Seige of Same

Boaventura

I know that Alfredo Reinado is no genius. And I wish he would stop holding Timor hostage to his own vanity and ignorance. Yet I’m willing to bet that he purposefully chose the town Same as his holdout spot, as he is hoping to create an historical parallel with Dom Boaventura.

In August 1912, not far from where Reinado is surrounded, after eight months of resistance, the Portuguese forced Boaventura out of his mountain stronghold. Thousands of men, women and children died.

Quoting Timor historian Katherine Davidson’s 1994 thesis,

Even at this low ebb of the rebels’ fortunes what actually occurred was not a surrender. At 8pm on August 10th, thousands of rebel warriors, including the regulo Boaventura, burst out of their entrenchment “and fled in a great avalanche down the side of the mountain [Leo-Laco]” (quoting Jaime do Inso) and made their escape. The slaughter of those who did not escape continued for two days and two nights.

When asked about this event, one particularly articulate member of a workshop on human rights in Taibesse in 2003 remembered that in fact, it was not the Portuguese alone who were able to expell Dom Boaventura. The Portuguese had their “international forces” — the Angolan troops were decisive and instilled much more fear than the Portuguese, according to this source.

Ironically, in Dili, in Jardim (one of the most visible camps), people who live under an Indonesian statue of Boaventura are spending all of their time looking for rice, which has skyrocketed in price because of massive shortages and a drought which led Timorese agriculture to under-perform.

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