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The East Timor thread

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  • The East Timor thread

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    East Timor was a Portuguese colony from the 15th century until 1975, when the Portuguese announced their intention to depart. In November 1975 a radical Timorese party, Fretilin, seized power and declared the Democratic Republic of East Timor. Civil war broke out, and Indonesia used this as a pretext to invade and annex the territory. East Timor remained an Indonesian province until 1999, though sporadic guerilla resistance continued. The annexation was not recognised by the United Nations.

    In August 1999 Indonesian President Habibie allowed a referendum in East Timor, in which the people voted overwhelmingly for independence. The Indonesian army and its Timorese militia allies then ran amok, destroying most of the territory and killing thousands of people. Following United Nations armed intervention led by Australia, the Indonesians withdrew. The territory was placed under United Nations administration, and full independence was attained in May 2002.

    The Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor (Fretilin), which led the resistance to Indonesian rule, won a sweeping victory in the 2001 legislative elections. Since 1975 Fretilin has abandoned its Marxist ideology but is still a radical party and intolerant of the opposition, whom it sees as Indonesian collaborators.

    the country is most famous among the Left for being repeated shafted by successive Australian Federal governments over East Timor's oil and gas reserves.