The causes of the East Timor conflict are the result of the 'Age of Exploration' and 'European Imperialism' of the 16th and 17th centuries. Portugal and the Netherlands are responsible for the 17th-21st century conflict in East Timor. Both nations sought imperialistic agendas towards Timor. As the political mentality of imperialism had run its course, and foreign nations walked away, East Timor represented a lesson in what can only be described as the horror of 'residual effect'.
Portugal and the Netherlands fought for supremacy without regard for the people of the island. In 1860 they divided Timor in half. In 1949 the Dutch call it a day, which created a vulnerable situation. That situation gave birth to Indonesia, and that new nation would pursue aggressive tactics towards the Portugal half (East Timor) until Portugal pulled out in 1975. With aggressive tactics by Indonesia towards a territory drowning in a political vacuum, East Timor resulted in a recipe for civil unrest. In 1983 East Timor received the right to independence from the U.N. (not sure of their intent); however, the nation was so crippled with internal problems they were unable to realize their intended goals. The East Timor conflict can be traced to a "we have the right to" mentality by the imperialistic actions European nations of a time gone by. Unfortunately, the price is still being paid by the citizens of East Timor.
Before World War II, East Timor was actually a Portuguese colonial empire, under the Dutch East Indies. The Netherlands had claimed the western part of the island while the Portuguese claimed the eastern part of the island. These two empire was the sole cause for the conflict in east timor during the 17th to 21st Century. They were locked in a battle for supremacy and territorial control, leading to increased tension between the two warring empires. Following the war, the Dutch East Indies called it a day and gained its independence, forming a new country, Indonesia. This cause a unfavorable situation to break out into a bloody mess.
The horrible conflict in that country was due to one main factor, the control of its main oil resources, and Indonesia huge appetite for control and dominion over many territories, showing its power-hungry ambitions to control the whole country. To gain full independence, they used aggressive measures to push the Portuguese part out of their country, until they pulled out in 1975. East Timor later fall under a long period of civil and political unrest, and was crippled with many external and internal problems that caused the structure of its economy to collapse. The Timorese didn't want to be under the brutal Indonesian regime so they rebel and undergo many strikes and demonstrations and frequent attacks and assaults to overthrow the empire. They refused to become part of the new dictatorship regime, so they rebelled, and so start a long-term conflict with many deaths and many wounded.