East Timor


FRETILIN - Front for the Liberation of Timor

Indonesian government troops








This was a Portuguese colony on the island of Timor within the Indonesian archipelago. At independence from Portugal in November 1975 Indonesia annexed it. Churches report that 100,000 people may have died in the invasion. Census records suggest a further 100,000 since.

Some of the inhabitants organized a resistance against the Indonesians. As with the 1965 massacre of Communists in Indonesia itself this invasion is believed to have been encouraged by the United States (State Department documents confirm this). The reason would have been to remove the FRETILIN government which was alleged to be left wing.

The world community tacitly recognized the annexation with few protests. A guerrilla war followed. The United Nations still recognized Portugal as the legal ruler, but took no practical steps to do anything about it (discouraged by western votes).

A televised massacre of peaceful demonstrators in November 1991 brought the conflict to world attention, and was perhaps the event that eventually brought international action. Indonesia was forced to withdraw (after their own military regime fell) and an international UN administration took over. The departing Indonesians wrecked the offices and set fire to homes and businesses, leaving very little for the new government.

FALANTIL (Armed Forces for the National Liberation of Timor) organized the fight against Indonesia.

The last act was the declaration of independence following UN supervised elections, in 19 May 2002.

Last revised 19/12/04


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