Jakarta – In an unprecedented move, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Wiranto brought together on Tuesday leaders of six major political parties to hammer out a commitment to ensure the General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) runs smoothly.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
September 29, 1999
Jakarta – Australian flags were burned Monday in at least two Indonesian cities, while anti-Australian rallies took place in two other cities amid whipped-up resentment against Canberra's role in East Timor, witnesses and reports said.
Jakarta – A human rights lobbyist on Wednesday called on the United Nations to conduct the same sort of inquiry it is making into alleged atrocities in East Timor in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province.
Compere: Well, finally returning to East Timor. The crisis may have soured Australia's relationship with Indonesia, but the Federal Government is making it very clear it's not going to encourage independence elsewhere in our giant northern neighbour. Yesterday AM reported on smuggled footage from Ambon showing demonstrators being fired on by the military.
September 28, 1999
Jakarta – As the UN Human Rights Commission approved a probe into allegations of abuse by Indonesian-backed militias in East Timor, newspapers here were screaming about "atrocities" committed by Australian troops in the territory. "Australian troops torture militias," read a headline in the Indonesian Observer [article included below - JB] Tuesday.
[The following is a compilation of several reports sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (KPP-PRD) in Jakarta.]
Jakarta – The commander of the East Timorese militia has ordered his men to halt their campaign of terror, and apologize to their victims, the state Antara news agency said Tuesday.
East Timorese refugees in Indonesia, including the resort island of Bali, are being threatened with death by soldiers and militiamen, but plans for a large-scale evacuation are being delayed by the reluctance of foreign governments to accept large numbers of refugees.
Chris Michaud, New York – Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer on Tuesday praised Indonesian President B.J. Habibie's policies on the troubled East Timor region, saying that without Habibie the saga may never have been resolved.
[Please note that this item was included to provide an example of the Indonesian media's anti-Australian campaign and is not intended to be taken as a serious news report - James Balowski.]
Jakarta – Protests against a new state security bill in Indonesia claimed another life Tuesday when security forces shot dead a student in clashes in the Sumatra island city of Bandar Lampung, hospitals and reports said. At least 27 others were injured in the protest, which followed the deaths of at least seven people, one a student, in similar protests in Jakarta last week.
September 27, 1999
Jakarta – Fearing being visited and taken away by security authorities, at least four patients suffering injuries sustained in a violent rally in Semanggi cloverleaf on Thursday and Friday have fled Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, hospital employees said on Sunday.
Lisbon – Nine church workers including two nuns and a priest have been shot dead by Indonesian troops in the eastern part of East Timor, Bishop Basilio do Nascimento told Portuguese television on Monday.
The Bishop of Baucau said the group, all of whom worked for the Baucau diocese, were gunned down on Saturday and their bodies dumped in a river.
Mark Dodd, Dili – A vast cache of documentary and forensic evidence linking Jakarta's involvement to hardline pro-Indonesian militias accused of horrendous human rights abuses continues to lie unsecured in Dili one week after the arrival of Australian-led peacekeepers.
Major political heavyweights hope to arrive at some consensus on the rules of the game for the presidential election scheduled for Nov 10
September 26, 1999
Jakarta – Drug abuse has become a major social ill in Indonesia, especially among the young, a report said Sunday adding without urgent preventive action, "a new catastrophe" was in the making.
Drug counsellors said peer pressure, poor enforcement and lack of treatment facilities were among the key factors contributing to the rise of the drug scourge.
September 25, 1999
Jakarta – The streets of Indonesia's capital were quiet on Saturday after days of bloody anti-military riots in which at least six people were reported to have been killed, but security forces were wary of more unrest.
Stephanie Nebehay, Geneva – Asian and Western states failed to agree yesterday on whether to launch a UN inquiry into killings in East Timor, and a UN Commission on Human Rights special session on the issue was due to resume on Monday.
Jakarta – Leaflets are circulating in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh calling on all Acehnese civil servants to go on strike from October 1, a report said Saturday.
The leaflets, allegedly issued by the separatist Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh) movement, called on the civil servants to halt work from the first minute of October 1, the Aceh-based Serambi daily said.
Keith B. Richburg, Kupang – They fled here in abject retreat, packed onto trucks scrawled with the names of their militia gangs and bringing with them their assault rifles, machetes and dreams of revenge.
Louise Williams, Darwin – Several days before he was killed in East Timor, the Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes was discussing his concerns over the political manipulations behind the public face of the Indonesian Government and military, and the violence and death that power struggle would wreak.
Michael Zielenziger, Dili – His eyes are rheumy and his legs are weak, but for a man in his 80s, Manuel Francisco Gusmao looks fairly healthy – considering the father of resistance leader Xanana Gusmao was reported on September 7 to have been killed by pro-Jakarta militia.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – Moves to accelerate the constitutional process of finding a new Indonesian president are well under way, promoted by a group of opposition political parties.
Jakarta – City authorities will deploy as many as 605 companies or about 60,000 security officers to safeguard the upcoming General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Governor Sutiyoso said on Friday.
Philippe Naughton, Dili – UN forces tightened their grip on Dili on Saturday and began venturing into East Timor's interior to secure routes for desperately needed aid.
Jakarta – Angry mobs paralyzed downtown Manokwari in Indonesia's remote Irian Java province on Saturday, a day after police shot dead one man and wounded two others during an outbreak of violence.
Craig Skehan, Peter Cole-Adams and Mark Metherell – Indonesia turned up the heat on Australia yesterday with accusations of torture by Interfet forces in East Timor and bans on wheat imports as it tried to deflect attention from worsening civil unrest.
September 24, 1999
Doug Struck, Dili – As a large contingent of Indonesian troops marched to the port to withdraw from East Timor today, the international peacekeeping force here tightened its control of this capital city.
Kalinga Seneviratne – Australia has taken the high moral ground in organising the rescue of the East Timorese people, perhaps 25 years too late.
Nature has taken over the garden of Manuel Carrascalao's house in Dili. Tall weeds grow between paving stones and flies buzz in the air. As you approach the well at the back of the garden, the soft hum of millions of maggots becomes audible.
Geoffrey Barker – Few, if any, Indonesian military chiefs and their militia proxies are likely to be tried, convicted and jailed for atrocities committed in East Timor before and since the August 30 independence ballot.
Slobodan Lekic, Jakarta – The Indonesian government on Friday suspended a new law giving the armed forces expanded emergency powers, a day after its passage sparked one of the most serious protests to hit the capital since former President Suharto was forced from power.
Craig Skehan and Ningrum Widyastuty, Jakarta – Police used tear gas and beat protesters in the streets of Jakarta as pro-democracy groups claimed the way had been cleared for Indonesia to be ruled by a military junta in the wake of Parliament's passage of new security laws yesterday.
Jakarta – Journalist Sander Thoenes, found dead in East Timor yesterday, recently exposed a US$250-million scandal at a company controlled by the brother of Lt-General Prabowo Subianto, the former commander of Indonesia's elite special forces or Kopassus.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – At least three people were killed and more than 50 others injured in another bloody clash between security forces and at least 10,000 Indonesian demonstrators yesterday protesting against a new law giving the armed forces sweeping emergency powers.
Dili – Multinational troops clamped down on East Timor's militia with a raid and a high-profile arrest Friday and issued warnings against Indonesian soldiers wreaking havoc as they retreat.
The soldiers have burned their barracks behind them and let out volleys of automatic gunfire in defiant parting gestures as they are shipped out of the territory.
Sydney – A map smuggled out of West Timor purports to outline Indonesian plans to disperse 100,000 East Timorese across the archipelago, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio said Friday.
Bernard Lagan – Suspected supporters of East Timor's independence were executed on ships taking refugees from the territory and their bodies dumped in the sea, according to witness accounts collected by an Australian election observer who has just returned from Kupang, West Timor.
September 23, 1999
Jakarta – Indonesia on Thursday lifted martial law in East Timor and said it expected to hand over control of security in the territory to the UN-approved force there on Friday or Saturday.
Washington – Events in East Timor and the Bank Bali scandal threaten to derail Indonesia's fragile economic recovery but it has not yet been knocked completely off track, the World Bank said Thursday.
At Least 100 members of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) in East Timor have deserted and joined the pro-independence Falintil guerrilla movement, in a further indication of discord within TNI ranks.
Sarah Crichton, Kupang, the capital of West Timor, may soon explode into riots because of mounting tension between local residents and arrogant militias from East Timor, says a returning aid worker.
September 21, 1999
Lauren Martin – East Timorese resistance leaders had "disappeared" from militia-guarded refugee camps across the border, and the mainly women and children who remained were at risk of becoming hostages to other vigilantes, a Senate committee heard in Canberra yesterday.
Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – The thugs of Dili's streets disappeared quickly. When the first Australian soldiers arrived in full combat dress, their rifles at the ready, the militiamen pretended they were the very refugees they had terrorised for weeks.
Anne-Marie Evans – Eurico Guterres, leader of the Aitarak anti-independence militia, was made the head of a clandestine military-funded organisation earlier this year and supplied with guns and money, a source said yesterday.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – International calls for the prosecution of Indonesians for war crimes in East Timor are sure to meet stiff opposition in Jakarta, and even some human rights monitors in the capital suggest now is not the time to pile on yet more pressure.
Singapore – An American journalist and activist deported from Indonesia said Monday he was convinced armed forces chief General Wiranto was behind the militia killings in East Timor.
Allan Nairn was in Dili for about two weeks before Indonesian authorities detained him for violating visa regulations by entering the country as a tourist.
September 20, 1999
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – In the port town of Balikpapan, on Borneo island, an Australian diplomat was dispatched to help rescue Australian mine workers besieged by people demonstrating against foreigners. He spent most of his time hiding from angry crowds, running down back stairwells and being trundled into a getaway van.
Seth Mydans, Jakarta – When international peacekeepers land in East Timor in the days ahead, they will witness the departure of a defeated Indonesian army at the lowest ebb in its history – humbled, hesitant, embittered and convulsively violent.
Grainne McCarthy, Jakarta – The drastic deterioration in relations between Indonesia and Australia over East Timor threatens to damage trade and investment between the two countries, business executives say.