East Timor

Colonization of Timor by several countries

The Portuguese were the first colonizers of Timor. They were in fact he first people to colonize maritime Southeast Asia. They arrived in this continent in the 16th century. They then established outposts at Timor and the surrounding localities.

During the rule of the House of Habsburg over Portugal, these posts were all lost and came under Dutch control. For the Portuguese colonizers, Timor remained one of the neglected outposts till the end of the 19th century. Not much investment was made in terms of infrastructure, health and education. The main export crop was sandalwood. This was closely followed by coffee. Portuguese rule in certain places also proved to be brutal and oppressive. It finale led to a faulty economy. In the year 1941, Portuguese colony of Timor was occupied by Dutch and Australian army. This was in an attempt to obstruct a Japanese invasion of the island. It was a futuristic strategy. However, the Portuguese vehemently protested against this occupation. The Japanese finally did come and they drove the Dutch out of Dili. Then started a long session of guerilla campaigns and guerilla wars.

The process of decolonization began in 1974 this was in wake of the Carnation Revolution. Due to a lot of political pressure and also due to the decolonization of Angola and Mozambique, Portugal had to abandon the island of Timor. Timor was formally declared independent on November 28, 1975.

Following the Portuguese occupation and the subsequent decolonization of Timor, the Indonesians also colonized this island for their own pursuits. A brief civil war also took place in 1975. The territory of Timor was declared the 27th province of Indonesia in July 1976. Indonesian rule in Timor was pretty brutal and violent. It bore a lot of similarities to the essence of the Portuguese rule which had also turned out to be very oppressive and dominating. It had also proved to be very detrimental to the economy of Timor. There have been several estimates of Timor people that have died during the Indonesian rule. This estimate varies between 60,000 to 200,000. This itself shows how brutal and violent the Indonesian rule was. The Indonesian conflict occurred with Timor on account of the allegation that Timor was communist and could cause further troubles in wake of the Vietnam War. A lot of Timor inhabitants were also killed due to lack of food and health facilities.

The Timorese guerilla force was known as the falintil. They fought a campaign against the Indonesian occupants. The members were trained by Portuguese Special Forces. The Dili massacre was a turning point in the history of Timor and its solidarity with other powerful nations has grown considerably since then.

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