Speaking out about torture in pre-independence Timor-Leste

People in Timor-Leste who say they were subject to abuse during Indonesian rule have shared their experiences. They spoke ahead of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The event took place in the Southeast Asian nation's capital Dili. It was organized to share the human rights violations that allegedly took place over two decades of Indonesian control from 1975.

One man said he was tortured for taking part in an independence movement. He said soldiers and police officers insulted and beat him every day, sometimes until he fainted.

A truth commission was established shortly before Timor-Leste's independence was restored in 2002. It confirmed about 19,000 cases of torture and ill treatment by Indonesian authorities.
The Indonesian government calls the accusations one-sided.

One group is now interviewing former prisoners who say they were tortured. The aim is to share the dark chapter in the history of Timor-Leste, previously known as East Timor.

Former prisoner Mario De Jesus Carvalho said, "Being detained in the prison before Timor-Leste became independent was a painful experience. But by looking back on the past, I managed to turn my eyes toward the future."

The group says recording testimonies will help young people understand that such acts violate human rights.