José Ramos-Horta

Jose Ramos-Horta is famous for his uncompromising and indefatigable work on behalf of the people of East Timor, who were brutally invaded by Indonesia In 1975. Muslim West Timor became part of Indonesia In 1946, while East Timor, settled In 1520 by the Portuguese with a different language, religion, and customs, remained a colony until Portugal’s withdrawal In 1975. A then, twenty­ five-year-old Jose Ramos-Horta was named foreign minister of the newly formed government in November 1975. But only a month later, Indonesian troops amassed around the capital city, Dili, and as Ramos­-Horta’s plane touched down in Portugal, he was told that Indonesia had taken control of his country. In the years following the invasion, one-third of the population was to lose their lives to massacres, starvation, epidemics, and terror. Throughout the next two decades, Ramos-Horta traveled the globe speaking out against abuses and in 1992, he put forth a peace plan that called for a phased withdrawal of Indonesian troops, culminating in a referendum In which the people of East Timor would vote for independence, integration Into Indonesia, or free association with Portugal. When the September 1999 vote showed that eighty percent of Timorese had voted for Independence, Indonesian armed forces and their militia allies went on a rampage. They massacred hundreds, burned to the ground seventy percent of the standing structures In the country, set fire to crops, killed thousands of farm animals, and destroyed major sewer systems and electric lines. Hundreds of thousands were forced Into exile at gunpoint. Ramos-Horta led the international charge against the slaughter and, because of his appeals, the United Nations sent in troops to stop the violence. In 1996, he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Later, in December 1999, after 24 years In exile, Jose Ramos-Horta finally went home again to a free and Independent East Timor. In May 2007, Ramos-Horta began serving as president of East Timor having previously served in other Important government positions. In September 2008, Ramos-Horta survived an assassination attempt that left him critically injured. He fully recovered and served as President of East Timor until 2012. Currently, Ramos-Horta serves as head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding office In Guinea-Bissau.