FRENTE REVOLUCIONARIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE
Biography - Ilda Maria da Conceição
21 August 2007
Note to reader: Set out below is a short bio of Ilda Maria de Conceição. FRETILIN will be issuing short biographies of its leaders over the next few weeks as part of its ongoing campaign to provide more information about the party and its members.
The first few biographies will focus on women within FRETILIN, who have played prominent roles in all FRETILIN governments.
Ilda Maria da Conceição
Ilda Maria da Conceição was born on November 23, 1957 in Uato Carbau, Viqueque where she spent most of her childhood. She is the daughter of Beatriz Arajo and Agustinho da Costa Pinto. In 1977 Ilda married Reinaldo Freitas Belo a.k.a Kilik Wai Gae who passed away in 1984. Together they had a daughter Maria Beatriz da Silva who is now 27 years old and a son Reinaldo Junior F Belo who is 24 years old.
Ilda married for the second time to Manuel Leão a.k.a Gelson Black. They have 2 children; a 19 year old daughter Leonilda Arajo Gaio and a 17 year old son Renato António Gaio.
Ilda is a member of FRETILIN and was the Vice Minister of Education with responsibility for Primary and Secondary Schooling in the 3rd constitutional government. She is currently a member of parliament for FRETILIN.
Education and Qualifications
As a daughter of a Liurai under Portuguese colonialism, Ilda was privileged to have access to education. Ilda went to primary school at the Oscar Ruas College in Oss, Viqueque from 1966-71, followed by pre secondary schooling in Dili from 1971-72. She then pursued a Business course at the Professor Silva Cunha technical school in Dili from 1973-75.
Ilda's career in education began at the age of 18 years when she was forced to leave her hometown to live in the mountains with FRETILIN in December 1975 as result of the Indonesian invasion. As one of few educated Timorese women Ilda committed herself to assisting less privileged women. The young Ilda led various education activities in the mountains. In particular, she taught literacy as well as sewing and needlecraft, although there were few facilities for them to use.
During the UN transitional period Ilda was designated as an administrator for the district of Viqueque from November 2000 to September 2001. Her experience, capability and intellectual leadership led her to serve as the Vice Minister of Administration in the first FRETILIN government until July 2006.
In August 2006, Ilda accepted the appointment of Vice Minister of Education in the third constitutional government.
Ilda joined the Popular Women's Organization of Timor-Leste (OPMT), which was established by FRETILIN on 28 August 1975 with the objective of giving women the opportunity to participate in the movement for independence and the political process in Timor- Leste.
In 1975, Ilda became a leader of OPMT in the village of Bahtata-Uato Carbau. At that time, Ilda was well known by her revolutionary name Lalo Imin, which means, 'Independence or death, never for integration' (Independência ou Morte, Integração Nunca).
Ilda participated in the guerrilla war for 11 years (1975-86). In 1976, Ilda was appointed as assistant for zone 1912 in Baguia. She then became a commissariat delegate with responsibility for the eastern sector from 1977-78. In the same year Ilda married Kilik Wai Gae who was the Second Sector commander. In 1978, Ilda with Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão Secretary Chai, his wife and one platoon set up the clandestine network in Lospalos. Ilda and other members of OPMT used this opportunity to organize OPMT activities in Lospalos.
In 1981 Ilda was appointed as a commando assistant. For security reasons Ilda was forced to changed her revolutionary name in 1978 to "Wairaha Gae Imin", which means, "a big star that rises before the sun in the morning".
When Ilda's husband was killed in 1984, Ilda was captured by the Indonesian military and moved to town. She joined the clandestine movement in town, even though the Indonesian military continued to monitor her activities closely. She was re-captured in 1986 in Boilo-Oss and jailed for 2 years in Baucau for her resistance work.
Following her release, the Indonesian military restricted her movements. They considered her to be a member of the movement of order disturbances (GPK). Despite this surveillance she continued with her clandestine activities under the cover of her volunteer work with the Church where she taught religion in the Viqueque Parish.
As a militant of FRETILIN Ilda was voted a member of the Party's Central Committee representing the Viqueque district from 2001-06. At the second National Congress of FRETILIN, she was elected as a member of the Judicial Commission for 2006-11.
On 28 November 2006, Ilda was honored by the government with an award for her outstanding participation and contribution for the liberation of Timor-Leste.
Ilda, is a courageous Timorese woman who, as a nationalist and a FRETILIN member continues to stand up strongly for her beliefs which have marked the history of the Timorese struggle for Independence.
Ilda is fluent in Portuguese, Tetum, Naoueti and Macassae (dialects from Baucau and Viqueque) and was a prominent speaker on the FRETILIN documentary "Rise up Maubere people! FRETILIN today".