The rebel fighters here in Benghazi, and you see them everywhere, would certainly identify with our next story. It is about a resistance leader who fought for years, leading his forces against overwhelming odds. Yalda is referring to East Timor's leader Xanana Gusmao. Dateline's Mark Davis, no stranger to East Timor, has secured exclusive footage of his capture by Indonesian forces in 1992.
REPORTER: Mark Davis
Government headquarters - Dili, East Timor, Xanana Gusmao's days are now full of the niceties and formalities that Prime Ministers everywhere must endure or enjoy. But 20 years ago, he was leading a very different life. Then he led the armed struggle against Indonesian occupation from the jungles and mountain tops of East Timor.
XANANA GUSMAO (Translation): Today, many governments should be ashamed of being complicit in the genocide in East Timor carried out by the Indonesians.
Xanana Gusmao and his guerrillas were the biggest thorn in Indonesia's side as Indonesia sought to legitimise their occupation of East Timor. Soon after he filmed this message to the world from a jungle hideout, he would be facing his darkest hour, surrounded, captured and imprisoned for life. His troops and the movement they supported flung into disarray with the loss of their famous or infamous leader.
His 1992 capture and the remarkable interrogation that followed were filmed, a film that has long been assumed to be lost. But this incredible footage has now been leaked to us from inside the Indonesian army and screens for the first time tonight on Dateline.
XANANA GUSMAO: I cannot believe that, because I'm thought they would never release it.
Xanana Gusmao has seen some of this footage privately before agreeing to be filmed.
XANANA GUSMAO: The first time that I saw it, wow.
Now he watches it, in its entirety, for the first time.
XANANA GUSMAO: It has been 20 years, I was about 45.
REPORTER: You look like a boy. How old were you in this one? You look about 25 in this one.
He watches the film begin in the base of the Kopassus special forces as they prepare to strike at the house he has been secretly living in.
XANANA GUSMAO: They are getting ready.
VIDEO (Translation): The cars will stop here and go down there…. We’ll take this guy to this house. The others will surround the house.
Xanana Gusmao had been hiding in this house in Dili for weeks. Smuggled into town to arrange a weapons shipment and conducting his business from the underground bunker hidden beneath a trapdoor in one of the cupboards.
XANANA GUSMAO: My place was... underneath.
REPORTER: In the underworld.
XANANA GUSMAO: People go there, they were not known. Absolutely.
But on 20th November, 1992, it seems someone did know, Indonesian special forces who were gathering outside.
XANANA GUSMAO: I started to hear when they approached the house. Usually when the dogs bark, we know there is strange people there. I immediately went down.
XANANA GUSMAO: Underneath.
Crunching feet on the driveway were enough to disturb Xanana Gusmao and no doubt terrify the man who owned the house and was hiding him, Augusto Pereira, remarkably an officer in the Indonesian police force. He is reliving the moment his life fell apart. Those feet on the driveway, the barking dogs, signalling the collapse of his world as he knew it. These few moments of video heralding the years of torture that were to follow, abuse, imprisonment and the collapse of his family. The team began to search the house, but they knew what they were looking for, a hidden trapdoor in a cupboard, leading down to a bunker.
XANANA GUSMAO: I was watching – okay, I’m here.
REPORTER: What were you thinking as they were about to coming?
XANANA GUSMAO: It took time. It took may be only five minutes. But it seemed forever. I was thinking, because I have a machine-gun there, I thought I could resist. I had time enough to make a choice. If I resist, I would be a hero. But is it a heroic everybody surrounding him will be killed so I surrender?
REPORTER: They were very happy.
XANANA GUSMAO: Very happy.
Xanana Gusmao was a trophy catch, rather than being shot and dumped at sea, after posing for photos, word was sent immediately to the head of the Indonesian army in Jakarta.
XANANA GUSMAO: I believed that they would not hurt me. They were not kill me because they would like to use me.
Xanana was whisked away to await the arrival of General Tri Sutrisno. Handcuffed, given a cup of tea and interviewed by an intelligence team who appear to have come straight from the tennis courts. Meanwhile back at the house, the search was going through Xanana’s possessions. Every weapon, secret document, a radio transmitter found was a potential death sentence for Augusto Pereira. And he is seeing the full extent of what they uncovered for the first time.
REPORTER: They are finding the guns and evidence.
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: It was all there.
VIDEO (Translation): These items were all found at the home of the policeman…. What’s his name? Augusto Pereira.
Augusto had gone to work on the morning of the raid. He was on this road teaching other policemen traffic duties when an unmarked army car pulled up behind him.
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: Seven o'clock, he came after me.
He was dragged off to a military compound. His nightmare just beginning as General Tri Sutrisno, head of the Indonesian armed forces, arrived in Dili from Jakarta. Cameras rolling as he congratulates his troops and prepares to interrogate his old foe, Xanana Gusmao. With a dozen or so generals watching, an astounding exchange begins between captor and prey. Tri Sutrisno offers his catch one last chance to accept integration.
GENERAL TRI SUTRISNO, VIDEO (Translation): There will be no peace if you keep fighting, and most of the people of East Timor say integration has succeeded.
Everyone in the room knows that a public statement from Xanana Gusmao could end the war, but his reply was not a helpful one.
XANANA GUSMAO, VIDEO (Translation): As the one who has been leading the resistance struggle, it is not up to me to say that the majority of the people desire integration. The way integration was implemented is not legally valid.
GENERAL TRI SUTRISNO, VIDEO (Translation): I believe the East Timorese people are already free – East Timor has become part of Indonesia.
With his freedom, and possibly his life at stake, Xanana Gusmao remarkably continues to pick at Indonesia's most sensitive sore, the legality of their occupation under international law.
XANANA GUSMAO, VIDEO (Translation): I fight because international law recognises my right.
While this exchange was happening, Augusto Pereira's ordeal was beginning. He had nothing to offer the Indonesians, just a vehicle for fury to be vented, the more customary treatment for East Timorese prisoners.
REPORTER: Would happen to you?
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: My friend, I no say this because I am suffering or whatever, but a little bit…..Indonesian army put a cord under here… pulled on here… Electricity – put under here and here, put on my ears.
He returns to the military compound he was tortured in, now a building depot.
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: I no have clothes, all over I am like a baby – there’s water from toilet – put together, water up to here. I sleep under here, I no sleep three months…
REPORTER: They put you in a toilet – like a sewer…. To lie down or stand up?
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: No, straight up – no sleep.
This house of horrors was separate from the official prisons in Dili, and the prying eyes of any international visitors.
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: I never come here because I’m very angry at this place, many people die here. I don’t know how many.
Xanana Gusmao well knew that his own fate lay at the whim of Tri Sutrisno.
XANANA GUSMAO, VIDEO (Translation): Now Xanana can die. I’ve already said I can go to prison for life and suffer all the electric shocks and torture, but the main issue here is what the people think.
It seems that the General did not get the answers he was hoping for, and the meeting is brought to an end.
GENERAL TRI SUTRISNO, VIDEO (Translation): I am asking you to reflect on my statement so that you will be able to convince all your brothers in the mountains, that there is no point in them dreaming that help will come from overseas because east Timor is now the responsibility of all Indonesian people, including East Timorese.
Xanana Gusmao was sent to trial in Jakarta and was sentenced to life. Augusto Pereira was held and tormented here for a year, then imprisoned for another six until the Red Cross negotiated his release.
AUGUSTO PEREIRA: My wife, my grandmother, my son, my daughter all come to this house.
REPORTER: This was a terrible place. His wife and children were released but the family never reunited. He lives alone, one of the thousands of bit players who gave their lives or part of them for what seemed an impossible dream.
REPORTER: At this time, did you ever imagine that you would win?
XANANA GUSMAO: Yes.
YALDA HAKIM: Mark Davis reporting. There is a fact file on East Timor, and all the countries we feature on our website.
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22nd May 2011