After the war Timor again fell into the hands of Portugal,
who continued to see little benefit from the island. This eventually led to chaos
and differences in opinion on the island's fate in the mid-1970s. This began
with the first elections in the region, which showed great division among the people
regarding independence, remaining a colony of Portugal, or joining
Indonesia. This led to a declaration of independence by the Timorese in
1975; however this came without Portuguese support. This led to an invasion from
Indonesia the same year.
The Indonesians ruled directly and strongly, something
the people rejected and had rejected earlier under Portuguese
control. This strong rule led to the death of nearly 100,000 people in the early
years as the military took over town after town, killing protesters and burning
many towns to the ground. However, the Indonesians also gave the region a number
of great improvements, including improved education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
The occupation of Timor-Leste ended in 1976 as
Indonesia made the island a part of their country, an act that was never
recognized by numerous international groups or the United Nations. This rule continued
through the 1980s when the Indonesians felt they had stabilized the region enough
to open it to tourism. However the violence had not ended and in 1991 the Indonesian
government opened fire on a group of protesters, leading to more international support
and another push for independence.
In the 1990s the mostly Catholic population, under the guidance of numerous priests
and nuns, including Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta, led
a peaceful movement for independence. In 1998 Indonesia
had a change in leadership and hope was renewed by independence activists. In that
year a referendum was held and the people overwhelmingly choice independence. However
the Indonesians reacted with violence and the destruction of much of the region.
This only led to greater international support, especially among Australia and numerous
Catholic countries that viewed this as religious persecution. This led to United
Nations peacekeeping forces landing in 1999.
In 2002 Timor-Leste gained independence. In 2006 violence
erupted in the country when a protest in support of deserting soldiers was fought.
This violence has mostly ended, but there are still a large number of arguments
between the people and the government. Additionally, the government has not made
many close international allies as they argue with Australia over maritime boundaries
and relations with Indonesia are still cool.