East Timorese riot

Ethnic and religious tension has been severe in the island of East Timor ever since the predominantly Catholic nation was invaded by the predominantly Muslim Indonesia.

This tension boiled over into riots several times in the mid-1990s.

In January 1994, residents of the East Timorese capital Dili and the seaside town of Bacau rioted after an Indonesian immigrant fatally stabbed an East Timorese on New Year's Day. At least five people were killed in those riots.

On September 8 and 9, 1995, dozens of East Timorese youth rioted in Dili after a visiting Indonesian official insulted the Catholic faith. Several police and Indonesian immigrants were attacked and injured in the riots, and much property was destroyed. The Indonesian official was later arrested for insulting other people's religion.

In October 1995, Indonesian officials arrested 120 youths for their involvement in four more days of riots in Dili. Four soldiers were injured in the crackdown.

Indonesian security forces marched in riot gear through the suburbs of Dili, hauling away suspects. "They came here shouting 'Come outside, East Timorese dogs.' I saw with my own eyes as they forced their way into my neighbour's house and took away 14 youths," said one East Timorese.

Source: September 10, 1995, Reuter Information Service article, "Police assert control in East Timor after riots," and October 13, 1995, Reuter Information Service article, "Indonesia says restores order in Dili, arrests 120."