A decade on, East Timor is still linked to Indonesia

East Timor ten years after the referendum

Hedda Haugen Askland and Thushara Dibley

A street vendor in Dili selling Indonesian books and other
products imported from Indonesia
Thushara Dibley

August this year marks ten years since the historic vote in East Timor for independence from Indonesia. In that time East Timor has become established as an independent nation whose leaders have cultivated a nationalism that emphasises East Timor’s Portuguese heritage and valorises the resistance against the Indonesian occupation. Nonetheless, as the contributors of this edition show, independent East Timor remains connected to Indonesia in diverse and intricate ways.

Not long after East Timor became independent, Inside Indonesia decided we would no longer run stories about East Timor, unless they dealt directly with the new country’s connection – historical or current – to Indonesia. East Timor was now an independent country, and we thought it would be an insult to treat domestic East Timorese affairs as if they were still ‘inside’ Indonesia. Ten years on, we’ve decided to devote an entire edition to the relations between the two countries, to look both at the legacies of the past occupation and at connections that continue in the present.
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