In May 2012, Timor-Leste celebrated its ten-year anniversary of the restoration of independence after a brutal occupation under Indonesian dictatorial regimes. As a Timorese who grew up during the struggle for independence and was involved in the resistance movement, it is important for me to show the transition from war and the lingering effects of colonization. At the same time, we, as Timorese people, are making strides as a new democracy, with several peaceful elections demonstrating our gradual progress to rebuild the nation. These photos depict the juxtaposition of an environment which continues to reflect our militarized past, alongside the vision for a peaceful future of the next generation.
Zésopol Carlito Caminha was born and raised in Lospalos, Timor-Leste and was an activist for the country’s independence. He studied Business Administration in Jakarta and was first introduced to photography during the resistance movement, when he smuggled a camera into the jail cell of former resistance leader Xanana Gusmão. He is a co-founder and former editor-in-chief of TALITAKUM, an investigative magazine published in Indonesia and Timor-Leste from 1998-2005. In 2005 with his fellow Timorese journalists and photographers, he founded and headed the Timor-Leste Photographers’ Association (TiLPA). He has a Postgraduate Certificate in Journalism from the University of Queensland and was a Human Rights Advocate with the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in New York. He has provided journalism and photography training to various groups in Timor-Leste and abroad, including young refugees in Kibondo, Tanzania. Most of his photographs focus on social justice and human rights. He recently launched an online digital photography library of Timor-Leste (www.timorlesteimages.com), which continues to grow. He is currently based in New York City with his wife and two children.
All images © Zésopol Carlito Caminha