it – how much more so for a lost person.

All his family want him to contact us.’