Photos 10th Anniversary Suai

October 27th, 2009 jen Posted in 2009, 2009 In Suai, Friends of Suai News Comments Off on Photos 10th Anniversary Suai

Desleigh Kent a member of the Friends of Suai Committee has returned to Port Phillip after a trip to Suai with the English teachers with photographs of the Anniversary. The photographs show that as on the First Anniversary,  the remembrance ceremonies and prayers took place in the place where the massacre took place in Our Lady of Fatima Church, in front of that Church and under shade on the large grassy area in front of the unfinished cathedral.

The character and form of the remembrance symbols has changed over the years and the original circle of stones has been moved from the driveway in front of the Church to the side. The original Church that was rehabilitated after the massacre and the accompanying fire has been demolished and replaced with a new one.  Ergilio reported in a conversation on Skype that the people have stopped crying, and he is afraid that the story will be forgotten and justice is out of their reach. According to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald article on the 7th September, The United Nation’s top human rights official Navanethem Pillay, says East Timor’s release of the Indonesian accused of crimes against humanity violates the country’s own constitution as well as UN Security Council resolutions rejecting impunity for genocide. Bere came across the border on a Visa issued by East Timor’s government, for his father’s funeral in August, in Cova Lima. When locals recognised him as one of the perpertrators of the atrocities in 1999 he was captured and handed over to the police, only to be released again on the orders of President Jose Ramos-Horta.

When approached by the local journalists in Suai for answers to why Martenus Bere was released Gusmao refused to answer them; a move that was very disappointing for the people who supported him and gave up their lives for Independence and democracy under his leadership.

According to the SMH Ms Pillay has asked the East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta for more information on the release of Bere. More –

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Suai Visit 2008 – Women and Weaving

August 1st, 2009 jen Posted in Art & Culture Projects, Friends of Suai News, Pat Jessen Visits, Suai Visit 2008, Tais Exhibition 2008 Comments Off on Suai Visit 2008 – Women and Weaving

From Pat Jessen: June 2008

Tais Kamenassa

Tais Kamenassa

This time I made the time to go to where the women were weaving their Tais (textiles) in the homes, villages and workshop. There will be a Timor Leste Women’s Weaving Exhibition, Forum and Market in September 2008. We wanted to ensure that women of Covalima had their work on display and on sale at the market at St Kilda Town Hall.

We found the Covalima women weave beautiful & varied pieces across the district and between villages. The traditional futus, (weaving method of dying patterns) that have been handed down by ancestors continue to be woven into the fabric in each village with attention to dyes, colour, cotton & design. As well as the traditional weaving some new Thai looms have been brought to Suai by Timor Aid who are training young women on the new technique.

The Forum in September will discuss old and new methods and markets. We commissioned some new products including scarves and belts which were produced by the women’s weaving group in Suai Loro village in great colours which we think will appeal to the local market in Australia.

For stories and photographs of the exhibition, and Forum as well as an article about the Tais  in the traditional  Culture section of this website Suai Media Space click here.

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10th Anniversary Celebrations – Independence Vote Timor-Leste

July 11th, 2009 jen Posted in 2009 Solidarity Celebrations, Events Comments Off on 10th Anniversary Celebrations – Independence Vote Timor-Leste

Excerpt from letter from Lau Haumutuk in June 2009

This year will mark the 10th anniversary (30 August 2009) of the independence referendum of Timor-Leste. It was and will be a great moment for all who were involved in the Timorese cause for many years, to commemorate it with a great joy along with our fellow Timorese in Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

To celebrate the anniversary, we are organizing a number of activities, mainly in Dili, during August and early September 2009. We hope to recreate and strengthen the strong sense of solidarity among activists from around the world, including Timorese and people from other countries. Some of us live in Timor-Leste or visit regularly; others may not have been here for a decade, or perhaps never.

We will reflect on and strengthen the victories and friendships during the long struggle against Indonesian occupation that gave people here and around the world so much hope a decade ago. Learning from the past and building on our experiences, we also will explore how we can work with Timor-Leste’s people to address the challenges facing this ten-year-old nation, trying to overcome a legacy of trauma, repression, colonialism, poverty, impunity and underdevelopment in an increasingly interdependent world.

We invite you to join these events not as a guest or visitor, but, in the spirit of solidarity, as hosts and organizers, sharing ideas, responsibilities and collective work not only in August but in the years to come.

We hope that you will share your joy with us in Timor-Leste this August. Although we are not able to provide financial support for travel to Timor-Leste, we will try to make your stay here as comfortable, interesting and Timorese as possible.

Please send your feedback, ideas and suggestions to

We look forward to hearing that you are coming, and will keep you informed as developments progress. Check our website for the latest information.

A luta continua!

Charlie Scheiner, Abe Barreto Soares and Sisto dos Santos
On behalf of the organizing committee, including dozens of activists from Timor-Leste and around the world.

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New Library for Suai

July 5th, 2009 jen Posted in 2009 In Suai, Education, Events, Library Project Comments Off on New Library for Suai

Greetings to all of you gathered today at the Suai Public Secondary School and to all teachers and learners in Suai.

Remember this Image? School Library comes to Fruition.

Remember this Image? School Library comes to Fruition.

On this very special day in the life of your community, the opening of the new library we send you good wishes and warm regards from Friends of Suai – a small group linked with the Port Phillip Council in Melbourne, Australia.

The funds necessary for refurbishing the library were raised by Friends of Suai and substantial contributions were made by the Rotary Club of Balwyn Victoria, and Tanya Esden who worked on the community water project in Suai as well the residents of Port Phillip.

Today is just a beginning and our hope is that gradually this new library room will be stocked with a wide variety of books, DVDs and CD’s in ALL the main working languages of Timor Leste.

Perhaps one day, the wider community of Suai, old and young will be able to share in this wealth.


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Weaving Exhibition and Forum 2008

September 8th, 2008 jen Posted in Events, Friends of Suai News, Weaving Exhibition & Forum 4 Comments »

In 2008 the Friends of Suai partnered with the Alola Foundation the East Timor Womens’ Association and others to organise an extensive exhibition of Timorese woven cloth the Tais. The aim of the exhibition and forum was to extend the knowledge of the people of Port Phillip and other audiences about Timorese culture and to support the women of East Timor. Dr Sara Niner who curated the exhibition has worked extensively with the Alola Foundation and conducted research about the tais in consultation with Timorese weavers and Timorese educator Ms Ofelia Neves Napoleao who has travelled East Timor extensively conducting her own research talking to weavers. More about the Exhibition and Forum as well as an extensive article about the Tais can be seen here in the traditional culture section of this website. or by clicking on the images below.


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St Kilda Youth Portrait Exhibition 2008

July 31st, 2008 jen Posted in 2008 St Kilda Youth Portrait Exhibition, 2008 Youth Portrait Exhibition, Art & Culture Projects, Art Exhibitions, Art of Almeida, Art of Atoy, Art of Sergio da Costa, Friends of Suai News, Portraits-English, Youth Portrait Exchange Comments Off on St Kilda Youth Portrait Exhibition 2008

[Note: Click on a photo to get the ‘gallery’ to pop up then scroll through the gallery using the ‘Next’ and ‘Back’ buttons near the top on the sides.]

Portraits of Youth by Sergio (see ‘Portraits of Youth 2000‘ and ‘Portraits 2000‘)

When Pat Jessen wanted artists to paint portraits of the youth of Suai we turned to my friend Sergio da Costa for help. The paintings and drawings on the small canvasses above are his contributions to her project. The project was to provide some paintings of young people in Suai to hang alongside over one thousand portraits painted by youth in Pt Phillip and Obu Japan for the new art gallery inside the new wing of the St Kilda Town Hall.

The images the Australian students have painted of themselves provide a refreshing counterpoint to photographic portraits of youth that are prolific on social networking websites. These painted portraits open up a space in which the concept of identity is more fluid than within photographic self-portraits.

I am waiting on permission from the schools’ art teachers to upload a gallery of the Pt Phillip students’ work.

[Note: Click on a photo to get the ‘gallery’ to pop up then scroll through the gallery using the ‘Next’ and ‘Back’ buttons near the top on the sides.]


Suai Portraits in St Kilda gallery


Obu Portraits from Japan

The portraits from students in Obu are included in the exhibition because of Pt Phillip’s sister city relationship with Obu. My reason for including them is of the link between our three countries due to our history in East Timor in World War 2.

When Sergio heard we were in town he came to see us with a huge painting he had made of a traditional Lautem or Los Palos house in the Eastern most part of East Timor – the head of the crocodile. When he showed that to Pat she commissioned a painting.

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New Release a book by resistance fighter Naldo Rei

May 22nd, 2008 jen Posted in Events, Friends of Suai News, Naldo Rei - Book Launch, News from Port Phillip Comments Off on New Release a book by resistance fighter Naldo Rei

Naldo Rei was born in the jungle and born into the struggle for independence of East Timor.

Naldo Rei has suffered more adversity in his life than the Kennedy Family – (so much in the news at the moment with Ted Kennedy’s brain tumour) will ever know. Naldo Rei speaks for the “voiceless people” of his country, and one gets the feeling he is speaking for the voiceless rocks and trees, and the very land of the Timor he loves so much; because that sustained him through months and years of loneliness, torture and despair.  This memoir of courage and tragedy is written with poetic grace and humour. Very gently reminding us what was happening to him and his family while we were filling up at the bowser for another day at the beach in sunny Australia and sunny America. It may seem crass to compare the sad news in this way, but sometimes we need reminding why the Timorese are poor and why they continue to suffer. Naldo’s daily life from birth was spent in the daily grind of surviving in his own country abused by a brutal regime. He was born into the fall-out from the politically expedient policies of our Government and our ally the United States. Unless we understand this we cannot understand how Australian identity is viewed by some of our friends and neighbours. Read it, share it with a friend and buy it for a Timorese friend.

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Heru Ini Lafu – Weaving Life Exhibition Dec. 2007

April 4th, 2008 jen Posted in Events, Friends of Suai News, News from Port Phillip, Weaving LIfe Exhibition Comments Off on Heru Ini Lafu – Weaving Life Exhibition Dec. 2007

Tais - How Women Were Made Annette Sax

This post is a bit late but worth the wait. The East Timor Womens Association (ETWA), always comes up with creative and enjoyable events to raise funds and awareness to the role of women in East Timorese life beyond the apparently passive victims you see on current affairs television.

Women are primarily responsible for weaving tais, the traditional cloth of East Timor ( as many of you well know!). This event – ‘Heru ini Lafu’ means Weaving Life in Makalero, the language of the Iliomar region in the south-eastern highlands of East Timor. The event organised by ETWA was held in the Fitzroy Gallery in early December. I have chosen to feature the work of Annette Sax, Deborah Salvagnos, Alan Browne and Katheryn Philip .

Detail Creation Story Annette SaxDetail Creation Story 2 Annette Sax

I was especially thrilled to see the work of Annette Sax a Taungurung woman from the Franklin Mob. Her language group is part of the Kulin Nation. Pt Phillip is also situated on the land of the Kulin Nation.

In her artist’s statement Annette expresses the similarities between her own people and the Timorese: “The women in the Mate Restu Weaving collective do not have written records to follow. Our traditions are oral as well. It is the spiritual connection that inspires our craft. I have painted one of my Creation Stories. I have interpreted the story ‘ How women were first made’. I have used the symbols that represent land and water.” Annette explains the designs incorporate traditional and contemporary aspects of culture experienced in her daily family life. A culture that is “always changing and adapting”.

Batik Wax & Tais on Cotton Alan BrowneTais on Cotton Cross Alan Browne

Alan Browne has taken the raw materials of the traditional Indonesian Batik and incorporated a small piece of cut tais on to it. Deborah Salvagnos explains her pieces ‘Light Works’. “The stories behind both the pictures and their accompanying cloth sheds ‘light’ on cloth sheds light on the intricate and beautiful lives held within them”.

‘Breaking Free from Poverty’ was conceived by Deborah Salvagnos and Katheryn Philip “with a view of hope and strength … a look towards the future and the ultimage goal of women regaining control over their lives …”

Light Works Deborah SalvagnosBreaking Free of Poverty Katheryn Philips & Deborah Salvagnos

Neville Kitchen presented Ego Lemnos with a new Macon guitar. Ego lost his when he accidently left it in Flinders Street Railway station. The guitar was Ego’s ‘best friend’ and he was lost without it. He is in high demand as an entertainer and probably earns his living with it. So Deb appealed to who came up with the goods with great charity and grace.

Ego with Neville Kitchen Ego Lemnos & Deborah Salvagnos

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32nd Anniversary: Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor

November 29th, 2007 jen Posted in 1975, 2007 - 32snd Anniversary Independence, Acts of Remembrance, Events, Friends of Suai News, News from Port Phillip Comments Off on 32nd Anniversary: Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor

Last night the Australian East Timor Association and many of its members celebrated the 32nd Anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor at the Spanish Club in Fitzroy an inner suburb of Melbourne. I was there as documentary-maker and friend of Suai.

One of the oldest and most respected of East Timor’s friends in solidarity for over thirty two years – David Scott was there at the dinner. David founded AETA and John Sinnot has run AETA for the same period of time. I have photographs of them which you can see in
as well as Ego Lemos and Salvador Castro performing for us. You will be able to read more about David Scott in the ‘Timor Ponies of Pt Phillip’ pages next year. And before that I will post a chapter from his book ‘Last Flight out of Dili’ which tells the story of Australia’s betrayal of East Timor in 1945.
I met Pedro Lebre of the famous Villa Harmonia in June 2005. In the short history of Villa Harmonia Pedro Lebre wrote for sms he mentioned that he first fled East Timor in 1974 , because he was in fear for his life. Pedro Lebre also gave me three poems. It seemed an appropriate act of remembrance to post his poems and his short history on this day 32 years afterwards. /category/events/

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