1975 Indonesian invasion
On December 7, Indonesia invaded the country. A few hours earlier, US President Gerald Ford had visited Jakarta, where he became aware of and approved Indonesian President Suharto’s invasion plans. FRETILIN was forced to withdraw from the capital and the main ports. On June 2, 1976, a “People’s Assembly” comprising representatives of the UDT and Apodeti approved Indonesia’s annexation and the country’s status as an Indonesian province. However, the annexation was not recognized by the UN Decolonization Committee, which continued to consider Portugal formally responsible for East Timor. In 1978, Australia recognized, however, the annexation. At the same time, the Democratic Republic of East Timor established relationships with a large number of former Portuguese colonies and socialist countries.
In December 1978, President of the Republic and leader of FRETILIN, Nicolás dos Reis Lobato, was killed in combat. As a result of this severe blow, the liberation movement reorganized and the resistance continued. Meanwhile, Indonesia continued its genocide policy in the country. A policy that should have cost about a third of the population’s lives.
In 1978, the Indonesian army began recruiting young Timorese in an attempt to pose against the Maubes, but the attempt failed. The young people followed the front’s call, made mutiny and joined FRETILIN. In 1982, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution demanding the occupation forces be withdrawn from the country. In 1983, a ceasefire agreement was signed between FRETILIN commander Xanana Gusmão and Colonel Purwanto – commander of the Indonesian Expeditionary Force. But President Suharto rejected the deal and the guerrilla fight continued.
According to Countryaah, the area is rich in natural resources, and in April 1985 the formation of a consortium for oil and gas exploration in the East Timor and Australia marine area – The Timor Gap, was announced in Lisbon.
1988 Assembly process
In 1988, the process of approximation between FRETILIN and UDT culminated in the formation of the joint organization: the National Assembly (CNRM). The unit was crucial to Portugal taking on a more active role in the East Timor issue. The nationalist movement reorganized its structures to give it a more national, non-partisan orientation. At the same time, Gusmão’s position as commander-in-chief of the Liberation Army was confirmed.
At the same time, Portugal succeeded in getting the European Parliament and Commission to recognize the demand for self-determination for the people, the need to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict and to end the Indonesian occupation. In October 89, the UN Human Rights Commission adopted a condemnation of Indonesian occupation and repression in East Timor. In the same year, increased popular mobilization took place in the country. Especially concentrated in the capital Dili, where students walked the streets, burning cars and destroying houses belonging to Indonesia’s representatives in the country. Indonesia responded by forbidding foreign journalists access and Dili was cut off from the outside world. Telephone connections out of the country were interrupted and there were no diplomatic representations.
When Pope Paul II visited Dili in October 89, a group of young people unfolded a Fritilin banner just 20 meters from where the pope held a fair. Out of the 80,000 people attending the fair, it was estimated that 13,000 belonged to the Indonesian security forces. The incident triggered immediate repression against the students who ran signs against the occupation. Although the journalists covering the pope’s visit to the country subsequently confiscated their cameras and films, they were able to tell the world about the situation that prevailed in the East Timor.
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Since then, suppression has escalated. The homes are forced to stick a list up on the front door with the names of those living in the house. The list can be controlled by the forces of the occupation force at all times of the day. Thousands of Maubar women have been forcibly sterilized. In schools, the use of the national language, tetum, is prohibited. At the same time, the Indonesian authorities embarked on an immigration policy aimed at reducing maubricants of the people to a minority within its own country. Furthermore, various parts of the country have discovered mass graves that have confirmed the mass executions of the occupying forces.