Author: Thin Lei Win
BALI, Indonesia (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Under a full moon one night in 2006, 30 machete-wielding men surrounded Aleta Baun in the middle of a forest as she headed home to breastfeed her youngest daughter.
“Each of the men slapped me, pulled my hair and kicked me. They banged my head against a tree. I now get headaches often,” she told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It was very, very painful but I just prayed. I still feel thankful they just hit me and did not kill me”, Baun, now 54, told Reuters.
Baun was leading protests against mining operations in her West Timor community. Baun was protesting against the miners for destroying the land sacred to her people, the Molo Indigenous people. Baun’s attackers told her blatantly that night; they had been hired to kill her.
Baun’s husband was at home tending to their children when she was attacked. Baun had called her husband before she was attacked.
“He(husband)said, ‘We will come and help you,’ and I asked, ‘How many of you are there?’. When he said ‘Five,’ I told him, ‘That’s useless. Don’t come. Stay at home so if something happens to me there’s someone to look after the kids”.
Baun’s attackers took the only $20 on her. After discussing they would gang-rape or kill her, they hacked her legs with machetes, and left her to die.
Baun survived the attack but the threats continued, placing the lives of her husband and children in grave danger. She was finally forced to leave home for a year.
Read more about Baun and other heroic women here: