The Government today refused to cancel arms export licences to Indonesia triggering a legal challenge from three campaigning organisations. It will be the first ever legal challenge to the Government's arms export policy.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
March 7, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – A former member of Parliament and prominent pro-democracy activist, Sri Bintang Pamungkas, has been arrested on subversion charges carrying a maximum penalty of death, closing one of the last channels of political opposition ahead of the May national elections.
[This is our translation of two news reports on the tragic recent events in West Kalimantan sent via Kabar dari PIJAR on Wednesday, March 12, 1997 4:49 AM (Translation provided by Down-to-Earth).]
A chronology of the conflicts following the Sanggau Ledo events
Jakarta – The Indonesian government has rejected a plan by the United Nations to station a human rights commissioner in Jakarta to monitor the situation in East Timor, a newspaper said Friday.
Jakarta – A Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) circular calling for an election boycott has also been distributed in Bogor, West Java. The circular was pasted up in all of the strategic places at around 3am last night in the name of KPP-PRD.
Joe Leahy – Sri Bintang Pamungkas says the Government has played into his hands by detaining him and senior members of his outlawed Indonesian United Democratic Party.
Bintang, the party's founder and chairman, claims his detention is part of a nationwide sweep on dissidents before the national election on May 29.
March 6, 1997
A foreign ministry official has dismissed a report that the UN High Commission for Human Rights is to open an office in Jakarta to monitor the situation in East Timor, a report said Friday.
Jakarta – Garda Sembiring, one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) members accused of subversion and his lawyer carried out a "walk out" action on Wednesday March 5. This was in response to a decision by the judge to allow the prosecutor to read out a witness' statement in accordance with the Preliminary Investigation Report (BAP).
Louise Williams, Jakarta – In an apparent effort to boost their international image, the Indonesian armed forces have asked three prestigious British universities to establish the country's first officers' training program to include human rights and international law.
[This item was received on March 6. The original sender and posting are unknown. Grammatical and spelling errors have been left uncorrected intentionally - JB]
= QUOTED =
Joe Leahy in Jakarta and Reuterss in Washington – A United States congressman who wants Washington to cut aid to Indonesia because of human rights violations in East Timor is being manipulated by separatist forces in the province, the Indonesian Government suggested yesterday.
March 5, 1997
Jakarta – Three Democratie People's Party (PRD) activists refused yesterday to testify against their leader Budiman Sujatmiko who is on trial for subversion.
John Gittings – The son-in-law of President Suharto, Indonesia's ageing dictator, has persuaded a research centre at London University to set up a five-year training project for senior military officers.
Tasikmalaya – Kodim (Komando Dearah Militer, District Military Command) III Siliwangi said yesterday (4/2) they were still searching for the maker and distributor of a leaflet who's contents discredited the New Order government and called for an election boycott. Around 6,000 leaflets were sized, 200 are believed to have already been distributed.
Jakarta – Indonesian Vice-President Try Sutrisno has warned Catholic Students' Association activists against being provoked by campaigns aimed at discrediting the government and stirring up political chaos.
Jack David, Jakarta – Pessimists say that the current political trials of a dozen labor and student activists here indicate declining stability in Indonesia, and a bleak future for human rights observance.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing a "crisis of national unity", with up to 1,200 people missing following three months of ethnic fighting in West Kalimantan, according to a recent fact-finding mission.
Jakarta – Indonesian police in the East Timorese enclave of Ambeno have arrested nine people over ethnic unrest there last month, which left one migrant dead, The Jakarta Post reported yesterday.
March 4, 1997
Jakarta – Central Java textile maker PT Sritex has won a Rp 2 5 billion (US$10.87 million) contract to make 500,000 military uniforms for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) starting this year, a company executive said.
S N Vasuki – Indonesia's parliamentary election on May 29 has entered a decisive phase with an independent election committee preparing to monitor the polls and a leading opposition party threatening to ignore tough government restrictions on campaigning.
Megawati Sukarnoputri was interrogated for the second time Tuesday with regard to the celebration of the 24th anniversary of the PDI which took place at her home. South Jakarta chief of police said afterwards that it was likely she would become a suspect. (Until now she has been questioned as a 'witness'.)
New York – A new study by the World Policy Institute reveals that the United States has supplied over $1.1 billion worth of weaponry to Indonesia in the two decades since the Suharto regime's invasion of East Timor. This new data on U.S. arms supplies to Indonesia comes at a time when U.S.-Indonesian relations are much in the news.
Joe Leahy, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto faces the first challenge to his 30-year rule after the country's Islamic-based party said yesterday it may nominate candidates to run for president and vice-president.
Jakarta – Eight East Timorese men who entered the French embassy in Jakarta early on Tuesday will go to Portugal, an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
"We have been contacted by the French embassy and the Indonesian government and we are making the usual arrangements," an ICRC official, who asked not to be named, said.
Jakarta – Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Munawir Sjadzali, said "clobbering" does not violate human rights so long as it is intended to safeguard national security and take care of public interests.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's minority Muslim party has approved a boycott of the upcoming national elections in one key region and says it may ignore the Soeharto Government's campaign rules elsewhere because they overwhelming favour the ruling party.
Jakarta – The Indonesian government will not want to risk losing its current close relationship with Muslims by undermining the Muhammadiyah Muslim organisation or its chairman, Mr Amien Rais, an Indonesian political science lecturer has said.
Tangerang – Strikes in Tangerang and Bogor continue. In Tangerang three companies were paralyzed after workers struck demanding better wages and conditions. Thousands of public transport drivers have also gone on strike.
In Bogor, thousands of workers went on strike at PT Timur Jaya Prestasi (TJP) and PT Chungsan Mitra Internasional.
A Louisiana district court dismissed a class-action suit filed by Amungme tribal activist Yosefa Alomang against Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold for alleged environmental and human-rights abuses around its giant Grasberg mine in the Central Highlands of Irian Jaya, Indonesia.
Jakarta – Indonesian police on Monday completed questioning of ousted minority party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri over a political rally at her home in January.
Ms Megawati, daughter of late founding president Sukarno, was questioned at the South Jakarta Police Headquarters for about 11/2 hours.
Joe Leahy, Jakarta – The Islamic Development Party is unlikely to carry out its threat to nominate one of its own members for the presidency, analysts say.
This is despite its record as the only party to run an independent candidate for the vice-presidency during the Suharto era.
Jakarta – Labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan, standing trial for his alleged antigovernment statements, exploded in court yesterday and accused presiding Judge Djazuli P. Sudibyo of ignoring his poor health.
Jakarta – The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) has never considered holding a special session to assess the capability of President Suharto, according to Deputy Speaker Ismail Hasan Metareum, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday.
Jakarta – In the ongoing case of Mochtar Pakpahan, at the South Jakarta state court was shaken yesterday. The reason? The judge accused the defendant of exaggerating his illness. He also said Pakpahan wanted to be written about in the newspapers.
March 3, 1997
[Interview with Mari Alkatiri, Fretilin secretary for external relations. Lisbon, Byline: Abel Coelho de Morais. Original Language: Portuguese.]
DN: According to recent reports, the situation in Timor has worsened. How would you describe Indonesia's activities in the territory?
At midnight on March 3, nine (9) Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) underground Town Leadership Committees organised a coordinated Graffiti Action in the cities of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Solo, Semarang (all in Java), Lampung and Medan (in Sumatra) and Menado in Sulawesi.
Agencies in Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces chief has lent the military's backing to the ruling Golkar party, breaking decades of traditional neutrality.
General Feisal Tanjung, speaking in Jakarta in the lead up to the May 29 general elections, said "the big ABRI [armed forces] family" channels its "political aspirations" to Golkar.
Indonesia's armed forces chief has lent the military's backing to the ruling Golkar party ahead of May polls, the state news agency reported yesterday.
General Feisal Tanjung, speaking here on Saturday in the lead up to May 29 general elections, said "the big Abri (armed forces) family" channels its "political aspirations" to Golkar.
Gordon Feeney, Jakarta – Leading Indonesian journalist-turned-political activist Goenawan Muhamad today predicted President Suharto would rule for another 10 years amid greater repression.
Ong Hock Chuan, Jakarta – One economic casualty of the spate of riots to strike Indonesia over the past few months may be the owners of supermarket chains, a sector that was expected to see huge expansions throughout the country this year with the entry of international retailers such as Wal-Mart.
Semarang, C Java – President Soeharto said the personnel of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) would face heavier challenges in their dedication to the nation.
March 2, 1997
Jakarta – Armed Forces Commander, Gen. Feisal Tanjung, stressed that in the coming period the Armed Forces will take a firmer stand. The Armed forces will compromise with nobody and will not take the slightest risk concerning any effort which wants to disturb national stability and integration of the nation.
Matthew Jardine – "Hello, Mister. Where are you from?"
Jakarta – The manner in which the nuclear-power Bill was rushed through Parliament raised doubts about the government's real intentions, analysts were quoted as saying in a newspaper report on Friday.
On January 21, 1997, ETAN issued an Action Alert regarding the likely nomination of Stanley Roth as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which had been floated in the Washington Post and other newspapers.
Jakarta – Home Affairs Minister Yogie Memed said Indonesia's six million civil servants had no choice but to vote for the ruling Golkar as they were bound by statutes which said that members had to channel their political aspirations through the party.
Susan Sim, Jakarta – President Suharto, offering to resign if it was the will of the people, has vowed to "clobber" anyone who tries to force him out of office by unconstitutional means.
March 1, 1997
Jakarta - A number of pro-Megawati Soekarnoputri PDI cadres, calling themselves "Awam PDI" (PDI Laymen) will arrange a longmarch from Denpasar to Jakarta starting 1 April 1997.
Upon arrival in Jakarta they will go to the Parliament Building (MPR/DPR) to deliver a written statement to the House of Representatives (DPR) as holder of the people's sovereignty.
[The following is the text of a letter sent by Bill Jordan, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, to the Indonesian Minister of Justice.]
Dear Mr Minister,
Jakarta – Indonesian authorities have banned a book by an elderly politician, saying the contents discredited the government, the armed forces and President Suharto, a newspaper report said on Thursday.