Independence Restoration Day in East Timor Date in the current year: May 20, 2016

Independence Restoration Day in East Timor Public holidays in East Timor can be divided into two groups: religious holidays associated with Christianity or Islam and holidays that commemorate important events in the country’s liberation struggle. Independence Restoration Day celebrated on May 20 belongs to the latter group.

East Timor officially became a Portuguese colony in 1702. After the Carnation Revolution of 1974, Portugal withdrew from its colonies. On November 28, 1975, East Timor proclaimed its independence. It was formally recognized by six countries only.

On December 7, 1975, East Timor was invaded by Indonesia. Indonesian occupation of East Timor lasted until 1999. By 1979, armed resistance to the occupation had been all but destroyed. For almost twenty-five years, the people of East Timor were subjected to deliberate starvation, torture, and massacre. Hundreds of thousands of people died from hunger, illness and violence.

Indonesian occupation officially ended in 1999, following an independence referendum. The United Nations provided an interim administration until the independence of East Timor was officially restored on May 20, 2002. The anniversary of this event was declared as a public holiday, Independence Restoration Day.

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