Genoveva da Costa Martins was a founder of the Popular Organisation of East Timorese Women, and is the widow of nationalist poet Francisco Borja da Costa, executed by the Indonesian army during the paratrooper landings in Dili in December 1975.
She became politically active in the Ermera district, where she was born and later worked as a schoolteacher. As an early activist for the Fretilin party, she became interested in women's rights and worked alongside prominent colleagues of Borja, such as Vicente Sa'he, Mau Huno and Xanana Gusmão.
In speaking of her prison experiences, Genoveva describes Francisco Borja da Costa and his work, and this Living Memory film is a tribute to him as well as to the suffering of this courageous widow.
After his death Genoveva fled to the mountains to work with the resistance leadership, organising the women's movement and supporting its general activities. She describes teaching women fighters to read: in the absence of materials, they wrote in the dirt, or on banana leaves. Genoveva was captured and imprisoned for eight months in Ermera from October 1979, during which time she suffered torture. In 1992 she was imprisoned once again, for her association with captured guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmão.
In 2001 Genoveva was elected to parliament for Fretilin in the country's first democratic elections, a post held until 2007. She appeals to East Timor's younger generation to study and learn from her generation's painful experience, and for women to take their rightful place in East Timor's new society.
This item digitized and made available online with funds provided by United States
Department of Education, TICFIA (Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information) Grant P337A05006.
Place of Interview: Francisco Borja da Costa Park, Farol, Dili, East Timor (Timor-Leste)
Credits: Interviewer: Jill Jolliffe, Cinematographer: Nicola Daley
Date of Birth: 1956-01-03; Prisons: Ermera, East Timor (Timor-Leste); Other Prisoners: Indonesian army; Perpetrators: Ermera.