« East Timor’s “Red Rosa” » by David Hutt, 18/08/2017, New Mandala
When East Timor gained its independence in May 2002, after a 24-year struggle against Indonesian occupation, how to compensate those who fought was one of the first decisions the new government had to make. By September of that year, two commissions had been established to register veterans of the armed struggle. Almost 40,000 people registered at the time, and a further 76,000 registered when another commission was established two years later. Veterans’ benefits are a sensitive issue in East Timor. Misgivings about favouritism were partly behind the 2006 violence that spread throughout the nation, while a significant chunk of the state budget is still today handed over for pensions, not without politically-motivated reasons.
But more aggrieved than most were the women of East Timor. In the first two commissions, out of 36,959 registered individuals only 13 were women. At the 2004 commission, which was intended for those who had fought in the clandestine resistance, 10,337 of the 76,061 registered were women—roughly 13%. This is despite some estimates that as many as 60% of the clandestinos (as they are known) were female…
When I visited Dili in 2015, an idle afternoon provided me the time to wander the city. Under a sedulous sun, I stopped to rest in a small, unassuming park that I later discovered is dedicated to Rosa “Muki” Bonaparte Soares, a little known but important figure of the early nationalist movement. Back home, I consulted the books I own on East Timorese history: Bonaparte’s name arose only in either a long list of other names from the period or as a passing reference to her stewardship of the OPMT. Academic essays bore more fruit. Perhaps the finest exploration of Bonaparte’s life, and of the East Timorese women’s movement during the 1970s, is Hannah Loney’s essay, “The Target of a Double Exploitation: Gender and Nationalism in Portuguese Timor, 1974–75”, published in 2015.
Bonaparte was one of only three women—along with Maria do Céu Pereira and Guilhermina Araújo—to be part of FRETILIN’s original 50-strong central committee. And, on 28 August 1975, she was named Secretary General of the first East Timorese women’s organisation, the OPMT. It wasn’t long before organisation chapters spread across the half-island nation, with 7,000 members within weeks. Free classes were provided to illiterate women and, for the first time, taught in the Timorese language, Tetum, and crèches were established for child-care.
Lire la suite sur : http://www.newmandala.org/rosa-bonaparte-east-timors-red-rosa/