Title: East Timor Collection.
Date range of collection: 1999 - 2001.
Scope and content note: The East Timor Collection consists of a range of printed media associated with and produced during Australia's involvement in the East Timor Peacekeeping mission as part of UNAMET, INTERFET and UNTAET between 1999 and 2001. The majority of the collection is material produced by government bodies, such as leaflets distributed to the East Timorese, information for the peacekeeping force and postcards used as a means of fundraising for the people of East Timor. A small section of the collection consists of material produced by Australian people to demonstrate their support of the peacekeeping force, such as Christmas cards. Only a few items in the collection were produced by either Indonesian or East Timorese people.
Provenance: The East Timor collection comes from a variety of sources, with the majority of the collection being donated to the Memorial from the Army History Unit.
Extent: The collection consists of approximately 300 items, housed in four folders and one Solander box.
Location: Published and Digitised Collections, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.
- East Timor Map Collection.
- Serials collection, including: The Tiger Journal, 1999-2000, 5th/7th Battalion (Mechanized) The Royal Australian Regiment: The story of the Battalion's relocation to Darwin and deployment to East Timor; and, Kapyong Kronicle: Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Australian Battalion VI, Operation Tanager/Citadel, 2002.
Access: Open. Publication rights: Contact the Senior Curator, Published & Digitised tree Collections. Copyright: Contact the Senior Curator, Published & Digitised Collections. Preferred citation: East Timor Collection, Published and Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
East Timor Peacekeeping Mission
The Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in 1975. After almost a quarter-century of bloodshed in the territory, a new Indonesian government under President Habibie agreed to allow the East Timorese to vote on their future. A UN operation - the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) - was established to organize and conduct the vote, which was held at the end of August 1999 and resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of independence. Once the result had been announced, pro-Indonesian militias, sometimes with the support of elements of the Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence, looting and arson throughout the entire territory. Many East Timorese were killed, and as many as 500,000 were displaced from their homes, about half leaving the territory, in some cases under threat of violence.
Eventually, as the violence remained uncontrolled, Indonesia agreed to the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force. Australia, which had contributed police to UNAMET, organized and led the International Force for East Timor (Interfet), a non-UN force operating in accordance with UN resolutions. Interfet, with the role of restoring peace and security, protecting and supporting UNAMET, and facilitating humanitarian assistance operations, began arriving on 12 September 1999. Australia contributed over 5,500 personnel and the force commander, Major General Peter Cosgrove.
With the withdrawal of the Indonesian armed forces, police and administrative officials from East Timor, UNAMET re-established its headquarters in Dili on 28 September. On 19 October 1999, Indonesia formally recognised the result of the referendum. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established as an integrated, multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation, fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence. The hand-over of command of military operations from Interfet to UNTAET was completed on 28 February 2000. Australia has continued to support the UN peacekeeping operation with between 1,500 and 2,000 personnel, as well as landing craft and Blackhawk helicopters. Australia remains the largest contributor of personnel to the peacekeeping mission.