Votes are being counted from a once-in-a-generation election as Timor-Leste, southeast Asia’s youngest country, waits to catch a glimpse of its future. This tiny maritime nation with rich natural resources improbably gained its independence 21 years ago after over 400 years of foreign occupation. In the final years, the occupiers were so brutal that one-fourth of the Timorese were massacred. Still, the survivors fought on and obtained their freedom.
In this report, I explain how they did it, what has happened to them since then, and what is at stake in the election. This includes an exclusive interview with a UN representative who barely escaped with her life after overseeing the freedom election, and returned to help the Timorese establish their new nation. She provides photos that she took then, which have never before been broadcast. This report also includes an interview with a young Timorese leader who grew up during that final bloody occupation.