Jose Ramos-Horta

Jose Ramos-Horta

Exiled East Timor political activist who, along with Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo, received the 1996 Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts to bring peace and independence to East Timor, which has been under Indonesian control since 1975.
Ramos-Horta's mother was a native Timorese, and his father was a Portuguese national who was deported to East Timor for revolting against the dictator Antonio Salazar. After studying law in the United States, Ramos-Horta returned to East Timor (then still a colony of Portugal) to participate in the independence movement. His activities brought the ire of the Portuguese rulers, and he was forced to flee to Mozambique in 1970. Returning in 1972, Ramos-Horta sided with the Fretilin faction in the East Timor civil war. The Fretilin gained control of the government on Nov. 28, 1975, and declared East Timor an independent nation; Ramos-Horta was named foreign minister. However, Indonesia invaded East Timor nine days later, and Ramos-Horta was again forced into exile.

Eventually settling in Sydney, Australia, Ramos-Horta joined the faculty of the University of New South Wales. From this position he became one of the primary voices for East Timor in the international arena. He spoke out against human rights violations by the occupying Indonesian military forces, and he promoted a peace plan to end the violence in his country.

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