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PacNet #38 – Security Implications for an Independent East Timor

On 30 August the people of East Timor voted by a ratio of almost four to one to reject an autonomy package offered by the Indonesian government, and thus in effect voted to secede from the world’s fourth most populous country. Election day was peaceful, a respite from months of violence largely perpetrated by pro-Indonesian militia forces. The very next day violence began again and has continued at a much more vicious pace. It is clear that the one day of peace was deliberately ordered by whomever in the Indonesian army controls the militia forces, and showed their ability to turn the violence on and off at will.