Anniversary of the First Arrival of Australian INTERFET Peacekeepers in East Timor
Australian soldiers outside the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) Headquarters. Left to right: Lieutenant Paul A Scanlan, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR); Sergeant (Sgt) Hoye; and Sgt Dunbavin. Members of the ADF are serving with the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), a peacekeeping force led by Australia.
Before East Timor’s referendum for independence from Indonesia in August 1999, and after the return of the overwhelming “yes” vote, pro-Indonesian militias unleashed a campaign of violence, murder, arson, looting, and intimidation upon the Timorese people. With the support of the international community, the first Australians from Interfet arrived in Dili on 20 September. The peacekeepers quickly secured Dili before moving out to other areas, disarming militia and at times having tense stand-offs with the Indonesian military. Interfet liaised with Falintil, the military wing of Timorese independence party, and provided medical assistance to the East Timorese. By October the Oecussi enclave on the north coast of West Timor had been secured. With calm restored, a large United Nations peacekeeping force took over from Interfet in February 2000.