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Indonesia News Digest No 27 - July 1-7, 2001

Democratic struggle

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Democratic struggle

`It's tough on the streets'

Green Left Weekly - July 4, 2001

Kerryn williams, Jakarta -- "It's become much worse since the economic crisis. There are more homeless people, more street singers, and more street sellers", Onie told me, before turning back to his battered guitar and filling the tiny office of the Popular Youth Movement with songs of love and struggle.

Since its formation eight months ago, the movement, known by its Indonesian acronym GPK, has established 12 branches, and plans to open five more in the near future, including in North Sumatra, Kalimantan and Bali. In addition, they have set up several new organisations to mobilise high school students, street musicians and other youth sectors.

The chairperson of the GPK, Sri Sulartiningsih, explained, "Our main campaign is about the need for youth unity, especially in the urban poor areas. We also campaign about the importance of multi-sectoral unity, for students, workers, peasants and the urban poor to all fight together."

Block M, a shopping precinct and transport interchange in South Jakarta, is a key area of activity for the GPK, and home to many of its activists. Onie has lived and worked there as a street singer for many years. "It's tough on the streets, especially in Block M. Everyone has to be multi-functional, no one has a permanent job. Most have maybe two jobs -- as a street singer, then a street seller. You have to do whatever you can to collect enough money to survive. "In every location at Block M now there is tough competition between the urban poor. There are usually more than five street singers in one spot", he explained.

Budi, who has been on Block M for three years, highlighted one alleged solution to the extreme traffic crisis in Jakarta. "Between 6-10am there is a law in Jakarta that every car has to have three passengers. So the drivers hire street kids as jockeys to fill the seats."

The Governor of Jakarta's answer to the problem of urban poverty was to launch a new program, with a 25 billion rupiah budget (around A$4.5 million) to "clean up the streets". This involves hiring hundreds of kamtib (paid thugs) to round up street kids for th nised a demonstration at the Presidential Palace. According to Dero, "The government understands regulation is not the solution to the problem, but they have no solution. That's why they introduced the 25 billion rupiah project to round up the urban poor."

Ricky Tamba, the general secretary of the GPK, believes there are obvious solutions to the problems. "The government must create more jobs, especially popular jobs like in handicrafts", he said. "We also demand cheap education, housing and healthcare for the people. We also suggested some solutions to the government for funding this. They should cut the military budget and use the money to meet the people's needs."

The GPK mobilises urban poor youth for demonstrations against police harassment. Tamba explained, "We have also been successful in releasing more than 50 street kids who have been detained. We bring an official letter from the GPK and negotiate with the social department. We tell them that they are under our education programs."

The GPK activists admit there are many difficulties organising amongst urban poor youth. Jankis told Green Left Weekly, "It's hard to inject political consciousness when all they think about is to survive, to compete with others, and that it's not important to do political activities. In the past, there have been many groups of people from different provinces organised in gangs at Block M. They are very apolitical, but now after we've organised them there is a growing consciousness, and in the future they may form their own organisation to defend their rights."

The GPK has also been centrally involved in the movement against the come-back attempts by those aligned with the former "New Order" dictatorship of Suharto, including the military and the dictator's former party, Golkar. Dero predicts that after the special session of parliament conditions for democracy activists will become more repressive if the New Order forces are successful in their quest to regain power. "It will be more difficult to organise and the right-wing forces will be more active."

The GPK is working closely with various high school student organisations, including the United Youth and High School Students Alliance, the Jabotabek High School Student Front and Kompi, the Committee of Indonesian High School Students. Tamba explained, "Students from different schools are traditionally enemies so we aim to build new high school organisations, then make alliances between the groups across schools."

Another activist, Munathsir, said "We mix political issues with economic issues, for example, the anti-Golkar campaign and demanding cheap education for the people. We explain the links between them, of how Golkar acts as a tool of imperialism in Indonesia." Despite lacking even the most basic material resources -- their office has no computer or phone -- Tamba's assessment of the GPK's work to date is positive.

"During eight months in Jakarta we have made lots of progress. We are the only group that can mobilise high school students in large numbers." Jankis agrees, reflecting the relentless determination of the GPK activists, "Now that we are starting to organise ourselves, one day we will break the oppression on Block M and close the children's jail."

Students hit streets again, creating traffic jams

Jakarta Post - July 5, 2001

Jakarta -- More than 1000 students and activists grouped under the Greater Jakarta Students Movement (Gema Jaya) and the Committee for Oppressed People (Karat) rallied at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout and the State Palace on Wednesday.

Gema Jaya student activists, coming from seven universities, arrived at the roundabout with 25 metromini buses at 5pm, causing heavy congestion. Ten minutes later, Karat activists from two universities and various community activists from different parts of the city, arrived at the roundabout in 20 buses.

Some of the students then distributed handouts to passing motorists and staged speeches. The students left the roundabout at 5.30pm. for the state palace and then dispersed peacefully at dusk.

Gema coordinator Ratno Yulianto told The Jakarta Post inside a minivan that led the bus convoy that they wanted to press for the establishment of a transitional government as the current government was proven ineffective in carrying out the reform agenda.

Before the establishment of such a transitional government, Ratno said President Abdurrahman Wahid would have to disband the legislature and establish a new body that would represent the people and then he must resign.

He said that the legislature must be disbanded because they were controlled by people who were part of the New Order. He noted that meant 70 percent of legislators at the House of Representatives and People's Consultative Assembly.

The transitional government, according to the Gema activists, would then be required to rid the bureaucracy of all remnants of the New Order regime. He said about 80 percent of people who currently work for the government remained the same as those under the New Order regime. He noted that most of the institutions in the country were still controlled by New Order people, including the military, the police, judicial bodies, the media, and also non-governmental organizations.

"Therefore, there is only one way to solve all the problems in this country: systemic revolution, changing the New Order governmental system to a system that really sides with the people," he remarked, without giving any explanation on the new system.

East Timor

A duty to the East Timorese

The Age - July 7, 2001

The UN has its own investigation team in East Timor. Some prosecutions have started against minor players. But the power to investigate stops abruptly at the border with West Timor.

Moreover, the UN does not have full access to signals intelligence that may point the finger at who exactly in Jakarta was pulling the strings. Australia has considerable evidence in its possession. When, if ever, will it be handed over?

The trial of Mr Milosevic may heighten the pressure. If Yugoslavia's former head of state can be charged, it creates something of a blueprint, morally if not procedurally, for more extensive investigations into the East Timor violence, and more robust questioning of Indonesia's security apparatus, including former military chief General Wiranto.

In this context, Clause 60 of the indictment against Mr Milosevic carries powerful resonances: "A superior is responsible for the acts of his subordinate(s) if he knew or had reason to know that his subordinate(s) was/were about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof."

The Milosevic indictment carries documented evidence of more than 750 Kosovars killed in the rampage between January 15 and May 26, 1999. It details meticulously the hellfire inflicted on innocent civilians: hundreds of thousands forced from their homes, villages pillaged, homes, farms and businesses burnt, and a litany of rapes, beatings and murder. All hauntingly akin to the horror stories that would emerge only months later from Manatutu, Los Palos, and Dili itself.

The Milosevic trial may serve as a road map for future war crimes proceedings. The Indonesian Government should ready itself for the journey. So, too, Australia. This time, it cannot stand squeamishly on the sidelines. The world will be watching.

Accused of terror, militiaman gives himself up to justice

Sydney Morning Herald - July 5, 2001

Mark Dodd, Saburai village -- After leaving the squalor of a refugee camp in West Timor, one of militia leader Victor Lopes's first acts on returning to his mountain village was to register for East Timor's August 30 elections. Whether he will be able to vote is another issue -- a day after arriving home, he surrendered himself into UN police custody.

Lopes is a former company commander of the Dadurus Merah Putih militia gang and figured prominently on United Nations arrest warrants for serious crimes committed in Maliana district during 1999.

By all accounts he was tiring of life in the camps, and without the UN's knowledge, had been secretly negotiating to return to Saburai with his entire village community of 237 former residents, many suffering from ill-health and malnutrition. Even more remarkable was his decision to return along with 34 ex- militiamen, including 18 Jakarta loyalists linked to allegations of murder, multiple murder, torture, rape or arson.

The success of the repatriation owed much to the fact that it was conducted without Indonesian authorities' knowledge. They were as surprised as the UN to learn that on June 10 Lopes had led the entire community along a remote mountain path into East Timor, to Lontama, a collection of stone huts close to the main village of Saburai.

Patrol leader Lieutenant Troy Huckstepp was the first Australian officer to meet Lopes when he came to Saburai. "He seemed aware that he'd been a bad boy and would have to face justice and said he was tired of hiding in the camps living in poor conditions. Their food was drying up and their hygiene was poor," Lieutenant Huckstepp said. "I think he just wanted to come back and start a new life with his community." Except for Lopes, all the militia have now been interviewed and allowed to return to Lontama.

UN investigators based with the Serious Crimes Unit say militia violence in Maliana district after the 1999 referendum was among the worst in East Timor. Dozens of independence supporters were killed, including more than 40 refugees sheltering at the Maliana police station. Lopes is alleged to have been involved.

Major Paul McKay, in charge of Civil Military Affairs, said clan and blood ties caused the Lontama community to return. "There is a push towards a kind of homegrown reconciliation and it appears to be quite effective," he said. "But at the end of the day, I think it is accepted that they know they have to answer for any crimes they have committed."

The remoteness of parts of Maliana and its porous border with West Timor mean the district is the main route used by militias to enter East Timor. Not all attempts are successful. Olandina Loka Beri, another Dadurus Merah Putih member, escaped a near lynching at Ritabou village three kilometres from Maliana town last month. Like Lopes, he has been moved to Dili where he has since provided a witness account of the Maliana police station massacre. His near lynching is evidence that reconciliation in East Timor is still a distant dream unless there is accompanying justice for the victims of militia violence.

An initiative to track down Halilintar militia leader, Paulo Goncalves, wanted for multiple murder, rape and a grenade attack on Australian peacekeepers at Aidabasalala, received a setback last week when independence leader Xanana Gusmao criticised a 4RAR poster campaign appealing for public help to arrest Goncalves.

Mr Gusmao claimed East Timorese leaders were not consulted about the posters and the campaign jeopardised his efforts to broker a Timor-style reconciliation. But his comments quickly attracted a barrage of criticism from East Timorese. "Reconciliation must come with justice, not reconciliation just because our leaders want it," said a woman who would only give her name as Filomena.

Laura Abrantes, who heads an education and training program for women survivors of militia violence, also strongly supported the posters. "Survivors in remote villages in the mountains say to me 'where is the justice for women?' We are suffering, we are without our husbands. People disappeared, people were killed."

Mr Gusmao plans to meet 28 militiamen and East Timorese refugee leaders on Saturday to encourage the return of tens of thousands of refugees from West Timor.

Parties vow to shun violence

Sydney Morning Herald - July 6, 2001

Dili -- East Timor's political parties have agreed to sign a non-violence pact to avoid bloodshed before and after historic elections next month, the United Nations said yesterday.

East Timor will vote on August 30 for a new 88-member governing body that will help draft a constitution and steer the nascent nation to full independence sometime next year.

Fears of fighting among supporters of rival political parties have triggered calls for the ballot to be postponed.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, told the Security Council in New York recently that the UN peacekeeping force and civilian police were gearing up for an increase in politically motivated violence before the elections. There were widespread fears among the population that the ballot would lead to unrest.

The UN said that after long talks between the 16 political parties planning to contest the elections all had agreed to sign a pact of national unity. The agreement calls for peaceful elections and the unconditional acceptance of the results of the election.

East Timor's UN administrator, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, said the deal was "an essential part of out strategy to guarantee security during the electoral campaign".

Unseemly row mars Timor Gap treaty signing

Agence France Presse - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- Australia and East Timor signed a multi-billion dollar agreement Thursday on dividing royalties from oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea despite an unsavoury row between key political leaders.

The two countries signed the Timor Gap agreement in East Timor's capital of Dili, granting the world's newest state billions of dollars in royalties as it heads towards self-government, officials said.

The agreement, worth some four to five billion dollars to East Timor over the next two decades, represents a major boost for the finances of the impoverished new state, currently under UN administration, ahead of elections next month.

East Timor will receive 90 percent of royalties generated from the commercial exploitation of oil and natural gas reserves in the Timor Sea, with Australia settling for the 10 percent balance. The treaty ensures East Timor will not remain exclusively dependent on foreign aid after the elections on August 30.

While Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer toasted the signing of the treaty with a bottle of Australian champagne, the deal's conclusion had earlier lifted the lid on tense undercurrents that arose during the protracted 12-month negotiations.

East Timor's interim Economic Minister, Mari Alkatiri, accused the Australian Northern Territory's chief minister Denis Burke of attempting to subvert the accord by inviting politicians from Timor's embryonic parliament, the National Council, to attend rival talks.

Alkatiri had threatened to boycott the event if Burke attended, casting a pall over preparations for the signing ceremony. "He needs to apologise for that before coming here and meeting again authorities in this country," he told ABC Radio.

Burke scoffed at the suggestion that he had "interfered in the internal affairs of East Timor." "And I wonder if Dr Alkatiri also considers we interfered in their internal affairs when we provided safe haven in Darwin for 3,000 refugees two years ago," he told ABC. "Now's not a time to be spiteful." However both Alkatiri and Burke attended the ceremony, with Alkatiri making a speech after signing the accord, said Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the UN transitional administration.

Fellow cabinet member for the Timor Sea, the United Nations' Peter Galbraith, also signed on East Timor's behalf, with Downer and Industry Minister Nick Minchin signing for Australia.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard refused to be drawn into the dispute between Burke and Alkatiri. "East Timor will be a struggling, poor country, it will need revenue, it will need a lot of help and this arrangement is a good and generous arrangement for them," Howard said.

Australia's Labor opposition leader Kim Beazley was unsympathetic to Burke. "Denis Burke interferes in everything and he achieves nothing," Beazley told the Australian Associated Press in Perth.

The Timor Gap treaty between Australia and East Timor was renegotiated after the territory voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999 sparking violence by pro-Jakarta militias which caused hundreds of thousands to flee. A previous agreement between Canberra and Jakarta signed in 1989 divided royalties between the two countries equally, but was nullified by the former Portuguese colony's secession from Indonesia.

Galbraith said Australia would still fare better than East Timor from the agreement, despite settling for 40 percent less than entitled to under the original treaty. Citing a Northern Territory treasury study, Galbraith told AFP that Australia stood to inherit some 25 billion dollars in downstream benefits over the next two decades.

[The July 6 Sydney Morning Herald also reported that National Council member, Angela Freitas, burst through the VIP seats at the front of the hall and denounced the agreement as illegal. "Right now as you are signing this agreement, the Minister of Economic Affairs is not elected by the East Timorese people," she shouted before being surrounded by security guards and escorted out - James Balwoski.]

Oil, gas deal `favours Australia'

Source unknown - July 6, 2001

East Timor's big hope for independence was signed yesterday -- a pact ensuring the soon-to-be nation has economic security through oil and gas revenue. Tough bargaining between Australia and the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor produced a deal to share oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea.

It was initialled in the East Timor capital Dili by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Industry Minister Nick Minchin, East Timor's interim economics minister Mari Alkatiri and UN official Peter Galbraith. The deal agrees to give 90 per cent of revenue from the area to East Timor and 10 per cent to Australia.

"A great moment has arrived," said Mr Downer, toasting the deal with a glass of champagne. "I am convinced that the Timor Sea Arrangement is a good outcome for Australia and East Timor and that it will serve well in strengthening and deepening our friendship."

But while the 90/10 split appears favourable to East Timor, analysts and UN sources said Australia had secured by far the better deal through a combination of hard bargaining, psychological clout and misleading arguments about "generosity".

"The UN was totally outclassed by the Australians. In many ways the Australians were negotiating in bad faith," said a Western diplomat based in Jakarta. "It was a bit distasteful. Australia has done an immense amount for East Timor since it led the armed intervention which followed East Timor's independence vote in 1999. But this deal is not a good example of anything like generosity."

Prior to East Timor's 1999 ballot choosing independence, which will take full effect after elections on August 30, the rich oil and gas resources of the Timor Gap were shared between Australia and Indonesia, following a treaty signing in 1989. Indonesia had invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed East Timor a year later.

The earlier Timor Gap deal gave Indonesia 50 per cent of the revenues and Australia the other half, and included provisions beneficial to Australia such as a clause promising tax rebates on investments by oil companies.

That small print and other details disadvantageous to East Timor had been rolled over into the new deal, sources said. "The new 90/10 split looks good on paper but there is a very arcane science in determining what is a barrel of oil, how by-products are defined, whether shipping is taxable, whether tax should start at the pipe or in the air and so on. You could argue that the Australians have given them [East Timor] 90 per cent of nothing," said a source close to the negotiations.

Timing and local politics played a role in shaping the deal. East Timor's transitional cabinet member for economic affairs, Mr Alkatiri, is thought to be unhappy with the deal but needed something signed before going into the election.

The UN's Mr Galbraith is due to leave the world body in five days, which may have further pressured a man who, along with Mr Alkatiri and Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos-Horta, was up against a large Australian team of lawyers, accountants, industry experts and more.

A key point left hazy by the signing ceremony, however, suggests the Timor Gap agreement may not be cast in stone. The UN administration for East Timor has no capability to sign treaties on behalf of a state which only gains sovereign independence after the August poll. This is why the deal has only been initialled so far, thereby leaving a window open for re- examination.

Several sources agreed that a future independent state of East Timor would have lots to argue if it chose to take Australia to international arbitration. One such point is the uncertainty regarding the actual seabed border between East Timor and Indonesia, something which was fudged by Indonesia in the original treaty.

This time around, Australia "bargained very hard on behalf of their own national interest", said Mr Galbraith. The negotiations, which began formally last October, were "surprisingly difficult. But I guess that's what happens when people start arguing about money", he said.

The agreement covers a 75,000 square km area between the two countries, now known as the Joint Petroleum Development Area. A key part states about A$13.7 billion (HK$55.4 billion) will be spent developing industry in and around Darwin to produce and use Timor Sea gas. Mr Galbraith said it showed "the greater economic benefit will go to Australia".

Timor developers all at sea

The Australian - July 5, 2001

Nigel Wilson -- Billions of dollars in Timor Sea investment remain in doubt despite the signing in Dili today of a framework agreement on sharing revenues from oil and gas developments.

Details of the agreement, to be formalised at ceremony involving Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Resources Minister Senator Nick Minchin and East Timorese representatives, have yet to be made public. But companies are already alarmed that they face paying the East Timorese vast amounts in company tax.

In a joint statement announcing the acceptance by East Timor of the framework agreement, the ministers said that over the 20 years from 2004 East Timor was estimated to receive substantially more than $7 billion in revenue from existing and planned developments in the area.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday that as well as agreeing to a 90:10 split in government revenues, the framework agreement provided that corporate tax revenues would be split the same way.

Under the Timor Gap Treaty signed between Australia and Indonesia in 1989 both revenue sources were split 50:50. Even though Indonesia charged a higher rate of company tax than Australia, the 1989 arrangement did not substantially affect rates of return on investment.

But industry officials noted yesterday that with East Timor proposing a corporate tax rate of up to 44 per cent -- some East Timor officials have suggested 60 per cent -- a 90:10 split on company tax would dramatically alter project economics for the $7.5 billion LNG project based on the Bayu_Undan reserves.

"The tax situation is quite a dramatic development if you remember that at the beginning of the negotiations last year, the East Timorese gave a commitment that the outcome would be no more onerous than the previous arrangement with Indonesia," according to one industry official who did not want to be named.

Jim Godlove, the Darwin manager of Bayu-Undan operator Phillips Petroleum said yesterday he would not comment on the detail of the framework agreement.

"What we have is a great step forward in the development of Timor Sea gas reserves," he said. "We have always said is that the sharing of government revenues from the various production agreements is a matter for the governments. What we will have to do is to talk to the East Timorese about what the document really means."

A spokesman for Woodside -- which holds the Greater Sunrise resource with Shell and Phillips -- acknowledged that much progress had been made between Australia and East Timor. "But we still have to evaluate the legal and fiscal terms of the framework before determining just how it might affect our investment plans," he said.

Industry officials were concerned that the agreement appeared to cover only projects already announced and the level of work companies were expected to place in East Timor to support projects which had to compete internationally.

The Timor gap

Sydney Morning Herald Editorial - July 5, 2001

The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, says it is "generous". The Northern Territory Chief Minister, Mr Burke, calls it "extremely generous". The assumption is easily made that Australia has given something away in the framework agreement on sharing oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, especially because the final 90:10 formula for the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) in East Timor's favour is some distance from the 60:40 split talked about previously.

It is wrong, however, to assume Australia has neglected its interests. Even if it had driven a harder bargain, it would not necessarily be better off than it will be under the agreement being signed in Dili today. As the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, has said, Australia "wanted to be generous to East Timor because it's in our interests that East Timor have a good, steady flow of revenue for the Timor Sea oil and gas reserves". That is, it is better that East Timor has its own revenue sources to the maximum extent, to minimise its dependence on outside aid.

There are other reasons why Australia has done well. Even under the final revenue sharing formula Australia stands to gain greatly. The 90:10 split applies only to the JPDA; an 80:20 split applies to the Greater Sunrise field. Apart from about $1 billion in direct revenue over the next 20 years -- compared with East Timor's expectation of more than $7 billion -- Australia will benefit substantially from the agreement's provision for a pipeline to Darwin. Even the Queensland Premier, Mr Beattie, is talking of possible benefits to his State when Timor Sea gas can be piped from Darwin.

More important than how generous to East Timor today's agreement might be is how East Timor husbands its share of the expected revenue. It will be imperative for East Timor to work hard to establish other sources of revenue, to generate sufficient levels of national income for essential services and, equally if not more importantly, to provide employment. On this score, today's agreement is of little help. Australia, with the downstream benefits from the pipeline to Darwin, is the one which stands to gain more in employment and other terms from the Timor Sea development.

Income from the Timor Sea reserves will be vital to East Timor's economy. But the oil and gas -- and so the income -- will not flow immediately. Meanwhile, East Timor's need to build its economy and to increase employment is urgent. The longer unemployment persists, the harder it is for East Timor to recover from cataclysmic events of the past two years -- the killing of East Timorese by East Timorese, the scorched earth policy pursued by the Indonesian military after the referendum for independence and the forced migration of East Timorese to West Timor and to other parts of Indonesia.

With the agreement signed today, East Timor has something to look forward to, in terms of its share of revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas. But that solves none of its immediate problems. Moreover, that revenue stream, even when it arrives, will be no magic wand. It will arrive to be wasted if the East Timor economy is not already well on the way to becoming functional. East Timor's prospects of becoming truly independent will brighten today. But the international community generally and Australia in particular remain very much engaged with the task of working out how to help East Timor help itself.

New party faces election challenge

Green Left Weekly - July 4, 2001

Vanya Tanaja, Liquica -- Amidst the rubble of government offices which the jungle is starting to reclaim stands a flagpole flying, not the Indonesian red and white, but the red flag, the flag of the Socialist Party of Timor.

This is the PST's newest office, a former forestry department building in the shape of a Swiss chalet, just outside of Liquica town, a ghost town of disused government offices.

Liquica was the scene of some of the worst activities of the Besi Merah Putih militia during the violence preceding and following the country's independence referendum. "I would say that 295 people were killed in this district in 1999", said Manuel da Silva, PST head in the area, "and no, there has been no justice for them".

Da Silva is one of his party's candidates for the August 30 election to the Constituent Assembly, whose 88 members will draft and then adopt the nation's new constitution. He estimates that the PST totals some 895 people in the district. When I was there, some of these members were busy crafting bamboo chairs for the empty, destroyed office. A set of bamboo furniture already brightens up the front living room, which looks out on the mountains to the west.

In this room, two young men were macheted to death by the Besi Merah Putih in broad daylight on April 5, 1999. Their blood still stains the floor tiles and their families still live nearby. A group of women busy themselves outside cooking food for the men and chasing chickens away from the food. Cooking is done painstakingly, using firewood and rocks. There is still no electricity to the building, which has no doors or windows, just gaping spaces which are being filled in with bamboo bars. Water has to be carried from a neighbour's house.

In the district, there are two cooperative ventures run by the PST: a coffee and subsistence cooperative in Lisa Dila, and a newly established subsistence cooperative in Tibar. In Tibar, around 25 families are involved. The land faces directly onto the sea. Good fresh water is a problem here, with bores needing to be sunk more than 20 metres deep. If the cooperative is to succeed, an assured supply of fresh water would be needed to irrigate the land.

In the lead-up to the elections, the PST has launched a new political manual designed to give a basic introduction to the party for new members. The 15-page publication sets out, and answers, "frequently asked questions" about the PST: its structure, its program on social, political and economic issues.

The PST has put forward 75 candidates for the Constituent Assembly election, 19 of whom, including its top candidate, are women. In a surprise move, the list does not include its high- profile general secretary, Avelino Coelho da Silva. Coelho said he would be focusing his attention on other areas of the party's activities.

The party faces immense difficulties in finding funds to campaign. As a new and radical party, the PST has little access to large donor funds, whether from East Timor or internationally. The United Nations administration, UNTAET, has promised "some" assistance: photocopying, printing, airtime on radio and TV and shuttle bus transport into district centres.

Under Indonesian rule, parties received funds to campaign and run in elections. The political parties are unanimous in their discontent at the UN's decision not to follow in its predecessor's footsteps. The PST asked UNTAET to give the party US$25,000 a month and several motor vehicles to allow it to campaign. UNTAET has refused, arguing that the UN has never engaged in such practices in other missions.

Sixteen parties have filed for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission, a UN body that will oversee the elections. The CNRT, the National Council for Timorese Resistance, long the umbrella of East Timor's pro-independence political parties, was officially disbanded on June 9. A veterans' association has been set up in its place. CNRT's disbanding has been the subject of some discontent among rank and file members, who felt that the leadership had avoided accountability for its work at the CNRT's final conference and hadn't sought, or gained, their agreement to the closure.

The PST will campaign in support of the November 28, 1975 proclamation of independence by Fretilin, which formed the RDTL, the East Timor Democratic Republic -- and for the restoration of the national anthem, flag and constitution of the old Republic. It is unclear however, how the party intends to fight for the restoration of this 1975 constitution, however, given the Constituent Assembly is charged with writing a new constitution.

There are a number of other parties campaigning for the restoration of the RDTL, including the newly formed Asociacao Social Democrata de Timor (ASDT) led by East Timor's first president, Francisco Xavier do Amaral. ASDT was the original name for Fretilin in the early 1970s, a historic link the party is deliberately seeking to make.

Another political force, the CPD-RDTL, the Popular Committee in Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, has decided not to contest the election as a party but seems strong enough to influence the vote. In late April, the committee held a five-day-long camp in Dili, bringing together several hundred people from around East Timor to demand recognition of the Republic and the CPD-RDIL.

UN representatives here have often made public comments on certain "forces" out to wreak havoc and use violence to derail the political transition process: the CPD-RDTL seems to be one target of their claims. Three CPD-RDTL activists were arrested by UN civilian police at a seminar earlier this year, accused of trying to assassinate Xanana Gusmao. So far the only evidence of this is Gusmao's own assertions. Two of the three arrested were allegedly also wanted for car arson in a separate incident in Dili.

Some community leaders in Baucau district, traditionally a stronghold of the resistance against Indonesia and of the CPD- RDTL, have boycotted voter registration and have directed the population in those areas to also boycott. The CPD-RDTL has put forward Amaral as a leadership alternative to Xanana Gusmao, prompting Amaral to declare the founding of the ASDT. Public hearings and consultations are happening around to country into the constitution, but many are still frightened that violence may again break out after this election and some are even considering escaping into the hills after voting.

First atrocities trial gets underway in Dili court

Lusa - July 3, 2001

The first major trial of atrocities committed in East Timor by Indonesian forces and proxy militias got underway in Dili Tuesday, with a three-judge panel hearing preliminary issues behind closed doors.

A court official told Lusa the first public hearing would be held Monday into the Lospalos killings, in which at least 13 people, including seven Catholic church workers, were slaughtered between April and September 1999.

Eleven men have been charged with the killings and other related crimes against humanity. Two of the defendants, including an Indonesian special forces officer, are being tried in absentia.

Preliminary hearings in the case began February 16. More than 600 pages of testimony from 78 witnesses have since been translated into Bahasa Indonesia, at the request of defense counsel.

The case involves 10 members of the East Timorese anti- independence militias Team Alfa and Jati Merah Putih, nine of whom are detained in Dili, the territorial capital. The remaining militiaman and the Indonesian military officer, Lt. Sayful Anwar of the Kopassus special forces, remain at large.

Three judges preside over the trial proceedings, two drawn from the international community and one East Timorese.

The suspects are accused of various crimes against humanity, including at least 13 murders, torture and the forced deportation of civilians. They are being judged under section 340 of the Indonesian penal code, which is still applicable in East Timor.

The case centers on crimes committed in the eastern Lospalos area, beginning on April 21, 1999 and ending the following Sept. 25, after the territory's pro-independence plebiscite, with the ambush and massacre of a group of Catholic church workers near the village of Verococo.

Accused of terror, militiaman gives himself up to justice

Sydney Morning Herald - July 5, 2001

Mark Dodd, Saburai village, East Timor -- After leaving the squalor of a refugee camp in West Timor, one of militia leader Victor Lopes's first acts on returning to his mountain village was to register for East Timor's August 30 elections.

Whether he will be able to vote is another issue -- a day after arriving home, he surrendered himself into UN police custody.

Lopes is a former company commander of the Dadurus Merah Putih militia gang and figured prominently on United Nations arrest warrants for serious crimes committed in Maliana district during 1999.

By all accounts he was tiring of life in the camps, and without the UN's knowledge, had been secretly negotiating to return to Saburai with his entire village community of 237 former residents, many suffering from ill-health and malnutrition. Even more remarkable was his decision to return along with 34 ex- militiamen, including 18 Jakarta loyalists linked to allegations of murder, multiple murder, torture, rape or arson.

The success of the repatriation owed much to the fact that it was conducted without Indonesian authorities' knowledge. They were as surprised as the UN to learn that on June 10 Lopes had led the entire community along a remote mountain path into East Timor, to Lontama, a collection of stone huts close to the main village of Saburai.

Patrol leader Lieutenant Troy Huckstepp was the first Australian officer to meet Lopes when he came to Saburai. "He seemed aware that he'd been a bad boy and would have to face justice and said he was tired of hiding in the camps living in poor conditions. Their food was drying up and their hygiene was poor," Lieutenant Huckstepp said. "I think he just wanted to come back and start a new life with his community." Except for Lopes, all the militia have now been interviewed and allowed to return to Lontama.

UN investigators based with the Serious Crimes Unit say militia violence in Maliana district after the 1999 referendum was among the worst in East Timor. Dozens of independence supporters were killed, including more than 40 refugees sheltering at the Maliana police station. Lopes is alleged to have been involved.

Major Paul McKay, in charge of Civil Military Affairs, said clan and blood ties caused the Lontama community to return. "There is a push towards a kind of homegrown reconciliation and it appears to be quite effective," he said. "But at the end of the day, I think it is accepted that they know they have to answer for any crimes they have committed."

The remoteness of parts of Maliana and its porous border with West Timor mean the district is the main route used by militias to enter East Timor.

Not all attempts are successful. Olandina Loka Beri, another Dadurus Merah Putih member, escaped a near lynching at Ritabou village three kilometres from Maliana town last month.

Like Lopes, he has been moved to Dili where he has since provided a witness account of the Maliana police station massacre. His near lynching is evidence that reconciliation in East Timor is still a distant dream unless there is accompanying justice for the victims of militia violence.

An initiative to track down Halilintar militia leader, Paulo Goncalves, wanted for multiple murder, rape and a grenade attack on Australian peacekeepers at Aidabasalala, received a setback last week when independence leader Xanana Gusmao criticised a 4RAR poster campaign appealing for public help to arrest Goncalves.

Mr Gusmao claimed East Timorese leaders were not consulted about the posters and the campaign jeopardised his efforts to broker a Timor-style reconciliation. But his comments quickly attracted a barrage of criticism from East Timorese. "Reconciliation must come with justice, not reconciliation just because our leaders want it," said a woman who would only give her name as Filomena.

Laura Abrantes, who heads an education and training program for women survivors of militia violence, also strongly supported the posters. "Survivors in remote villages in the mountains say to me 'where is the justice for women?' We are suffering, we are without our husbands. People disappeared, people were killed." Mr Gusmao plans to meet 28 militiamen and East Timorese refugee leaders on Saturday to encourage the return of tens of thousands of refugees from West Timor.

East Timor gets 7 billion for its share of oil and gas

Sydney Morning Herald - July 4, 2001

Craig Skehan -- East Timor will receive $7 billion over 20 years under a historic agreement with Australia on the sharing of oil and gas revenues from fields in the Timor Sea.

"It will make the difference between being mired in poverty and having a chance to provide a better life for the people," East Timor's chief negotiator, Mr Peter Galbraith, said last night.

The deal had just been approved by East Timor's transitional Cabinet at the end of months of highly sensitive, and at times controversial, negotiations. There were shrill warnings by the Northern Territory Chief Minister, Mr Burke, and his senior ministers, that huge resource developments were in serious jeopardy.

There was also highly personal attacks on Mr Galbraith. "They don't have much experience of these types of negotiations, so one can excuse them," Mr Galbraith said last night.

As well as receiving 90 per cent of royalties from a joint development area, East Timor will get extra financial help from the Australian Government to develop local downstream petroleum- based enterprises.

The dark cloud over the talks started to lift several weeks ago with agreement by East Timor to defer claims for a new seabed border with Australia. In what many saw as an ambit claim, East Timor had sought control of areas currently solely exploited by Australia.

Mr Galbraith and senior East Timorese leaders were in Canberra last week for talks with Australia's representatives, including the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, and the Resources Minister, Senator Minchin.

Mr Downer and Senator Minchin plan to fly to Darwin today and on to East Timor's capital, Dili, tomorrow for the signing of what was dubbed the Timor Sea Arrangement.

The signing ceremony will be a different affair from the signing of the Timor Gap Treaty covering oil and gas projects between former Labor foreign minister Mr Gareth Evans and his then- Indonesian counterpart, Mr Ali Alatas, in 1989.

They toasted with champagne in a jet high over the Timor Sea. However, most East Timorese regarded it as bitter betrayal by Australia of their interests. East Timorese were still under brutal Indonesian rule which ended with the 1999 United Nations- supervised vote on self-determination.

Mr Downer said the Howard Government had always wanted to provide an independent East Timor with "a long-term revenue flow to support its development".

"Given East Timor's recent history, this is an objective that is shared by all Australians."

New Timor Gap treaty signed

Sydney Morning Herald - July 5, 2001

The new Timor Gap agreement was signed today with the tensions of tough negotiations still apparent.

The document was signed by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Resources Minister Nick Minchin, East Timorese Economics Minister Mari Alkatiri and UN appointed American negotiator Peter Galbraith. The man expected to become East Timor's first president, Xanana Gusmao, joined the international press taking photographs of the event.

Finalised this week after a year of protracted and rocky negotiations, the deal splits revenue from the oil and gas developments in the area, with 90 per cent going to East Timor and 10 per cent to Australia.

The original Timor Gap Treaty between Australia and Indonesia was signed by foreign ministers of the two countries in an aircraft over the Timor Gap in 1989. But East Timor, at the time a province of Indonesia which had invaded the territory in 1975, had no say in the treaty.

Moments before the signing ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in Dili at 11.45am, Alkatiri said he was undecided about whether he would go through with it while Northern Territory Chief Minister Denis Burke was in the same room. Mr Alkatiri is angry with the NT government for flying an East Timorese delegation to Darwin for briefings earlier this year while negotiations were bogging down in Canberra.

A member of the East Timorese interim parliament, Angela de Freitas, interrupted the signing ceremony to declare the new agreement for sharing of Timor Gap oil and gas illegal. "Don't sell our country," she said as she was escorted from the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) office by security. Mr Downer commented that it was good to see freedom of speech operating in East Timor.

Mr Galbraith said the negotiations were surprisingly difficult against negotiators who succeeded in protecting Australia's interests. "They were surprisingly difficult and I speak as one whose most recent experience was negotiating peace agreements in the Balkans," Mr Galbraith said.

"I think the result is one that both negotiation teams can take pride in," he said. Mr Downer said the agreement was one that Australia was comfortable with. It would provide security for developers of the Timor Sea resources.

"It is an agreement that will encourage oil and gas companies not only to continue with the projects that already exist but also in the future to explore and develop other projects," Mr Downer said.

"This is a fair agreement, this is a just agreement, this is an agreement with a true basis in international law." Mr Alkatiri said it would be up to a democratically elected government of East Timor to agree to a new treaty.

But while not binding to a future East Timor government, Mr Galbraith said it provided investors with more surety than the 1989 treaty with Indonesia that its replaced.

"Let me tell you it provides a hell of a lot better certainty than they [energy companies] had under a treaty with Indonesia in which they were in effect making investment in stolen property," Mr Galbraith said.

Ten political parties to lodge protest with UN Secretary-General

Suara Timor Lorosae - July 3, 2001

Ten political parties, out of the 16, registered with the Independent Electoral Commission are disappointed with the aid package made available by Untaet.

The 10 parties are PPT, PDC, ASDT, Parentil, PL, PD, PDM, PTT, PSD and PNT. The party leaders told reporters that they would lodge an official complaint to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The political parties want cash instead to be handed over directly, by UNTAET, to them instead of the provision of facilities and other help.

Meanwhile Louise Frechette UN Deputy Secretary-General in her briefing to political parties said she was happy with the progress made so far with regard to the 30 August election. In her briefing, she said she would also be hearing views from the local staff of the UN and NGO workers.

UN registration effort reaches 93 per cent of population

UN News - July 2, 2001

Approximately 93 per cent of the estimated population in East Timor have been registered in advance of upcoming elections, the United Nations mission in the territory announced today.

Data collected by over 500 people working at 350 registration sites shows the final number of the population at 737,811, according to the UN Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET). "This is yet another answer to those who are casting doubts on our ability to do our job and who said that we would not do this on time," said UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello as he announced the results in Dili.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frichette, who arrived in East Timor today for a four-day visit aimed at reviewing preparations for the upcoming elections and ensuring optimum coordination within the UN system, welcomed the effort. "I am very pleased to see that [electoral] preparations are on schedule, and think there will be an active and important debate over the next few weeks over what form the Constitution should take," she said. "Clearly a lot of groundwork has been done to make sure the elections take place in the best possible circumstances," said Ms. Frichette, expressing hope that the electoral process would be carried out peacefully and "with the best interests of East Timor in mind."

According to the final report from the Transitional Administration's Civil Registry Unit, half of the population lives in four of East Timor's 13 districts: Dili, Baucau, Ermera and Bobonaro. The report also reveals that 54 per cent of the population is below the age of 20, while only 2.4 per cent is over the age of 65. The oldest person in East Timor was born in 1899.

Underscoring the significance of the exercise, Mr. Vieira de Mello said the registration "has provided the Timorese people with an identity, which in many instances had been lost." He noted that the data would also serve an important function in terms of economic and social planning. The new data will form the basis for electoral rolls to be prepared by the Independence Electoral Commission for elections slated for 30 August.

Battle builds for Australian gas pipeline market

Reuters - July 2, 2001

Wendy Pugh, Melbourne -- In an upheaval of Australia's energy market, petroleum and pipeline companies are racing to nail down multi-billion-dollar projects to deliver new supplies of gas across the country's vast distances.

Plans totalling A$9 billion ($4.59 billion) to build thousands of kilometres of pipeline are on the drawing board. They promise to transform Australia's former monopoly gas sector, opening up competition as the industry moves towards its dream of a national pipeline grid.

Australia's populous south-east corner -- which includes its two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne -- has since the 1960s mostly received gas from the Cooper Basin in central Australia and the Gippsland Basin off the coast of Victoria. But the decline of the Cooper Basin, the expiry of long-term contracts and rising gas demand have opened the door to new projects, while industry deregulation has spurred competition. "By the latter half of this decade there should be sufficient market opportunities for another gas source to supply gas at the right price across the nation," says Australian Pipeline Trust Chief Executive Jim McDonald.

Piece of the action

The question of who will supply this gas has the promoters of a raft of projects, both big and small, jostling to sign up customers to underpin their plans. Australia has gas reserves of around 130 trillion cubic feet, enough for about 100 years, but more than 80 percent are offshore north and northwest Australia, thousands of kilometres from major cities. This has triggered ambitious pipeline proposals, including a US$3.5 billion undersea project led by Exxon Mobil to pipe gas from Papua New Guinea to Queensland. A series of delays, however, has seen the momentum shift to two competing plans for delivering gas from the Timor Sea off northern Australia.

Epic Energy, majority-owned by El Paso Energy Corp and Dominion Resources Inc , plans a A$1.5 billion pipeline extending 2,200 km to send Timor Sea gas from Darwin to Moomba in South Australia, assuming gas will be brought ashore from 2004. A rival Australian Pipeline Trust plan for a staged A$2.4 billion development aims to build a 4,500 km pipeline bringing Timor Sea gas first to eastern Australia and then south.

Companies have also been spurred to draw up plans to bring on undeveloped gas fields from the Gippsland, Bass and Otway basins offshore Victoria. Two competing projects propose to link Victoria with South Australia, which faces the most immediate supply problems, aiming to move into that market ahead of Timor Sea gas. Another new pipeline plan should deliver gas to Tasmania in 2002, while coal seam methane producers in New South Wales and Queensland are also seeking a piece of the action.

Long-term goals

Australia's long-distance gas network has already about doubled over the 1990s to around 17,000 km, and in the longer term there are hopes for a trans-continental pipeline linking eastern Australia with the giant undeveloped fields off north-west Western Australia. However, sceptics sound a note of caution, saying the industry is well-known for talking up projects long before there are firm customer contracts, let alone secure financing. "They make a lot of statements and promise a lot of things, but behind it all you really have to question the commercial logic," one analyst said.

Project proponents say much of the new demand is expected to be driven by power generation. The Electricity Supply Association of Australia estimates Australia needs 4,000 to 7,000 megawatts of extra power generation by the end of the decade, on top of 3,000 MW of renewable generation already mandated for 2010.

Australia is also under pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired generation, while gas is also suited to meeting rising demand for more flexible peak-demand power plants.

Queensland last year indicated that from 2005 state retailers should source at least 13 percent of the electricity they sell from gas-fired plants. Major investment proposals such as liquefied natural gas plants, gas-to-liquids export projects and other downstream activities, partly attracted by Australia's vast gas reserves, are also increasing the chance new gas will be brought ashore.

UN troops involved in border firefight

Lusa - June 28, 2001

A group of presumed anti-independence militiamen opened fire Thursday on a patrol of UN peacekeepers in the East Timorese district of Maliana, near the border with Indonesia.

The incident took place in the early afternoon local time during a routine UN patrol 11 kms south of the town of Batugade, indicated a statement issued by the territory's UN transition administration (UNTAET).

The patrol encountered a group of armed men and asked them to lay down their weapons. The group responded by shooting at the peacekeepers, who returned fire, forcing the attackers to flee. UN reinforcements have been sent to the area, where a search operation has been mounted.

Draft unity pact expresses support for Gusmao as first president

Lusa - July 3, 2001

East Timor's 16 parties and UN transition administration have completed the draft of a "National Unity Pact", which expresses support for the election of independence leader Xanana Gusmao as the territory's first president, a Dili official said Tuesday.

Pedro Silva, a senior aide to chief UN administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, told Lusa that the 15-point pact would be formally presented to the parties Wednesday.

No date has yet been set for signing the document, but Vieira de Mello has said he hoped it would be ratified by all party leaders before the July 15 start of campaigning for August 30 constitutent assembly elections.

"In principle there should be no problem with approving the text as it was drawn up including suggestions from the parties", Silva said. Formal work on the National Unity Pact began last weekend, involving Vieira de Mello and representatives of five parties selected by all 16 political organizations.

Its 15th and final point calls for supporting Gusmao in future elections as "the first president of the Republic of East Timor", given "the aspirations of the overwhelming majority" of the people. Gusmao has repeatedly said he did not wish to run for the presidency.

Among other basic principles, the pact, a copy of which was obtained by Lusa, calls on the parties to form an "inclusive" transition government "reflecting the results" of the August 30 balloting.

It also commits the parties to creating "an atmosphere of peace and stability" during and after the elections and to assuring "a climate of mutual respect and confidence". The National Unity Pact also stipulates "unconditional" recognition of the 1999 independence plebiscite from Indonesia, respect for the results of the upcoming vote and "intransigent" defense of East Timor's territorial integrity.

Aceh/West Papua

Rebel anger as Indonesia suspends joint Aceh security watchdog

Agence France Presse - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- Indonesia has suspended a joint committee with Acehnese rebels that was monitoring security in the province where about 1,000 people are believed to have died this year, reports said Friday.

The suspension was slammed by the Free Aceh (GAM) rebels as one- sided and callous and followed the resumption of talks between Jakarta and GAM in Switzerland last weekend.

Jakarta's chief negotiator at the talks, Hassan Wirayuda, said the move followed GAM's refusal to present their top commander at the negotiating table. "We urged GAM to include [commander] Abdullah Syafi'i as a display of their good faith in upholding the present security arrangements," Wirayuda told the Jakarta Post.

"So far, they have been unable to meet the demand, citing political reasons." GAM has ruled out bringing Syafi'i to the talks as long as the violence continues. "Now is not the right time to bring Syafi'i to the table because violence is still raging in Aceh and there is still no ceasefire," Sofyan Ibrahim, a GAM representative at the Geneva talks, told AFP by phone from Singapore en route to Aceh.

The two sides met in Geneva on July 1 to resume peace talks which were suspended late last year after a series of failed truces. Wirayuda said GAM also refused to guarantee security for the US oil giant ExxonMobil, which shut down its Aceh plant on March 9 amid repeated security threats, including arson and kidnappings, which it blamed on the rebels.

"We demanded that GAM publicly announce that they would guarantee the security of ExxonMobil Oil Indonesia, but they could not see their way to meeting this request either," the Post quoted Wirayuda as saying.

"So we decided to put the joint committee on security modalities on ice for a while." Jakarta is desperate for ExxonMobil to reopen its plant, the closure of which is estimated to be costing it 100 million dollars a month in lost liquefied natural gas exports.

GAM's Ibrahim however said the closure had "nothing to do with GAM," and that the rebels would only guarantee security if the heavy contingent of soldiers were withdrawn from around ExxonMobil's facilities. "GAM objects to the massive presence of TNI [Indonesian military] there," Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim said GAM had demanded at the talks that Jakarta cancel a security operation in Aceh which was authorised by President Abdurrahman Wahid in April, withdraw all non-local soldiers and police, continue dialogue and efforts to reduce violence, and expel all Acehnese informants. But the Indonesian officials rejected the demands and suspended the security monitoring committee instead, Ibrahim said.

A statement from GAM's exiled leadership, based in Sweden, said the committee's suspension reeked of indifference to the Acehnese people's suffering. The decision "could be interpreted as a lack of concern for the safety of the people of Aceh, in a situation of intensifying military operations," GAM's European spokesman, Bakhtiar Abdullah, said in the statement, obtained by AFP.

Abdullah said GAM had in fact proposed enhancing and expanding the security committee and a second body to monitor humanitarian affairs, but Indonesia had rejected the proposal. Both committees were established with the joint signing of a "humanitarian pause" truce agreement in Geneva in May 2000. Abdullah said the committees' effectiveness had been "severely cramped by the authorities' refusal to allow free travel," or to grant them safe passage passes.

Aceh, a devoutly Muslim and resource-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra island, has been rocked by violence between security forces and GAM, who have fought for an independent Muslim sultanate there since 1970s.

The military and residents said Friday that eight more people, including four suspected rebels, had been killed in the latest violence. Unofficial estimates put the number of people killed in Aceh so far this year at almost 1,000, of whom 75 percent are civilians.

Freeport Indonesia told to stay out of politics

Antara - July 6, 2001 Jakarta -- The assemblyman for Irian Jaya has warned controversial mining company PT Freeport Indonesia not to interfere in the country's political affairs, including the election of the Mimika regency chief. "The company should only take care of its gold, copper and silver mines, and has no right to take part in the nomination of a Mimika regency head," he stressed.

Anthon, the legislator, said the giant American firm was suspected of trying to secure a sympathetic candidate for the post of Mimika regency chief in order to safeguard its assets, partly through suppressing the people who live near the mining sites.

Anthon who is also Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of the Irian Jaya assembly, said the giant mining company was guilty of money politics, which had seriously hampered the process of true democracy.

He has also asked imcumbent Mimika regency head Titus O. Poterayauw to give a report on the successes and failures of the development activities in the region during his leadership. "Potereyauw must be frank and honest with his successes and failures so that others could have a say whether Potereyauw still deserved or not for a re-election," he said.

Acehnese sceptical of autonomy bill under debate in house

Agence France Presse - July 4, 2001

Jakarta -- A draft autonomy bill for Indonesia's bloodied Aceh province, which radically multiplies its oil and gas profits but has won little support from Aceh's own leaders, is set to be presented to the government Wednesday.

A prime feature of the bill, aimed at taming escalating separatist violence there, is the return of 85 percent of Aceh's oil and gas revenues to Acehnese authorities for 10 years, after which Aceh's share would be scaled back to 50 percent.

But the reaction from the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) is still to reject autonomy, while many are sceptical the promises will be kept and others fear the proposal will only escalate the violence.

Acehnese-born upper house (MPR) member Ghazzali Abbas, who recommended that the autonomy bill give Aceh control over everything except foreign affai ave been taken by Jakarta," he told AFP.

The cleric said the bill alone could not solve the conflict without continued dialogue between GAM and Jakarta, and pointed to the doubling of killings in Aceh since last year when just under 900 deaths were recorded.

The 900 figure has been reached in the first six months of this year alone. A body of mostly student activists campaigning for an independence referendum, SIRA, said the bill failed to accommodate the demands of all Acehnese.

"I'm worried that a new conflict will break out within the community if the proposal is forced on us," SIRA chief Muhammad Nazar told AFP from prison, where he is being held on treason charges. "I'm convinced Jakarta won't give as much as what's promised in the bill," he added.

GAM opposes any form of autonomy, said a member of GAM's central command, Teungku Amri bin Abdul Wahab. "They've been offering us autonomy since the 1950's but it has never materialised," Wahab said, branding the bill a "propaganda project." Local Aceh MP, Mustafa Gelanggang, doubted the bill could end the fighting that has raged sporadically in the province on the northwestern tip of Sumatra island since the mid-1970's.

"Even if the bill is passed it's still no guarantee that Aceh's problems can be solved," he said. Gelanggang questioned Jakarta's commitment to finding peace through dialogue, saying "the moment dialogue begins they send huge numbers of soldiers to Aceh".

But in Jakarta the head of the parliamentary committee that drafted the bill, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan, was optimistic that it would be accepted by the house. "I believe the majority of members agree with the draft because of the 10-year time limit on the proposed revenue split," he said.

Baldan said the bill was not about giving the Acehnese sovereignty. "The main point ... is not to provide extraordinary authority to the Acehnese, such as establishing an independent country within Indonesia," he was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post.

The parliamentary committee which has been drawing up the draft since April in consultation with Acehnese leaders, presented it to parliament for debate on Monday. After it has gone to the government, the executive and the legislature will debate it together, and if the consultations are successful, it is due to be finalized on July 17.

The perceived exploitation by the central government of Aceh's vast oil and gas reserves -- which now earn the government more than 100 million dollars a month -- has been a major factor winning the rebels sympathy in their push for independence from Indonesia.

The bill also proposes the implementation of Islamic law, or Syariah, direct elections for the provincial governor, and flag for Aceh which would fly alongside the national flag.

Aceh pays deadly price for turmoil in Jakarta

South China Morning Post -- June 3, 2001

Vadline England -- While politicians jockey for position in Jakarta and peace talks open and close in Geneva, the death toll on the killing grounds of Aceh continues to rise. More than 900 people have been killed so far this year in the province where an independence movement is battling Indonesian security forces. At least 66 were killed at the weekend, hospitals and aid organisations said. At least 348 people have been killed and more than 1,000 homes torched since May 2, when Abdurrahman Wahid increased the military presence in Aceh while stepping up the search for a peaceful solution. The increased military role came as Mr Wahid, who is fighting for his political survival, received constant warnings from local and foreign analysts that military force alone could not solve the problem.

As for the peace efforts, the talks held outside Geneva at the weekend, under the auspices of the Henri Dunant Humanitarian Dialogue Centre, produced only a commitment to meet again in September. The pace of killing is now higher than that seen during the nine years of "special military operations" imposed by former president Suharto between 1989 and 1998.

Although Mr Wahid tried to appear conciliatory early in his reign, he is now thought by rights activists to have sacrificed lives in Aceh by giving the military the green light for regular and special forces operations in the oil-rich province in return for possible political support in Jakarta.

Whatever the cause, the brutality is shocking. Indonesian Red Cross officials found 27 decomposing bodies with slash wounds on the outskirts of Pondok Gede village in central Aceh district on Sunday, said aid volunteer Wien Rahmadsyah. In a separate incident, troops shot and killed a rebel in West Aceh. Four bodies were also found nearby. On Friday, police killed 20 guerillas during an attack on a rebel stronghold.

Lists compiled by rights groups in Aceh -- who themselves face increased military intimidation, sometimes resulting in death -- show a large majority of the victims are civilians. The military insists everyone killed is a rebel of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

An "urgent action" note from Amnesty International highlights two new arrests -- of a street hawker and her brother-in-law. Idawati Binti Hanafiah and M. Jafar Ibrahim are believed to be held at Pidie police station. Their relatives have not been allowed to see them and Amnesty is concerned they may be at serious risk of torture. "According to locals, shouts or screams could be heard coming from the truck as it drove away," Amnesty said.

The executive director of the NGO Coalition for Human Rights in Aceh, Maimul Fidar, said serious peace talks were urgently needed. "People must not be sacrificed any longer. Both Indonesia and GAM must reduce the role of the armed forces and give civilians more chance to settle their problems in a democratic manner," he said.

Amnesty said: "Despite a succession of previous agreements, violence has escalated over the past year and civilians continue to suffer grave human rights abuses at the hands of both the Indonesian security forces and the Free Aceh Movement."

Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri and President Wahid have both suggested that the Aceh problem would be solved by August 17, Indonesia's independence day. As for Parliament, its job of approving a law to implement special autonomy in Aceh, which could eventually lessen the killing, has been delayed by efforts to topple Mr Wahid.

At least 49 dead amid raging violence in Indonesia's Aceh

Agence France Presse - July 1, 2001

Banda Aceh -- At least 49 people were killed or found dead in the violence-plagued Indonesian province of Aceh during the weekend, hospital and rebel sources said Sunday.

The violence continued as representatives of the government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) were meeting for peace talks in Geneva.

About 20 decomposing corpses were found in several difficult to access areas in Central Aceh on Sunday, a staff member at the general hospital in nearby Takengon town said. It is believed that they were victims of violence in the area in mid-June. The Indonesian Red Cross volunteers who left for the area have not returned yet so the precise number of bodies is yet not known," the man told AFP.

But the employee, who declined to identify himself, said information from local residents said there were at least 20 bodies. The area where the bodies were found is in hills about 50 kilometres east of Takengon.

Scores of people went missing there in mid-June when separatist rebels clashed with armed military-backed militias in violence that left a confirmed 45 killed, scores of buildings burned and hundreds of refugees.

Meanwhile 26 bodies with gunshot wounds were also found in Central Aceh on Saturday, a local paramedic said. Some of the bodies were also burned beyond recognition, the paramedic said.

He quoted residents as saying the victims might have been killed during a military raid on a suspected GAM base in Menderek village on Friday. The local GAM spokesman, Win Rimeu Raya, said the victims were civilians killed during the raid.

Spokesman for the Indonesian military in Aceh, Lieutenant Colonel Firdaus said 20 rebels had been killed during the raid, with one soldier injured. However Raya said the raid only killed four rebels while the rest of the dead were civilian. He claimed seven soldiers also died.

Firdaus could not confirm the reports about either sets of bodies found over the weekend, saying he had not yet received a report from local military commanders.

Additionally, soldiers conducting a search operation in Bireun district on Saturday, shot dead a civilian, local GAM commander Teungku Amri bin Abdul Wahab said, adding 10 civilians were also arrested.

A rebel was also killed during a raid on a suspected GAM house in West Aceh on Saturday, Aceh Police Spokesman Adjunct Senior Commissioner Sad Harunantyo said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the body of an unidentified woman was found in West Aceh on Saturday, a staff member at a local general hospital said.

Around 900 people have been killed in violence related to conflict between the government and GAM since the beginning of the year in Aceh, a resource-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

The weekend's talks in Geneva, facilitated by the Switzerland- based Henri Dunant Center, were broken off last year after a series of failed truces. GAM has been fighting for an Islamic sultanate in staunchly-Muslim Aceh since the 1970s.

Elite power struggle

Indonesia's Wahid ups pressure on police chief

Reuters - July 7, 2001

Jakarta -- Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has stepped up pressure on national police chief General Bimantoro, demanding he relinquish all remaining commands of power, the Jakarta Post reported on Saturday.

Wahid ordered Bimantoro -- among several senior security officials to publicly object to the president's threats to stay in power by declaring a state of emergency -- to resign more than a month ago.

Bimantoro has previously refused to go unless parliament approved his dismissal, although on Monday he said he was willing to be replaced. That has created some confusion over whether Bimantoro still remained police chief.

The report said Wahid issued a decree on Friday ordering Bimantoro to return the command baton and all command attributes to the President.

"In a normal reshuffle, the outgoing police chief would hand over his baton to his successor. But as the new police chief has yet to be selected, Pak Bimantoro must return his baton to the superior, that is the President," the Post quoted chief security minister Agum Gumelar as saying.

Indonesia's parliament has formally warned Wahid over his move to sack the police chief, adding another black mark to the embattled leader's record only weeks before his impeachment hearing.

The top legislature will open Wahid's impeachment hearing on August 1 over his stumbling 20 months in power as Indonesia's first democratically-elected leader. Most analysts give the Muslim cleric little chance of survival. Wahid renewed his threat to declare a state of emergency on Friday, in what has become his key defence ahead of the hearing.

Parliament warns Wahid over police chief sacking

Agence France Presse - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- Indonesia's parliament has sent a written warning to President Abdurrahman Wahid over his sacking of the national police chief and demanded he seek the house's approval for the move, local media reported Friday.

"The working body of the DPR [lower house of parliament] agreed to send a letter to the president to ask him to follow the procedure for dismissing [police chief] Bimantoro and appointing a replacement," the Media Indonesia daily quoted DPR speaker Akbar Tanjung as saying.

Wahid dismissed Bimantoro in a presidential decree issued last Saturday, a month after demanding the police chief's resignation and suspending him when he refused.

The move further incensed an already hostile parliament, as it contravened an upper house (MPR) law requiring the legislature's prior approval for appointing and dismissing the police chief. "As well as asking the president to obey the MPR decree, we the leaders of the DPR also warned the president against violating that decree again..." Tanjung said.

Wahid's dismissal of former police chief Rusdiharjo and appointment of Bimantoro late last year were also done without consulting parliament. A spokesman for Wahid, Andi Adhie Massardi, told AFP Friday he did not know whether the president had received the letter yet.

The parliament was preparing to decide whether to impeach Wahid in a special hearing set to start on August 1.

The virtually blind Muslim preacher has had an erratic and tumultuous 20 months rule since becoming Indonesia's first democratically elected president, and in recent months has alienated most of his earlier allies.

The parliament, flexing its muscles after decades as a rubber stamp body under former president Suharto, has seized on two financial scandals in which Wahid was implicated -- though cleared by the Attorney General -- as a basis for holding impeachment proceedings.

The police force meanwhile continues to see Bimantoro as the chief, the force's national spokesman Didi Widayadi said. "Bimantoro remains the chief of police until the process for replacing him has been carried out in accordance with the rules," he told AFP. "Otherwise there will be a vacuum in the leadership, which we want to avoid." The police have submitted to Wahid a list of six candidates to replace Bimantoro, Widayadi said.

The man Wahid appointed as deputy police chief to act in Bimantoro's place, Chaeruddin Ismael, was included in the list, Widayadi added. "We're still waiting for the parliament to approve Bimantoro's dismissal and his replacement, in accordance with the set process," the spokesman said.

Wahid again threatens to declare state of emergency

Agence France Presse - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- Embattled Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid Friday again threatened to declare a state of emergency if a hostile parliament tries to impeach him in three weeks time.

"If that happens, I as the president will immediately declare a state of danger -- meaning civil emergency," Wahid told the congregation at a mosque in Ciganjur on the outskirts of Jakarta after Friday prayers.

But Wahid said he was prepared to compromise if the national assembly, or People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), does not call him to account for his 20 months in office at the special session called for August 1.

"You ask me whether I can be brought to a special session. Actually I can't. But if the special session does not demand my accountability, or judge my performance, I am willing to compromise.

"So there is no accountability speech, and no judgement of my performance." Lower house MPs who called for the special session on the basis of two financial scandals in which they implicated him, and his erratic rule, want him to deliver an accountability speech.

If the speech is rejected, it would be tantamount to impeachment. But Wahid has repeatedly argued, renewing his plea again Friday, that under the constitution a president does not have to account for his rule until the end of his five-year-term.

Wahid was named in October 1999 -- Indonesia's first freely elected president -- and has consistently said he will serve out his term. Under a presidential system, he reasoned, the MPR would be in violation of the constitution if it pushed ahead with its demand for an accountability speech -- and a state of emergency would be legally justified.

However his past threats to declare a civil emergency -- which would allow him to dissolve parliament and call new elections -- have been met with stiff and vocal opposition from the military and even some members of his own cabinet.

Although Wahid on Friday did not spell out what he meant by a compromise, sources close to the palace have said he planned to invite members of the major parties aligned against him in the house to take senior cabinet posts.

The past weeks have seen the president become increasingly isolated, partly because of his emergency threats. On Tuesday he lost his staunchest ally, the late attorney general Baharuddin Lopa, who died of heart failure in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, while his vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri has publicly distanced herself from him.

Marzuki set to win favour from Gus Dur and Golkar

Straits Times - July 6, 2001

Susan Sim, Jakarta -- President Abdurrahman Wahid's decision yesterday to avail himself again of the services of a savvy politician from Golkar -- the party he is trying to dissolve -- might be his one lucid move in the flurry of hit-and-run acts that have characterised his attempts to stay in power.

That he would reappoint the same man he sacked as Attorney- General to be his Cabinet Secretary, just two days after replacement Baharuddin Lopa died of a heart attack, is mystifying.

But more baffling is Mr Marzuki Darusman's motives for agreeing to be Gus Dur's chief gatekeeper. Mr Marzuki had in the last month turned down three offers to return to the Cabinet in the prestigious portfolios of Defence, Interior and Manpower.

But he has now accepted a position not much different from that of a glorified personal assistant, responsible for drafting and vetting presidential decrees and regulations and arranging Cabinet meetings.

However, that is just the technical job description. In Mr Marzuki's hands, the Cabinet Secretary or SesKab may be one of the most influential positions in a failing administration sorely in need of a master tactician and spin-meister. The SesKab can accrue power by floating names for appointments and by simply slowing down the decree-drafting process.

With a President lacking the eyesight to counter-check the decrees he signs and the administrative experience to fight his own bureaucratic battles, Mr Marzuki is literally the last line of defence.

Still, nobody expects Mr Marzuki to play mere bureaucratic games. "Since SesKab is not a technical department, but represents the President personally, Mr Marzuki may have a special mandate," an aide speculated.

And that mandate would likely be to intensify the search for a compromise to save Gus Dur's throne. Mr Marzuki never gave up his conviction that Gus Dur must be part of any solution to Indonesia's political morass.

But like most Golkar leaders, Mr Marzuki was also deeply concerned that the unthinkable might happen -- a presidential decree to dissolve Mr Suharto's party on the grounds that it had violated fund-raising rules in the 1999 general election, leading to an invalidation of election results and a snap poll call.

Back in the saddle as SesKab, Mr Marzuki can pressure Gus Dur against such a move and thus earn a ride back into Golkar, after having irked its leaders for detaining one of them for alleged corruption.

At the same time, Mr Marzuki would be well-placed to either play a leading role in the next Gus Dur-Megawati government, or if that proves impossible, earn the Vice-President's gratitude by toning down Gus Dur's dirty-tricks department.

Push for open vote on President

Straits Times - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- In a move against money politics, Indonesia's largest political party has proposed an open vote on the political fate of President Abdurrahman Wahid during next month's impeachment session against him.

The proposal by the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle -- led by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri -- was welcomed by Assembly Speaker Amien Rais. Standing orders state that voting on presidential accountability should be by secret ballot.

"I think the idea should be supported as we need transparency. It will make the session more legitimate as we will be able to avoid back-door politicking," he said.

Mr Abdurrahman hopes to meet his major political rivals over the weekend in a last-ditch effort to persuade them not to begin impeachment moves against him, said presidential spokesman Adhi Massardi yesterday.

Police chief just an excuse for MPs to confront Gus Dur

Straits Times - July 5, 2001

Robert Go, Jakarta -- If Indonesian police chief General Suroyo Bimantoro makes it into the history books, it will be because of how parliament has turned him into yet another thorn in President Abdurrahman Wahid's side.

Parliament has so far supported and encouraged Gen Bimantoro's defiance against Mr Abdurrahman, who suspended him early last month after his undistinguished nine-month term, and finally sacked him last weekend.

Golkar MP Yasril Ananta Baharuddin, chairman of the Defence, Foreign and Political Affairs Committee, told The Straits Times: "Bimantoro is still our police chief." Yet analysts described his insubordination as the last gasps of a man with nothing to lose -- he is scheduled to retire this month.

During his short stint in office, Gen Bimantoro, Mr Abdurrahman's third police chief in 20 months, did little to push forward Indonesian police's reform agenda.

Perhaps his most notable feat was to oversee a beefing-up of the police force's size and weaponry, including the purchase of thousands of Russian assault rifles. That is not much of an achievement when the police and military are heavily scrutinised for alleged human rights violations.

Even his backers in parliament say they do not really care if he stays or goes. PAN legislator Alvin Lie said: "It doesn't matter who heads the police. Our reasons for insisting he is still police chief have nothing to do with the man himself." Mr Yasril agreed: "Parliament's perspective on this is independent of Gen Bimantoro's qualifications or achievements." Gen Bimantoro, who once headed the police force of Bali province, has no clear political ties and does not inspire much loyalty or admiration even within his own force.

More than 100 senior generals signed petitions supporting him last month, yet they also sent congratulatory flowers to Commissioner-General Chaeruddin Ismail, Mr Abdurrahman's new man on the force.

Mr Kusnanto Anggoro of the Centre for Strategic International Studies said: "The sentiment is replacing Bimantoro could be good for the police force's reform goals." So why are legislators so riled up with the way Mr Abdurrahman is treating his police chief? He has breached the Constitution and ignored proper procedures, MPs say, by sacking yet another top police official without parliament's approval.

"We don't care about the chief of police. We don't support Bimantoro, but we reject the President's constitutional breaches," said Mr Lie. Analysts warn, however, that by welcoming parliament's help, Gen Bimantoro is endangering the reform process and is keeping the police involved in politics.

Graft-buster's death deals blow to Wahid

South China Morning Post - July 5, 2001

Vaudine England -- The sudden death of Attorney-General Baharuddin Lopa has deprived President Abdurrahman Wahid of not just a close friend but also one of his chief weapons against attempts to impeach him.

Lopa was appointed only last month specifically to pursue high- ranking political figures who are leading the moves to oust Mr Wahid. Widely renowned as a ferociously honest man, Lopa planned to investigate Mr Wahid's friends as well as foes. Those foes would see Lopa's death as a timely reprieve from intense legal scrutiny, a former cabinet minister said yesterday.

But his replacement, Suparman, vowed after a cabinet meeting yesterday not to yield to "any pressure" in probing politically sensitive cases. "I work in the field of law and in the law there's no prejudice. Everybody is equal before the law," he said. The meeting, presided over by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, began with a brief silence for Lopa.

During his term in office, Lopa had opened files on the alleged corruption of Akbar Tandjung, who leads the Suharto-linked Golkar Party and who chairs the House of Representatives (DPR). Another target was a former trade and investment minister during the Suharto era, Ginandjar Kartasasmita, who is also a deputy chairman of the Peoples' Consultative Assembly (MPR).

A special session of the MPR (which includes the DPR) on August 1 appears set to impeach Mr Wahid. New legal moves against its leaders were widely seen as part of Mr Wahid's bid to keep his job by threatening his opponents into making a deal.

Mr Tandjung said Mr Suparman, who was Lopa's deputy, must continue his late boss' pursuit of alleged embezzlers. "The tasks that have been pioneered by Mr Lopa will surely be continued by [Suparman]. We give our full trust to him," he said. Indonesia had lost "a man with the highest integrity", and Mr Wahid his "staunchest defender", the Speaker added.

Lopa, 66, died of heart failure in Riyadh's al-Hamadi hospital late on Tuesday while on a visit to Saudi Arabia where, until recently, he had been ambassador. President Wahid called on Indonesians to pray for Lopa. "We have lost a figure who has the integrity and commitment to uphold justice," Mr Wahid said, adding that the "rule of law must not vanish with Lopa's death".

Other targets of Lopa's investigations included the business affairs of Arifin Panigoro, leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction in the DPR, which is leading moves to replace Mr Wahid with PDI-P leader Ms Megawati. Mention was also made of possible investigations into the affairs of Ms Megawati's husband, businessman Taufik Kiemas. Lopa also wanted to force former president Suharto to face graft charges in court despite his claims of ill health.

The one shining achievement of the Wahid Government's record on law enforcement was also due to Lopa, who as justice minister jailed former Suharto golf buddy and timber tycoon Mohamad "Bob" Hasan in a high-security jail on Java's south coast.

Many people were "interested in Lopa's demise", said a former cabinet minister who had worked with him. "There are billions of dollars at stake. Lopa was a straight arrow. His approach was to clean up the environment of the top leaders ..." Lopa's death not only takes the heat off the entire corrupt elite in Jakarta but also bodes ill for broader efforts to clean up Indonesia's fundamentally flawed judiciary and law enforcement process.

"I think Wahid's programme of law enforcement will be set back," said Teten Masduki, head of Indonesian Corruption Watch. "There are no other people like Lopa, people who are so clean and so bold." Along with the tragedy for Lopa's wife and seven children, the man most likely to suffer from his death could be Mr Wahid, a Western diplomat said. "Wahid will be feeling pretty unhappy about this. He has placed a lot of emphasis in his talks overseas on the significance of Lopa personally leading the anti- corruption drive," he said.

Added political analyst Arbi Sanit: "With his death, I think the president's legal position dropped quite significantly ... I am afraid that there will be no one like Mr Lopa." Mr Suparman, has been appointed as a temporary replacement but cabinet sources suggest the best candidate would be current Justice and Human Rights minister Marsilam Simandjuntak.

Lopa first made his name at the National Human Rights Commission, which gained credibility during the Suharto period largely due to Lopa's drive.

Abdurrahman opens boy scout meet amid protests

Jakarta Post - July 5, 2001

Purwokerto -- President Abdurrahman Wahid officially opened the 2001 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Baturraden tourist resort by reciting Al Fatihah verses together with the audience in memory of Attorney General Baharuddin Lopa, who died in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The President, accompanied by First Lady Sinta Nuriyah, one of their daughters, Yenni Wahid, and the leader of the national boy scout movement, Safii Harahap, arrived at the venue at 2pm.

"Pak Lopa was a good man, therefore I hope that all boy scouts copy him," the President said before asking the audience to recite Al Fatihah, the opening verses of the holy Koran. Around 10,000 boy scouts are participating in the national jamboree.

Later in his opening speech, the President said that he had been active in the boy scout movement from 1951 to 1957. "That's why anyone who says that joining the Boy Scouts is useless knows nothing about scouting," he said to applause from the audience.

Soon after opening the jamboree, the President left for At-Taujih Islamic boarding school (pesantren) in the village of Leler, some 60 kilometers south of Baturraden.

He spent 30 minutes in the pesantren and then flew back to Jakarta. Clashes between his supporters and protesters greeted the President's arrival in Purwokerto. Four people were injured in the clashes.

The first disturbance took place at around 9.30am in front of the Jenderal Soedirman University campus on Jl. HR Bunyamin, some seven kilometers away from the Jamboree site, when university students were attacked a large group of unknown persons who had arrived on the scene by truck. A second disturbance broke out at 1pm, one hour before the President and his entourages proceeded to the jamboree site.

There were three groups assembled at the jamboree site. The first group consisted of the President's supporters, the second the President's opponents and the third environmentalists, who claimed that the jamboree would only damage the environment.

It was not clear how the brawls started. But the coordinator of the President's supporters, Muchson, said "their enemies" were members of the Islamic Students Association (HMI). "They were planning to protest against the President. They planned everything last night."

"They joined forces with the environmental activists who were against the boy scout meeting. We attacked the anti-Abdurrahman groups but not the environmentalists," said Muchson. "We just wanted to get rid of those demonstrating against the arrival of the President."

Leaders of youth organizations warn Gus Dur's supporters

Jakarta Post - July 4, 2001

Jakarta -- Leaders of major youth organizations warned supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid not to engage in any anarchic activity as they would be ready to take counter actions during the special session of the People's Consultative Assembly on August 1.

Najamuddin Ramly, chairman of the Muhammadiyah Youth Movement, Yorris Raweyai, who chairs the Pemuda Pancasila youth group, Fahri Hamzah and senior leaders of the Indonesian Muslim Students Action Front (KAMMI) voiced their warning during a discussion here on Tuesday.

"Who will take to the streets [to hold protest] ahead of the special session? I think only supporters of Gus Dur while other groups will remain on ale Soeharto and Golkar. He also openly shows his sympathy to the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Yorris belittled the strength of Abdurrahman's supporters. "They are mainly based in East Java. If they are enraged, let their anger be expressed in East Java which is only one of our 31 provinces anyway," he said. "Even if they do come to Jakarta, few of them can afford that. Here we have thousands of people who have had enough of violence and are ready to quash them," Yorris maintained.

Yorris also pointed out that Pemuda Pancasila cadres would also be deployed during the special session "to help security forces to maintain order in the capital."

Speaking of controlling the masses, Fahri Hamzah underlined that KAMMI would refrain from staging rallies during the special session. He said the reaction of the masses depended on the leadership of the organizations.

Fahri stressed that he had warned his juniors in his organization to keep on track as "a student moral and pressure movement". "They will not take sides either with Abdurrahman or his opponents. We will quash those against democracy, justice and human rights.

Political observer Denny J.A., who also attended the meeting, however warned the organization leaders not to be provoked by any actions of Abdurrahman's supporters. "The supporters of Abdurrahman will definitely show their force and security forces will have difficulty handling them," he said.

Game could be up in a month, Wahid admits

South China Morning Post - July 3, 2001

Vaudine England, Jakarta -- Jakarta's long-running power struggle reached new heights of confusion yesterday as President Abdurrahm ppens -- and it is certain to because there is an act of treason -- then ... the special session will topple the President and our country will break apart," he said. His comment revealed more fighting spirit than new-found humility, as he simultaneously threatened to call a snap election if Parliament pursued its impeachment moves.

Mr Wahid is accused of corruption and incompetence by a parliament now led by figures aligned to the former New Order government of President Suharto. The constitution's imprecision over whether president or parliament is supreme is being used by the Parliament to try to replace him with the allegedly more amenable Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Mr Wahid continues to fight his corner by issuing threats at the same time as offering jobs, perks and other deals to his opponents. Political party spokesmen have accepted Mr Wahid's call for more meetings to discuss a possible compromise over power-sharing that could yet allow him to win enough numbers in the MPR to be impeached but not deposed. "Golkar [the former ruling party] is ready to meet and communicate with Wahid. We will attend, even though the invitation came from the President's ministers," said Golkar party chief and head of the House of Representatives Akbar Tandjung.

Among the threats Mr Wahid regularly unleashes is one to impose a state of emergency that would dissolve Parliament before impeachment proceedings could be held. "All people said there should be no state of emergency, but all are closing off the path towards compromise ... what do they all want," he said angrily. "If we still want to see this country united, the constitutional deadlock has to be overcome. "The solution can only be through an advanced general election. The people should judge, we should return [the issue] to the people."

Much of the mutual tongue-lashing remains just that. Mr Wahid, who has floated the idea of an early general election before, would need the support of his cabinet, including Ms Megawati, before he could call an early ballot. The armed forces and police have also refused to act on his idea of declaring a state of emergency.

But the chance of a deal remains. The leader of the United Development Party, Hamzah Haz, who is cited as a possible vice- president to Ms Megawati if she replaces Mr Wahid, said talks were continuing and no result could be predicted. "Nobody can say what the outcome of the upcoming special session will be, so it would be irrelevant to talk about a vice-presidential candidate now," he said.

Regional/communal conflicts

Police troops shoot dead five attackers in Poso

Jakarta Post - July 6, 2001

Poso, Central Sulawesi -- At least five people attacking the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) troops in the village of Toyado in Lage district, Poso regency, were shot dead on Thursday.

Poso Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Djasman Baso confirmed the clash, but declined to go into details. Djasman said attacks on police troops and villagers had been conducted sporadically by unidentified assailants. "We have found it difficult to anticipate. The area of Poso is very large and it is not easy for police troops to cover all of its corners," he said.

The situation in Poso was still not under control on Thursday due to the recurrent clashes. Daily activities have still not returned to normal with most schools, offices and markets remaining closed on Thursday. "The trans-Sulawesi highway is still fragile, especially the Makassar-Mangkutana-Tentena-Poso route. Unknown armed groups have been intercepting cars using the route," he said.

Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Sugianto concurred, saying that limited availability of communications devices had obstructed the security officers from responding swiftly. He also said that transportation had posed a major problem.

Agus said earlier that Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin Ishak had officially requested the assistance of six companies of police troops and four companies of Army troops from North Sulawesi Police headquarters and South Sulawesi Military Command. According to Agus, some 15,000 Army and police personnel are now safeguarding Poso.

With the escalating tension in Poso, at least three factions at the local legislative council have suggested that civil emergency status be declared in the regency. They also demanded that Poso regent Muin Pusadan and Central Sulawesi governor Aminuddin Ponulele resign for failing to curb the violence.

The legislators said that the renewed violence in Poso was politically motivated. The criticism took place after the appointment of Poso regency secretary Awad Al-Amri. Legislators claimed that the governor and regent, who recommended the appointment, had gone against community sentiment by appointing a Muslim to the post.

The blame

The provincial and regency administrations' failure to settle the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Poso has frustrated both warring parties, who now blame each other for causing the situation to deteriorate.

Chairman of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) of the Central Sulawesi chapter, Sofyan Farid Lembah, said on Wednesday that the Christian groups had ruined peace deals the groups had agreed to. "They [the Christians] have refused to reconcile. On many occasions they have broken the peace deals," Lembah said. Lembah also asserted that the Christians were still aspiring to rule the regency as they did 20 years ago, with most key posts in the administration held by Christians.

Rev. Renaldy Damanik said in a separate interview on Wednesday that a Christian delegation of 30 people from Tentena was attacked by Muslims while traveling to the legislative council. "The most sickening event was that the police troops aimed their guns at the 30 people and shouted bad words to them," Damanik said, adding that the attack took place in the village of Sayo.

Damanik said that the attack on Christians by Muslims in the village of Maleu Lage on July 1 had triggered the new violence in Poso. In the attack, two Christians were killed and 160 houses torched, forcing 1,670 people to flee the area, Damanik said.

Damanik also criticized the government for being too sluggish in dealing with the violence. "The Poso regent must resign for that," he said.

Thirteen massacred in Central Sulawesi village attack

Jakarta Post - July 4, 2001

Jakarta -- Thirteen mutilated bodies have been found in the village of Buyung Katedo, some 16 kilometers south of Poso, Central Sulawesi, following a Tuesday dawn massacre by masked men in black, local police officers and residents said.

Poso Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Djasman Baso Opu said that the 13 victims were badly mutilated, leaving their bodies hardly recognizable. "What the attackers did is totally cruel and worse then what was committed during the [1965] communist abortive coup," Djasman said, as quoted by Antara.

The news agency also reported that most of the victims were women and children. "All the bodies were buried late on Tuesday," one of the villagers Din said, adding that some Poso residents and local administration officers attended the mass funeral.

A witness claimed that the dawn attack was conducted by a group of people wearing black masks on Tuesday. During the attack a mosque and a refugee camp were burned, before the assailants left the village and headed for the forest.

Local police were notified after two residents managed to flee and report the massacre. When police finally arrived, they immediately evacuated victims to Poso general hospital.

However, no trace of the attackers was found. "We're going to find the attackers," Djasman asserted, while adding that he had sent a group of police officers to hunt them down.

Poso and the surrounding area has remained gripped in tension with sporadic flareups since sectarian clashes broke out in 1999, claiming some 200 lives. Over the weekend, fresh violence again erupted in Poso resulting in the deaths of three people. The Indonesian Military (TNI) has sent some 700 new troops to improve security in the area.

Djasman, who was installed as police chief last month, further contended that it was impossible for police to cover the whole area of Poso due to their limited personnel. He added that police only found out about the latest incident six hours after it occurred due to their limited resources.

Forgotten victims of conflict left to fight their own demons

Straits Times - July 2, 2001

Chris McCall, Mamboro, Central Sulawesi -- God told him the riots were about to happen. "Allah sent me a vision," Muhammad Herlambang Badja says at the psychiatric hospital where he is being treated.

His eyes bore into you as he addresses you. He is 25 and schizophrenic, with a thin, wispy beard, typical of Indonesian Muslim men who are performing dakwa -- spreading the faith. "I feel I have recovered but the doctors say I am ill," he says. "My faith is ill. Many people do not pray. This is going to ruin Islam. That is the reason the riots happen, because people are not responsible."

Herlambang is part of a largely hidden, unacknowledged and often untreated problem emerging in Indonesia. Apart from death and destruction, its many conflicts are destroying people's minds. These mental disorders are rarely dealt with until they reach crisis proportions.

He is staying, for now, at Central Sulawesi's main mental hospital in Mamboro, just outside the capital, Palu. He has been in and out for several years. But until May last year he was in remission. Now he has joined the other patients from the province's Poso district. The cases have emerged or re-emerged since the area was hit by a wave of violence between Christians and Muslims last year.

According to his doctors, Herlambang's condition deteriorated at the same time as the situation in Poso. Since then, he has been home, but his parents could not cope and he was sent back to Mamboro to face an uncertain future.

Central Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's lesser known conflict areas, but last year at least 300 people were killed, many decapitated or butchered in other sadistic ways. Despite a government-backed peace initiative and a peace agreement witnessed by President Abdurrahman Wahid, Poso district is still primed to explode at any time. Several people have been killed recently.

Psychiatrist Eko Susanto Marsoeki said about 80 serious cases could clearly be linked to the violence. Apart from schizophrenia, there are also cases of paranoia and depression, some with obvious links to the trauma the patients have suffered.

Some arrive with chaotic speech, feelings of suspicion and a fear that crowds were about to attack them. One major feature of the Poso violence was sudden large-scale attacks by mobs of hundreds of people. "They lose their temper. They hit people. They feel suspicious or scared of being killed," says Dr Eko, head of the medical team treating the patients.

Forty-six have required in-patient care. But the trend only began to emerge three to four months after the violence. Dr Eko is not sure why there was a delay, but said it may be because many lost friends or relatives they had previously shared their problems with.

Generally there have been more Muslims than Christians, but Dr Eko says it may simply be because Muslims feel safe in the Palu area. In Poso, some of the worst violence was meted out by Christians. Many victims' bodies, including those of children, were mutilated before being thrown in rivers -- all very disturbing to the most healthy of minds.

The problem is definitely not unique to Poso. On Buton Island, to the southeast of Sulawesi, Medecins sans Frontieres-Holland has set up a project to train counsellors for Muslim refugees from nearby Maluku.

Dr Eko would like to do the same in his region. The trouble is the price. To set up a body and train the 60-odd staff needed would cost about US$22,000, money that his health department simply does not have.

Two killed as violence flares in Central Kalimantan

Jakarta Post - July 2, 2001 (abridged)

Jakarta -- While the ethnic-related tension in Pontianak, West Kalimantan has gradually ceased, fresh conflict flared up in the West Kotawaringin district of Kumai in Central Kalimantan late on Saturday, leaving at least two people dead.

Spokesman for the Central Kalimantan Police Comr. Anjan Putera confirmed the violence which involved Dayak natives and Madurese migrants, but said no detailed reports had been sent by police in West Kotawaringin.

"The incidents took place but we have not yet received official reports from local police," Anjan said as quoted by Antara on Sunday. West Kotawaringin is located some 450 kilometers from Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province.

An official at Kumai health clinic confirmed the deaths. "Reports that reach us stated that seven people were killed but we only received two bodies here." One of the deceased was identified as Tahlin, 53, a resident of Kumai Hilir, while the other remained unidentified. The two were found with severe slash wounds to their necks.

Six missing in car attack in Palu

Jakarta Post - July 2, 2001

Jakarta -- Six people went missing Thursday after the Kijang van they rode in was attacked on the road linking Poso and Tentena in Central Sulawesi.

"The car was found on Thursday afternoon between the Watuawu- Pandiri villages. It was burned down and the six passengers were missing," spokesman of the Tadulako military resort, First Lt. Abdul Haris, told Antara Friday.

Haris said security officers continued the hunt for the attackers, suspected to be hiding in nearby villages in Lage district, some 25 kilometers south of Poso. "If the attackers did not take the passengers hostage, it is most likely that they are hiding in nearby villages to avoid an arrest," he said.

Thursday's attack was the third in the past 17 days. The first attack occurred on June 11 on a road near Tentena, a small town near Lake Poso. Two passengers of a cargo van were burned to death. The van was on its way to Makassar from Palu when it wasattacked then burned, said Haris.

The second attack occurred on June 19 in Ranonuncusubdistrict, Poso Kota. The target was a public transit vehicle. Two passengers were seriously wounded in the attack.

The Tadulako military also reported that on Thursday a group of snipers attacked refugees in a refugee camp in Sayo subdistrict. On the same day unidentified people burned the house belonging to Azzer Umar in Lawanga subdistrict, Poso Kota. A refugee, Ito Kidi, 58, suffered a serious bullet wound during the attack on the refugee camp.

Poso has been rocked by inter-religious conflicts in the past three years. Hundreds of people have been killed in the violence and thousands have been displaced.

Human rights/law

Tight security at Golkar dissolution hearing

Jakarta Post - July 6, 2001

Jakarta -- The Supreme Court continued hearing on Thursday a lawsuit demanding the dissolution of the Golkar Party following allegations of graft and violations of the law on political parties and general elections.

The session, presided over by judge Asma Samik Ibrahim, was tightly guarded by security personnel. About 100 people grouped under the Jakarta People staged a protest outside the Supreme Court, demanding the Golkar Party be dissolved, Antara reported.

Inside the courtroom, lawyers from both sides became involved in a series of debates as the court failed to present witnesses in the case, namely Minister of Finance Rizal Ramli, Minister of Defense Mahfud M.D., former Supreme Advisory Board chief A.A.Baramuli, former State Logistics Agency (Bulog) chief Rahardi Ramelan and Harianto Sahari of accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The session continued following the court's decision to allow former General Election Commission (KPU) member Sri Bintang Pamungkas to testify. Golkar's legal representatives had objected to allowing him to testify, saying Sri Bintang was one of the parties that filed the lawsuit against the Golkar Party so his testimony "will not be objective".

After the court assured both sides that Sri Bintang would only testify about his work as a KPU member, the court hear his testimony. While testifying, Sri Bintang became in numerous arguments with Golkar's legal representatives.

Golkar's legal representatives present at Thursday's session were O.C. Kaligis, Hotma Sitompoel, Ruhut Sitompul, Yan Juanda Saputra and Tommy Sihotang. A first lawsuit was filed against the Golkar Party by the New Order's Victims Association, led by Pribadio and represented by lawyer R.O. Tambunan.

The group has accused Golkar of breaking Article 14 of Law No. 2/1999 on political party donations, which stipulates that a party can only receive a maximum of Rp 15 million (US$1,500) per year from individuals and Rp 150 million per year from corporations, organizations and institutions. The group said that in the run-up to the 1999 general election, Golkar received donations of Rp 90 billion from Bulog, Rp 5 billion from Bank Bali and Rp 1 billion from A.A. Baramuli.

A second lawsuit against Golkar Party was filed by 50 members of the People's Movement, led by Sri Bintang Pamungkas, who is also the chief of the Indonesian Democratic Union Party (PUDI). The People's Movement accused the Golkar Party of failing to live up to the principles of fairness and justice in the 1999 general election, saying that therefore the party "should be dissolved as it breached the law on political parties".

How will Milosevic's trial affect RI?

The Jakarta Post - July 5, 2001

The United Nations war crimes tribunal against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has begun. How will this affect many unsettled cases of human rights violations in Indonesia? Renowned lawyer and executive director of the Jakarta-based Center for Human Rights Studies (Yapusham) Todung Mulya Lubis shares his views.

Question: How much hope do you have regarding the settlement of cases regarding Indonesia's human rights violations with the beginning of the Milosevic trial?

Answer: This should serve as a lesson to Indonesians that (perpetrators of) crimes against humanity and war crimes can be subject to an international tribunal. That we have not ratified the Rome Statute (on the international criminal court) must not lead us to consider that we are immune.

Rapid development in international law could cause perpetrators of human rights violations to be brought to an international trial even though the jurisdiction of the international court has not been recognized.

Secondly, this (the Milosevic trial) will of course aid all parties concerned with human rights for a speedier process in the set up of a human rights court and an ad hoc human rights court (for crimes that occurred before the passing of the Human Rights Court Act on Nov. 23 2000).

Our neglect in failing so far to set up such a court will provide justification for international rights activists, including those from countries highly concerned about human rights violations such as in East Timor, to demand the establishment of an international tribunal if our own courts prove to be ineffective ... Instruments such as (delaying) international aid could also be used ... Therefore, the Milosevic trial will have a positive impact in our preparation for a human rights court.

What should be prioritized among so many of our human rights violations cases?

Priorities should be the cases in Aceh, Papua, East Timor and the shooting of students of Trisakti and in the Semanggi area -- not that other cases are not important, but we must have priorities.

Is there a double standard in the prosecution of Milosevic, as some have suggested, given earlier calls that former president Soeharto should also be brought to an international tribunal?

This (allegation) would be inaccurate. There has not been a resolution from the United Nations Security Council against Soeharto saying that he is responsible for crimes against humanity and that he can be brought to an international tribunal.

If the atmosphere is more conducive now to speed up human rights violations trials won't there be resistance from the Indonesian Military or its members?

Not as long as the trial is fair, objective and free from being "engineered." A human rights trial in the country would be far better than an international court -- which would further tarnish our image. However, who could guarantee that there would be no intervention?

Meanwhile, the retroactive clause in the Human Rights Court Act (passed last November) will indeed pose a problem (such as) the possibility of many cases being considered closed ...

With the passing of the attorney general Baharuddin Lopa who was considered a man of integrity despite his critics, are you still optimistic of a more smooth process toward the settlement of cases of human rights violations?

Even with Lopa, the task of setting up a human rights court and an ad hoc court was never seen to be easy despite the (Human Rights Court) Act No. 26, 2000 ... because of the absence of infrastructure and the lack of personnel. So, it would take a relatively long time to set up such courts unless we want to set up show trials.

Without Lopa, one factor that might have sped up this process is now gone; how long it will take depends on the new attorney general, who will have to adjust (to his surroundings).

Unfortunately, we now face this political situation ahead of the special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (scheduled for early August), the results of which we cannot predict. Much attention will be focused (on this event) and this will make the process (toward settling human rights violations) even slower.

Indonesian official vows to continue attorney-general's work

Reuters - July 4, 2001

Jakarta -- Indonesia's caretaker attorney-general has vowed to carry on the work of the country's top corruption fighter, who died from a heart-related illness in a Saudi Arabian hospital, local media reported on Wednesday.

The death of the uncompromising and widely respected Attorney- General Baharudin Lopa has dealt a major blow to President Abdurrahman Wahid's stumbling efforts to root out endemic graft that has made the country a byword for corruption.

In office only a month, Lopa had also launched investigations into two leading critics of the embattled Wahid but brushed aside suggestions they were politically motivated.

"When I was appointed acting attorney general, the president told me to continue what had been done and was to be done by Mr Lopa. My mission is to continue [this]," deputy attorney general Suparman was quoted by the leading Kompas daily as saying.

It was unclear if Suparman, who was appointed caretaker attorney-general on Tuesday, would formally take over the job.

All newspapers carried reports on Wednesday mourning the loss of the 66-year-old Lopa, saying he was one of the few officials feared by corrupt businessmen and politicians in Indonesia. Lopa, a former senior member of Indonesia's human rights commission and briefly justice minister before becoming attorney general, was visiting Saudi Arabia when he fell ill.

Officials were not available to confirm that investigations Lopa launched into parliament speaker Akbar Tandjung and parliament faction leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI- P), Arifin Panigoro, would continue.

Both have been key figures pushing for an impeachment hearing in the supreme People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) against Wahid over the president's own links to two graft scandals and a chaotic 20-month rule. That session opens on August 1, although Wahid has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Tandjung is head of the former ruling Golkar Party, the country's second largest. He has been linked to a graft case involving the alleged misuse of state funds by his party.

Wealthy businessman Panigoro's case involves allegations of graft at his oil company Medco. PDI-P is parliament's largest party and headed by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Lopa also said late last month he would make another attempt to bring former President Suharto to justice over allegations he amassed massive wealth while in office. A court threw out a graft case against Suharto last year on the grounds he was too ill. Suharto has denied the allegations.

As justice minister, Lopa won praise for shifting convicted timber tycoon Mohammad "Bob" Hasan, a long-time golfing buddy of Suharto, from a Jakarta jail to an infamous prison island off Java to make sure he served out a six-year sentence for graft.

Indonesian police excesses left 740 dead, says panel

Straits Times - July 2, 2001

Jakarta -- A total of 740 people died at the hands of the national police during the past one year due to human rights abuses, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said.

According to the commission's record, the police allegedly committed 224 human rights violations in 10 provinces from June 2000 to June this year, resulting in 740 deaths.

The Kontras coordinator, Mr Munarwan, was quoted by Antara news agency as saying on Saturday that the strife-torn Aceh province topped the list for the highest number of violations and casualties.

"In Aceh, it is recorded that there are 108 alleged human rights violations conducted by the police, which have claimed a total of 289 lives," he said.

The report further revealed that the alleged human rights violations committed in the provinces included abduction, false arrests, torture, intimidation, extortion and willful destruction.

The provinces are Aceh, South Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Lampung, North Sumatra, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, East Java and Irian Jaya.

Kontras released the report to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the national police yesterday.

News & issues

Jakarta envoys' parking woes in New York

Straits Times - July 3, 2001

New York -- Indonesian envoys are among the worst parking offenders here. Diplomats at the Indonesian Consulate and at Jakarta's Permanent Mission to the United Nations committed 8,966 parking violations between 1997 and last year.

They owed as much as US$973,502 (S$1.8 million) in unpaid fines. However, the worst offender was Egypt. Its diplomats committed 15,924 violations and owed nearly US$1.7 million. The envoys get away with it because of diplomatic immunity.


Forests of splendour turned to stumps

Sydney Morning Herald - July 6, 2001

Edward Gargan, Bangsri -- The last of central Java's great teakwood forests ends up in places like this, a place filled with the whine of buzz-saws and the burr of electric sanders, a place like Abdul Jambari's garden-furniture workshop.

"This is for export," Jambari says, stroking the finely polished arm of an auburn-grained folding chair. "It's the best teak, what we call class A." And because his order book is full, a month or two from now, for about $A200, Jambari's chair will sit on a patio or deck somewhere in the United States, Europe or Australia.

But that chair and the 4,000 others that are part of Jambari's latest export shipment have left behind a swath of utter devastation, one of thousands that afflict this archipelago and spell the end of the majestic forests that once blanketed Indonesia. Their disappearance also means the extinction of innumerable indigenous animal and plant species.

"We are facing a cataclysm," said Togu Manurung, the director of Forest Watch Indonesia, an environmental organisation that documents the destruction of the country's forests. "That is not an exaggeration. Our forests are disappearing faster now than under [the former president] Soeharto. It is worse than any time in Indonesia's history."

The tropical forests of Indonesia, one-tenth of the world's total, have fallen victim in part to the virtual collapse of political authority. The toppling three years ago of Soeharto's authoritarian regime has been followed by widespread violent upheaval, including multiple secessionist movements. In this chaotic atmosphere, illegal logging has gone unchecked. In an unpublished report on Indonesia's forests, the World Bank found that all the lowland forests in one of the country's largest islands, Sumatra, will be extinct before 2005, and in Kalimantan, the island formerly known as Borneo, by 2010.

Swamp forests, according to the report, will disappear five years later. In the past decade, the rate of Indonesia's deforestation has accelerated from almost a million hectares annually to 1.7 million hectares.

Based on an analysis of satellite photos of Indonesia's forests, the report, written by Mr Derek Holmes, a consultant to the World Bank, says that unless the Government acts immediately to stop rampant illegal logging "the only extensive forests that will remain in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi in the second decade of the new millennium will be the low stature forests of the mountains."

For people like Mr Manurung there is little evidence that the Government, in disarray over the impending impeachment of President Abdurrahman Wahid and beset by waves of sectarian and ethnic conflict, is capable of slowing the destruction. "Illegal logging is going on everywhere," he said. "Lots of people are involved. Lots of these people have connections -- high-ranking officials, members of parliament, the army, police, local officials."

Even national parks are being logged at a frenetic pace. On Kalimantan the Tanjung Puting National Park, designated by the United Nations as a biosphere reserve, a term bestowed on lands of exceptional plant and animal diversity, is being systematically and illegally logged, according to reports by Forest Watch and another environmental group, Telepak Indonesia, as well as Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops.

Suripto, the secretary-general of the Forestry Ministry, alleged last year that timber companies and sawmills owned by an MP, Mr Abdul Raysid, were illegally processing ramin logs, the most valuable tree in the national park. Despite his findings, after an extensive investigation, the logging has continued and Mr Raysid remains untouched by the law.

"You must understand that people like Raysid are like Robin Hood in their localities," said Forest Watch's Mr Manurung. "They put a lot of money into their communities, and they have a lot of support from local people. So when government investigators, or investigators from groups like ours, go to the park to check on logging, there are gangs that try to intimidate us. Some people have been beaten up." Most of the timber plundered from the national park and from Indonesia's other forests winds up in China, Europe, the US or Australia.

Here in Bangsri, a nub of land protruding from the northern rim of central Java, local officials say a breakdown of law and authority has fuelled the surge in illegal logging, and with it, the end of the forests. Everywhere, stumps of what were once towering teak trees pepper the landscape.

"In 1999 this was all forest," said Rahmat Wijaya, the district manager for the state logging company, Perhutani, his hand sweeping across a barren vista stretching towards distant hills. "That year thousands of people came and cut down the trees -- local people and people from outside, both. The last tree was taken in November 2000. There was nothing we could do.

Government faces shortage of contraceptives for the poor

Jakarta Post - July 7, 2001

Jakarta -- The government called on Friday for more international aid to fulfill the need for free distribution of contraceptives to 8.25 million poor and needy couples next year.

In a meeting between donors facilitated by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Friday, the National Family Planning Board (BKKBN) chairwoman Khofifah Indar Parawansa revealed that the current stock of 50.45 million contraceptives will run out at the end of the year. Indonesia needs an average of 85.47 million contraceptive devices annually.

Khofifah said poor couples will make up 35 percent of those who require family planning services next year. One sixth of the needy will be new users. "One of the main issues faced by the family planning program today is contraceptives availability for the poor. Due to limited finances, support from the government has been reduced. For this reason, we have been struggling to explore more resources to improve the quality of our services," she said. She added the government is in need of US$19.8 million to support the procurement of free contraceptive pills, IUDs, implants and condoms for the poor next year.

The minister further said that the shortage of contraceptives would cause a setback, which would slow down the progress of national family planning and reproductive health programs. As a result of the shortage, unplanned pregnancies will rise significantly, which in turn will trigger the hike in unwanted births, maternal mortality and induced abortion, she added.

The annual aid from donor countries has been gathered by UNFPA from, among others, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Commission. Khofifah said the assistance remains inadequate.

BKKBN's director of program policy coordination Ida Bagus Permana revealed in the meeting that the government is facing difficulties promoting the birth control program as reflected by the fact that less than 2 percent of the family planning participants are male. "Now we're formulating measures to boost the number to between 4 percent and 6 percent by 2004," he said.

Arms/armed forces

Troops `subsisting on instant noodles'

Straits Times - July 4, 2001

Jakarta -- More than 1,000 members of the Indonesian military and national police in riot-torn Poso, Central Sulawesi, are in dire straits, subsisting on a packet of instant noodles each a day because of a shortage of funds.

"Just getting food and bathing supplies is difficult, let alone financing routine operations to secure such a vast conflict-torn area," area acting chief of police Djasman Baso Opu said on Monday.

Mr Opu was commenting on complaints by members of the forces stationed in Poso that they often only had a packet of instant noodles a day to eat. This "dire situation" had resulted in their inability to prevent riots or violence despite early warnings, he said.

Mr Opu said he had not received extra funds from the Central Sulawesi provincial administration. "We learned of a 1 billion rupiah (S$161,000) fund allocated in the 2001 regional budget, but so far the money has not reached us," he said.

Economy & investment

Concentrate on monetary stability, Rizal urges IMF

Straits Times - July 7, 2001

Robert Go, Jakarta -- Finance Minister Rizal Ramli advised the IMF yesterday to stop micromanaging Indonesia's economy and refrain from setting deadlines for restructuring agency Ibra's asset-sale programme.

Separately, a group of legislators demanded forgiveness of Jakarta's US$6-billion outstanding debt to the IMF, charging the Washington-based lender with having exacerbated the country's economic woes.

Dr Rizal said after talks with IMF officials: "The tendency to micromanage should be avoided. The IMF should focus on macro issues and monetary stability. Which assets to be sold and the timing of sales should be left entirely to the government. Intervention will push prices to low levels," he said.

Legislators also weighed in against the IMF, saying the country's massive debts should be rescheduled or erased altogether due to the agency's mishandling of the Indonesian crisis.

Mr Dimyati Hartono, a PDI-P legislator who acted as the group's spokesman, said: "This monetary agency has steered Indonesia off course." The legislative group, which makes up nearly 10 per cent of Parliament, also blamed the IMF and international agencies like the World Bank for stealing Indonesia's national wealth and overwhelming the country with external debts.

A review team, led by Asia-Pacific deputy director Anoop Singh, is currently in Jakarta to discuss the recommencement of the agency's stalled US$5-billion loan package. The IMF programme got stalled last December after Indonesia missed several targets promised in various reform agreements it signed with the agency.

An earlier IMF delegation had failed in April to break the deadlock with the government. They quietly left Jakarta after a two-week visit. The current visit is the outcome of strenuous efforts made by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her aides to convince the agency of Jakarta's commitment to reforms.

The government has also set aside the obstacles identified by the agency in April by revising quickly its state Budget and agreeing to defer plans to reduce the independence of Indonesia's central bank.

Jakarta officials remained optimistic yesterday on the chances for a new letter of intent, which would trigger a loan instalment worth around US$400 million. Mr Dipo Alam, a senior aide to Dr Rizal, said: "I am confident a deal could be reached soon."

Indonesian cigarette maker clings to old ways

Reuters - July 6, 2001

Achmad Sukarsono, Kediri -- Juniarsih has been hand-rolling tobacco for the last 17 years at a big factory run by Gudang Garam, Indonesia's largest cigarette maker, but with little hope things will change.

The mother of two toddlers leaves her family before dawn six days a week and pedals her battered bicycle for more than an hour past paddy fields in East Java to get to the plant.

"I think I'll be doing this until I become an old granny," the bony 34-year-old said while putting saturated tobacco blend on small white paper that left brown splotches on her fingers. "I can't think of any other job. I don't know how to change."

Like its workers, Gudang, the world's number one maker of pungent clove cigarettes, popularly known as kreteks, also appears to be struggling with change. Product diversification is slow, some work practices are age-old and management is only just starting to open up to employees, workers and union leaders said during a rare factory visit permitted by the notoriously media-shy company.

Juniarsih and 37,000 other female workers who roll, cut, pack and glue for nine hours a day without a break are the backbone of Gudang Garam's trademark hand-rolled kreteks.

But some analysts say Gudang Garam's desire to cling to past successful practices has become an obstacle to taking the company into the 21st century. Management is still controlled by the family of late founder Surjo Wonowidjojo, who was a conservative and cautious operator.

Analysts point to speculation of internal rifts as younger family members grow impatient with the management's preference to hang on to old business methods. This has stunted creativity, analysts say, and explains why the firm appeared to only half-heartedly jump into the growing mild kretek and white -- or non-kretek -- cigarette markets.

As a result, Gudang Garam's domestic market share fell to about 36 percent by the end of 2000 from 48 percent in 1997, mainly on a slide in sales of its main machine-rolled cigarettes.

"Gudang Garam is just too conservative. The second generation seems to be afraid of making the wrong move which could ruin the efforts of their predecessors," said one analyst from a foreign securities brokerage who declined to be identified.

"But I have heard one key family member is seeking progress." The firm actually sees conservatism as the key to success. Underscoring that view, no executives wanted to speak for the record during the factory tour Reuters made.

"The family is very conservative. But the proof is we survive due to this conservatism when others fall," a senior executive in Jakarta, who declined to be identified, said recently. "[The family's] not breaking up. One wants diversification, the others dare not to," he said without elaborating.

Despite declining market share, Gudang Garam expects sales to grow nearly 24 percent this year over 2000, to 18.5 trillion rupiah ($1.64 billion). Estimates for 2001 net profit were not available, but the bottom line last year was static at 2.24 trillion rupiah from 1999.

Relations with workers testy

Another issue that has refused to go away has been strikes at Gudang Garam's base in Kediri, 600 km east of Jakarta, where commerce hinges on the cigarette giant's activities and its 50,000 workers.

"Communication between workers and management has often failed in the past. But they're recently beginning to hear us," union leader Imam Mustofa told Reuters. Gudang Garam officials blamed trade unions for the strikes. "We have not violated any [labour] law. But now there are so many unions with so many wants," said a company official.

Analysts said trade unions were usually ineffective against Gudang Garam, which, besides being a key source of labour in East Java, is one of the cash-strapped country's top corporate tax payers and the second largest stock, in terms of market capitalisation, on the Jakarta stock exchange.

"They control the price of labour," said business researcher Kresnayana Yahya, who has consulted for Gudang Garam, in the East Java capital Surabaya. "To some extent ... it's a monopolistic practice." Gudang Garam pays most of its hand-rolled cigarette workers by the number of cigarettes they produce. At maximum speed, a roller can bag some 200,000 rupiah a week, not a bad salary in poverty-stricken Indonesia. But the conditions are hard.

Dizzying smell

Female guards frisk those passing through the entrances to huge warehouses that accommodate around 5,000 workers each. Inside, the dizzying smell of clove and other spices blends with the blare of pop music. Workers sit on dilapidated wooden benches without backrests.

They chat and joke while their hands work mechanically but company officials called monitors, who watch over production, reprimand loose tongues. "I am happy here. I have a lot of friends and everything here is good," said one worker, Maesaroh, shifting uncomfortably. As she began rolling again, a monitor approached her and in Javanese said: "Be careful talking to strangers. Say you like it here. Don't say anything bad or else."

Another worker was more daring, saying her work might be more hazardous than smoking itself. "It's unhealthy here. After nine years working here, I always cough when night falls," said 25- year-old Marni.

But reflecting the sentiments of many following Indonesia's collapse into crisis several years ago, most workers said they feared being out of a job and preferred not to make a fuss. "The victims are always us down below. What can I do apart from this," said Juniarsih.

Jakarta wants more from indebted firms

Straits Times - July 4, 2001

Robert Go, Jakarta -- Indonesia's Finance Minister said yesterday the government would demand more payments from indebted conglomerates following news that assets currently managed by the country's restructuring agency were worth only 167.7 trillion rupiah now, or a quarter of their value in 1999.

Finance Minister Rizal Ramli said: "Personal guarantees from debtors are crucial in case something like this happens. I have suggested before that debtors hand over bid to recover losses incurred during the financial cri- sis by announcing that assets under its care were now worth much less than thought previously.

The agency said in a statement: "As of December 31, 2000, the fair value only reached 167.7 trillion rupiah. The asset value ... was previously estimated at 645.8 trillion rupiah." New Ibra chairman I Putu Ary Suta said: "If this figure is used as a benchmark, the potential recovery rate from Ibra assets is only 26 per cent." Parliament had previously told the agency to aim for a 70 per cent recovery rate of the money used to rescue, restructure and sell off banks and other assets under its management.

Ibra is tasked with managing assets that debtors transferred to the government as payment for the approximately 600 trillion rupiah spent bailing out ailing banks and other financial institutions since the 1998 economic crisis. Since the beginning of this year, the agency has raised 11.3 trillion rupiah, nearly half of its 27 trillion rupiah target for 2001.

Ibra is often described as an organisation bogged down by a tangle of legal hurdles, poor management and frequent political interference from both legislators and the government. It is bloated, with more than 4,100 personnel and consultants spread throughout the country since its inception in 1998.

Nevertheless, coming up with a lower, more realistic valuation for its assets could be a positive move. It might spur asset sales and reduce political interference from legislators who are concerned about high prices for assets sold.

Observers, however, expressed concerns that rehashing the debt- settlement agreements between Ibra and major conglomerates and forcing debtors to hand over more assets could backfire and further damage investors' confidence in the country.

A banker said: "This government has been raising the legality of those deals for a while now. "It could be aiming for another debt-settlement negotiation, saying that the value of assets already transferred is not enough to cover debts.

"Those deals are legally binding, however, and reopening those cases could spark further negative sentiments." Mr Ferry Yosia of Vickers Ballas, a stockbroking firm in Jakarta, agreed. "Getting more assets from debtors is not a cure-all answer...Ibra has many problems, but chief among them is the slow pace of asset sales and interference from politics."

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