| EAST TIMOR:|
REBUILDING AND RECOVERY
The deadly uprising that followed the 1999 independence referendum left some 80 percent of East Timor's buildings damaged or destroyed and its social structure shattered. But after years of rebuilding under United Nations supervision, the half-island territory is set to begin anew as an independent country.
During the riots, pro-Jakarta militia groups stormed the streets of Dili, the East Timorese capital, and other cities and villages, setting houses on fire and terrorizing civilians. As many as 1,000 are believed to have died during the militia attacks, while some 250,000 fled for West Timor.
Before U.N. troops arrived, Indonesia imposed martial law in the area in an attempt to quell the rioting. But violence continued, fueling accusations that elements from Indonesia's military was arming and backing the militias.
Long-time resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, jailed in Jakarta since 1992 and freed following the independence vote, accused the militias and Indonesia's military of conducting a campaign of genocide in East Timor.
"There is no population any more," Gusmao said days after his release. "The army is killing the population. The army is destroying and plundering the country."
The violence died down after United Nations security force arrived in late September 1999, led by troops from nearby Australia. A U.N. provisional government took control in October, after Indonesia renounced its claim to East Timor.
|A slow recovery|
The new U.N.-led government had a monumental task before it: creating a governmental structure and social services for a region left in ruins and with 15 percent of its population living in refugee camps.
A spokesman for a World Bank team, which arrived in East Timor in October 1999 to assist in restructuring, compared the case to trying to build a nation from scratch.
Other donors also contributed millions of dollars to East Timor's rebuilding efforts. Groups like Doctors Without Borders provided medical assistance while the World Food Program contributed thousands of tons of food to replace crops lost during the fighting.
Meanwhile, the multinational security team and civilian police put down repeated threats of violence from pro-Jakarta militants and local Timorese gangs.
Despite these challenges, within a year of the independence referendum the East Timorese recovery was beginning to take shape.
"People are starting to rebuild, to work, to get their lives back to normal," Joao Moreira, the owner of an electronics store, told The Washington Post in August 2000. "Now we can finally afford to buy things and relax."
Gusmao, speaking to a crowd gathered to commemorate the referendum's anniversary, said the suffering of years past would "help East Timorese to become stronger.
"You might shout because you are crying. You might tell the world because you are suffering," Gusmao said. "But this day is ours. Our people's day."
In March 2001, Gusmao resigned his post as head of East Timor's provisional parliament, saying the provisional body no longer reflected the views of East Timor's people.
Gusmao's departure underscored a growing dissatisfaction with the U.N. administration's policies.
As East Timor's internal politics remained murky, relations with its neighbors began to bear fruit.
In early July, East Timor scored a financial victory in a deal with Australia divvying up profits from oil and gas revenues from fields in the Timor Sea. The deal promised $7 billion over 20 years and assistance from Australia in building petroleum-based businesses.
Relations with Indonesia also appeared to improve during this time. Many had worried that the rise of Megawati Sukarnoputri to the country's presidency could hurt East Timor, since she had opposed the 1999 independence referendum.
But in her first major address after taking office in late July 2001, Megawati said she respected the half-island region's decision and would respect their right to self-determination.
East Timor's first democratic election came in August 2001, with the widely popular independence party Fretlin winning 55 seats in the country's 88-member constituent assembly.
Carlos Valenzuela, the U.N.'s chief electoral officer in East Timor, told the BBC the vote was "the most peaceful election I've ever been involved in, and the most consolidated and democratic election ever held under the auspices of the United Nations."
|The start of self-government|
The parliament worked to develop a constitutional framework that will be adopted on May 20, the day the U.N. hands over the reins of government to the East Timorese.
The plan, released in early February 2002, calls for a parliamentary system headed by a mainly symbolic president, but with powers divided between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and bolstered by a politically neutral military.
When the country's U.N.-headed transitional government scheduled presidential elections for April 14, Gusmao, the widely popular former independence leader, was expected to easily win the top job. After he announced his candidacy in February as an independent, nine of the country's 16 political parties pledged to back him.
Gusmao proved a reluctant candidate. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly told supporters and members of the media he was more interested in becoming a pumpkin farmer or a photographer than president.
Shortly after the presidential vote, early returns showed the 56-year-old Gusmao the runaway winner. His only opposition, fellow resistance leader Xavier do Amaral, said he was only running to give voters a choice. Do Amaral was once East Timor's president himself, during the territory's nine-day stint of independence between colonial ruler Portugal's 1975 pullout and Indonesia's takeover.
|The search for justice|
As East Timor continues to rebuild, information about 1999's militia atrocities continues to emerge.
On March 19, 2002, Indonesia opened the trial of the first military officials charged in the militia violence. A five-judge panel will decide the fates of four members of the military who, along with a policeman, are charged with dereliction of duty for not stopping a brutal militia attack on a church in the days following the East Timorese independence vote.
Prosecutors say some 27 people, including three Catholic priests and ten women, were slaughtered with homemade weapons during the attack.
The defendants are among 18 members of the military charged in the violence, a group that does not include Indonesia's former military chief Gen. Wiranto or other senior generals.
A proclamation from Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri in 2001 limited the court's scope to acts allegedly committed in April and September 1999. President Megawati also restricted the court's inquiry to three localities within East Timor, even though the violence spread throughout the territory.
The U.S. Congress has told Megawati's government it must prosecute members of the military involved in the East Timor violence before it will grant Indonesia American military aid.
On April 4, Gen. Wiranto told a Jakarta human rights court his troops were given a "mission impossible" in East Timor, and they deserved praise for seeing that the vote occurred "without a major war," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
As of last month, the U.N. said some 198,000 refugees had returned to East Timor, with fewer than 60,000 assumed to still be in West Timorese camps.
Meanwhile, the U.N.-sponsored defense force that has kept East Timor's peace since 1999 is slowly decreasing its presence.
U.N. officials say the peacekeeping unit will have 5,000 members in the region after the territory's May 20 independence, down from a peak force of 8,000. The mission's civilian component, which once peaked at 1,000 members, will dwindle to 100 by May.
East Timor has been through a great deal in its recent history, but many who live in the country's scarred landscape are working to bury the past and keep their eyes on the future.
Maria do Ceu Viegas, a resident of the capital, Dili, says she is concentrating on the rebuilding ahead, although her house is still riddled with bullet holes and explicit graffiti.
"Sometimes I cry when I think about what happened here," she told a Reuters reporter, "but Xanana will be voted in as president, independence is coming so we are happy.
"My priority is to feed my family," she said. "Maybe sometime after independence we will start to repair the house."
--By Greg Barber, Online NewsHour