Timor-Leste celebrated 20 years of the referendum with the director of the Center Sergio Vieira de Mello as a special guest.
Carolina Larriera, at the time a UN diplomat in New York, remembers the day she celebrated the referendum, watching from the UN on television at the press and information center, the historic day, and comments on “the country's positive trajectory” in the last 20 years
The former diplomat and current director of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Center, was at the time working for the public information department, and this last August, he went to attend, in Dili, the official celebrations of the 20 years of the referendum in which the Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence.
On August 30, 1999, more than 78.5% of the population voted in favor of independence, in a process of self-determination supervised by the UN, after months of violence and intimidation by the Indonesian authorities. The results were announced on 4 September and caused a wave of systematic destruction across the territory, which led the international community to send, on 20 September, a multinational military force to stabilize the situation. Independence was achieved in 2002, after a short period under United Nations administration.