Timor-Leste independence hero Isabel da Costa Ferreira and wife and wife of former president, Taur Matan Ruak. The 49 year old who served as first lady of the country for 5 years between 2012 and 2017 passed away due to cancer.
To read about the 2023 East Timor election click here
Who was Isabel da Costa Ferreira?
Born in Same, Manufahi district in 1974 she graduated from the National University of Denpasar Bali, before getting involved in the independence struggle. This saw her act General Coordinator of the NGO “Kontras Timor-Timur” and Director of the Commission of Human Rights Timor-Loro Sa’e (CDHTL) in 1999-2001.
Upon independence she joined the constituent assembly of the county and was instrumental in helping to draft the constitution of the newly formed Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
She then began a career covering many aspects of government within Timor-Leste, ranging from being a special advisor to the Prime-Minister to being a regular advocate and speaker on human rights.
To read why Timor-Leste was not in ASEAN click here.
Aș first lady of Timor-Leste
Isabel da Costa Ferreira married former President of East Timor Taur Matan Ruak in 2001, with whom she had two children. Ruak was elected President of the Republic in 2012, replacing current President Ramos-Horta.
To read an interview with Ramos-Horta click here.
Both her and her husband were members of the People’s Liberation Party, a socially conservative political party and while popular as first lady the presidency of her husband was not seen as a successful one, with him and his partly being replaced by the revolutionary FRETELIN party in 2017.
Isabel though remained a popular figure and stood by her husband when he briefly served as Prime-Minister before resigning due to his perceived poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Timor-Leste is currently swearing in a new government following the victory of CNRT over FRETELIN. Yet despite this embassies throughout the world have been welcoming diplomats and politicians keep to sign books of memorial dedicated to the former first lady.