The East Timorese capital Dili was once again the scene of protest and violence this week, just days before a UN-supervised referendum. On Monday, East Timor's 800,000 residents will choose whether to remain part of Indonesia as an autonomous province or to establish an independent nation. A Portuguese colony for 400 years, East Timor was independent for about a year before it was invaded and annexed by Indonesia in 1976. After decades of military repression and civil strife (see the April 20, 1999 Scout Report for Social Sciences
), the post-Suharto Indonesian government announced it would allow the East Timorese to decide their own political fate. In their strongest showing so far, pro-independence advocates organized a rally of up to 10,000 people in the capital on Wednesday. A counter-rally the next day resulted in the worst violence since April, when dozens were killed by anti-independence militias. Despite the violence and continued threats by these militias, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made it clear that the twice-postponed vote will be held on Monday as scheduled. The sites listed provide information about East Timor and this historic referendum.
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