From 1975 to 1999, East Timor suffered one of the most brutal occupations in history. One third of the Timorese population perished. Women were forcibly sterilized, torture centers were commonplace.
In 1999, when East Timor was granted its independence through a UN sponsored referendum, anti-independence militia were set loose upon the country. More than a thousand people were killed, including foreign journalists. 85% of the buidlings -- virtually every school and every business -- were burned.
The tiny country of just about a million people was saved by the involvement of the international community and strong, non-violent Timorese leaders. Today it has emerged, literally from the ashes, as a fledging democracy.
The road has not been easy. Nor has it always been smooth. East Timor has seen and experienced the challenges of building peace and democracy in the twenty first century. Steps taken by strong non-violent leaders combined with support from the international community have kept the country on the track to peace and prosperity. Today East Timor is enjoying three years of sustained peace and economic growth under a President who is a Nobel Peace prize winner.
But the job is far from done. It needs people like you to help move forward and hold the peace in our world's newest country.