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Indonesia/East Timor News Digest No 27 - July 3-9, 2000

Democratic struggle

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Democratic struggle

PRD files lawsuit against 'Soeharto regime'

Jakarta Post - July 6, 2000

Jakarta -- The Democratic People's Party (PRD) filed a Rp 5.5 billion (US$617,000) lawsuit with the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday against former president Soeharto in connection with the July 27, 1996 violence on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta.

The lawsuit also named as defendants: former Armed Forces (ABRI) chief Gen. (ret) Feisal Tanjung, former Jakarta military commander Lt. Gen. (ret) Sutiyoso, former ABRI chief of sociopolitical affairs Lt. Gen. Syarwan Hamid, former police chief Gen. (ret) Dibyo Widodo, former Army chief of staff Gen. (ret) R. Hartono, former East Java military commander Maj. Gen. (ret) Imam Utomo, former minister of home affairs Lt. Gen. (ret) Moch. Yogie S. Memet, former ABRI Intelligence Service (BIA) chief Maj. Gen. (ret) Syamsir Siregar, former BIA director Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, former attorney general Singgih, former justice minister Oetoyo Oesman and former information minister Harmoko.

"These men called me and other PRD members communists, and declared us the masterminds of the July 27, 1996, violence," PRD chairman Budiman Soedjatmiko told reporters at the district court after filing the lawsuit.

"They chased after us, tortured us, raided our PRD branches and seized important party documents. The Soeharto regime slapped me with 13 years imprisonment in 1997, based upon unsubstantiated evidence and ludicrous accusations."

Budiman, whose party contested the June 7, 1999 elections, was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 1997 by the Soeharto regime for his alleged involvement in the July 1996 riot in Jakarta, which followed a violent attack on the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters. Budiman was released last year as part of an amnesty granted by former president B.J. Habibie under presidential decree number 68 issued on July 2, 1999.

He said he had 38 lawyers to fight the party's case, including noted attorneys Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Munir and Apong Herlina.

National Military Police chief Maj. Gen. Djasrie Marin said that all of the Army officers, police officers and civilians allegedly involved in the July 1996 violence would be called in for questioning as part of another investigation into the unrest. "The investigators will comprise military prosecutors, the military police and officers from the National Police," Djasrie had said.

Supporters of the PDI chairman, Soerjadi, forcibly took over the party headquarters from loyalists of the ousted PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri on July 27, 1996. The takeover led to violence throughout the Central Jakarta area, leaving five people dead and 23 others still missing.
East Timor

Protesting Indonesians block refugee repatriation

Lusa - July 5, 2000

Dili -- Hundreds of Indonesians armed with bows and arrows have blocked roads in West Timor to keep UN aid officials from continuing repatriation of East Timorese refugees, a spokesman for the UN High Commission for Refugees said Wednesday in Dili.

"It is impossible to say when we can resume our [repatriation] activities as the unrest is generalized" around Kupang, the capital of Indonesian West Timor, he said.

Protesting what they called "attacks" by Indonesian soldiers and the "exclusive" provision of national and international aid to the refugees, hundreds of local residents, armed with traditional weapons, had blocked roads from three refugee camps to Kupang, the UNHCR official said. The UNHCR had announced Tuesday that it was resuming repatriation operations after a two-week suspension due to the unrest.

East Timor: Under clearing skies

Time Magazine - June 19, 2000

Twenty-four years of Indonesian occupation of East Timor ended last September in a frenzy of murder and destruction. Now the Timorese are recreating their nation with energy and hope

Lisa Clausen, East Timor -- The first president of the first court in the world's youngest nation has an office on the second floor of Dili's white courthouse. It is large and gracious, if a little bare: a bookcase but no books, a desk without a computer. From this building, former lawyer and public servant Domingos Maria Sarmento and his seven fellow judges will help build East Timor's new justice system.

None has any experience on the bench. None has any doubt about how big a job it's going to be. "We have to find justice for all people in the courtroom," says Sarmento. "There was none before." It's a lesson he learned a long time ago -- he was arrested for visiting the same courtroom when independence leader Xanana Gusmao was on trial in 1993. He was a curious passerby; Indonesian secret police accused him of working for Gusmao. If he walks to his window now, he can look across the road to the low building where he was tortured for a day and a night. He can't speak about it, falls silent, turns away.

This is East Timor, where a new nation is being built on the grave of the old, on a scarred landscape still littered with the broken walls and smashed glass of last September's militia violence. The land is slowly burying the past with weeds that climb high over the rubble. And the people are recovering too. Though there are complaints that the rebuilding, overseen by the international community through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), is too slow, most East Timorese are simply savoring an unfamiliar freedom. During the years of Indonesian military occupation, thousands of East Timorese were turned out of their homes, tortured or killed, for wanting independence. Now they see the chance of a new nation worthy of the sacrifice. "We knew from the priests that paradise is in heaven," says Taur Matan Ruak, vice-commander of Falintil, the armed guerilla force. "But that's also what we wanted for our country, for it to be paradise."

Militia groups did all they could to smash that dream. "Timor, Eat Stone", reads graffiti on the wall of a former Indonesian army building in Dili. The threat is scrawled on ruins around the country: have independence -- but nothing else. For two weeks last September, after the announcement that 78.5% of East Timorese had voted for independence in an Aug. 30 ballot, gangs of East Timorese militiamen, supported by sections of the Indonesian military, ransacked the country. No one knows how many died, though conservative estimates are at least 1,000 people; as many as 300,000 others fled their homes or were herded into camps in Indonesian West Timor. At least 80% of all houses, public buildings and essential utilities were destroyed, including an estimated 65,000 homes. Crops were burned and livestock slaughtered. Nothing was safe from fire or machete: from uma lulik sacred houses to government records, schoolbooks to public phone boxes, tractors to convents.

When the first international troops arrived on September 20, they found a land in ashes. "There is no precedent that matches the scope of the challenges facing the UN in East Timor," says UNTAET head Sergio Vieira de Mello. There were few buildings and few skills: most senior civil servants and businessmen were Indonesians who took their money and expertise with them when they left after the referendum. Gone as well was any formal legal, political or economic framework. When UNTAET staff first arrived in November, says Vieira de Mello, public administration "had completely collapsed."

Nine months after the violence, the job remains daunting. "We're starting from zero here," says Luis Miguel Ribeiro Carrilho, director of the new Police Training Academy. But there's been some progress. More than 20,000 emergency shelter kits have been distributed by members of an international contingent which, on top of UNTAET's 2,100 staff, includes 44 international and 128 local aid agencies (NGOs). Makeshift markets have sprung up in towns and villages across the country. Farmers are gathering rice and coffee, though many harvests are late and small. Most schools are open again, though often without desks or books. Dili's traffic pounds heavily along roads newly lined with small kiosks selling soft drinks and vegetables. Traffic wardens are being trained, taxes collected and a civilian post office has been opened. And everywhere, in fields and on footpaths, people talk about what they want their nation to be. "A year ago in Dili there was no one on the streets after 5 at night," says local resident Roberto Soares Cabral.

Now a soft dusk falls on streets busy with children, motorcycles, pigs and taxis. Older rituals are returning to the country: cock fights in dusty village squares and solemn religious processions, with children in formal white, winding down mountain roads overhung with vines. And at night, the land is quiet again. "We never hear shooting anymore," says Olympia Fernandes, who lives with her husband and seven children in the eastern coastal town of Baucau, "so we know we are free."

The stark blue of UN tarpaulins, handed out in the first desperate months as emergency shelter, is common in Timor. So is the bright glint of the sun on new corrugated iron roofs. The UN plans to provide building materials to rebuild 35,000 destroyed homes; the rest, it's hoped, will be rebuilt by their owners, although UNTAET admits imported building materials will be too costly for most Timorese. Still, some communities have made a start. In the mountains southeast of Dili, 15 men work on the destroyed school in their village of Orlala, which also lost its church and health clinic.

Long-awaited wood and tools have just been delivered by UNTAET. "Even though it's late, we're happy," says teacher Manuel Sarmento. "We're thankful for the help." The school's 200 students will use paint and plywood while they wait for chalk and a blackboard. Across the country, about 200,000 children are back in school, their teachers working for pocket money and food until a new salary structure is devised. In the badly damaged eastern town of Fuiloro, boarders at the Salesian sisters' school are at their studies, even though their dormitory hasn't been rebuilt and they still cook outdoors. "Before, Indonesians just hired other Indonesians, and our students had no motivation," says Salesian community leader Sister Cecilia del Mundo. "Now we're telling the children that they're the ones who'll build Timor." And southwest of Dili, among damp hills lost in fog, the people of Olopana are moving their primary school back to where it was before Indonesia invaded in 1975, after Portugal abandoned its former colony the previous year. "They made us move it down the hill, but it was too far for the children," says teacher Domingos Rosario Maia, nails and hammer in hand. "Independence means we can put it back here, where we like it."

Independence also means a new curriculum, repairs to the 95% of schools damaged, and extra teachers to be found -- most secondary school teachers were Indonesian -- before the new term starts in October. The challenge is just as great in health care. General health before the ballot was already poor; the exit of Indonesian doctors means there are just 25 East Timorese general practitioners and one surgeon for a population of around 900,000.

Three-quarters of rural health clinics were destroyed and many villages now rely on church groups and international NGOs. From Maubara, a coastal town west of Dili, Carmelite sisters travel to seven villages to offer what medical help they can. "I thought I could hang up my spurs when the UN got here," says Sister Joan Westblade, an Australian nun working in Maubara, "but because they've lost everything, people are now worse off than they were before." On a humid Wednesday morning, villagers in Kaikasa kiss the nuns' hands before queuing silently for tiny plastic bags holding antibiotics and antimalarial drugs. Three hours down the road, in the town of Maliana, a former militia stronghold, NGOs have hung banners with the warning, written in the traditional Tetum language: Dengue and malaria are more dangerous than Militia.

The queue at Dr. Daniel Murphy's clinic in Dili forms early. By nightfall, the American physician and his staff, including seven Timorese medical students, will try to see as many as 200 patients. Measles and tuberculosis epidemics, malaria and diarrhea take all Murphy's resources and time: "We always have shortages, always." A 15-month, $12.7 million project, funded by the World Bank-administered East Timor reconstruction fund, plans to begin building 25 rural health centers by year's end. An Interim Health Authority, with six international and 29 East Timorese staff, is designing a new health-care system. As in most areas, it's a juggling act: the trick is to handle the emergency phase while preparing long-term plans but, says the Authority's Australian coordinator, Dr. Jim Tulloch: "We don't want a health policy driven by this emergency period and its reliance on international NGOs."

There are similar hopes for eventual self-reliance in agriculture -- a sector whose prosperity is vital, given that 90% of the population are farmers and 50% are subsistence farmers. Though crops and seed supplies were burned, machinery stolen and livestock killed, says Serge Verniau, co-director of UNTAET's agriculture section, "many farmers are back in their fields." To help them, UNTAET plans to hand out 2,000 water buffalo and Bali cattle and about 100,000 chicks next month. At the same time, irrigation systems will be repaired and a start made on phasing out fertilizer use on coffee crops -- the country's main export and great economic hope -- in favor of high-grade organic production. Indonesian authorities relocated farmers and imported rice. "The Indonesians wanted us to be dependent, so they never taught us anything," says Alfonso dos Santos, a former East Timorese police officer working on a permaculture project in the village of Hera, east of Dili. But now, says Verniau, there's no reason why East Timor shouldn't be agriculturally self- sufficient: "We have great confidence in the farmers."

There are high expectations, too, of East Timor's new police, 50 of whom are now being trained in Dili by police from around the world. In one of the Police Training Academy's back buildings are dismal Indonesian police cells which once held pro-independence leaders; just meters away, cadets now attend classes on ethics and human rights. Chosen from 12,500 applicants, these cadets will have 150 more classmates by October. Like the judiciary, they will play a key role in the country's development. "If they have a good attitude toward the public, democracy will be much easier to achieve," predicts director Ribeiro Carrilho. "They have to feel they have a big responsibility on their shoulders."

But the heaviest burden weighs on the shoulders of East Timor's political leaders-in-waiting, who must make the leap from rebels to law-makers. "It was easier fighting with our rifles in the bush," says Falintil's Matan Ruak. "Now we have to think of how to feed the people, how to educate their children -- and it's much more difficult." Elections are planned for late next year -- the inauguration of the first government sealing the nation's independence -- but while East Timor's people are well versed in political ideals, they're inexperienced in political processes. Until the election, the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) -- the non-partisan coalition of disparate political interests formed in 1998 with independence as its goal -- is seen as a de-facto government, and this month is helping to draw up the nation's first budget. There's already been a taste of the hard choices to come, with argument over CNRT's choice of Portuguese as the country's official language -- many Timorese favor English or Tetum.

Political education and the flourishing of political parties, says the UN's Vieira de Mello, must wait until the country's emergency phase is over, "and that continues until we are able to provide basic services."

To do that, UNTAET aims this year to recruit 7,000 East Timorese civil servants, at an annual salary cost of around $28 million. "They will be the engine of reconstruction at the central and local level," says Vieira de Mello. "We can't move from emergency to reconstruction in the proper sense without a functioning public administration." But thousands of former employees of the bloated Indonesian public service will miss out -- adding to the unemployment problem already worrying locals like Ofelia Napoleao, who has 250 people on a waiting list for jobs at her clothing factory.

Twenty-three years after fleeing Dili, Napoleao shut her sewing business in Australia and flew back last November. She began by sewing aid tarpaulins and now trains 50 staff making clothes in an NGO women's project. Though they're happy now, her employees had a difficult start, says Napoleao. "They'd fight each other over scraps of fabric -- they'd lost everything, so they needed to own something."

There are now 1,710 new businesses registered in East Timor; the majority of them locally owned, like the clothing boutique that Napoleao's sister-in-law Pascoela Neves is about to open. "It will be small," says Neves, "but my contribution to rebuilding Timor." The fledgling economy, in which the focus will be on coffee, petroleum and tourism, needs as much stimulus as it can get, as will the nation's embryonic middle class, estimated at around 20,000 people. There's been a rush of foreign investment since September, visible in the car yards, construction companies and restaurants that have sprung up around Dili, where you can buy Australian wine and $10 chow mein. But not everyone is pleased about the influx. "We won't have full independence until we have economic independence," says East Timor Humanitarian Response Group worker Octavio Conceicao, jailed seven times between 1989-1995 for his student activism.

There are deeper frustrations -- about UN bureaucracy and the pace of reconstruction -- and calls for more local involvement. "I know how high the expectations are and I know that we can't yet deliver on them. And I'm just as frustrated about that as East Timorese are," says Vieira de Mello. "Some expect the UN to bring freedom, security and affluence within a matter of months. That is not going to happen -- it will take many years." A major problem is late payments by international donors: despite pledges of $147 million to the World Bank-administered reconstruction fund in December, just $24 million had been received by mid- April.

Then there's what Vieira de Mello calls UNTAET's "greatest weakness": inadequate communication with local people. Vicky Tchong, an East Timorese who has returned after 17 years in Australia, says that gap is obvious in Dili, "where East Timorese sit and watch everyone else buzzing around, without any idea of what they're doing." The growth of a free press should help, says Aderito Hugo da Costa, chief editor of the six-page Timor Post newspaper, 400 copies of whose three editions each week are photocopied at the local car rental company. "Our people are preparing for full independence and they need to know what is happening," he says. That's a challenge in a country where half the adult population can't read. Also delaying progress, says UNTAET's Verniau, is the amount of planning needed: "It would be very easy to say, 'Let's just try this' but who would suffer the consequences of a mistake? The farmers, not us. It would be criminal to do that." Falintil's Matan Ruak has traveled through the country's 13 districts to explain that a rushed approach may be a wrong one: "We fought for this for 24 years, so we need time now to reconstruct. We want to get it right."

Communities are being pieced together again with more than concrete and nails. Some 162,000 of those who ended up in West Timor have returned -- among them militia members. Many of those accused of serious crimes have been arrested -- 123 people are now in custody, most of them in connection with the September rampage -- but others have gone home, even as the number of exhumations nears 200 and investigations into alleged human rights abuses continue.

At the village of Cribas, southeast of Dili, 17 former militia members, escorted home by a local priest, now spend two days every week helping neighbors finish new houses. "Some of us wanted to beat them," says local farmer Albino Matus Soares, "but they're human beings and they were asking for forgiveness." Others, like Deng Giguiento, a Justice and Peace Commission worker in Baucau, worry that the return of militias can happen too soon: "You can't just erase people's hurt and anger." Father Rafael dos Santos survived the massacre at his Liquica parish on April 6, 1999, in which up to 200 people were murdered by militia groups forming before the ballot. He urges reconciliation, which has involved the church and CNRT counseling local communities: "Forget everything, so we can work together for a new nation."

There are many wounds still to heal. Foreign police officers now live in Father Rafael's former residence at Liquica; it's freshly painted, and pajamas dry outside under a bougainvillea in pink bloom. Men noisily repair a ceiling nearby. But the church's gardener, Matteus Barros, fears the ghosts of that day: "I never stay here alone in case they come." Far beneath the Carmelite order's Maubara hillside home, scrawny goats wander on stony beaches. Five-year-old Atina lives with the nuns. Left with them as a three-month-old by her Falintil-guerrilla parents, Atina now refuses to go back to her family. Damaged children are everywhere: in Laga, east of Dili, a Salesian orphanage has 60 extra children because of September's violence. They've barely enough room. One four-year-old boy, Balthazar, was in his father's arms when militia fighters killed the man. Dr. Daniel Murphy still sees deep suffering; one 22-year-old woman went blind fleeing militia, yet her eyes "are perfectly normal," says Murphy. "She won't tell us if something horrible happened but somehow she protected herself by not seeing anymore."

And yet, despite the horrors seen and losses endured, joy resonates through the country. "With two hands we accepted what came our way," says Anita Soares, a widow with four children, who lives in the village of Letefoho, where horses graze under enormous banyan trees and mist falls like a blindfold over treacherously slender roads. "Then we waited and waited for what we dreamt of."

Finally it has arrived, says Sister Fabiola Gusmao, a Carmelite sister who risked her life to give Falintil fighters food and medicine: "The nightmare has passed. At night we can sleep without fear." Standing in his burnt Dili home, the rooms open to the sky and dragonflies hovering over puddles, English teacher Julio Sarmento Lopes says that losing everything was worth it: "If that's the consequence of independence, well, no problems. Even with nothing life is better because we can do what we want." In the village of Raeheu, Gabriel de Deus Maia and his wife Belina Soares de Deus have planted tobacco on the ruins of their house. They have built a makeshift home with bamboo and a UN tarpaulin under the dark mountains but it's too small for them and their 10 children. Food is often scarce and life is hard. Still, Gabriel says, while his wife smiles in agreement, "Liberty has made us feel lighter. We are content."

A road curls up from Dili and clambers around the edges of mountains before running down to the coastal plain beyond. Here, where the blind corners twist tightly above the deep valley, a group of East Timorese men are shoring up the road where it has slumped down the mountainside. It's hard work and they say they're not getting paid as much as they think fair. But they see more in it than the money. "Now we have the chance to do something for ourselves," says supervisor Jose Duarte. "We must do our best so that this will stand for a long time." He's talking about the road, but as they go back to work, shoveling and shouting, Duarte and his men are joining in the building of a nation, their backs bent to the dirt in the heavy heat of the morning.

Trying to find their way home on foot or in the crowded trays of rusty trucks, they come every second Saturday to family reunion days at Batugade. Here, on the tense border between East and West Timor, thousands of East Timorese queue to enter the field that is neutral ground, where, for six hours, they can try to find family members who have been displaced across the border. More than 250,000 people were forced into camps in Indonesian West Timor during the post-ballot violence and while 162,000 have returned, thousands remain.

Among the crowd is Rosaria Pereira Tavares, who's walked five hours to search for her two sisters and two brothers. "I haven't seen them in three months and we need them at home," she says sadly. While they can come back to East Timor in UN convoys, many people, say aid workers, are being intimidated into staying by militia. Today's crowd numbers more than 9,000.

International peacekeepers are on patrol -- there have been disturbances before involving people accusing others of militia acts, and today it happens again, with one man pulled away by soldiers, startling the crowd, some of whom run in panic and weep. Mostly, though, the mood is one of relief and welcome -- people shout and hug and eat; surreal picnics in a no-man's-land.

There are glad meetings in the biting sun. A desperate three- month search ends when Diolindo Barros finds his four-year- daughter Julietta. The child, taken to West Timor during September's madness by an aunt, is feverish and exhausted and Barros holds her close during the two-hour ride home to the town of Maliana. There, the sight of Julietta brings the family running. "We're just happy to be together again," says Barros, as Julietta is kissed and wept over. At this moment, their poor rice harvest and ruined home are forgotten.

Police investigate three new finds of human remains

Lusa - July 4, 2000

Dili -- United Nations police have opened investigations into three more recent discoveries of human remains in East Timor, likely linked to anti-independence violence last year, a spokesman said Monday in Dili.

CivPol Lopes said a sack containing the remains of three people, along with clothing, jewelry and a machete, had been found in a well near the town of Liquica, where pro-Indonesian militias massacred more than 200 people in a Catholic church in April 1999.

In two other finds, a human leg and clothing had been found in a riverbed near the village of Mau-Unu and a human skeleton in the area of Dilor.

Villagers protest, want Timorese refugees out

Associated Press - July 3, 2000

Kupang -- Angry over a spate of recent attacks, hundreds of villagers blockaded a road in Indonesian-controlled West Timor demanding that thousands of East Timorese refugees be sent home.

Armed with bows and arrows and other traditional weapons, angry villagers set up road blocks near refugee camps around the town of Kupang, capital of Indonesian-held West Timor, said Col. John Lallo, a local military commander.

He said the villagers accused the refugees -- many of them pro- Indonesian militiamen who went on a rampage last September after the majority of East Timorese voted for independence -- of attacking them and inciting violence.

More than 250,000 East Timorese were forced out of East Timor after violence broke out last year. About 150,000 of them have already returned to their half-island homeland, which borders West Timor.

UN relief agencies also recently suspended operations in three camps after refugees and militia members attacked several UN vehicles and threatened staff.

Gusmao's Australian bride 'key' activist

Lusa - July 3, 2000

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao's new Australian wife played a "fundamental and key" role over the past decade in the resistance to Indonesian occupation, Portugal's ambassador to Jakarta said Monday in Dili.

Ambassador Ana Gomes, who attended the surprise, private wedding Sunday, told Lusa the Timorese would be "very foolish" if they did not accept 34-year-old Kirsty Sword as Gusmao's wife and recognize "the absolutely fundamental" role she had played as "liason with the outside world" while he was imprisoned in Jakarta.

Gomes, who attended the Catholic wedding at Dare, just south of Dili Sunday, described the ceremony as "lovely and modest" and "above all filled with much happiness and good humor." The wedding, she added, was attended by "the two families and a half-dozen close friends."

A father of three, Gusmao divorced his first wife, Emilia, about one month ago after a years-long separation. His first marriage had not been through the Catholic church. The newlyweds, who departed Monday on an official visit and one- day honeymoon in New Zealand, announced their marriage in a brief statement issued earlier in the day.

US puzzled by unwillingness to control Militias

US Department of State - July 3, 2000

New York -- Stressing that a climate of fear is still a reality in the East Timorese refugee camps in West Timor, US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke questioned Indonesia's ability to control the pro-Jakarta militia.

Speaking during a Security Council discussion on East Timor June 27, Holbrooke said that he is "deeply shocked by the continuing militia activities along and across the border into East Timor. The Indonesia government, its military, has failed to disarm and disband these militia," he said. Some militia members, he said, are now armed with more sophisticated weapons that they had previously.

"No one quite understands why the Indonesian government, which is making such a tremendous effort to grapple with an immense panoply of issues, has been unable to get this particular problem under control," the ambassador said.

Special Representative of the Secretary General Sergio Vieira de Mello informed the Council that elections and possibly independence for East Timor will take place at some point between August 30 and the beginning of December 2001. The date for East Timor's independence "is not the day in which the United Nations leaves," Holbrooke noted. "It is the day in which the United Nations continues a transition, but continues to assist the people of East Timor in a different way."

Jakarta bombs fuel political uncertainty

Financial Times - July 6, 2000

Tom McCawley, Jakarta -- Two bombs were discovered at the Indonesian attorney general's office in Jakarta on Wednesday, inflaming fears of political uncertainty and helping to drive the rupiah to its lowest closing price for more than a year.

Detectives and bomb specialists found the two devices near the site of a blast on Monday night, which was dismissed by attorney general Marzuki Darusman yesterday as a "terror tactic."

After opening at Rp8,975 to the US dollar, the rupiah weakened to Rp9,360 by the close, its lowest level since March 1999. "Markets are very concerned by statements from the president, by Wednesday's bomb explosion at the attorney general's office, and the discovery of two more bombs," Andi Wijaja, a currency trader at HSBC, said yesterday.

Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesian president, said on Tuesday that several legislators are to be questioned as witnesses in an investigation into the causes of regional unrest in Indonesia.

Officials at the attorney general's department say they have received a series of anonymous threats in recent months relating to politically sensitive investigations. Mr Marzuki has ordered a range of official probes spanning military human rights abuses in East Timor, a large banking scandal and official corruption under the government of former President Suharto. Police have detained one man for questioning over the blast on Monday night but have released no further details.

"The political situation is scaring the markets," said Beni Rusnadi, a currency trader with local bank BNI 46. "But looking at the country's decent economic fundamentals, and support for the IMF there's no reason for the rupiah to be weak." Currency traders said demand for dollars was rising as companies complete debt restructuring and make interest payments on loans.

Kwik Kian Gie, co-ordinating economics minister, was quoted as saying he would meet with central bank governors to "boost the rupiah". But Miranda Goeltom, deputy governor of the central bank, which was granted greater independence under a 1999 law, said "intervention was unlikely to be effective," although she did not rule it out. The rupiah's fall is of particular concern to Indonesia's corporations with US-denominated debts.

The International Monetary Fund, which is backing a economic restructuring package for Indonesia, has praised recent improvements in Indonesia's macroeconomic fundamentals.

Suharto supporters accused in blast

Associated Press - July 7, 2000 (abridged)

Jakarta -- Indonesia's defense minister has accused supporters of former dictator Suharto of bombing the attorney general's office and inciting fighting across the country, news reports said Friday.

Juwono Sudarsono said military intelligence reports showed Suharto's associates were involved in a plan to stoke violence in an attempt to escape justice. "There are strong indications that the cronies ... are certainly involved in some of the unrest and bombings," he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post newspaper.

Sudarsono said Suharto's supporters -- whom he refused to name -- were supplying weapons and other covert assistance to violence- wracked areas. Those include the Maluku islands, where more than 3,000 people have died in 18 month of Christian-Muslim clashes, and in Aceh, where separatists are fighting for independence. He said the supporters were also responsible for a bomb blast that ripped through part of the attorney general's office on Tuesday.

Indonesia's police chief, Gen. Rusdihardjo, said a second unexploded bomb found Wednesday was placed next to a storage room that housed documents and other evidence collected by prosecutors in their corruption investigation.

Rusdihardjo said that the unexploded bomb was an army-issue device designed only for military use. But, he said, the explosive device may have been stolen and that it had not necessarily been planted by military personnel.

Military chief lashes out at political leaders

Straits Times - July 8, 2000

Jakarta -- A senior Indonesian regional military officer has slammed the leaders of the country's political parties, saying their self-interests are leading the country to suicide.

The Wirabuawa Regional Military Commander, Major-General Slamet Kirbiantoro, on Thursday criticised the political leaders who attack each other and put aside the interests of the country, the Indonesian Observer said. "We are all in the process of killing ourselves. I see that our political elite are only fighting one other," Maj-Gen Kirbiantoro told reporters in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar.

He said the conflict among the political elite has distracted them from the problems facing Indonesia, particularly separatist movements in a number of regions. "We are in the process of committing suicide," he was quoted by Detik.com as saying.

Political tension has risen prior to the annual session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) next month, with open conflict between those who want President Abdurrahman Wahid to remain in office and those who want him to step down.

Maj-Gen Kirbiantoro said that many Indonesian leaders do not realise the danger of disintegration faced by the nation. "If they do not immediately wake up from their dream, I worry that we will really kill ourselves."

Jakarta warns of violence sparked by Suharto cronies

Straits Times - July 7, 2000

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono has warned of a recurring wave of violence in the country fomented by people who are unhappy with the government's ongoing probe into the corruption case of former President Suharto.

Mr Juwono told a seminar on Thursday that certain parties that had benefited from the 32-year-long regime of Mr Suharto, who has been named a suspect in an abuse of power probe, would do anything to obstruct the Attorney-General's investigation, as it might implicate them or threaten their business interests.

Intelligence reports indicated that the former cronies of Mr Suharto had been supplying money, arms and people to troubled areas, particularly in Maluku, Irian Jaya, Aceh, Java and in Indonesia's former territory of East Timor, he said.

"I think, without being too conspiratorial, there have been attempts to overstretch our police and military forces and undermine the credibility of Gus Dur," he said.

He said the police and the military intelligence were working to seek legal evidence to bring these riot masterminds -- "at least the public figures and then, hopefully, the agitators in Jakarta" -- to court.

"But, of course, we have to take the risk that people who are being investigated may resort to violence," he said. "Using arms, people, and supplies of money simultaneously will create a semblance of uncertainty and instability in four places at the same time: Aceh, Maluku, Irian Jaya and Java."

Mr Juwono did not name any of the alleged culprits, but stressed that they were not necessarily members of the Suharto family. More likely, they are Mr Suharto's associates who managed to "abandon ship" at the last minute before his fall from grace following his resignation in May 1998 on fears that they might be subjected to legal investigation for corruption, he said.

Mr Juwono said efforts to destabilise the country by these people, some of whom are military members and some, civilians, had begun during the previous administration of Mr B.J. Habibie. "I think this pattern is now being repeated in different forms, in different places."

Finding supporting evidence to arrest or prosecute them, however, proved very hard, he said. "These people work under the so-called cell system, they drop money to the people with no written instructions."

President Abdurrahman had told a forum of politicians in Bali last Saturday that one of the legislators now being investigated for their roles in the Suharto case was the main source of problems around the country. On Monday, the President had ordered the swift arrest of riot provocateurs, which triggered much criticism, especially among the lawmakers.

Coup fear in Indonesia

Jane's Intelligence Review - July 7, 2000

London -- Slowly but surely, and away from the prying of television cameras, Indonesia is starting to fall apart. Doomsayers have been predicting the 'Balkanisation' of the country ever since East Timor managed to wrest itself free of the central government's grasp in October last year. That prompted an upsurge of separatist activity in the oil rich province of Aceh, and also Irian Jaya, which has now been renamed West Papua, and was complemented by rising tensions between Muslims and Christians in the Moluccas. Matters were complicated by the efforts by the country's ageing and half blind president, Aburrahman Wahid, who is known affectionately within Indonesia as Gus Dur, to deal with the problem. These were frustrated by a power struggle with the country's powerful armed forces. Wahid's occasionally erratic style did not help.

What hopes are there for Indonesia? Foreign Report makes a prediction. At the start of the year, there were some signs that the violent and volatile situation was improving. Wahid managed to sideline those in the armed forces such as the former chief, General Wiranto, who were believed to working against him. In May a cease-fire between government forces and separatists in the province of Aceh.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Moluccas tailed off. The battered economy seemed to be picking itself off the floor. It seemed hopeful. But it was a false dawn.

In the Moluccas, according to the British Foreign Office, clashes between the two communities started again at the end of April on the island of Ambon. Since then over 100 people are thought to have been killed in Halmahera. Foreign Report has been told that the renewed violence is the result of the arrival of members of the Laskar Jihad, a Muslim extremist group, in the province. The local police have sided with the Christians and the army with the Muslims. The local government has declared a state of civil emergency. Some 1,400 soldiers in Ambon are being withdrawn and a Hindu has been put in charge of the rest. The situation remains explosive. Support for separatism in Irian Jaya (West Papua) is spreading so quickly , that large numbers of non-Papuans have started to flee the province.

Restless generals

There are growing signs that, for all Wahid's efforts, the armed forces are becoming restless. On June 13, the armed forces chief, Admiral Widodo Adisucipto, a Wahid appointee, stated that the country was sliding into chaos and that the government's first concern was to prevent the nation's disintegration.

Other senior officers have started to express their frustration at Wahid's failure to deal with the country's economic problems, and the social, religious and ethnic tensions that are tearing the country apart. One of them, Lieut-General Agus Widjujug, spoke of the "failure of democracy" in Pakistan which had justified the military coup there. In recent weeks several pro- Wahid senior officers have been moved from key posts and at the same time Foreign Report has been told that former President Suharto's disgraced son-in-law, General Prabowo Subianto, has returned to Indonesia after a period of self imposed exile in Jordan. His re-appearance in the country has revived speculation of an alliance of generals, Muslim extremists and disgruntled members of the Suharto clan trying to destabilise the country and undermine Wahid.

Not yet, but watch out

However, the common view at the moment is that a military coup is not on the cards. Those elements of the army who are unhappy with Wahid know that they would face serious domestic and international condemnation if they toppled him, and have desisted from doing so. But, as the situation in Indonesia deteriorates, Wahid is starting to look ever more impotent while the generals take a closer look at Pakistan, where the successful coup plotters have shrugged off domestic and international condemnation.

Our prediction: If the situation continues to deteriorate, do not be surprised by a coup later this year.

Who's on Wahid's list? (Part I)

Detik - July 4, 2000

Jakarta -- Recent comments by the President that he will soon detain certain politicians who are fanning the flames of national disintegration in order to destabilise his presidency have created considerable confusion and controversy. The President has made the allegations in his usual cryptic style, unleashing a tidal wave of speculation in the local press, all chasing the elusive answer to `Who's on the President's list?'

Confusion has arisen because the Attorney General indeed plans to question certain serving government members and business leaders in connection with his investigations into former President Suharto's wealth. This list of around 115 names, according to Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak, was issued by the Attorney General's office who required the formal approval of the President to call serving parliamentarians.

Speaker of the House and Golkar Chairman, Akbar Tanjung, told Detik yesterday that he has received a copy of the list in order to verify the identities and current positions of serving parliamentarians. "But that is not a political case, rather it is a legal case which relates to corruption, collusion and nepotism during former regimes," he said.

The "political case" Akbar refers has erupted because of comments made by the President on the weekend, while attending the National Discussion Forum in Bali, that he has already signed the necessary decrees for the police to investigate a list of names suspected of stirring up and directly funding recent communal unrest.

Yesterday, while in North Sumatra, he stated that a 15 July deadline had been set for the detention of the trouble makers, with or without proof. "If it can't be proved, they can be freed. But they can be detained till the annual session [of the Parliament] is finished. I think they'll definately think twice [before doing it again]," he said.

It is no coincidence that the move has come only days after a plenary session of the House voted to exercise their interpellation right. That is, to call the President to explain the sacking of two Ministers from the Indonesian Democratic of Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar parties. The overwhelming majority of House members who voted to call the President to account may reject his reply and may even move to eventually impeach him.

The interpellation motion is, however, only the most concrete manifestation of a growing divide between the President and certain factions within his coalition government. A divide seen widening by the day as the annual August session of the parliament approaches.

For days now, the Indonesian press has been jam-packed with speculation on who the President plans to detain, all triggered by the publication in this week's edition of Gatra magazine the names of 40 political and business figures which Gatra claims are on the President's "hitlist". The following is taken from the Gatra article (No34. Thn IV 8 Juli 2000) and contains additional notes on the backgrounds of those listed.

Wahid's Top 40 Hit List as published in Gatra

Fuad Bawazier. A former Minister of Finance in the Habibie cabinet and leading figure of the "Central Axis" parliamentary faction of smaller Islamic parties.

Bawazier was extremely active in the campaign to elect Wahid President but has not been rewarded with a cabinet position. "We know all of the unrest is Fuad Bawazier's doing all because he didn't get a place in the government," Effendie Choirie, spokesperson for the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction which Wahid nominally heads, told Detik yesterday. In the past, the local media have linked him to unrest in Ambon, funding the Laskar Jihad or Jihad Warriors charged with murdering hundreds of Christians in Ambon and the Moluccus and to the campaign to maintain the ban on communism.

Ginandjar Kartasasmita. The Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry prior to and during the worst of the economic crisis in the final years of the Suharto regime.

He is currently the Golkar party's Deputy Speaker of the Peoples' Consultative Assembly. Close to former presidents Suharto and Habibie and to current Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, he stands to gain from a Megawati-Akbar Tanjung leadership team should Wahid fall. "Violence, promoting demonstrations or riots, that's not from me. For me, the problems must be finished intellectually, with a cool head," Ginandjar told Detik by phone yesterday.

Arifin Panigoro. Currently Head of the PDI-P's faction in the House, Panigoro was one of the driving forces behind the motion to exercise the interpellation right, threatening to sanction PDI-P members if they voted against. Close to Ginandjar and PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati.

Parni Hadi. Chairman of the Republika newspaper linked to former President Habibie.

M. Yusuf Kalla. Former Minister of Industry and Trade until fired by Wahid amid allegations of corruption. The sacking precipitated the move to exercise the House's interpellation right.

Agung Laksono. From the Golkar party, Agung has been at the forefront of those calling for increased monitoring of the President's health and challenging the President's decision- making capabilities due to his near-blindness.

Amien Rais. Speaker of the Peoples' Consultative Assembly, Chairman of the National mandate Party (PAN) and also a leading figure in the Central Axis which was instrumental in electing Wahid. He has gained a reputation for constant criticism of the President which has not necessarily enhanced his general popularity.

Akbar Tandjung. Speaker of the House and Golkar Chairman, Akbar was a leading figure in Golkar during the Suharto regime when corruption ran rampant. One of the most consistent defenders of Syahril Sabirin. Former member of the Islamic Students' Association (HMI).

Syahril Sabirin. Govenor of the central Bank (Bank Indonesia) during the Suharto, Habibie and Wahid governments. Now detained for involvement in the Bank Bali scandal.

Beddu Amang. Former Head of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog). Two weeks ago, the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) found irregularities of about Rp 166 billion (US$19.5 million) in Bulog's nonbudgetary funds. Former HMI member.

Ja'far Umar Thalib. Head of the Laskar Jihad reportedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Christians in Maluku and North Maluku provinces. Alledgedly funded by elite political players seeking to disrupt the Wahid presidency.

Fahmi Idris. Former Minister of Manpower during the Suharto regime and Golkar Central Leaders' Council member.

Mochtar Pabottingi. Leading figure of the National Sciences Institute (LIPI) and one of the foremost critics of Wahid's presidency.

Achmad Tirto Sudiro. Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI). Former HMI member.

Eggi Sudjana. Leader of an Islamic organisation whose demonstrations have opposed Wahid and even reverted to violence. Alledgedly coordinating actions with Megawati's husband Taufik Kiemas.

Dawam Rahardjo.

Adi Sasono. Leading figure of the Peoples' Sovereignty Party (PDR). A longtime foe of Wahid, close to Eggi Sudjana.

Bustanil Arifin. Another former Bulog Chairman. Former HMI member.

Mar'ie Muhammad. Generally well respected former Minister of Finance during the Suharto regime. Former HMI member

Wiranto. Former Coordinating Minister of Security and Defense and Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI). Resigned impending trial into human rights violations in East Timor. Longtime political ally of Habibie and exponent of the "green" or Islamic faction of the TNI.

R. Hartono. Former Minister of Home Affairs during Suharto regime and retired General.

Indria Samego. Critic from LIPI.

Harmoko. Former Minister of Information under Suharto.

Eki Syachrudin. Golkar parliamentarian and former member of HMI.

A.A. Baramuli. Former head of the Supreme Advisory Council under Suharto. Now a suspect in the Bank Bali scandal investigations.

A. Watik Pratiknya. Leader of The Habibie Centre and close to the former President.

Yorrys Raweyai. Notorious leader of Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth) organisation employed by the New Order regime of Suharto as provocateurs. Still active, reportedly in Papua.

Djaja Suparman. Former Commander of the Army Strategic Reserves (Kostrad). Close to Habibie and Wiranto.

Nugroho Djajoesman. Former Commander of the Jakarta Metropolitan Police and close to Habibie.

Syarwin Hamid. Former Minister of Home Affairs under Suharto. Linked to the separatist "Free Riau Movement".

Feisal Tanjung. Former Commander of TNI and linked to numerous cases of human rights abuses and corruption.

Rahardi Ramelan. Former Minister of Industry and Trade. Close to Habibie.

Jimly Ashiddiqie. Leader of The Habibie Centre.

Farid R Fagih. Vocal critic of the President in relation to the theft of US$4.2 million from Bulog by Wahid's former masseuse.

Rustam Kastor. Retired TNI officer rumored to be linked to Maluku unrest.

Abdul Kadir Jaelani. Leader of the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and advocate of "radical' Islam.

Habib Rizieq. Leader of the Defenders of Islam (FPI) linked to the Suharto regime, TNI and recent violence in Jakarta.

Ahmad Sumargono. Leader of the Indonesian Committee for World Muslim Solidarity linked to the Suharto regime, TNI and recent violence in Jakarta.

Al Chaidar. A writer and "radical" Islam advocate.

Suharto. Former President who many claim is behind all attempts to destabilise the country and reassert the power of his associates in government and the military.

[Reporters: Suwarjono, Rusdi Mathari, Budi Santosa, Hestiana Dharmastuti/Lyndal Meehan]

Who's on Wahid's list? (Part II)

Detik - July 4, 2000

Jakarta -- The publication in Gatra magazine this week of a list of prominent figures from NGOs, business and past and current governments who have allegedly sought to discredit the President and destabilise his presidency has stirred up immense interest, not least from those on it.

As cited in "Who's on Wahid's List? Part I" 40 prominent Indonesians have been singled out as President Abdurrahman Wahid's particular political foes. The publication of the Gatra article listing the 40 was concurrent with remarks made by the President at a high profile Forum in Bali on the weekend that he was planning to detain those seeking to destabilise his presidency through provoking communal unrest.

Few observers of Indonesian politics doubt that the President has adversaries, that outside forces are stirring communal violence in the provinces and that this situation serves the interests of certain parties. The problem is that the speculative nature of this political storm means that those listed can seize the moral ground and even make fun of themselves and the President in the process. Detik managed to catch up with several of those singled out yesterday and today.

Parni Hadi, Chairman of the Republika Newspaper only commented, "Not bad, number 4," adding that it was an honor to be named the "number four" adversary of President Wahid, also known as Gus Dur.

Parni stated that democracy demanded a critical outlook on government. "My criticisms will not taper off. Criticism must be done freely. If a criticism is considered harmful, there are proper channels, just use the right of reply. I'm not afraid. Besides, where are they going to get rid of me this time?" he said assertively.

Parni also confirmed that he has filed a legal suit against the President for sacking him as Chairman of the Indonesian state- owned news agency (Antara) without prior notice. He was replaced by Drs. Mohammad Sobary, MA.

Similar to Parni Hadi, Al Chaidar, a writer and Muslim intellectual, was happy to be on the list (#39). In his statement received by Detik on Monday he said "As a good foe, I will oppose him fairly and gently, not attacking from the back or spreading slander because the sins will return to me."

If Parni responded calmly, Yorrys Raweyai was exulted when he found out he was listed at number 27. This leader of the Pancasila Youth organisation (Pemuda Pancasila), linked to the Suharto regime and military and numerous cases of violating the law and human rights, was contacted by Detik in Singapore where he is currently holidaying with family. He couldn't believe that he was listed at 27, even before former President Suharto. "Oh really! It's unbelievable, am I'm even bigger than Suharto himself?," he said in a mocking tone.

Yorrys claimed he hadn't heard that Gatra listed him amongst the President's political foes. "Really?. But who are we anyway? Only common people. Without the potential to become the enemies of a president," he said.

Today, Adi Sasono, Minister of Cooperatives and Small Enterprises in the transitional Habibie cabinet currently visiting Canberra, told the Australian newspaper that after 7 months in the top position, Gus Dur had proven that he was "not fit for the job".

"If this man could not prove that he can manage the country, we should give the chance to other people," Mr Sasono told The Australian. "The cost is too high. The human cost in the last seven months is much larger than in the last 10 years under Suharto's time." Asked who should replace Mr Wahid, Mr Sasono said: "The only possibility from article 8 in the constitution is Megawati." Gus Dur once accused him of masterminding religious clashes in Tasikmalaya, West Java two years ago.

More assertive responses have come from members of the current government, such as Eki Syharudin, a member of Golkar and linked to the old-boys network established through the Association of Islamic Students (HMI). He warned that the President's power only stretches so far. "The mechanisms he is using are not problem solving but the mechanisms of war," Eki told Detik yesterday adding that, "The power of the government is through the Attorney General, where the President has apparently ordered the detention of the aforementioned [those on the 40 list]. While the power of the House is in it's voting right. If power is measured in the voting right, the President will definitely lose."

Meanwhile, the two men on the top of the list, Fuad Bawazier and Ginanjar Kartasasmita, have both expressed frustrations with the President's methods while claiming to be squeaky clean, pursue legal means to defend their names as well as claim that the whole affair will only hurt the President.

Fuad, a leading figure in the campaign to elect Wahid, told Detik by phone yesterday that "He's a crazy person [meaning the President], I'm not even going to respond, it's water off a duck's back to me." When asked if he had funded unrest and riots in Indonesia Fuad said firmly, "That's not true. The accusation is baseless and contains no truth."

He also lashed out at the PKB, the National Awakening Party, which the President nominally heads. "The way they talk, you'd think the PKB was the law. The apparatus for upholding the law are the police and the Attorney General ... Basically we will be exercising our legal rights, there are such things as lawyers and we will be opposing [the accusations] with whatever means possible," he said animatedly adding that, "The President is only digging his own grave."

The interview with Ginandjar followed a similar line. Ginandjar has actually made himself openly accessible to Detik since rumors first spread several weeks ago that he was behind measures to promote Megawati Sukarnoputri, the current Vice President, to take over as President during the August session of the parliament.

He told Detik yesterday that, "The news has come from Gus Dur and only Gus Dur knows about it." He also denied any links to the violence unleashed in the provinces lately, maintained that he would be defending himself through legal channels and face up to his responsibilities before the law and the House.

While speculation dominates, the President has also come in for criticism from democracy activists for once again issuing statements that only confuse the public. J.E Sahetapy, though freely admitting that investigations into the corrupt have languished under the influence of the old status quo, has stated that the public are primarily tired of old style politics which the President seems to be mimicking. "If it's indeed possible, bring them out [those on the 40 list] rather than acting like the wayang, [pointing the finger at] the puppetmaster behind the scenes while all that's seen is a dream," Sahetapy told a seminar in Jakarta yesterday.

One of Indonesia's leading lawyers, Todung Mulya Lubis stated that the greatest concern is that the President has appeared to bypass the proper legal channels, adding that he may have indirectly violated the law. "This is all very regrettable," he told Detik yesterday, "because there's no legal certainty. We all hoped that Gus Dur [as the President is known] would be transparent and open it all up for the public. But it turns out that Gus Dur's accusations have only distanced him from the public. Great, if there's proof, if there isn't, just don't go spreading it around." A sentiment echoed by democracy activists throughout the country and business leaders alike as the public wonders if justice will ever reign supreme and Indonesian markets take a dive.

[Reporters: Ananda I, Shinta NM/Lyndal M & Fitri W]

Who's on Wahid's list? (Part III)

Detik - July 4, 2000

Jakarta -- Controversy over recent comments by President Abdurrahman Wahid that certain political figures stirring trouble to destabilise his presidency will be detained has rounded off today with some denials, some confirmations and yet more fodder for denials and confirmations. First the denials, mainly from the President himself who has rebuked suggestions that the police will detain persons suspected of funding and aiding conflict in the regions and Jakarta before the deadline he set for 15 July.

"Who said that [the House of Representatives/ Peoples' Consultative Assembly] was the trouble maker? I never said that, don't twist it around. I said, I know who the troublemakers are, [they're] people who at this moment are being investigated," he explained to a slightly bamboozled press. "In fact they'll be called by the law not as suspects but as witnesses, people like to twist these things around," he added.

Police General Information Division Chief, Senior Superintendent Col. Salef Saaf, also denied that the police would be held to the July 15 deadline. Though he did admit they have received a list of 40 names from the President of persons to be investigated for their involvement in corruption and human rights abuse cases. "If there are difficulties, we will extend the date. But the police will not be dumbstruck by the deadline," he told reporters today.

The police and authorities broke their tight-lipped stance this afternoon on the investigations which have indeed been instigated at the direct behest of the President. "In regards to the list of 40 names conveyed by the President, yes the police have already received the list," Saleh stated at Police headquarters.

Saleh added that, "So far, the police have taken further action in so far as proving the truth so that the proof may be acceptable before the court. In essence, the police are endeavoring to work professionally." He declined to give names but stated that, "If there is proof, even ghosts will be detained."

The Attorney General has also backtracked on early comments. Yesterday, Marzuki Darusman told Detik that reports on the President's "list' were just media speculation. Today, however, when presented with a leaked list of names of high profile figures who will face questioning in regards to the new investigations, he didn't confirm the names but said "Iya ... among others."

According to the source at the Attorney General's office, as many as 16 prominent figures will be summoned in relation to corruption, collusion and nepotism cases under former President Suharto, human rights abuses in Aceh and East Timor and the 27 July 1996 raid on the offices of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

The source stated that Fuad Bawazier, Ginandjar Kartasasmita, Adi Sasono and Bustanil Arifin who were listed in the Gatra article, which began the speculation, were indeed to be called. The source also mentioned others who will face the Attorney general's investigating team: Bambang Trihatmodjo, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana (Suharto's oldest son and oldest daughter respectively), Ade Komarudin, Hatta Rajasa, Setyo Novanto, Bob Hasan, Subiyakto Tjakrawerdaya, Siswono Yudohusodo, Prajogo Pangestu, Radius Prawiro, Ali Wardana and Indra Kartasasmita.

It was highly likely, according to the source, that Fuad Bawazier, Siswono Yudohusodo, Subiyakto Tjakrawerdaya, Prajogo Pangestu, Bob Hasan, Radius Prawiro, Bustanil Arifin, Ali Wardana and Indra Kartasasmita will be questioned over corruption linked to former President Suharto.

Setyo Novanto will reportedly be reinvestigated over the Bank Bali scandal and the two Suharto siblings questioned over the 27 July 1996 incident. Adi Sasono will reportedly be investigated over corruption regarding the transfer of some Rp 125 million to the Centre for Information and Development Studies (CIDES) which he headed.

The money was allegedly received from the Association of Indonesian Wood Panel Producers (Apkindo) headed by one of Suharto's closest cronies Bob Hasan, already detained during investigations into Apkindo. Ginandjar Kartasasmita, #2 on the "list" and the focus of great speculation for his role in promoting Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri as a suitable President should Wahid fall, will possibly be questioned over the violence in Aceh.

Meanwhile, it is still not clear if the President will appear before the House although a plenary session voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to call him to account for the sackings of two Ministers in April. The move against the President, many believe, has compelled him onto the attack in recent days.

Despite the fact that several political figures have stated that the President is to appear before the House on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simajuntak, told the press at the President's offices today that he has received no request to appear on that date or any other. Furthermore, if not specified, it may be possible for the President to send a representative, a move advocated by the President's supporters in recent days.

In other news confirming recent reports, the United Development Party (PPP) is set to present a petition to Speaker of the House and Chairman of Golkar (#8 on the Gatra list), Akbar Tanjung today. The petitioners are calling for a special parliamentary inquiry into the misuse of funds from the State Logistics Agency (Bulog). 120 House members have signed the petition, though only 10 are formally required, and support for the petition is set to grow.

The Buloggate scandal involving the theft of Rp35 billion (US$4.4 million) by the President's former masseuse has taken a toll on the President's credibility. However, this investigation seeks to go much further. On 27 June, Arie Sulendro of Indonesia's Finance and Development Audit Board (BPKP) said corruption ate up more than two trillion rupiah (US$ 230.41 million) of government funds in the first quarter of the year, with 213 billion rupiah (US$23.8 million) reported missing from Bulog.

Furthermore, the thorough investigation proposed may hurt the very people who have turned the Buloggate scandal it into such a big deal. Rusydi Hamka of the PPP acknowledged on Monday that the scandal might blemish the Golkar Party. "We ask that all of Bulog's nonbudgetary funds be revealed. We were told that it could blemish Golkar," Rusydi told the Jakarta Post. "But that's okay. We have nothing to lose."

The President too has nothing lose from proposing a similar inquiry into the funding of Golkar's campaign for the 1999 general elections and a "foundation" owned by party leader Akbar Tanjung. This is, thus far, mere press "speculation". Confirmations and denials will have to wait till tomorrow.

[Reporters Iin Yumianti, Titis Widyatmoko, D. Sangga Buwana/Lyndal Meehan]

A nation adrift

Asiaweek - July 7, 2000

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta -- The Indonesian presidency may be the toughest job on the planet. But for a few months after his October 20, 1999, election, most believed that if anyone could do it, it would be Abdurrahman Wahid. The 59-year-old Muslim cleric, popularly known as Gus Dur, had a reputation for being a far- sighted liberal, a believer in both Islam and religious pluralism, and a shrewd political strategist. With a following in the tens of millions from his Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), he boasted a grassroots support rivaled only by that of his vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri. "We're the best team," the half-blind leader is once said to have quipped about himself and his taciturn partner. "I can't see and she can't speak."

Wahid's joke now drips with irony. Giddy with hope for change, both Indonesians and the outside world chose to overlook the two ex-oppositionists' handicaps. But eight months into Wahid's administration, the limitations of Indonesia's leaders have become unavoidable. Disunity at the top, suspicions of corruption and a lack of decisive movement in tackling Indonesia's many problems have all led to the sense that the nation is adrift.

"It's not funny anymore," says Fikrie Jufri, publisher of the newsweekly Tempo, who counts himself among the president's supporters. In late May, his magazine broke the "Bulogate" scandal, in which Wahid's masseur and others were accused of scamming $4 million from the former food distribution monopoly Bulog. More news has since surfaced about the misuse of influence in Wahid's inner circle, including the cancellation of a $75- million power-transmission tender to allow in a Wahid-backed bidder. "There is a worry that there is a smell of KKN [Indonesian initials for corruption, cronyism and nepotism] around this administration," says Jusuf Wanandi of Jakarta's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Economic mismanagement and poor coordination are casting storm clouds over a nascent recovery. Violence and separatist sentiment have reappeared in the outer islands; on June 26, Jakarta declared a civil state of emergency in the Malukus, where Muslims and Christians have been engaged in bitter religious bloodletting. All the while, Wahid has appeared more concerned with traveling abroad and meeting foreign leaders, raising questions about his commitment to domestic issues -- and about whether his frail health can withstand constant global travel.

To be sure, the nation's drift can hardly be blamed on Wahid alone. From the outset, he has faced two obstacles: impossibly high expectations and a political atmosphere that can only be described as poisonous. The cabinet Wahid and his allies chose has not measured up to handling the massive state bureaucracy. The legislature has proved less a law-making body than a platform for politicking and pressure by the various parties. The military is preoccupied not with internal reform but with its own factions and frictions. A tough look at Wahid requires an equally tough look at the elite that elected him. For the post-Suharto era is shaping up to be not one of more democracy but one of narrow self-interest.

The current rancor can be traced to April 24, when Wahid sacked two members of his cabinet -- Trade and Industry Minister Jusuf Kalla of the former ruling party Golkar and Investment and State Enterprises Minister Laksamana Sukardi of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). On June 29, the DPR, as parliament is known, was to decide whether to officially summon Wahid to explain his decision.

The president's move was troubling to Indonesian politicians because it appeared to signal unambiguously that he had given up on the ungainly coalition of Islamic, nationalist, bureaucratic and military interests that had put him in power -- and which had, until then, divided up the state posts among them. In the past eight months, Wahid has consolidated his power at their expense. In contrast to his reputation as an accommodating democrat, Wahid has been almost ruthless in sidelining allies and shoring up his and his party's position. "The signs are already there," says student leader Sigit Adi Prasetyo, "although we cannot yet prove if this is the form of a new authoritarian government."

In January, the president replaced the head of the important Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA). In February, he bundled Gen. Wiranto out of the cabinet, paving the way for the rise of officers more loyal to him than to the influential ex- military boss. Then in April, Wahid fired the two economic ministers, turning their portfolios over to trusted aides, one a member of his own National Awakening Party (PKB).

His latest target is the central bank governor. On June 21, his attorney-general Marzuki Darusman announced that he had detained Bank Indonesia (BI) chief Syahril Sabirin as a suspect in last year's $80-million Bank Bali slush-fund scandal. In a written statement, Sabirin had accused Wahid of hardball tactics. Darusman, he claimed, relayed to him on March 1 the president's ultimatum: resign or be dragged into the Bank Bali investigation. Sabirin refused, taking refuge behind a 1998 law guaranteeing BI's independence.

On June 18, Wahid complained that Sabirin's public exposure of his conflict with the president "means that he doesn't care about our market. He doesn't feel responsible for our economic condition." Wahid often explains each of his moves as a step toward noble ends, be it strengthening civilian rule or building a cleaner, more effective government. Yet his tactics can lean just as often toward Niccolo Machiavelli as Nelson Mandela.

To remove Wiranto, for example, the president used the general's alleged involvement in the violence surrounding last August's East Timor referendum, even though a highly placed source in the attorney-general's office admits that as of May, the government still had no evidence to prosecute Wiranto. In his statement, Sabirin alleged that Wahid showed him a file purporting how the BI governor had lied under oath, an offense that carries a seven-year jail sentence.

The president, says Sabirin, explained "that if I stepped down from my post, then the legal process against me would not be continued."

If the president succeeds in replacing the BI governor, he will have, in less than a year, seized control of the government's legal monopoly on force, as well as the state's finances. He has no rival for authority in the armed forces, while his people hold sway over IBRA, the government's trade and licensing powers, state enterprises and the privatization portfolio. With BI will come control over interest rates, the banking system and the currency.

Why is Wahid, the supposed democrat, gathering up so much power? Probably in some ways to boost the former NU chairman and his people. "For very long, the NU has been marginalized," says scholar Muslim Abdurrachman, a close friend of the president. The organization, which counts some 30 million members, is centered around a Java-based network of Islamic boarding schools called pesantren and their Muslim scholars-cum-community leaders called kyai. This traditional, largely rural Muslim organization had long lost out to more urbanized, modernist Muslims for high posts in government. "There is a kind of jealousy," Abdurrachman points out, "a desire to bring NU to modernity."

Many of Wahid's decisions bear the imprint of his pesantren background. Why does he appoint family members (such as his brother Hasyim Wahid, who relinquished his post in IBRA after widespread public criticism) or trusted friends (such as Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab, implicated in the power-transmission contract cancellation) to key positions despite questions about their qualifications? "This is the pattern of a kyai, who promotes his khadam [trusted servants]," explains Abdurrachman.

Still, consolidation of power is expected of almost every newly elected chief executive -- especially in Indonesia. "No matter how democratic you are, once you are in power in Indonesia, you cannot but be autocratic," says Wahid's brother Hasyim. Thus the question becomes what kind of autocrat one opts to be -- cruel or benevolent? Wahid has positioned himself as the best hope for reform, as a bulwark against the military, political Islam and Suharto-era forces.

His struggle against the "status quo," says Wahid's official biographer Greg Barton, "is a very personal thing -- him getting his way is his barometer of how well everything is going. He is not behaving like a modern president. But no one ever has in Indonesia."

Wahid's consolidation has put him on a collision course with parliament. "Everyone competes for hegemony," says PKB lawmaker Ali Masykur Massa. "The DPR wants to have the main role, so whatever is done by the president is always considered wrong." Indeed, MPs from Golkar and the PDI-P have been circulating a petition to summon Wahid officially before the 500-member parliament. By June 23, the effort had raised 277 signatures. Amien Rais, speaker of the upper house, or the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), may have nominated Wahid as presidential candidate last October, but he is now the cleric's shrillest critic. On June 17, he complained: "Gus Dur has not yet shown his leadership." Wahid's brother Hasyim retorts that the lawmakers are exerting pressure simply to extract privileges from the government. "Most of the parliament members are extortionists," he says. An MPR session is due in August, which will provide legislators with the opportunity to grill -- perhaps even impeach -- the president.

The tension between Wahid and the parliamentarians, not to mention the confusion engendered by his unpredictable leadership style, does not bode well for the resolution of Indonesia's problems. The national debt -- $134 billion, or 83% of the GDP -- can only become manageable with prudent fiscal policies, but initial signs are that they may not be forthcoming.

According to a 1999 law, Wahid's government must also complete in two years a difficult and complex decentralization of revenues and power to the regions -- which, if mishandled, could not only damage state finances but weaken Jakarta against separatist sentiment. Another challenge is declining law and order, reflected in both rising crime and unending violence in the outer islands. Wahid's intervention in the military has left it even more riven with internal factionalism.

At the moment, disunity, mutual suspicion and a desire for access to government spoils mean that none of Wahid's opponents are likely to muster a credible challenge to the president. Thus Wahid may sail through the August MPR session with nothing more than a reprimand from the assembly. That would leave Indonesia with a president who prefers complete control -- and no system to check him. As Indonesia has learned twice before with Sukarno and Suharto, leaving national regeneration in the hands of one man is an enterprise that is by its nature fragile and, sooner or later, destructive. So much becomes dependent on one man's capabilities, limitations, beliefs, even delusions. In a June 20 statement from Cairo, Wahid claimed that ex-president Suharto would turn over $25 billion in his alleged assets to the state. "We will be able to repay our debt to the IMF and the World Bank," he said confidently. "We will be free to regulate our own country." While some in Jakarta believe such a dream deal is possible, others are less convinced. "With Gus Dur," worries Abdurrachman, "dreams and optimism are the same altogether."

What is Wahid to do? In the short term, he must address his government's growing credibility problem. This means in part cleansing his circle of those who are taking advantage of his power, whether old friends, supplicant businessmen or family members. "He has to be holier than the pope," advises one senior Indonesian executive. But Wahid might do without one papal prerogative: infallibility. If he starts listening to public criticisms instead of dismissing them out of hand, he just might reduce tensions with other politicians and prove that his consolidation of power is indeed to advance democracy. Acknowledging his limitations should also lead to assembling a better team.

Given the patchiness of the current cabinet's performance, many are putting their hope in a new, more capable batch of ministers, at the latest after the August MPR session. There are also suggestions that Wahid appoint a prime minister for administrative tasks such as debt and civil-service management.

Ironically, given most oppositionists' inexperience, Wahid may have to turn to Suharto-era powers -- the military and Golkar -- for the necessary expertise. Yet all this, in a sense, would require him to leave behind many of his old habits. It would mean he has to act more presidential -- to take more careful, more realistic and thus firmer stands, and to pay attention to fulfilling standards of behavior for a national leader.

Wahid is nothing if not changeable. But he is also stubborn. If he fails to adapt, he risks more turmoil. "Even if he passes in August, in two to three months' time the politicking will start up again," says Australia-based academic Marcus Mietzner. "It's a recipe for instability." Wahid is still far from being the answer to Indonesia's prayers. Indeed, he probably needs Indonesia to pray for him.

Elite talk fest criticised by students

Detik - July 1, 2000

Irna G.W/SWA & LM, Jakarta -- The high profile gathering of academics, community leaders and politicians taking part in the National Discussion Forum (FRN), currently being held at the Kartika Plaza Hotel, Denpasar, Bali were surprised by tens of students who staged a noisy protest. Their gripe, after knocking Suharto from his perch almost singlehandedly two years ago, the Forum had failed to include student leaders.

The 50-odd students came from the Joint Community of Bali Students association, which is based at Bali's Udayana University and Warma Dhewa University. They arrived at around midday today and held staged their protest right in front of the plenary room.

The students did not only protest the lack of involvement of youth and particularly university students but claimed that the Forum was only interested in compromise with President Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur as he is popularly known.

Their posters read: "Put Suharto on Trial", "FRN Don't Compromise With Gur Dur" and "Stop the Intergroup Conflict in Ambon," and many more. They also brought medium-sized red and white flag.

"We are disappointed because we are not involved in this forum. Aren't students part of the reform drive?" said Ngurah, one of the protesting students. He added that the FRN's job was to pay more attention to the real problems, such as suggesting how to resolve the conflict in Maluku, how to take Suharto to court, not forgetting the total reform agenda.

Wimar Witoelar, the moderator of the discussion forum, accepted and listened to the students' complaints. "Actually we had considered involving students in FRN. But we must admit that we had difficulty in finding the most appropriate representative figure. That is why the committee failed to invite students," Wimar calmly explained.

The high-profile gathering of prominent political figures, community and religious leaders and politicians at the posh Kartika Plaza has come in from criticism from many camps. On Friday, students from the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) staged a noisy protest on similar issues to the group today. The FRN was also roundly criticised by several of the speakers who were permitted to address the gathering.

The biggest complaint is that there are too many talk fests in Indonesia at the moment and not enough constructive action. Only time will reveal if this Forum will be successful in realising the high ideals espoused during the 3 days by the beach in Bali.

Heat will stay on for Wahid until August

Agence France-Presse - July 2, 2000

Jakarta -- Indonesia's leading politicans sat together on the island of Bali for two days last week dissecting the pros and cons of supporting Abdurrahman Wahid, their controversial president of eight months.

The no-holds-barred discussion would have been unthinkable in the days of former strongman Suharto, who for 32 years ruled Indonesia with an iron fist from behind an almost impenetrable facade.

Suharto seldom spoke -- many heard him only on television on national days and once a year before parliament -- and anyone who spoke about him did so at their own risk. If any decision was made on leaders, parliamentary or military, coming and going, Suharto made them, and his decisions were unquestioned.

But all that has changed such that Indonesian politics now seems to be standing on its head. At the Bali National Dialogue Forum the discussion among politicians was on whether Wahid himself should stay or go. Everything from intimate details of the 59- year-old president's health and his sometimes erratic style of ruling to the color of his often ribald jokes was held under a spotlight and picked over.

And if the headlines -- and the financial indicators -- in Jakarta are anything to go by, the relentless spotlight will not move away from Wahid until August, when he appears before the 700-member People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

At that session, the MPR -- the same body that made him the country's first popularly-elected president in October -- is expected to open fire at him from all sides.

MPs, ironically more of them from reformist factions that make up Wahid's coalition government than Suharto-hangover parties, have been lambasting Wahid for the past two months, with some calling for his impeachment. Foremost among these has been Amien Rais, the MPR president, who is widely seen as chaffing at the bit for his own bid for the presidency.

The MPs charge Wahid with cronyism, inefficiency, misleading the public with contradictory and "unfounded" statements, letting the government drift without direction and failing to make progress on the economy. They also accuse a president who has visited more than 30 countries in the past seven months with neglecting problems at home to instead whiz round the globe.

Before Wahid defends himself with the president's traditional "accountability" speech at the MPR, the first formal grilling will come in front of the 500-member lower house, which has summoned him to spell out exactly why he fired two ministers in April.

In the Bali discussions, perhaps one of Wahid's strongest defenders, or perhaps more accurately the strongest foe of those attacking the president, was the reform-minded Sultan of Yogyakarta, Hamengkubuwono X. The Jakarta elite, the sultan said in disgust, should stop trying to "achieve their own political ambitions" at the cost of the country and unite behind the president's efforts to tackle Indonesia's deepening problems -- the bloodshed in the Malukus, the ailing economy, corruption, secessionism in Aceh and a breakway movement in Irian Jaya, to name a few.

"In the people's eyes, the conflict between the political elite has moved into an effort to topple the the present government," he told the Jakarta Post. "Should it be like that when so many people are suffering?"

Nurcholis Majid, like Wahid a respected moderate Muslim scholar and seen in the past as presidential material, who was one of the organizers of the Bali Forum, urged the particpants to help Wahid see his term through to 2004. Wahid, Majid said, was human, and had made mistakes, especially in attempting to "prioritize what should come first." But he should have the benefit of "strong and constructive criticism" rather have to struggle with moves to cut him down.

Majid also urged the participants to realize that the good Wahid had done, ironically including de- sanctifying the presidency, had outweighed the bad. They should realize, he urged, that much of the confusion in Jakarta was due to the country's stumbling first steps to function as a democracy after so long living in a dictatorship.

The only grounds for impeachment, he reminded the forum, were lying under oath or proven corruption. "If Gus Dur [Wahid's popular name] was elected to office until 2004, we must support him," he said. "We have to learn to uphold the constitution."
Regional conflicts

Navy detains Maluku jihad commander and 250 followers

Agence France-Presse - July 6, 2000 (abridged)

Jakarta -- The Indonesian navy has arrested a leader of a militant Muslim group and some 250 of his men who were fighting sectarian battles against Christians in eastern Maluku islands, a report said Thursday.

Navy Lieutenant Commander Agus Subagyo was quoted by the Media Indonesia daily as identifying the captured leader as Rusdin Damunwayang, one of the commmanders of the Maluku Jihad (holy war) Force.

Damunwayang, a graduate in economics from Ambon's Pattimura University, was among some 250 Muslim militants apprehended by a navy ship in the Maluku Sea while sailing to Tobelo on Halmahera island in North Maluku province, Subagyo said.

"We arrested him immediately for questioning," Subagyo, the commander of the Multatuli warship, was quoted as saying. A police officer travelling with the militants was also detained, and six sacks of Jihad uniforms were found on the boat, the Media said.

Navy chief Admiral Achmad Sucipto was quoted by the newspaper as threatening to sink any ship carrying weapons to Maluku islands. "Any ship suspected of carrying weapons that ignores our warning will be sunk by our patrol boats," he warned.

Troops withdrawn from village before attack

Agence France-Presse - July 7, 2000

Jakarta -- A Christian crisis group in the beleaguered eastern Indonesian city of Ambon said Friday that troops were withdrawn from a Christian village in the city before it was attacked by thousands of Muslims.

Troops in the village of Waai in Ambon, the capital of the Maluku islands, on Thursday were withdrawn despite a protest by Maluku governor Saleh Latuconsina, the group said in a fax received here.

"The governor protested, but in vain. At the very start of the attack the villagers called in the help of the military at Suli -- to the south -- but they said they had not been ordered to go to Waai, so they could not help," the fax said.

It added that at the time of the attack a promotion ceremony for Maluku military commander Brigadier General I Made Yasa, was underway. "The number of casualties in Waai is unknown," the report said. But it said at least 100,000 Christians in Ambon now needed "immediate evacuation" because they were in grave danger, and that more refugees were starving due to a lack of food.

Reports from Ambon Thursday said that troops were sighted among the thousands of attackers who descended on Waai from three sides, forcing the villagers to flee into the woods to the west and to the seaside, where some swam and others managed to take speedboats to safety. The report said that the sending of two fresh battalions of troops would be fruitless, unless they were properly positioned.

The crisis center report was received as the Roman Catholic bishop of Ambon, Monseigneur Petrus Canissius Mandagi arrived in Jakarta en route to Geneva to appeal to the UN Human Rights Commission for intervention in the bloody Muslim-Christian conflict in the Malukus.

Some 4,000 people -- both Muslim and Christian -- have died in the 18 months of fighting there since the violence first erupted in January of 1999, and more than half a million refugees have been driven from their homes.

Accompanied by the chairman of the Protestant church in the Malukus, Mandagi told AFP he was set to leave this weekend for Switzerland, and expected to be joined by a Muslim representative from the islands.

But Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab on Friday summoned the Jakarta diplomatic corps and told them that Jakarta was "strongly opposed" to any outside intervention in the islands, otherwise known as the Spice Islands, despite the continued bloodshed there.

Instead, Shihab said, foreign governments should support Jakarta's own efforts to solve the problem. Shihab's summons to the diplomats came after the European parliament called in a resolution in Strasbourg Thursday for intervention.

US slams Jakarta for `double standards' on Maluku

Straits Times - July 8, 2000

Marianne Kearney, Jakarta -- The United States has attacked Indonesia for its double standards over access to the riot-torn Malukus, questioning Jakarta's commitment to openness and democracy. The diplomatic row stems from Indonesia's conflicting policy over access to its trouble spots.

On the one hand, Jakarta has called for foreign countries to send aid to the Maluku islands, but on the other hand, it has barred any foreign-embassy staff from visiting the province, Aceh and West Papua due to its mounting fear of foreign intervention. Said one diplomat: "It is ironic it claims to be a democracy yet in areas where they accept foreign assistance, they won't let people in."

In response to calls this week from Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab for food, medicines and other foreign aid for Maluku, the US Embassy issued a curt reply. "We are perplexed by this statement, however, as our requests to travel to Maluku, as well as to Papua and Aceh, have routinely been denied by the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs," said the embassy statement, adding that they wanted to provide aid.

The ban on all foreign embassies stems in part from Indonesia's nervousness over the prospect of foreign intervention, particularly the possibility of peacekeeping troops being sent in to Maluku. Dozens of demonstrators again targeted the US Embassy yesterday, urging America to stop interfering in Indonesia.

In a press conference yesterday, Mr Alwi, after outlining how Jakarta was dealing with conflicts in the three regions, also sought reassurance again from foreign ambassadors that countries such as Britain, France and the US had no thoughts of sending troops to Indonesia. But outside Indonesia, foreign governments are increasingly concerned at its inability to control the ethnic conflict.

Adding to Jakarta's concern over foreign interference was the European Union's decision on Thursday to look at ways of ending the ethnic conflict, including the sending in of international observers. At the same time, three church leaders are travelling to Geneva to seek intervention from the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

While the chances of even international observers being sent to Maluku are still slim, Indonesia is concerned by what it sees as a growing threat to its borders: The possibility of international troops being sent to Indonesia on humanitarian grounds.

Other analysts say the Foreign Ministry is reluctant to lift bans on visits to restive regions as they fear an independent assessment of the Indonesian armed forces' ability to control and reduce violence.

211 confirmed dead in Poso communal clashes

Jakarta Post - July 7, 2000

Makassar -- Wirabuana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Slamet Kirbiantoro Sulawesi announced here on Thursday that a total of 211 people had been confirmed dead as a result of the recent clashes in the Central Sulawesi town of Poso.

A series of joint military and police searches between May 23 and July 4 uncovered 127 bodies in mass graves along Poso River, 39 in Tagolu village, 11 in swamps in Lembah Sintuwu village and 34 in jungle ravines near Pandiri village.

"Latest reports on the fatalities were submitted today. Of the bodies discovered, some were found in three mass graves in three separate places," Slamet briefed journalists in his office.

He added the death toll in the violence was expected to rise as the peacekeeping task force set up by the military command was continuing to search for more bodies.

Head of the task force, Second Lt. Agus Salim, said that judging from the ash, coal and charred car tires found at the graves, 64 of the victims were believed to have been tortured and burned. "We found it difficult to identify most of the bodies. And some of them were found headless," Agus said. All of the deceased have been buried at Lawanga Islamic cemetery in the district of Poso, he said.

This, the latest round of sectarian violence, broke out on May 23 and ended on June 4. It followed unrest on April 17 that claimed two lives. Observers believe that the Poso communal clashes are connected with the prolonged violence in Maluku, where more than 3,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in January 1999.

Asked about the arrest of 29 military personnel over the inter- religious riots, Slamet said that seven of them were believed to have been involved. "Intensive questioning of the other 22 is continuing," he said.

Police, however, gave a different body count. Spokesman for the provincial police Supt. Ismail Bafadal was quoted by Antara as saying on Thursday in the provincial capital of Palu that at least 135 people had been confirmed dead in the communal clashes.

He said that the death toll was likely to rise as police were still continuing their search operation. Police, Ismail said, suspected that more bodies could be found in mass graves or abandoned in the jungle.

He said that of 135 bodies, 67 were found in Poso River, 10 were found in bushes near Sintuwu village and 33 more at the bottom of a ravine near Pandiri hamlet. Police said that another six victims were killed in the first wave of violence.

The chief of the provincial commission on human rights, Lies Sugondo, said that a commission was needed to investigate the Poso violence. "Reports on the mass graves should prompt the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to establish a commission," she said.

She denied, however, allegations that Komnas HAM had been too slow in acting on the Poso violence. "We've been busy with Aceh, Papua, Tanjung Priok and Ambon."

Ambon residents flee after overnight raid

Jakarta Post - July 8, 2000

Ambon -- Thousands of terrified residents fled the already ravaged village of Waai on Friday, following a murderous overnight raid by a group of heavily armed people.

Witnesses said most of the people were headed for the foothills of Mount Salahutu and the predominantly Christian districts of Paso and Suli. At least 22 people were killed in Thursday's predawn attack and arson, which involved hundreds of Liang and Tulehu villagers armed with handguns, mortars, grenades, rifles and Molotov cocktails.

Data gathered from a civil emergency crisis center stated that 17 Waai locals died, mostly from gunshot wounds, and 14 others were injured. Five attackers also died in the fighting and 41 were wounded.

The group renewed their assault on Friday at around 10.20pm local time, destroying the remaining houses and a church with mortars, bombs and grenades. "We are striving to sift through debris to look for more victims or survivors," a Maranatha church worker said. Survivors of Thursday's attack were seen braving heavy downpours and rough tracks through the jungle to reach Paso, about 14 kilometers east of Waai.

Rumors of more violence caused thousands of locals, mostly women and children in Jasirah Ambon Utara district, to abandon their homes on Friday and move south to Laha Air Force Base and Jasirah Lei Timur.

"The troops were never around when we needed them. We are an open target for the rioters. The pamphlets on the planned attacks, the maps and the exact dates and locations of their raids have been circulating for sometime, but security forces do nothing," a local journalist said.

Violence has intensified despite the imposition of a state of civil emergency in Maluku since June 27. Governor Saleh Latuconsina promised on Friday to help evacuate Waai residents to Waidarissa village on Seram Island. "But it is up to the people as I know that actually they do not want to leave their homes," he said.

Meanwhile, Pattimura University rector deputy JE Louhanapessy said total losses resulting from the arson and looting of the university and its campus could reach Rp 900 billion.

In Central Sulawesi, Antara quoted provincial police chief Sr. Supt. Soeroso as saying on Friday that two police officers allegedly involved in the Poso rioting would stand trial as soon as their dossiers had been submitted to Palu District Court.

In Kuku village, North Pamona, Poso, police found another pile of skulls and bones believed to be the remains of seven people killed in recent rioting. The bodies were buried in a ceremony at Lawanga public cemetery in Poso Kota on Friday.

Meanwhile Kumai, West Kotawaringan regency, Central Kalimantan, remained tense following Thursday's clash between indigenous Malays and Madura migrants, in which four people were killed.

The town was totally paralyzed as police and security authorities blocked all access to the area. Its shops and offices were closed. Some 2,000 ship passengers had to continue their journey to Sampit Port because of the rioting, Antara reported.

In an unrelated event the central Java town of Cilacap was also tense following an overnight brawl between Plikon and Sumpilan villagers in Adipala district. At least one man, identified as Waryo, was burned to death by Plikon residents. Seeking revenge, Sumpilan villagers attacked Plikon, leaving 32 houses damaged, 17 of them razed.

Police arrested eight men from Sumpilan village and seized sharp weapons as evidence. As of Friday afternoon dozens of security personnel were seen stationed in the warring villages.

Poso officers supported warring parties

Detik - July 6, 2000

Abdul Haerah HR/FW & LM, Jakarta -- Twenty-nine members of the 711 Military District Command are being questioned intensively about inciting and participating in recent riots in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Seven of the accused directly participated, supporting various parties in a conflict which has claimed at least 211 victims.

Wirabuana Military Area Commander, Maj.Gen Slamet Kirbiantoro revealed the investigation results at the Wirabuana Military Area headquarters in Makassar, South Sulawesi, today. He said that the involvement of two first officers and five non-commissioned officers has been confirmed. According to Slamet, his men did not only support one side but various conflicting parties.

The soldiers apparently became involved for personal reasons. "Generally they held a deep resentment because their houses had been burned. There are many whose parents were murdered, whose families were murdered. That's why they helped and sided with those of a similar ideology," said Slamet.

However, he refused to elaborate on what kind of assistance the accused had given the warring parties. He added that he would take firm action if their involvement were lawfully proven.

On Wednesday, six soldiers from the 1307 Military District Command were also arrested in relation to the violence which raged around the city of Poso, some 220 kilometers southeast of Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, several weeks ago. At present, there are approximately 15,000 soldiers, seven companies from the Wirabuana Military Commander and six others from the Police, deployed to secure the area.

Maj. Gen Slamet Kirbiantoro of the Wirabuana Military Area Command also said that 211 bodies from the Poso riots have been discovered. "We received the news this morning," he said.

He admitted that the death toll is likely to rise because the search is still rather random and the security apparatus has not visited many areas. "Just like yesterday, a dog came to the Poso Military District Command carrying a human head. We immediately followed this up and found a hole filled with human bodies," said Slamet.

Slamet regretted the high number of victims and admitted that, "We were a bit late in handling the riots." He claimed that there had been communication problems between the Central Sulawesi City Police and the Wirabuana Military Area Command when a request for aid to quell the riot came through. "It's normal, because it [the deployment of troops] had just been implemented so anything could go wrong," he said.

Ethnic violence erupts again in Kalimantan

Agence France-Presse - July 6, 2000

Jakarta -- Fighting between local Malays and settlers from Madura broke out on Thursday in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo island, leaving at least one dead, an official said.

"The clash erupted in Kumai in the early hours of Thursday and was still going on five hours later," said district police Second Sergeant Surti from Pangkalan Bun, some 10 kilometres northwest of the harbour town of Kumai.

Surti said the fighting involved the local Malay community and settlers from Madura, an island off the coast of East Java. She said she had heard that one man had been killed in the violence so far, but that the death had yet to be officially confirmed.

The district police chief, Surti said, was currently in Kumai to lead efforts to restore peace and order there. A staff member at the district adminstration's information department said that several houses in Kumai were on fire, but could give no further details.

The Antara news agency said that the fight erupted following a dispute between workers in the local timber industry the previous day that led to the killing, by a fuel bomb, of a local Malay early Thursday. The death sparked anger and attacks on the settlers and their homes.

Kumai has already seen at least two eruptions of violence pitting the local ethnic Malay community with the Madurese migrant community there this year. The Madurese, a hardworking but aggressive ethnic group, were the target of violent attacks in the neighbouring province of West Kalimantan in 1999.

The West Kalimantan clashes pitted them against the local Malay community, who received the support of the indigenous Dayak tribesmen. Some 3,000 people perished in the months of violence there last year and tens of thousands of migrants have been displaced.


Far Eastern Economic Review - July 6, 2000

John McBeth in Jakarta and Oren Murphy in Central Sulawesi -- Two months ago, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid ordered authorities to stop Muslim militants from landing in the northern Moluccas. They went anyway, and have since been blamed for some of the worst blood-letting since religious strife began there last year.

With the situation in Ambon, further south, deteriorating yet again, Wahid has now banned outsiders from travelling to the Moluccas and ordered a state of civil emergency. But can it be enforced?

Like everyone else, Wahid publicly admits he doesn't really know what's going on in the islands. But there's a growing sense that the violence there is part of a deliberate campaign to weaken -- though probably not to topple -- the president and his already fractious administration ahead of the People's Consultative Assembly session in August. Says political analyst Cornelius Luhulima, himself an ethnic Ambonese: "They want to use the Moluccas as a battleground for political change in Jakarta."

Who are "they"? Wahid and those around him blame shadowy members of former President Suharto's regime who are anxious to slow down reforms and apparently to prevent recriminations against those involved in political and human-rights abuses over the past three decades. Grumbles Wahid's younger brother, Hasyim, using the president's nickname: "Every time Gus Dur says 'No,' you notice there's an earthquake somewhere."

But analysts trying to make sense of the Moluccan violence, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the past 18 months, believe it represents a confluence of interests. Those range from disaffected retired and serving military officers trying to stir the political pot in far-off Jakarta, to well-funded Muslim extremists seeking to capitalize on a shift in the demographic balance of a region that once had a clear Christian majority in an otherwise overwhelmingly Islamic nation.

Tired of fighting

Caught somewhere in the middle are the people who live there. Ambon is a small island on which individual families are often divided between Christian and Muslim, but Luhulima insists the Ambonese are tired of the fighting and want all outsiders to leave, so they can sort out their problems themselves. In North Maluku, relief workers say local Muslim youths have joined the hardline Laskar Jihad crusade out of a genuine desire to return to the villages in northern Halmahera that they were driven from by Christian mobs earlier this year. By doing so, however, they have been caught up in the mythology of Islam under threat.

Complicating the situation has been the underlying struggle for the control of resources and territory in the wake of Suharto's downfall and, more importantly, the religious divide that has emerged -- in Ambon in particular -- between the police (mostly Christian) and the army (mostly Muslim). The recent appointment of a Balinese Hindu general as regional commander is clearly designed to bridge that divide. If he fails, military analysts say it may be impossible to enforce the state of emergency, which allows security forces to impose dusk-to-dawn curfews and exercise sweeping powers of arrest.

Whatever happens, the violence has exposed the fragile nature of presidential authority and civil supremacy in what was meant to be a new era of reform. It also raises the likelihood that retribution and animosity will continue to chip away at religious tolerance in Indonesia to an increasingly dangerous degree. After 33 years of Suharto's rule, during which ethnic and religious problems were brushed under the carpet, Indonesia is having to reinvent itself and face the fact that essential elements of nation-building are still not in place.

The immensity of that task was underlined in early June with reports of an outbreak of religious blood-letting in the Central Sulawesi coastal town of Poso -- an incident that raises renewed fears that the Moluccan disease may be spreading to other islands in the archipelago.

Oren Murphy, an independent consultant on conflict resolution who went to Poso at the behest of a Western development organization, was the first foreign observer to enter the town after the bloodshed. He spent days piecing together this account:

Budi and Santo (not their real names) sit side by side on a worn brown couch and take turns describing their survival of a massacre in a small cocoa-farming village near Poso, 220 kilometres from where they're now talking in Palu, Central Sulawesi's capital. Santo, a teacher at the Wali Songo Pesantren, a religious boarding school, and Budi, a cocoa farmer, recount how a group of men dressed like "ninjas" and calling themselves "The Red Bats" -- some wore bat masks -- entered their village on the morning of May 28 and, with home-made guns and machetes, proceeded to attack the school.

As word that an attack was under way spread through Kilo 9, as the village is called, Budi and many other men gathered weapons and ran to the local mosque for refuge. At around 2pm the 70-odd people in the mosque surrendered their machetes and spears. But rather than allow them to leave, the attackers surrounded the mosque and began firing. They then went to work with their machetes. The deep cut that disfigures Budi's hand and a railroad-track scar across his back are testimony to the attack. Budi played dead until the group left, then hid behind the mosque. He counted at least 38 fellow villagers dead.

The May 28 attack, according to local accounts, was the culmination of days of harassment by the Red Bats, during which they pressured Kilo 9 villagers, under threat of violence, to hand over the radio system they used to communicate with Poso. A police intermediary facilitated the handover. Furthermore, evidence suggests the attack itself was organized: For example, Red Bats entered the village from different directions at once, separated men from women and tied up prisoners in groups of five.

After Budi's escape, he spent four days hiding in burned-out homes and cocoa plantations. After he was stitched up by a Christian neighbour, he was captured again, with Santo, in the cocoa plantation. Budi, Santo and 26 other men were then bound and beaten before being driven by truck to the edge of the Poso River.

There the "Red Bats" began to execute the men by cutting their throats with machetes. Budi and Santo jumped in the river to flee their attackers. Budi and Santo escaped capture, despite their machete and gunshot wounds, after swimming down the river for over 12 hours. The bodies of the less fortunate, however, flowed down the Poso River for the next two weeks.

The attacks on Kilo 9 are part of a larger pattern of rioting in the once-sleepy city of Poso, rioting which was triggered, locals say, by drunken brawls between neighbourhood toughs who, with some leadership, later began identifying themselves by ethnicity and religion.

And while sporadic fighting in the city threatens to spiral into full-blown communal strife, no one knows the exact number of people killed in the attack, or why security forces have failed to quell the violence.

Poso police chief Jasman B. Opu says his officers have retrieved 98 bodies, mostly from the Poso River or washed up on nearby beaches in early June. But, he says: "We really don't know the exact numbers. More are missing and at night we can't see the bodies floating by to retrieve them. They float out to sea."

In an area of the sprawling island of Sulawesi where people describe gun attacks and black magic in the same breath, the roots of the conflict are elusive. The violence in Poso district, which has a population of about 300,000, is usually described as having three chapters: December 1998 marked the beginning of the drunken brawls; April this year saw Muslims burn down 300 Christian homes; in May, the Christians retaliated.

Political and religious leaders in the area agree that a combination of forces were at work in creating the unrest, and that local political elites have used the communal strife as a means of galvanizing support drawn on religious lines.

Yayah Al' Amri, an Islamic cleric in Central Sulawesi's largest Muslim organization, Alkhairaat, denies that the conflict is rooted in religion. "Since when has a fight between a couple of drunks been a religious war?" He says that local politicians and their supporters, fighting for the mayoralty of Poso, are largely responsible for prolonging the conflict. "If local politicians want to help the situation, they should all go out to an open field and slit their wrists."

Whatever its roots, the conflict has become increasingly polarized on religious lines. Following the massacre at Kilo 9, the chances that the region will fall into an all-out cycle of communal conflict like that in the Moluccas has dramatically increased. Government responses to the crisis on both local and national levels have been slow.

Thirty-five of the 40 members of the local legislature have fled Poso. Akram Kamaruddin, chairman of the legislature, is one who has remained. He speaks of the staggering destruction in the district: Four thousand houses burned or destroyed, 30,000 displaced persons spread across the region, and no notion of how to stop the fighting.

No word from Jakarta

Ruined homes line the road for 50 kilometres out of Poso. For the time being, the local government is waiting for security to be restored before it begins the process of rebuilding. According to Akram, a Japanese relief agency has pledged 3.5 billion rupiah ($400,000), which when it comes will be enough for the construction of only 400 simple homes.

Akram has yet to receive word that any support from the Jakarta central government is coming. He is stunned that President Wahid has publicly called for the people of Poso to settle the conflict themselves. "If a patient is sick, and local doctors aren't capable of healing him, are we really supposed to just leave him there suffering?"

Police have yet to arrest those accused by many in the area of organizing the attacks. That angers Palu-based lawyer Karman Karim, legal counsel for the survivors of Kilo 9. "If the police had arrested those responsible for the riots in December 1998, we wouldn't have had the riots in April 2000. If they had arrested the provocateurs in April we wouldn't have had the riots in May. They need to arrest everyone involved, and then weed out the planners from the followers." The police fear that mass arrests may incite further violence.

When asked how they would like to see things handled, Santo sits quietly for a moment, and then in a low voice says: "Blood must be repaid with blood." But Budi smiles and says: "I have had enough trauma. I would like my attackers processed through the rule of law."

Behind the Moluccan violence

British Broadcasting Coorportion - July 2, 2000

Jonathan Head, Jakarta -- After 18 months, there is still no end in sight to the conflict between Christian and Muslim communities in the Moluccas. If anything, the outbreaks of fighting are becoming more destructive, with the increasing use of modern weapons.

In desperation, tens of thousands of people have fled, either to the refugee camps which have sprung up all over the islands, or to other parts of Indonesia. The exodus will continue while rival gangs of armed men continue their attacks on each others neighbourhoods. The conflict has devastated a once prosperous region of Indonesia. It appears to benefit no-one. So what is keeping it going?

Local disputes

The roots of the conflict are not so much in religion as in a whole range of local disputes between the different communities, which were ignored or simply suppressed during the three decades of authoritarian rule under Suharto.

For example, in the provincial capital Ambon, Christians were believed by many Muslims to have preferential access to government jobs -- a hangover perhaps from the privileged position they did enjoy under Dutch colonial rule. Christians feared the influx of Muslim migrants from other islands would lead to the islamisation of the Moluccas.

In the north Moluccas, where some of the fiercest fighting has taken place recently, the conflict is even more complex. It involves the long-standing rivalry between the traditionally dominant Sultan on the island of Ternate, and other areas. It involves resentment of the Christian minority on the main island of Halmahera towards Muslims who were resettled in their neighbourhood following a volcanic eruption 25 years ago.

There are also disputes over who benefits from a new Australian- run gold mine, and over who will run the recently-created province of the north Moluccas.

As in other parts of Indonesia, there are plenty of underemployed men willing to take up cudgels on behalf of their own communities if given a little money and encouragement.

These problems would have been difficult enough to resolve peacefully in a country with little experience of democratic practices. But other factors have made matters much worse.

Taking sides

The most alarming development in recent months is the direct involvement of the security forces in the conflict. The military now admits that its troops have become "emotionally involved" in the fighting. It even acknowledges that police and soldiers have been shooting at each other.

More than 40 members of the security forces have been killed. Some local battalions have effectively ceased to exist, as soldiers have deserted to fight alongside their own communities, Christian or Muslim.

Even troops brought in from elsewhere in Indonesia have taken sides, rather than try to contain the violence. Morale throughout the military has plunged, as it has faced a barrage of criticism from civilians over past human rights abuses and uncertainty over its future role.

Its economic opportunities are diminishing, and commanders can no longer supplement the meagre salaries of their men. The military is itself deeply divided between competing factions. The soldiers have no appetite for the tough action required to extinguish communal disputes in their early stages.


Another "external" factor is the arrival of thousands of Muslim militants in recent weeks from other parts of Indonesia, who say they have come to fight a jihad or holy war in defence of the Muslim communities in the Moluccas. These groups are well-funded and well-organised.

President Wahid ordered them not to go to the Moluccas, but the security forces did nothing to stop them. They have now obtained modern automatic weapons, presumably from sympathisers in the military, and they are believed to have been involved in large- scale attacks on Christian communities which have led to heavy casualties.

The inability of the government to control these "external" factors is as much as anything a result of the disarray in President Wahid's administration. The government is grappling with a formidable array of challenges, and has simply been too distracted to devote much attention to the Moluccas.

But there is little doubt that some sections of the political and military elite are at least tacitly encouraging the violence in the Moluccas. The open involvement of troops in the conflict could not continue as it has done without some senior commanders deliberately allowing it to do so.

The Muslim militias have also clearly received high-level backing -- they have been training near the capital Jakarta on land owned by an influential political figure. Someone is paying for their food, accommodation and transport.

The long-term goals of those behind these dangerous developments are not clear. It could be they want to undermine President Wahid's government by promoting conflict in the Moluccas. Some politicians may be using the conflict to heighten Islamic consciousness in this traditionally moderate country.

In the chaos and uncertainty of post-Suharto Indonesia, the use of violence as a political tool is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Searchers fail to find more ferry survivors

South China Morning Post - July 4, 2000

Associated Press in Manado -- An intensive search yesterday failed to find any more survivors of a ferry disaster, as the few who were rescued described the ship's final moments.

On Sunday, 10 people were found alive floating in the sea and clinging to one another. At least another 481 passengers and crew were still missing from Thursday morning's sinking of the Cahaya Bahari, a wooden ferry packed with Christians fleeing bloody fighting with Muslims in the Maluku Islands.

But aerial sweeps of the area yielded no new sightings yesterday. "No one has been found today," said Commander Djoko Sumaryono, who is heading the sea and air search.

A fishing boat plucked the survivors, aged from 10 to 29 years, along with one dead body from the water close to Karakelong Island, 200km northeast of Manado on Sulawesi Island, in Indonesia, on Sunday.

Survivors recounted how huge waves swamped the overcrowded ship in a fierce storm during a 300km voyage to Manado from the Malukus, a corner of the Indonesian archipelago where violence between Muslims and Christians has killed almost 3,000 people of both faiths in the past 18 months.

Reny Sopakua, 29, said when the ship was starting to go down, fear turned to anger as passengers realised that there were not enough life jackets for everyone. "People started threatening each other with knives," said Ms Sopakua, who was separated from her infant child in the chaos that followed.

Meanwhile, a navy supply ship that docked on Sunday at the port in Ternate, a town in North Maluku province, found 200 armed Muslim extremists hiding aboard a commercial vessel.

Officers aboard the KRI Multatuli, which is part of the flotilla looking for survivors, said they despatched a boarding party to search a suspicious-looking vessel berthed at the dock.
Aceh/West Papua

Three Indonesian policemen killed in Aceh

Agence France-Presse - July 3, 2000

Jakarta -- Three Indonesian policemen and a separatist rebel were killed when gunmen attacked a police truck in the restive province of Aceh, reports said Monday.

Police said the truck was ambushed despite a three-month truce. The Aceh Merdeka separatist movement (GAM) said it was a shootout when their men inadvertently met with the policemen, the Banda Aceh-based Serambi daily said.

"The ambush and firing by the GAM clearly violates the rules that were jointly agreed between the Indonesian Republic and the GAM," Aceh deputy police chief Colonel Teuku Asikin told the daily.

The truce, signed in Geneva in May and which came come into effect on June 2, calls for both sides to attempt to reduce tension and violence in Aceh by confining their troops and laying down their weapons.

Asikin said the police truck was attacked as it passed Blang Karieng village on Sunday. Grenade-launchers were used and the truck was fired on, he said. Three policemen were killed, six injured and a GAM member was shot dead, Asikin said.

The GAM deputy commander of the Pasee region, Tengku Sofyan Daud, told Serambi the incident was not intentional but was unavoidable. "We were caught by the Brimob (the police mobile brigade) as we were trying to evade pursuit by members of the sub-district military command in Buloh Blang Ara," Daud said.

The leader of the Indonesian delegation to the joint committee on security modalities set up to implement the truce, Colonel Ridwan Karim, said he will lodge a protest with GAM over the ambush, Serambi said. "This is a serious violation that needs to be followed up," Karim said, adding that protests would also be lodged with the truce monitoring team and the joint committee in Geneva.

The truce was brokered by the Henry Dunant Center in Switzerland, and is being supervised by teams from both sides.

In another incident Sunday some 10 gunmen ambushed a motorcycle convoy of 20 soldiers in Cot Trieng Paloh in North Aceh, leaving one soldier injured, North Aceh police chief Superintendent Syafei Aksal told Serambi.

GAM has been fighting since the mid-1970s for an independent Islamic state. Sympathy among the population for GAM has been fanned by decades of tough military action against the rebels, and by resentment against Jakarta for draining the province's rich natural resources, which include natural gas.

Separatists claim Wahid open minded on independence

Agence France-Presse - July 5, 2000

Jakarta -- Leaders of the pro-independence movement in Indonesia's easternmost province of Irian Jaya said Wednesday that President Abdurrahman Wahid had not objected to their bid for independence.

Theys Eluay, the president of the Presidium of the Papuan People, told a press conference here that Wahid "did not reject" a call for independence issued at the end of a week-long Papuan People's Congress last month. Eluay said that several Papuan leaders, including himself, had met with Wahid late on Tuesday night to report on the results of the congress.

"We came [to see him] simply just to convey the results of the Papuan congress. He [Wahid] said 'fine, I will study it further ... let us build the steps ahead through constant dialogue'," Eluay told AFP on the sidelines of the press conference.

"He [Wahid] did not reject it, he said he would further study the results of the congress," Eluay added. At the press briefing, Eluay also said that Wahid did not show "any cynical tone, or reject the result" of the congress.

The congress ended in Jayapura on June 4 with a resolution saying that West Papua -- as the pro-independence lobby refers to Irian Jaya -- had been a sovereign state since it was proclaimed on December 1, 1961, and that its incorporation into Indonesia in 1969 was legally flawed and therefore null and void. The congress has also called on Jakarta to recognize the sovereignty of West Papua.

However Wahid has since said publicly that his goverment did "not recognize the congress," and called it "illegitimate", saying that it had failed to represent the entire spectrum of society in Irian Jaya.

Eluay refused to comment on a police summons for the congress organizers to be questioned on treason charges for advocating separatism, saying that the press briefing was only to discuss the meeting with Wahid.

He said that his group would "always be ready to support Wahid's "leadership as president of the Republic of Indonesia," because "through him we have reached a degree of progress."

He cited Wahid's donation of one billion rupiah (111,000 dollars) for the congress, and his promise (later retracted) to open the congress, as the group's reasons for supporting the president.

The presidium's mediator, Willy Mandowen, said Wahid was "the only one who still regards Papuans as his people while others have forsaken us." Mandowen also said his group would intiate a campaign to raise the independence "Morning Star" flag throughout the province, starting from July 14 to August 2.

Meanwhile, the group's vice president, Tom Beanal, warned Wahid's political opponents in Jakarta against trying to topple the president. "No matter what, we are going to fight alongside him, but if anyone tries to rise to power, the first thing that we will do is to separate ourselves from Indonesia," he said.

But Eluay said that people of Papua "will not rely on Gus Dur (Wahid's popular nickname) as the person who will grant independence" for the mineral-rich province.

"We are fighting without weapons ... every Papuan is fighting for independence through prayers to Jesus Christ," he said. "He is God's greatest gift for this country," Eluay added.

Since the congress ended, calls have mounted in Jakarta for the government to take a firmer stance against separatists in regions such as Irian Jaya and Aceh, another province where there is strong pressure for self-rule.
Labour struggle

Sony workers sacking is a political scandal

Detik - July 7, 2000

Irna Gustia/FW & LM, Jakarta -- The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), claims the recent government-sanctioned sacking of around 1,000 workers from Sony Indonesia represents a political scandal.

Speaking with Detik today, Surya Tjandra from the Legal Aid Institute said the government's actions in the case constituted a political scandal and set a bad precedent with implications for all Indonesian workers. "This is a political scandal for the government brought about by Sony's threat to flee the country," said Surya.

Workers at Sony Indonesia, a subsidiary of Japan Sony Corp, went on strike on 26 April over changes to the production line. Sony had recently installed a conveyor belt which required them to stand instead of sit down while working. During the strike, Sony switched production to it's Malaysian operations.

The government handed the matter over to the Central Labour Dispute Settlement Panel (P4P) within the Ministry of Manpower. On 16 June 2000, the Panel announced it's investigation into the dispute essentially agreeing to the changes and recommending that Sony provide seating and an additional drinking water fountain. Sony agreed to the recommendations but the workers, 80% of whom are female, continued their strike.

Eventually, on Wednesday the Panel gave permission to Sony to fire the striking workers, which took effect at the end of June. The Panel also ordered Sony to pay termination pay until June 2000, medical compensation, leave wages and other compensation.

According to Surya, the strike was justified by current labour regulations adding that, "Sony should have compromised with their workers before they fired them, but Sony just didn't bother."

Furthermore, Surya asserted that 1007 workers were fired and not 928, as claimed by the company and government. Besides the immediate fate of the retrenched workers, he regretted the incident because the government had not sided with the Indonesian people.

"On the contrary, the action will strengthen the position of foreign companies so that they can treat our inexpensive labour in any way they like," said Surya. The fact that the sacking was sanctioned by the government has only legitimised the threats of foreign enterprises to take their business elsewhere if workers strike.

The workers have now sought assistance from the House of Representatives. However, Tjandra said both the House and government are turning a blind eye to labour problems in Indonesia.

Sony to lay off 928 in Indonesia

Associated Press - July 7, 2000

Jakarta -- Electronics giant Sony plans to lay off 928 staff who stopped work more than two months ago in a dispute over new working conditions, a company official said Friday.

Sony Indonesia's finance department manager Satoshi Kanenori said 928 of its 1,500 employees at its television and stereo production plant in Jakarta would be sacked since the dispute had proven impossible to resolve.

Kanenori said the strikers walked out April 26, demanding that they be able to sit while they work. However, the company's newly introduced production line requires its staff to stand.

He said the company had received approval from the Indonesian government to terminate the workers' contracts, a requirement under new labor laws. The workers have the right to appeal to an administrative court. Kanenori said he expects the decision to cost Sony, which owns the plant, more than $500,000 in termination pay and other costs.

The dispute comes amid a surge of worker unrest in Indonesia that has been on the increase since the country plunged into its worst economic crisis in a generation in 1997. Labor strikes have also been fueled by growing anarchy and newfound freedom of expression since former authoritarian President Suharto was ousted in May 1998.

The unrest is hampering desperately needed foreign investment in Indonesia as well as hurting the operations of companies already present in the country.
Human rights/law

The new face of Indonesian justice

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 13, 2000

Dini Djalal, Jakarta -- Husein could do nothing when the mob set his son Dian on fire. "If I had protested, they would have killed me too," he says simply. "I held in my emotions." Dian, 24, and three of his friends had been caught trying to steal a motorbike in the town of Jati Murni, West Java. Within minutes of their being discovered by the bike's owner, a small crowd had gathered and began beating the men. Soon, the crowd numbered in the hundreds, pounding on the men as they pleaded for mercy. Kerosene was eventually found and poured over the four victims, two of whom were still alive. Three hours after their ordeal began, the men were left as charred corpses.

Dian and his friends were just some of the latest casualties of an upsurge of vigilante violence across Indonesia. National figures don't exist, but anecdotally hospitals have noted a sharp increase over the past year. The morgue at Jakarta's Cipto Mangunkusomo Hospital, for instance, has dealt with just over 100 victims of mob beatings since January -- more than one every two days -- and has now set up a special unit to handle the cases.

Most of the bodies show signs of brutal beating. In some cases, this alone caused death; in others, the victims had been covered in kerosene and set alight while still alive. Regardless of their punishment, for all the victims this was the new face of Indonesian justice, vigilante-style.

It's a paradox that after finally rising up against decades of no-nonsense rule under former President Suharto, Indonesians are now keeping alive one of his New Order regime's most notable characteristics: arbitrary brutality. With the military and police in retreat amid criticism of their heavy-handed ways, vigilante mobs are taking their place and taking a leaf from their strong-arm tactics. Armed with a grisly array of weapons, mobs exact their own brand of justice, even in the heart of Jakarta's business district, and often as police stand by.

For Indonesians, it seems, brutality is now in the blood. "The New Order taught us that the only way to solve a problem is with violence," says criminologist Yohanes Sutoyo of the University of Indonesia. "It is difficult to undo this."

The fascination with violence is visible everywhere. Most political parties, and many universities, have paramilitary divisions; one local newspaper estimates that half a million Indonesians belong to such groups. These private armies are not allowed to carry arms, but can still flex their muscles.

But the mob violence owes little to organized paramilitary groups and instead is notable for its spontaneity and unpredictability. Witnesses say incidents often follow the pattern in the Jati Murni lynching, where a small crowd quickly grows and a near- frenzy sets in before the victim is torched.

Although rarely armed with guns, attackers have no shortage of weapons to call upon. "The mob will use bricks, planks, machetes," says Yayat, a food vendor in Kampung Rambutan, East Jakarta, who has seen five lynchings in four months. "Any thief who comes here comes out dead," he adds. Indeed, so routine have the attacks become that shopkeepers are even stocking in preparation for them. "All vendors here now have kerosene ready for the next lynching," says Yayat.

The torching of suspected robbers appears to date back only to February last year, when the first reported burning took place without police intervention. "It became a model," says Munir, chief of human-rights group Kontras.

Often, one or two police officers are present at a lynching but are either powerless or unwilling to do anything. In Jati Murni, police reinforcements arrived only after the suspected thieves had been killed. Police who do try to intervene may find themselves coming under attack.

After a lynching in Cililitan, East Jakarta, a mob rampaged through a jail after police arrested some of their number. One police officer who recently did try to act, Suyatno, was roughed up. "If we intervene, the mob turns on us too," he says. A fellow officer adds: "I've got a wife and kid." But some suggest that there may be more than fear behind police inaction.

Firdaus, a street tough who witnessed one of the Kampung Rambutan lynchings, points to the police's admission that the victims were on their wanted list. That, he says, may explain why the police only came in big numbers more than an hour after the mob first struck. "If I am scared, that's understandable. But for the police to be scared? What are they good for?," he asks. Munir, the human-rights worker, supplies an answer: "The vigilantes are easing the police's workload. They just want to play it safe."

It's not a new complaint. The police, who until last year were part of the defence forces, have long had a reputation for ineffectiveness married with corruption and brutality. The government has pledged to turn the police into an independent force, answering directly to the president, that will "serve and protect" the nation. But with just 200,000 officers to serve a population of 220 million, and funding at a premium, that won't be easy.

For the police, however, the issue of mob violence is more than just a security question. "This is a moral issue," says Jakarta police spokesman Lt.-Col. Zainuri Lubis. "Perhaps the police aren't respected and are regarded as less than optimal, but that doesn't mean that you can kill people on the street."

Critics, though, say the police have inspired mob violence by their own bad example. "The public sees that the police too torture criminals," says Munir. "As long as the police condone this violence, mob justice will continue."

In Jati Murni, meanwhile, where Dian and his friends died, there is quiet, but not peace. The Soeyatno family, whose motorcycle the men were attempting to steal, are not sleeping easily. "I'm waiting for revenge from the thieves' families," says Enny Soeyatno. Men from the neighbourhood armed with knives take turns on security shifts. They stop and interrogate strangers, but never patrol alone. "Our strength is in numbers," explains Jatra, a 29-year-old motorbike-taxi driver.

Still, for Soeyatno, the fear and paranoia is a price worth paying. "It's safe now," she says. It wasn't before: dozens of motorcycles had been stolen in the neighbourhood, and anyone who reported the crimes to the police was asked first for money. "We've given up on the police," says another resident.

The price of this form of protection is a city closing in on itself, trying to keep at bay the growing savagery on the streets. In Jakarta, rich neighbourhoods resemble fortresses, but even in poorer areas, barbed wire fences in the frightened, while strangers can expect to be questioned. If trouble strikes, say Indonesia's new street warriors, don't count on the police. Stay in, or join the mob. Says Husein, still shocked that his son paid with his life for society's frustrations: "It's the law of the jungle."

Police swamped by wave of vigilante killings

Sydney Morning Herald - July 6, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta -- There is one small neighbourhood in Jakarta where thieves dare not go. Doors are often left unlocked and everybody knows everybody else. In a city where hunger is endemic, chickens roam freely. Children play soccer and teenagers strum guitars.

All who come here have business, friends or relatives -- or they just don't come. For one very good reason. "We kill the criminals," said a man sitting on the porch of his small, corrugated-iron corner shop.

In this city of 13 million people police are struggling to control a wave of vigilante killings. First the local residents catch the thief, then they beat him up, pour petrol over him and set him alight. When the police arrive, usually late, they find a corpse or corpses and no witnesses.

Jakarta's morgue has introduced a new category, "victims of mob violence", into its statistics. Since the start of the year 103 bodies have been listed.

Police said they were unable to name suspects in an attack at a bus terminal in East Jakarta where five men were set alight. Locals say the men were caught demanding money from passengers of a minibus. Somebody yelled "thieves" and the mob grabbed them and went into a killing frenzy.

"We've had difficulties locating and arresting [the murder suspects] since they mixed with the crowd at the time," Sergeant-Major Sri Suwarno of the local police said.

Siti Linda said her husband, Nurdin, one of the victims, had phoned her earlier in the day and said he would arrive home with money. She was seven months pregnant, and Nurdin was supposed to take her to hospital that night for a check-up. But she received little public sympathy for her loss. "He's not a criminal ... why did the crowd mob my husband to death?" she sobbed.

The commander of the Jakarta police, Major-General Nurfaizi, condemned the brutality and said the public had lost control. "It's a bad symptom in society. You must ask the public themselves what the motive is behind all this street justice."

The police appear powerless to stop the killings. In a country of 220 million people there are fewer than 200,000 police, one of the lowest police-to-civilian ratios in the world.

A Jakarta police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Zainuri Lubis, said investigators found it almost impossible to find witnesses in street justice killings. "Public morality has turned bad," he said.

Recently a crowd forced police to release four robbery suspects who were in the police detention house in East Jakarta, he said. "After releasing the suspects the crowd mobbed them ... the four police could do nothing at the scene." President Abdurrahman Wahid has ordered an increase in the number of police, but insufficient funds are available.

There is another form of illegal justice emerging in Jakarta which the police are also either unwilling or unable to stop. About 1,000 members of a radical group called the Front for the Defence of Islam have started raiding entertainment venues they regard as decadent.

Police stand by and watch as they confiscate liquor and search patrons of discotheques, hotels and other establishments. In some raids their members, wearing white robes, have used baseball bats to smash up premises.

80 Rights organizations seek UN tribunal

Reuters - July 6, 2000 (abridged)

John O'Callaghan, London -- An international group of human rights campaigners called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday to set up a tribunal to try Indonesian soldiers who terrorised civilians in East Timor.

The British-based Indonesia Human Rights Campaign (TAPOL) said the 80 signatories to the letter argued that the Indonesian justice system fell far short of the international standards needed to probe "war crimes and crimes against humanity".

"We are writing to urge you to recommend to the Security Council that it takes immediate steps to establish an international tribunal for East Timor," said the letter to Annan signed by a variety of groups in Europe, Asia and North America. "Speedy justice is essential for peace, reconciliation and stability in East Timor -- and for democracy and stability in Indonesia."

The United Nations was mandated to oversee East Timor during its transition to independence after the territory's residents voted overwhelmingly last year to cut ties with Indonesia, which invaded in 1975 after Portugal withdrew from its colony. In protest, armed gangs backed by the Indonesian army waged a campaign of death and destruction that left much of East Timor in ruins and thousands of people displaced. An Australian-led force repelled the attackers but there has been sporadic violence against peacekeepers and refugees.

In the letter to Annan, the rights campaigners said they were "concerned that problems may arise from the obstructive tactics of certain factions of the military/police legislators and their allies within parliament and the bureaucracy".

Tapol said the letter identified "flaws in Indonesia's draft legislation on human rights courts and the poor calibre of judicial personnel as the main obstacles to justice".

"The proposed definitions of human rights crimes are flawed and could result in lower-ranking military officers being targeted so that higher-ranking officers and political leaders can avoid accountability," it said in a statement.

"The letter also draws attention to the problems of ingrained judicial corruption and the lack of prosecutors and investigators able to act professionally and impartially."
News & issues

Arms embargo on Indonesia stays, says US

Agence France-Presse - July 7, 2000

Washington -- The United States has said its arms embargo on Indonesia would remain in place, despite complaints that the measure is tying the Indonesian government's hands as it battles rampant religious violence.

The embargo was mandated by the US Congress last year after the Indonesian military was widely blamed for whipping up a wave of militia violence when East Timor voted for independence.

Indonesia stepped up its campaign to reverse the embargo on Wednesday with an interview in the Washington Post by Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono. Mr Juwono claimed the military was suffering a chronic shortage of spare parts due to the embargo and had been forced to pull back several cargo planes and patrol boats needed in the Malaku islands.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, however, said on Wednesday that the embargo would stand as Indonesia had yet to satisfy a series of conditions imposed by the Congress.

Students demonstrate on US independence day

Detik - July 5, 2000

D Tjiptono/SWA & LM, Jakarta -- Around 50 students form the Student Executive Board (BEM) of the University of Indonesia (UI) demonstrated in front of the US Embassy on Tuesday, Independence Day, demanding the US government stay out of Indonesian domestic affairs.

Wearing their signature yellow university jackets, the students arrived at the US Embassy building at 2.15pm local time. They immediately set about delivering orations claiming that Indonesia was currently in the hands of foreign powers, particularly the US. According to the General Chairman of the student body, Taufik Riyadi, national sovereignity has become mere rhetoric.

"Natural resources are constantly exploited but the people do not enjoy the profits, all while Indonesia's debt keeps mounting up. Policy after policy is being determined by the superpower countries," Taufik told the protesting students.

For this reason, the students demanded the current government of President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri refuse all kinds of foreign intervention. They also called upon the Indonesian people to unite.

The students brought posters which reflected their critical stance:"Go to Hell Yankee", "Defend Our Nation's Dignity", "Refuse Intervention", "Yankee, Mind Your Own Country" and many more. A US national flag was also set alight.

Despite the lively demo, a traffic jam was avoided. 30 officers from the Jakarta City Police guarded the site while behind the embassy gate, a group of security officers stood guard sporting shields and helmets.

12 hospitalized in Surabaya clash

Detik - July 5, 2000

B Sugiharto/SWA & LM, Jakarta -- A violent clash in Surabaya between police and supporters of a charitable foundation forced to hand over their building to a local business has left 12 hospitalised. Local party officials have denied previous reports that members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Task Force were involved in the clash.

The injured and around 300 people clashed with police when they attempted to evict residents of the Prayuana Foundation building in Surabaya, East Java, and their supporters today. The Foundation runs a school for the mentally retarded and recently lost a case against PT Bina Mobilaraya who claimed to have purchased the building legally.

In a previous report, Detik reported that members of the PDI-P Task Force had combined with Task Force members from the Nahdlatul Ulama, known as the Banser NU. Latest information indicates that Banser NU combined forces with supporters of the National Awakening Party (PKB). The two are closely related, NU is Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation and NU leaders formed the PKB in 1999 although the two are officially independent.

Task Force Platoon Commander of the PKB Regional Board of Leaders (DPW), Wiro S, spoke with Detik today at the DPW headquarters on Jl. Musi, Surabaya, East Java.

Wiro said that two PKB members, Makhrus Ali and Maksum, are currently being treated for severe concussion at the Darmo hospital. He also said that other victims from the Garda Bangsa task force [a division within the PKB's own task force - ed] are being treated for rubber bullet and head wounds. Wiro admitted that he had deployed 72 members of the PKB and Banser NU task forces, including 8 Banser NU members from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan.

According to Wiro, his people had been determined not to hand over the building because the mentally retarded occupants had no where else to go. He added that he had previously tried to negotiate the handover and had also sent a proposal for a postponement to the Supreme Court, although there had been no reply. Furthermore, Wiro claimed the boss of PT Bina Mobilraya, Candra Srijaya, had been adamant that the handover would go ahead and had deployed two trucks of his supporters for this purpose. "That's why we considered it necessary to secure the building," stated Wiro.

Wiro added that PKB and NU supporters were mere participants who did not wear task force uniforms and were unidentifiable. He also denied that the PKB had a vested interest in the foundation.

The South Surabaya city police have detained 15 wounded task force members who will be investigated. Chairman of the PKB East Java Regional Board of Leaders, KH Chairul Anam, has negotiated with the police to release the PKB members. His junior number, Wiro, is calling for a police investigation into the violence and the use of water canons on the protesters.

Newmont says Sulawesi mine operations restarted

Reuters - July 3, 2000 (abridged)

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta -- The Newmont Minahasa Raya gold mine on Indonesia's Sulawesi island has restarted operations after protesting locals were persuaded to end a blockade of the site, Newmont said on Monday.

"Supplies reached the mill and mine for the first time in a week and operations resumed," Newmont Minahasa Raya, a unit of Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp, said in a statement. But it said the underlying disagreement over land compensation for local landowners, which had prompted the blockade, "still needs to be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned".

Last week, Newmont evacuated women, children and non-essential staff from the mine and halted operations after alleged intimidation by protesting locals. It was the second time a blockade had closed the mine in the last month.

The protesters are former landowners who are demanding higher compensation for the land used by the mine. But Newmont, North America's second largest gold producer, says it had given healthy compensation packages to some 400 landowners from 1989 to 1994, paying five times the market rate.

"Since the beginning of this dispute over recompensation for land use, the company has maintained that we were willing to talk to people who felt that they had been unfairly treated ... and review their claims on a case-by-case basis," Paul Lahti, general manager of the mine, said in the statement.

"It appears now that we will be able to restart that process." Officials have said Newmont Minahasa Raya's gold output in 1999 was 11 tonnes and targeted to reach 12 tonnes this year.

Leader fired by vision of militant Islam

South China Morning Post - July 3, 2000

Vaudine England -- Reza Pahlevi's shiny namecard describes him as the head of Laskar, or the Front to Defend Islam (FPI). That means he is mentor to and organiser of thousands of young Muslim men who, fired by a militant vision of Islam, have in recent months shown an increasing readiness to demonstrate, pressure and even attack enemies of the faith.

That translates into raiding bars, brothels, restaurants and other venues regarded as sinful -- most recently marching on Parliament last Wednesday demanding that a new code of morality be drafted.

Mr Reza has been with the group for only two years. "I joined because it is independent, it is non-partisan," he said, as several hundred white and turquoise-clad followers moved into formation behind him on the streets of Jakarta. They shouted slogans against Zionism, Communism, certain Christian generals and more.

"We are here to uphold morality and the values of Islam. And we uphold Eastern culture in general, which has always been more pure than others," he says with conviction.

An anti-Western bias is to be expected, but what worries diplomats and many Indonesians is the seeming impunity with which groups of FPI youths have been able to pursue their agenda without sanction from the law. Despite laws against carrying weapons in public, legions of FPI members did just that outside the presidential palace earlier this year.

During the fasting month of Ramadan at the beginning of the year, ranks of FPI acolytes, in long white Muslim garb and wearing prominent long swords and knives, blockaded City Hall for a day, bringing administration to a halt. Reza helped to organise these and other similar displays of burgeoning Islamic assertiveness.

They won their point when Jakarta's Governor, Sutiyoso, agreed to close all nightspots across the city for the month. Before and since then, FPI-related groups have forced bar staff and prostitutes out of work in Bandung, Bogor and Jakarta by attacking nightlife areas.

But to talk with men such as Mr Reza, it is hard to remember the details. He is newly married and the proud father of a first child, looking forward to bringing up a large family at the same time as defending his faith as a full-time career. What spare time he has goes into his family and his faith.

His background -- "from the masses", as he styles it -- and that of many of his followers is typical of an increasingly activist youth culture. Islam, he says, is the only way forward because it speaks to the concerns of the masses.

He trained for this role for many years. After secondary school he pursued a degree in Islamic Studies at the Universitas Islam in Jakarta. He also spent almost three years in a pesantren, a Muslim boarding school, in East Java. Pesantrens are where dedicated young Muslim men live and study together.

"I only want to strengthen Islam, I don't want violence, I don't want to kill. I only want to support my brothers and sisters in Islam," he said. "So many times in our history the voice of the Muslims has not been heard."

Mercury timebomb

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 13, 2000

John McBeth, Talawaan -- An ecological disaster looms over North Sulawesi's Minahasa Peninsula. Rampant illegal gold mining is pouring hundreds of tonnes of mercury into the environment. The deadly flow threatens to undermine the economy, contaminate food crops and leave a horrifying health problem for future generations.

Driven by populism and greed, local officials either turn a blind eye to the problem or play an active part in its making. Researchers have identified a police officer as the owner of one of hundreds of crude mills, or trommels, that use mercury to separate gold from ore.

The head of the government's North Sulawesi environmental bureau merely distributes posters showing how to handle mercury, which attacks the central nervous system and causes appalling genetic disorders. Preoccupied with foreign mining firms, Walhi, the country's largest environmental group, pays scant attention to the issue. The one organization that does, tiny Manado-based Yayasan Bina Cipta AquaTech, puts the number of illegal miners in North Sulawesi at 22,000, spread over five or six different sites. Among them are 1,500 working on Australian mining company Aurora Gold's Talawaan gold concession, where more than 100 trommels are in operation. Samples from the Talawaan River -- used by residents for domestic purposes and fish-ponds -- show mercury levels 70 times higher than the internationally accepted limit for drinking water.

YBCA co-director Inneke Rumengan says miners complain of trembling and stomach and head pains: "They know the mercury is bad for them, but they don't know how bad." Robert Lee, of the overseas-based Wildlife Conservation Society, says miners in parts of the Bone Dumogg National Park are letting mercury- tainted water seep into the Gorantalo city catchment area.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, mercury imports reached 62 tonnes last year, up from five tonnes in 1996. But people familiar with mining and environmental issues say illegal mining consumes as much as 200 tonnes of mercury annually in Talawaan alone.

That compares with the 60 tonnes of methyl mercury dumped between 1920 and the mid-1960s in Minamata, Japan, scene of the world's worst case of mercury contamination. Methyl mercury is more easily absorbed than metallic mercury, but the effects are the same, particularly if trommel operators breath in the toxic fumes during the final burn-off. Says a metallurgist: "They simply have no idea how dangerous that is."

Miners get little reward for their huge risks. They use mercury during initial crushing to extract about 35% of the gold from each 20-kilogram load of ore. When the miner has gone, the trommel owner draws out the rest.
Arms/armed forces

TNI should cut its businesses

Jakarta Post - July 3, 2000

[The following is an excerpt from an interview with Revrisond Baswir, an expert on political economy at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. He shared his views on reforms in the Indonesian Military (TNI) with The Jakarta Post's Agus Asip Hasani last week.]

Question: Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono has said the government will liquidate "semi-profitable" institutions within the Indonesian Military such as foundations and cooperatives, while companies (Perseroan Terbatas) will be maintained as a source of operational funds for TNI, given the limited national budget. Your comment?

Answer: The amount of funds acquired by the TNI from businesses, cooperatives and foundations, usually managed under "non- budgetary funds" reaches up to 70 percent or 80 percent of the military's overall operational funds.

This means the budget can only cover 20 percent to 30 percent of the military's operational funds. Pak Juwono's argument that the government cannot cover TNI's needs is still debatable ... The establishment of (TNI) foundations is usually aimed at managing non-budgetary funds acquired through illegal or corrupt ways, or at least through unfair ways such as selling security services to private firms -- the military is clearly a public institution.

The funds also come from cooperatives which monopolize the distribution of fuel and other [services]. The foundations then invests the non-budgetary funds by setting up companies or by just buying shares in private firms.

So essentially, the non-budgetary funds of firms, foundations and cooperatives within TNI are state assets; they belong to the public and are not entirely private firms of TNI. Therefore, it is not TNI alone which is filling the [budgetary] gap.

So it is not that the government cannot fund TNI 100 percent if all non-budgetary funds are handed over to the state coffers, to be managed and redistributed through the state budget. The accountability of the use of the funds would then be transparent.

The problem for us so far is that we don't know exactly how big TNI's assets are and how the assets are allocated, while we do know that it is a state institution. So how can such a public institution manage large public assets without the people knowing?

You mean the government can actually fund TNI if it takes over TNI's non-budgetary funds? Why doesn't [the government] firmly designate military businesses as state-owned companies, enter its non-budgetary funds into the state budget, liquidate its foundations ...?

The government's budget would be larger and only then could there be some compensation in the form of a bigger budget for TNI -- but only through the state budget.

What do you think the constraints are to such measures?

I'm sure many within TNI, mainly from their elite, would resist such efforts. Even partial steps such as those suggested by Juwono would face resistance by those who so far have profited from TNI's foundations or cooperatives.

The issue here is not only that the military funds should go through the state budget, but also the incentive system in TNI which only benefits its elite. So this really is about the interests of the armed forces' elite, because if non-budgetary funds were included in the state budget and TNI's sources of funds were liquidated or taken over by the government, the problem raised would not really be about the lack of operational funds, but of declining incentive among the TNI elite outside their actual salaries.

In short, such steps would disrupt TNI's distribution system. It would disrupt its incentive system, which has so far been nurtured among the military elite. So an increased budget for the armed forces by the government first taking over their businesses would really increase the welfare of all TNI members.

In the current system, an officer has much more incentive than his salary, while a low-ranking soldier has a very small opportunity to enjoy extra incentives from TNI's non-budgetary funds, or to share in the profits of its businesses and cooperatives.

This is actually a national problem which is not limited to TNI, but is pervasive throughout all levels of government. What's needed is an overhaul of the incentive system, or more correctly, of the management of public funds.

Could you elaborate?

The existence of all non-budgetary funds, foundations and companies owned by government foundations are evidence that corruption in this country does not happen only in each institution, but that it is systematic corruption.

Maybe what differentiated a civilian official and a military officer is that the military officer had more power, and maybe still does, through his control of many strategic businesses, such as fuel distribution.

I'm quite sure that similar to civil servants, only a small proportion of the income of TNI members, particularly among the elite, comes from their salaries. A minister may be paid a salary of Rp 14.5 million but we don't know how much he gets from other sources. A high-ranking official can get a monthly salary of Rp 4.5 million, but his incentives can reach four to five times that amount.

A general, apart from his salary, would surely get his "share", either from foundations, cooperatives or firms under TNI, or from private firms where a TNI foundation has shares.

Given the national scale of the problem, national measures are vital. There must be the political will to draw up a law or decree of the People's Consultative Assembly on regulating the management of public funds. This could take the form of turning into state assets those vague sources of funds which have become sources of non-budgetary funds, and also reservoirs of corruption ....

To what extent could TNI afford to fund its operational needs?

From this year's state budget, TNI is receiving about 11 percent to 14 percent of the budget of Rp 200 trillion, meaning it gets some Rp 28 trillion. But this sum only means 20 percent to 30 percent of its needs. So TNI's real expenses can reach Rp 100 trillion, while Rp 60 trillion to Rp 70 trillion would actually come from its foundations, cooperatives, firms, etc.

If TNI's business assets were taken over by the government, would it be able to give TNI Rp 100 trillion through the state budget?

Of course that would be difficult. That would be 50 percent of this year's budget -- that's crazy. But I'm sure TNI's needs would not really be that large if it wasn't burdened by the need for incentives for its elite.

Such large needs have not been fairly distributed within the military all this time. An officer can maybe take home Rp 100 million a month, or at least Rp 50 million. Even if soldiers' wages were to be increased to Rp 1.5 million [a month], I suspect TNI's needs would not reach Rp 100 trillion per year. With transparency and fairer distribution, its needs would maybe reach only twice its current share of the state budget, or some Rp 50 trillion to Rp 60 trillion.

What about the involvement of individual TNI members in businesses, from their positions as commissioners in firms to those selling security services?

It's true that not all businesses can be taken over by the state. There are many forms of extra income among TNI personnel, like their involvement in the private sector which has nothing to do with the public sector. There are firms using the services of a general in his position as a commissioner in a private firm, or those which use military members for their security services.

But it is hard to estimate the amount of funds raised through such channels, which are also forms of corruption. It's possible such funds are even larger given the pervasiveness [of such services] in our society.

For the sake of TNI's professionalism and as part of our efforts toward clean governance, such practices must be cut as much as possible, along with the acquisition of the sources of the above non-budgetary funds. The rule that TNI personnel should not hold posts outside that institution should be firmly upheld. The same must also apply to civil servants. This must be made clear in an anticorruption law.
Economy & investment 

Illegal mining: Indonesia undercut

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 13, 2000

John McBeth in South Kalimantan and North Sulawesi -- They come equipped with scores of excavators and more than 500 trucks. Their backers have wealth and influence. They have been known to cajole and threaten. Over the past two years they have taken illegal mining to an unprecedented level, pillaging three million tonnes of coal alone from the two South Kalimantan concessions run by Australian mining company Broken Hill Proprietary.

BHP is the biggest but by no means only victim of a phenomenon that has swept Indonesia since the economy nose-dived three years ago. The government estimates there are 62,000 illegal miners across the country, twice the number working legally. Mines and Energy Minister Bambang Yudhoyono told parliament recently that annual losses amounted to 30 tonnes of gold, four million tonnes of coal, 2,800 carats of diamonds and 3,600 tonnes of tin concentrate. Even without tax and royalties, the export value is more than $150 million.

Government officials are frank about the problem. They acknowledge that miners are being funded or backed by local and regional financiers, military officials, bureaucrats and other powerful interests -- and supported by a network of international buyers. Organized illegal operations are meanwhile being passed off as "indigenous mining," providing a veneer of legitimacy that distracted environmental activists are willing to accept. Meanwhile, Jakarta seems unable to act against newly emboldened regional power-holders who collude with the illegal operators and criticize central government for siding with foreign mining companies. As with illegal logging, which costs Indonesia $2 billion in lost revenue a year, the benefits are shared by a few.

These developments bode ill for the spread of local autonomy. Short-sighted provincial officials scrambling to line their own pockets ignore the damage to the economy and environment of their provinces. "The political and bureaucratic elite join together with the private elite; they get power and they can do what they like," says the government's director-general for mines, Surna Djajadiningrat.

State-owned mining businesses are also affected. In West Sumatra, coal-miner Bukit Assam recently expelled thousands of industrially equipped miners from its Ombilin mine. In West Java, Aneka Tambang says it has whittled down the number of illegals at its Pongkor gold mine to 1,000. On Bangka and Belitung islands, off Sumatra's southeast coast, tin giant Tambang Timah has a different problem: Singaporean buyers, working for Malaysian smelters, try to undercut the prices the company pays to its 300 contractors.

Elsewhere, authorities in Central Kalimantan have finally cleared illegal miners from Aurora Gold's Mount Muro mine -- two months after President Abdurrahman Wahid issued a decree instructing officials to deal with illicit mining "in a functional and comprehensive manner." But another 5,000 miners and migrant ancillary workers still occupy the company's promising gold deposit east of the North Sulawesi capital of Manado. Until the local administration expels them, the mine can't open, executives say.

Government officials, industry experts and researchers agree that illicit mining is most serious in South Kalimantan, where it involves official connivance in everything from the falsification of documents to the protection and sanctioning of the mining and transport of coal.

Researchers say some of the excavators and trucks come from former President Suharto's failed $3 billion rice-growing project in Central Kalimantan. Other equipment belongs to the regional government or to scores of small-time construction contractors whose businesses have been left idle by the economic crisis.

Along the banks of the Barito River, where it flows through the canal-laced South Kalimantan provincial capital of Banjarmasin, mounds of illegally mined coal lie on giant 5,000-tonne barges and in dockside stockpiles. Coal looted from BHP's Satui and Senakin pits is shipped out from Sangai Danau on the eastern coast, and even through a state-owned port lying next to BHP's Pulau Laut coal terminal. Barges lug the coal to South Sulawesi and Java, or transfer it to ships anchored off the coast for delivery to overseas markets.

Officials and experts say the illegal operators use falsified quality and export documents from firms that own barren concessions far away from where the coal is actually mined. Some companies engaged in the illegal trade hold permits that allow them to sell only bulk samples -- which in some cases are as big as 100,000 tonnes. Many firms are licensed for exploration, not exploitation.

There's no way to stop it," sighs Satui mine boss Sumarwoto, unfolding a map showing 81 illegal mining sites along the remaining half of BHP's 14-kilometre coal seam. "Everybody shifts responsibility to someone else.

We have enough regulations, but not enough enforcement." Not only has the expected life of the Satui mine been slashed by five years but also the illegal operators are damaging the environment. And they play havoc with the mine by stripping off the top 10 metres of coal -- the only part their equipment can reach -- and leaving the hole to fill up with water. India, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines are the main overseas markets, accounting for about 80% of the illegal coal, which sells for as much as $8 less than the market price of $19 to $20 a tonne. Domestic customers include state enterprises, as well as dozens of private companies. Surna, the mines director-general, says he has written to the state-owned Paiton power plant and a South Sulawesi cement factory warning them not to use illegally mined coal. But he and others acknowledge that because of falsified papers, firms aren't always aware of the origins of the coal they buy.

New to the job, Surna is candid in acknowledging the role of the cash-strapped Indonesian military. He recalls being telephoned by three-star generals asking him to go easy on this or that company. Sometimes callers warn him to be careful. "I ask them to come to my office to talk to me face to face, but they never come," he says.

Researchers from the privately funded National Academy of Technical Development say individual military officers protect the enterprises rather than get directly involved. They trace the history of the problem back to the mid-1990s, when illegal miners forced Taiwanese firm Chung Hwa off its deposit near Binuang, across the Meratus mountains from Satui. When that mine started to run out, operations moved into BHP's area and later accelerated.

Thus far there are no answers to the problem. President Wahid's decree calls on the police chief and attorney-general to take "stern legal action" against anyone involved in illegal mining -- "both government apparatus and community members." But it also seeks to recognize the rights of indigenous miners and calls on legal mining firms to provide more help to local communities. In South Kalimantan and other areas, however, the hard part is going to be cutting the umbilical cord between the miners and their influential backers.

Audit implicates top brass of Suharto regime

Buisness Times - July 5, 2000 (abridged)

Shoeb Kagda -- High-level government audit has implicated senior members of the former Suharto administration of siphoning off billions of dollars of state funds. The report comes against the backdrop of a political showdown between President Abdurrahman Wahid and Indonesia's Parliament.

Sources told The Business Times that the audit was carried out by the State Audit Board and independent auditors appointed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been pushing the government to clean up rampant corruption in the country.

"It is a damning report of a lot of past government officials and private bankers who helped bankrupt the central bank and empty the government's coffers," said the sources. "The report is so obvious that the government has no choice but to investigate the individuals implicated in it."

The 3,000-page report, BT understands, clearly identifies billions of dollars that went missing during the last five years of Mr Suharto's term as president. The former ruler stepped down in May 1998 after he was unable to control riots that spread through the capital and after his top Cabinet ministers handed in their resignations.

Mr Suharto's successor, B J Habibie, stonewalled all investigations of alleged fraud but the State Audit Body got the go-ahead when Mr Abdurrahman took office in October 1999. "The government will implement the full force of the law according to the information in the report," said the well-placed sources. "Those whose legal status is threatened are now trying to shake down the government."

These individuals allegedly include former ministers, heads of state-owned enterprises, finance officials and high-level civil servants.

According to the report, a sizeable amount of money was transferred out of the central bank and other government departments without any legal basis or records. Records kept during this period were also often incomplete and did not match the actual amounts disbursed.

Meanwhile, the tussle between the president, who in recent days has said publicly that he has approved the investigation and possible arrest of up to 10 legislators, has unnerved Jakarta's financial markets. The rupiah has lost nearly 21 per cent of its value since the start of the year and yesterday touched the 9,000 mark against the US dollar before recovering slightly to close at 8,955. The benchmark Jakarta Composite Index also felt the jitters although it was helped by some bargain-hunting to close 5.4 points higher at 509.26 points.

Whither Wahid? The buck stops here

Asiaweek - July 7, 2000

Penny Crisp and Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta -- It was tough enough to bring down Suharto and sustained enough to help fell his successor. Now the issue of Indonesia's economy looms large again -- as possibly the biggest threat to the survival of Abdurrahman Wahid. On the surface the figures look good, and it could be surmised that Indonesia is indeed back from the brink and heading for recovery. But the surface is deceptively brittle. And, as previous presidents belatedly discovered to their cost, the economy is key to the country's stability.

In fairness, Wahid did inherit a financial basket case. The Crisis left Indonesia's state finances in such a parlous state that the government is now heavily exposed to future risks. Just servicing the ballooning debt in the past few years has taken up most ministerial energies and funds. Foreign investment, meanwhile, continues to plunge. So one false step, or even a minor wobble in the global economy, and Indonesia plummets back into a financial black hole -- and a probable repeat of the bloody 1998 riots that so nearly tore the country apart. Yet if this has occurred to Wahid, he has given little sign. Nor has he shown any inclination to properly organize his economic troops, or to deal with the fact that the buck stops with the chief executive. In essence, Wahid has mostly spent what the country doesn't have to ensure some civil stability, and gone no further. "He is not interested in the economy," says Jusuf Wanandi of Indonesia's Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And his cabinet is very weak in the economy as well." But back to the surface, where the economic nuts and bolts appear much healthier. Indonesia's first-quarter growth this year was 3.21%, well below market expectations of 4.2%-6.5%. But that figure was affected by a weak agricultural sector; other sectors grew by 6%. The rupiah, at 8,685 to the dollar, is 20% lower than a year ago. Yet rising US interest rates and a still-strong dollar must be factored into that equation. Since January, the stock index has lost a third of its value -- though Manila and Bangkok are down almost as much. Foreign investment remains a black spot, with approvals for just $1.9 billion by the end of April (last year the average per quarter was $3.9 billion).

But inflation is subdued, with the International Monetary Fund estimating it will finish below this year's 5%-6% target. Car sales are up and there is also visible evidence of renewed construction. In other words, Indonesia is experiencing a comeback, largely led by consumer spending. Says Raden Pardede, research officer at Danareksa Research in Jakarta: "We are in the recovery process."

While this process probably will sustain Indonesia over this year, the future is another matter. Wahid's apparent ability to manage government finances and anticipate threats is more pertinent. Largely as a result of the government assuming banks' non-performing loans and recapitalizing them, total government debt has swelled from 23% of GDP before the Crisis to 83% today, or about $134 billion. Almost three-quarters of this new debt comes from the $72 billion in bonds issued in 1999 to recap the banks -- and to reimburse the central bank for about $19 billion in liquidity credits issued in late 1997 and 1998 to prop up the system. In the last financial year debt service ate up a third of tax revenues, with that proportion expected to rise to more than 40% for the next several years.

Of course, the more money pledged to debt, the less available in other areas. Since the 1997-98 fiscal year, government spending on health has shrunk by 20%, and on education by about 40%. "That's what government debt does," says John Dodsworth, the IMF's senior representative in Indonesia. "It spreads the payments into the next generation." According to the World Bank, the assumption of so much debt has grievously exposed the government. Under a blanket guarantee scheme in place since the Crisis, for example, the government is responsible for all domestic bank deposits and liabilities. All this, and now even central bank governor Syahril Sabirin in detention.

At the end of this month the government is supposed to finish recapping most of the banks, including the big state institutions. A senior finance ministry official recently announced that another $12.2 billion in recap bonds will be issued, bringing the domestic total to a huge $75.8 billion. But the process might really just be beginning -- not all the non- performing loans have gone to the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA). Add to this World Bank estimates that every one- point increase in local interest rates means an extra $460 million in domestic debt payments. And still unquantified is the impact of fiscal decentralization on central government revenues and spending obligations.

All this paints a disquieting picture. Indonesia already has received generous terms on the rescheduling of its existing sovereign foreign debt. In April the government and the Paris Club of 19 sovereign creditors agreed to reschedule payments of $5.8 billion in foreign debt to between 11 and 20 years. Similar concessionary terms are expected from the London Club of private creditors for about $340 million in debt that falls due before March 2002. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have already lent what they can, as has the IMF.

Standard & Poor's has put Indonesia's foreign-currency-debt sovereign rating at "selective default," consigning it to the same category as Russia.

So what has been achieved? In a nutshell, Wahid has delayed a fuel price increase until October (eliminating that subsidy would have saved $28.9 million a month) and given civil servants a pay increase. IBRA met its target last financial year of raising $1.98 billion -- but insiders say the agency has had to concentrate on settling deals with debtors quickly. Wahid himself has directly intervened in several high-profile cases, including Texmaco and Marubeni, neither of which have earned him or IBRA any plaudits. And darker problems await. Last year IBRA estimated the book value of the debtors' assets at $61.6 billion. But the agency believes that less than 40% of that, or about $24 billion, is recoverable.

While the government cannot do much to solve private corporate debt, a boost to market confidence is sorely needed. If he has succeeded in little else in economic terms, surely the president can try to project an image of sound, coordinated management. This means not hiring and firing economic ministers at will. It also means not benignly ignoring, or contributing to, the flow of conflicting signals -- caused in part by debt responsibility being divided among various offices in the ministry of finance and Bank Indonesia. Indeed, such divisions suggest that the government may not have a complete picture of its own finances. This poses the question: Could Indonesia now have a cash-strapped government with no clear idea of what it earns or what it needs to spend?

The argument can be made that Wahid's economic decisions have been politically legitimate. Higher civil service salaries reduce corruption. Steady fuel prices might discourage social instability. Quick private debt resolution is better than none at all. And Wahid is still trying to find the economic team he wants.

But while the myriad economic challenges remain unmet in a coordinated fashion, a crisis that reignites social turmoil could easily be triggered by outside factors. Or just as easily, it could be sparked by a dose of laissez-faire incompetence from within.

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