Timorese nationalist and Baucau resident Joao da Costa was imprisoned by the Indonesian army in early 1976, soon after troops landed in his home town. A former soldier in Portugal’s colonial army he quickly joined resistance forces, but was denounced to Indonesian troops. From June 1976 he was held at the Flamboyan Hotel, a torture centre established by special force commandos from Ume unit. The Flamboyan is a luxury hotel today (the Baucau Pousada), which gives no clues to its past history.
In this interview Da Costa describes the torture to which he and other prisoners were subject—electric shocks, the ‘chair’ torture, for example--and his subsequent transfer to Dili’s Comarca prison, where he was held for another three years.
He and his baby grandson sing a song he learnt in prison which, from its content, must have been handed down to Timorese prisoners from ex-prisoners of Portugal’s Salazar regime.
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: Baucau, East Timor (Timor-Leste)
Credits: Interviewer: Jill Jolliffe
Interview transcription: Filomeno Ferreira
Archivist: Maria Benfica
Date of Birth: 1953-01-31; Prisons: Baucau, East Timor ( Timor-Leste); Other Prisoners: Commandos das boinas vermelhas, exercito Indonesio/ red beret commandos, Indonesian army. Grupo Ume/ Group Ume; Perpetrators: Hotel Flamboyan Baucau (Pousada Baucau), Kota Baru (Vila Nova) Baucau, Companhia Ume Baucau, prisão CCC Dili (Cadeia Comarca Central), Sang Tai Ho, Dili.