The island of Timor lies near Australia in the Timor Sea. Part of the island, Timor-Leste, was a colony of Portugal until August of 1975. Indonesian troops began infiltrating East Timor as soon as the Portuguese abandoned their former colony.
On December 7, a day that will live infamy, Indonesia invaded from their western side of the island. Within three years with more than 100,000 souls killed or starved to death, the East Timorese Catholics were solidly under the world’s most populous Muslim nation’s thumb.
In 1998 the Indonesian dictator Suharto who started this particular mess was out and a year later the people of East Timor agitated for independence but got only bloody attacks by Indonesian militia forces in response. In 1999 Australia counter-invaded to restore peace to the eastern side of the island. The Australians handed over the peace enforcing mission to the UN in 2000.
More than 1/2 million East Timorese were internally displaced and perhaps another 150,000 became refugees when forced by Indonesia’s military into their territory. The death toll of the Catholic East Timorese during the nearly 25 years of Muslim rule is probably double the 100,000 figure that is generally stated.