Xanana Gusmão, former President of East Timor, was born in Timor-Leste in 1948. After the Indonesian army annexed Timor-Leste in 1975, he immediately organized Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, and led an armed independence movement. He was elected commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor in 1981, and he was arrested in Dili, the capital of East Timor, and placed under confinement in 1992.
The people of East Timor voted for the independence of the country in a referendum held under supervision by the United Nations (UN) in August 1999. He returned to his home country seven years later and served as the chairman of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) to prepare for the country's new start as an independent country. Then, he was elected the president in East Timor's first presidential election held in April 2002.
He was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1999 and the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the peaceful resolution of issues surrounding East Timor.