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Conflict in East Timor

For almost 500 years East Timor was ruled from Portugal. It gained independence in 1975.

That same year, Indonesia invaded and ruled in terror. World leaders demanded that East Timorese be allowed to vote for self-rule in 1999. But the Indonesian army and many local fighters wanted East Timor to remain part of Indonesia. They tried to frighten people who wanted to vote for independence.

Many people died in the fighting, and others become refugees. But enough East Timorese did manage to vote, and they now have an independent country. United Nations peacekeepers are in the country to continue helping protect the people.