You're now at: 2 TimorkadeEven though the caption beneath the street name describes Timor as a Dutch colony, it fails to mention that this was only the western part of the island; the eastern half was under Portuguese control. Almost the same size as the Netherlands itself, Timor was made up of several small ethnic groups that traded between one another and with other regions such as China and India. In 1515 Portugal conquered the island, ruling over it for approximately a century until the VOC arrived and took over the western part of the island. This left the Portuguese with the eastern part of Timor.
A treaty was signed in 1859 to ease the tensions between Portugal and the Netherlands. It established how the island should be divided between the two nations, but did not take account of Timor's traditional boundaries and regions. The treaty was not put into practice until 1916.
In 1949, when Dutch sovereignty was transferred to Indonesia, West Timor became part of Indonesia, whilst East Timor remained a Portuguese colony. Portugal only started its decolonization process in 1974, leading East Timor to declare its independence in 1975. This did not last long. Ten days after its declaration of independence, the Indonesian army invaded and it was incorporated as a province of Indonesia. This, of course, did not happen without opposition from the locals.
It took twenty-four years before an independence referendum could be held in Timor under the supervision of the UN in 1999. Seventy-five per cent of the population voted for independence. After 4 a transitional period of two and a half years, Timor finally gained official status as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Back here in Lombok, Utrecht, Vrij Oost Timor (Free East Timor) was founded in 2000 to support the democratization process in the newly independent country and help build its local economy (1).
- Stichting Vrij Oost Timor, 'Geschiedenis Oost Timor', http://www.vrijoosttimor.nl/geschiedenisOT.html (last consulted 14 September 2018).
- With thanks to Endie van Binsbergen for additional input on this text.