Place of origin: Lisapat, Ermera
Name of parents:
Francisco Babo Soares (father) and Madelina dos Santos (mother):
‘All the people living near us were captured in 1977, and the Indonesian soldiers forced us to live crowded together in the coffee store sheds in Aifu, Ermera. The soldiers found out from an informer that I was a member of Fretilin, so I was put in jail in nearby Ermera town.
While I was in jail, Indonesian soldiers asked my permission to take two of my children to Indonesia to send them to school: my son Luis, who was sixteen and in the second year of the Portuguese middle school, and Agusta, my seven-year-old daughter. However, I did not agree to their request. The soldiers tried to threaten me into agreeing by saying that if I refused the safety of my children could not be guaranteed.
The soldiers had already spoken with Luis, and I believe he would have been afraid to refuse their offer to go with them to Indonesia. Despite the intimidation, my wife and I never agreed with the soldiers’ request. We did sign any agreement with the soldiers, but they took our children anyway.
Five children taken away
When these soldiers left they took three other children away with them in their vehicle. Besides my two children Luis and Agusta, they took two sisters from another family, Agusta and Madelina Martinz, and a fifth child, Cristovão,
who was separated from his family.
In 1984 we got letters by post from Luis and Agusta. Luis was in Bogor and Agusta in Tasikmalaya, in the middle school. They were not living with the soldiers who took them there; they had been given to other families. In their letters they said they didn’t have any money to travel back to East Timor. But it would have also been difficult because of the political situation at that time. Everyone needed a travel document from the military. I did hear that Luis was with the Indonesian navy, but I don’t know if that is correct.
We are sad. We want our children to come and see their parents. How is it possible that they don’t come to see us, before we die?