04 December 2008

Human face of brutal memories in East Timor

NT News ALYSSA BETTS 4 December2008 - MARIA da Silva Benfica's face is thinner and lined, but it has the same air of quietness that was captured in a black-and-white photo 31 years ago.

She was 23 then, sitting outside the Belide prison, one of the first to be imprisoned after the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, and on the receiving end of brutal treatment.

The photo is part of an exhibition for the Living Memory Video Archive project, which is on show at the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

Faces in black and white, slightly sepia-tinged or bold colour stare down the lens and come with short captions.

"Filomeno Ferreira at his trial in a Dili court, 1992," reads one.

The photo shows a thin man, standing rod-straight with jaw tight, dressed well and staring at something or someone outside of the camera's range - he was locked away for seven years for his role in organising a peaceful protest.

Maria and Filomeno are founding members of the project that is committing personal stories to public memory - for the East Timorese people and the world.

The project began when Darwin-based journalist Jill Jolliffe met up with survivors that she had reported on during their imprisonment.

The exhibition was launched on Monday and is showing until tomorrow at the Supreme Court, 9.30am-4pm daily.

MEMORIES: Former East Timorese political prisoner Maria da Silva Benfica with a photo of herself outside Belide Prison in 1997. Picture: CHLOE ERLICH

East Timor Women - Raising awareness of the plight of women in Timor-Leste.

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