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FALINTIL (Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor)

Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor Leste

Last modified: 2014-06-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: falintil | forças armadas de libertação nacional de timor leste | patria povo | star: 5 points (yellow) | wheat | machete | provisional | fdtl |
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FALINTIL flag image by Jorge Candeias, 18 April 1998
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Description and origin of the flag

The East Timorese guerrilla forces, the FALINTIL, have been dissolved on Thursday to give way to the new East Timorese army, to be known as FDTL (Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste, Defense Forces of East Timor).
Jorge Candeias, 03 February 2001

The FALINTIL militia was reconstituted on 1 February 2001 into the new Defence Force of East Timor. The ceremony for this event was shown on Australian television news (SBS) and showed the FALINTIL flag being lowered and the UN flag being raised.
Ralph Kelly, 10 February 2001

In East Timor, guerillas fighting against Indonesian occupation adopted a name and symbols independent of the several (clandestine) Timorese political parties. It is called, if I’m not mistaken, FALINTIL - Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor Leste (Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor), and the flag is a blue-white-green horizontal tricolour, with a black panel at the canton that covers 2/3 vertically and about 1/3 horizontally of the flag.
Jorge Candeias, 18 April 1998

I found a recent photo (published some days ago in a newspaper) and took a good look to it. Unfortunately, the paper wasn’t mine and I couldn’t keep the image. The photo was later confirmed by TV images. The changes from the previous version are the absence of writing on the central stripe, a different weapon (now it’s two crossed swords), a slightly different shape of the shield, especially in the chief, the presence of what seems to be 3 crossed spikes (of wheat, perhaps?) in the center of the shield, a darker shade of the blue stripe and a totally different scroll.
Jorge Candeias, 7 September 1998

Previous version

Previous FALINTIL flag image by Jorge Candeias, 7 September 1998

This panel is charged with a pointy red shield, fimbriated in yellow and charged with a yellow star on top and what seems to be local traditional weapons below. Below the shield, there is a green curved area with black letters that read "PÁTRIA POVO" ("fatherland, people"). The white stripe is charged with "FALINTIL" in black letters. The source of this information is a photograph taken from a newspaper in which a group of Timorese young men is holding this flag, perhaps in some demonstration. I don’t know when or where it was taken.
Jorge Candeias, 18 April 1998

The FALINTIL flag as a provisional/future national/army flag

A new flag was adopted by the representatives of the Timorese political parties and organizations during the first East Timorese National Convention held in April 1998 in Portugal. […] The flag originally was the flag of FALINTIL, the liberation Army of East Timor. FALINTIL is non-partisan and therefore represents the interests of the people and not the interest of any organization. Furthermore, the members of FALINTIL are the ones that continue to keep the flame of the struggle to self-determination and independence of East-Timor in times of difficulties. They are the ones that continue to shed their blood for the sacred right to self-determination and independence of East-Timor. Because of that there was a consensus of the participants of the Convention adopt the flag as a temporary flag of East-Timor. Until a new one is adopted, this flag will be used in any public events.
Mark Sensen, 31 January 1999,
quoting Constâncio Pinto, CNRT Representative to the United States

Speculating a bit about the future, I suspect that once independence gets total, this force [FDTL] will readopt the FALINTIL flag, maybe with a few changes, though in nothing essential. That unless the country adopts the flag itself (as the CNRT did in due time), in which case maybe a different flag for the army is designed. But as I wrote earlier, this is not at all certain for now.
Jorge Candeias, 10 February 2001

FALINTIL uniform markings

Sleeve patch

FALINTIL flag image by António Martins, 21 September 2001

In [pay00], on page TI 1.1 (East Timor), There is a blue white green horizontal tricolour. Where that come from? Is it only a “placeholder” for a future flag?
Željko Heimer, 22 January 2001

(In the 2002 Corr. Nº2 [pay02] to the Album the new flag is shown.)
Željko Heimer, 30 March 2003

That arrangement was used on the uniforms of the FALINTIL as a shoulder patch, but I’ve never seen it as a flag.
Jorge Candeias, 07 September 1998

The FALINTIL militia was reconstituted on 1 February 2001 into the new Defence Force of East Timor. Of note was a close-up of the soldiers, who were wearing UN blue berets and a shoulder patch flag consisting of a plain horizontal tricolour of Blue White and Green (no canton, badges or writing). Whilst this may still be a carry-over from the FALINTIL uniforms, it is also suggestive that the unofficial flag usage may be drifting towards the plain tricolour.
Ralph Kelly, 10 February 2001

Note that the patch is official, it wasn’t just forgotten there: they where already using that shoulder patch when they where still the guerilla group/army with the well-known flag with canton. So I don’t think that the continued use of the tricolour in the shoulders of the Timorese uniforms means anything in terms of flag use except that the new FDTE acknowledges the fact that is stemming from the FALINTIL.
Jorge Candeias, 10 February 2001

CNRT leader Xanana Gusmão addressed the East Timorese people in Dili today, following his return to the country after (I think) seven years of arrest and exile. On his combat fatigues, he was wearing a badge or patch of a blue-white-green triband, but without the black canton and coat of arms. Could this be an indication of the future flag of Timor Loro Sae — a simple triband?
Dylan Crawfoot, 22 October 1999

I saw the FALINTIL sleeve patch: it’s a simple blue-white-green tricolour. This might be yet another option for the future flag of Timor Lorosae.
Jorge Candeias, 7 September 1998

Helmet sticker

FALINTIL flag image by Jorge Candeias, 21 September 2001

Al Kirsch sent me this snippet showing an unidentified flag from a photograph in the New York Times, Oct. 1, 1999, Page A4. The photo appeared in an article by Seth Mydans on East Timor, and shows Cornélio Gama, a deputy commander of the East Timor pro-independence guerrillas, with his comrades and an Australian soldier, left, in Díli. The flag is on Gama’s cap.
Lewis Nowitz, 01 October 1999

It looks like the usual CNRT flag with a black central stripe instead of white: My theory is that it is a sticker intended to be used on white background and hence with a transparent central stripe; if stuck onto a black helmet, black shows through.
António Martins, 02 October 1999

The fact is that these large pins are made of some material with some reflective properties (I think) that turn white when it faces the observer (light grey, actually) but gets pretty dark when it is displayed obliquely. I don’t know why they made it this way, but I’ve seen several such pins on TV images, always changing colours as the owner moved.
Jorge Candeias, 06 October 1999