Following 24 years of violent Indonesian occupation (1975-1999), Timor-Leste formally declared independence on May 20, 2002. A report by Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (CAVR) found that Indonesia’s occupation had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths. Timor-Leste has since undergone a program to build functioning and accountable security institutions out of what had been a revolutionary armed force.
A breakdown in security occurred in January 2006 when internal military divisions led 159 soldiers to sign a petition claiming ill treatment, poor conditions, and discriminatory practices against soldiers from the western part of the country. After receiving no response from the government, the petitioners left their barracks, and were later joined in the desertion by hundreds of other soldiers. As a result, in March 2006, 594 soldiers, or nearly half of the force, were dismissed by Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak. The dismissed petitioners began demonstrations in Dili which led to violent outbreaks and an assault on police headquarters on May 25, 2006. At the request of the government, the Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) was deployed in June 2006 to reinstate security.
The 2006 crisis and subsequent violence in 2008 left Timor-Leste with fractures between the army and police forces, and deep suspicions between political groups. With the help of the international community, Timor-Leste continues to work towards stable and sustainable security system.