The 1999 East Timorese crisis began with attacks by anti-independence militants on civilians, and expanded to general violence throughout the country, centred in the capital Dili. The violence erupted after a majority of eligible voters in the population of East Timor chose independence from Indonesia. Some 1,400 civilians are believed to have died. A UN-authorized force (INTERFET) consisting mainly of Australian Defence Force personnel was deployed to East Timor to establish and maintain peace.
João da Silva Tavares (born in Atabae, Bobonaro, Portuguese Timor, 6 April 1931 - died in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, June 8, 2009 at age 78) is the pro-Indonesia Militia Commander in Timor Leste. He is also a pro-integration or anti-independence militia.
East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin: Joint Statement from ANTI on case involving Besi Merah Putih Militia Member Valentim Lavio
Xanana Gusmao (left) with Joao Tavares, former pro-Jakarta militia commander.
According to the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor's report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, several hundred persons had sought refuge in the Ave Maria church from attacks of the pro-Indonesia Laksaur militia in the city. Then the militia, with the support of the military of Indonesia, killed up to 200 people.