DILI, 27 november 2021 (TATOLI) – David Alex ‘Dai-Tula’ was one of Timor-Leste’s real heroes, the FALINTIL Commander who sacrificed his life for the birth of Timor-Leste to save the lives of many Timorese people, said Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, in his remarks at the reflection ceremony of Dai-Tula’s capture, 24 years ago, held in Woraiteti area of Caibada village, in Baucau Municipality, on saturday.
Back in 1997, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was the FALINTIL’s Commander in Chief, Taur Matan Ruak was the Commander of Chief of Staff, Lere Anan Timur was the Deputy Chief of Staff as well as Dai-Tula was the Deputy Chief of Staff.
“Thousands of Timorese people died during our struggle against Indonesian oppression, including our true hero Dai-Tula. Their sacrifices had given us a nation, and a land. They died for the birth of the nation to save many lives,” said Ruak.
Ruak called on all Timorese people to follow in the footsteps of Dai-Tula and many other heroes to look after Timor-Leste, a nation that was gained with the blood of many people.
“We need to take care of our nation by contributing to peace and stability to ensure national development for all. National development such as improving the condition of the schools, hospitals, farms, roads, houses, water, and sanitation are important to ensure decent living for all. That’s our honor to those who lost their lives for the birth of this nation, including Dai-Tula,” he said.
Dai-Tula was captured by Indonesian soldiers on june 25, 1997, in the outskirt of Baucau, called the Woraiteti area of the Caibada village.
Dai-Tula, 46 years old, was Falintil Deputy Chief of Staff, the regional commander in the Bacau area, and one of the earliest fighters for Timorese nationalism with the Fretilin resistance movement.
Dai-Tula had been haunted by the Indonesian military (ABRI) for many years as he was the number three person in the Timorese armed resistance (FALINTIL).
He was shot in the leg and an arm during the battle that led to the capture.
Indonesian soldiers then took him to the headquarters of the elite Kopassus commandos in Baucau, a reputed torture center. Troops later transported him via helicopter to Dill where he was interrogated at military intelligence headquarters. Indonesian authorities claim that he later died from excessive loss of blood in a military hospital despite their efforts to save him, said in Forum Haksesuk website.
However, the resistance sources report that Indonesian soldiers brutally tortured David Alex, eventually killing him. Whatever the truth, the Indonesian government’s refusal to accede to demands (including that of Amnesty International) for an independent autopsy of the body has only fueled the speculation that David Alex died as a result of torture or poisoning.
He was known as a fierce fighter and one of the most clever and effective guerrilla leaders in East Timor.
Ruak said that a number of ambushes were launched under Dai-Tula’s command as part of a general FALINTIL offensive close to the May 29 “elections” for Indonesia’s rubber-stamp parliament.
He said during that period, heavy casualties were inflicted among Indonesian soldiers and police. Indonesian ABRI responded by bringing in more thousands of additional soldiers to put extreme pressure on the guerrillas: “It was that Indonesian soldiers capture the FALINTIL’s Commander, Deputy Chief of Staff, Dai-Tula, and four of his men.”
At the same place, the Commander of the Timorese National Defense Force (F-FDTL), Tenant General Lere Anan Timur said it’s not easy to convince and mobilize all Timorese people to fight against Indonesian oppression like Dai-Tula and other FALINTIL commanders did during the 24-year resistance.
“Today, we see four flags are raised in front of us, including the national flag of Timor-Leste, the flag of FRETILIN, the flag of FALINTIL, as well as the flag of CNRT. Many of Timorese people, including Dai-Tula sacrificed their lives for these flags to be raised as an independent nation,” said Timur.
He said up to now, Dai-Tula’s death is remained unexplainable and considered it as a mystery, adding however it requires explanations from witnesses regarding his death.
Dai-Tula’s guerrilla skills were first documented by filmmaker Max Stahl, the first foreigner to reach one of David Alex’s dugout shelters in the mountains. The guerrillas spoke in low tones and whispers, and operated in small groups to provide maximum maneuverability and to minimize the exposure of the population to retaliation, Stahl said in a report published in the Australian Magazine in January 1992.
One of the notable battles of Dai-Tula was filmed by Jill Jolliffe. His guerrilla action was filmed live for the first time. David Alex and his men courageously carried out an attack in Assailatula in the district of Baucau (now Baucau Municipality), killing two Indonesian soldiers and then fighting their way out before the arrival of troop reinforcements.
To honor Timor-Leste’s true hero ‘Dai-Tula’, the veterans of Baucau municipality preferred to construct and make Woraiteti in Caibada village, where he was captured to be a historical tourism site, said Secretary of the Council of Veterans of Baucau Municipality, Manuel da Costa Soares.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia Borges Rosario