Today marks the 20th anniversary of East Timor voting to separate from Indonesia - a result which sparked a violent backlash which killed hundreds and left thousands displaced. Two decades later, Herald senior journalist Kurt Bayer speaks to three Kiwis who played critical roles on the bloody road to peace.

When the bandanna-clad pro-Jakarta militiamen started shooting at his house, Ray Seymour lit a fire. With bullets zinging all around, he ruefully burned his classified, top-secret report to ash before hiding in a stone bathtub.

Shivering in the darkness, as East Timor burned, Seymour, a Vietnam veteran, considered his options.

A chance for independence

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The violent reaction

A lucky escape

The rescue

Job done