Ian Timberlake, Jakarta – Buoyed by overtures from Indonesia's democratic President and emboldened by the nation's new climate of freedom, ethnic Chinese here say they are ready to push for an end to years of discrimination.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
June 9, 2000
June 8, 2000
Grainne McCarthy, Jakarta – The President's masseur embezzles money from the country's key food agency; the President's talk of capital controls spooks the international community; the President's showdown with the central bank governor sends investors fleeing. You'd think that for Indonesia things couldn't get much worse. Well, you'd be wrong.
Jakarta – Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has warned the military against using violence in dealing with calls for independence in West Papua, while one of his top officials yesterday warned Papuans against acts of "treason".
The Indonesian Minister of Law and Legislation, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, this week formally submitted to the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) a bill to set up human rights courts to try "gross violations of human rights". Special ad hoc courts will have jurisdiction over past violations, including those connected with last year's murder and destruction in East Timor.
Dan Murphy, Jakarta – As Indonesian prosecutors stepped up their investigation of soldiers for involvement in the atrocities that followed East Timor's independence vote last September, a senior general signaled the military is digging in.
Palu – A fresh batch of reinforcement troops arrived in Poso on Wednesday to help quell the continuing sectarian riots there.
Andrew Kilvert, Jayapura – Violence has broken out between militias supporting independence and autonomy in the easternmost Indonesian province of West Papua.
Fighting broke out at Waena in the capital, Jayapura, on Tuesday evening when a pro-autonomy militia known as Satgas Merah Putih (Red and White Taskforce) attacked a group of independence militia with machetes.
Dili – Is there a conspiracy of silence within our media about conditions in East Timor? Sister Fabiol Gusmao, who runs Carmelite health clinics and an orphanage in Dili and dispenses food and medical aid to starving people, recently sent a despairing call for food to the Mary MacKillop Sisters in Sydney.
Marianne Kearney, Banda Aceh – Aceh's landmark ceasefire is in danger of faltering as the two sides argue about how to monitor whether each side – the Indonesian army and the separatist rebels – keep to the agreement which went into effect last Friday.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Dili – Lured by the opportunity to make it big in the coffee trading business, Abdul Halim moved to this predominantly Roman Catholic territory in 1996 from his largely Islamic hometown on Sumatra island, settling in a small community near the Dili airport filled with fellow Muslim migrants from other parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
June 7, 2000
Dan Murphy, Jakarta – By omission or commission, the evidence is mounting that elements of the Indonesian military are reigniting the religious conflict in the Maluku islands. The motive? Political payback, perhaps.
Mark Dodd, Dili – A draft UN legal code designed to serve East Timor's fledgling judiciary was so flawed it would make a criminal conviction virtually impossible, a visiting team of senior Australian legal experts said.
In another blow to ex-president Suharto, a court yesterday rejected a multi-billion-dollar criminal defamation case he had filed against the US magazine Time.
Judge Sihol Sitompul, heading a panel of three judges at the Central Jakarta District Court, ruled Mr Suharto's defamation suit could not be accepted for lack of evidence.
The following is a statement presented by United States journalist Allan Nairn to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights on May 11.
[Gus Dur's controversial brother speaks frankly to The Straits Times.]
Q: Describe Gus Dur for us.
A: Gus Dur is a great solidarity-maker, but he's not the best administrator in town. His power came from various political centres, so he has to accommodate them in his policy-making.
Kupang - Head of an advocacy team for a legal aid organization, Yohanes Yacob, did not design the attack on the Solidamor office that was carried out by a delegation of East Timor refugees (DPTT) two weeks ago.
Taxi and van drivers blocked traffic in Dili with their vehicles and tried to force their way into the central administrative building Wednesday to protest recent fuel price hikes.
June 6, 2000
Why is Irian Jaya such a hot issue, and are there parallels to be drawn with East Timor? Indonesia analyst Dr John Taylor of South Bank University, London, discusses its prospects for independence in a BBC programme, The World Today, last Friday
Jakarta – The Miss Indonesia beauty contest, which has been banned for the past four years following opposition from Muslim groups, is to be held again this week with full government support.
Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta – A growing feud between Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and his scandal-tainted central bank governor threatens more damage to the country's already precarious chances of economic recovery.
Chris McCal, Jakarta – Jakarta yesterday rejected a formal demand for independence by a West Papuan congress, slamming the meeting as invalid and its declaration as possibly illegal.
Kupang – Responding to an UNTAS statement which said that it would not participate in the 2001 elections in East Timor if the UN didn't clarify UNAMET fraud in the referendum, UNTAET representative in Kupang, Colin Stewart, stressed that the elections will still be carried out even without the pro-integration group.
A leader of a breakaway faction of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was killed in Malaysia just hours before a "humanitarian pause" in Aceh was to take affect. Don Zulfahri, secretary general of the GAM Government Council (GAM MP), was shot twice by an unidentified gunman in a restaurant in Malaysia late on June 1.
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday warned of a military crackdown in Papua after a landmark congress in the far-eastern province declared it was no longer part of his country.
June 5, 2000
Andrew Kilvert and agencies, Jayapura – West Papua yesterday announced the formation of a government and declared independence from Jakarta, as Indonesian soldiers and riot police continued to patrol the streets of the capital, Jayapura.
Jakarta – A steady commitment by the Indonesian government to implement pleged economic reforms will strengthen the ailing rupiah, a top official with the International Monetary Fund said Monday.
Jakarta – The US Embassy in Jakarta said Monday that Washington didn't support "independence for Papua or any other part of Indonesia."
It said it had sent an embassy officer to a congress held by Papua nationalists as an observer in line with standard diplomatic practice.
Neles Tebay, Jayapura – Defying warnings from Jakarta, the Papuan Congress ended on Sunday with a declaration that West Papua, or Irian Jaya as the territory is still officially called, is no longer a part of the Republic of Indonesia.
Ridwan M. Sijabat, Jakarta – Legislators and observers are calling for a complete transformation of the Army's territorial function, which they say has aggravated political and security instability nationwide.
June 3, 2000
Chris McCall, Jakarta – Aceh refused to abandon its hopes for peace yesterday as a much-desired truce finally took effect under the shadow of an assassination in Malaysia.
Martin Crutsinger, Washington – The International Monetary Fund on Friday gave approval for a $372 million loan to support economic reform efforts in Indonesia.
The decision by the IMF's 24-member executive board came after a review of the country's recent actions to meet IMF-imposed economic conditions.
Reuters in Jakarta – A landmark congress discussing the future of Indonesia's Irian Jaya province is set to close on Saturday with an affirmation of the right to independence but without the setting up of a provisional separatist government.
Lindsay Murdoch and Andrew Kilvert – A Jakarta-based organisation with criminal connections and links to Indonesia's military and Golkar, the former ruling party, is secretly funding part of a burgeoning independence movement in the country's far eastern province of Papua.
June 2, 2000
Marianne Kearney, Jakarta – Donor countries and international aid agencies say that President Abdurrahman Wahid's handling of the Buloggate scandal will indicate how committed his reform government is to driving out corruption.
Jakarta – Ten state-owned companies have been put on a primary list for privatization this year, according to an updated master plan to be issued by the Office of the State Minister of State Enterprises and Investment.
Jakarta – The exiled leader of an Aceh independence faction gunned down in Kuala Lumpur was killed by the Indonesian military, the main separatist movement in Aceh claimed on Friday.
"I'm sure he was murdered by TNI [Indonesian military] intelligence agents in Kuala Lumpur," Ismail Sahputra, spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), told AFP by phone.
Jakarta – Minutes before relinquishing his post as Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) chief, Sugito Suwito fired back at President Abdurrahman Wahid, saying he was being truthful in scaling back his economic growth projection.
Jakarta – Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono said on Thursday he believed a series of riots and disturbances plaguing the country were linked to supporters of former president Soeharto.
Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – After two years of delays, false starts and even an outright cancellation, Indonesia's most-watched investigation is inching toward a conclusion. On May 19, Indonesia's attorney-general, Marzuki Darusman, announced that former president Suharto will be charged with corruption and abuse of power.
June 1, 2000
Mark Dodd, Jakarta – The Indonesian Government is taking a major step towards prosecuting those who committed the worst acts of violence around last year's independence vote in East Timor.
Bertil Lintner – Following years of military repression, Indonesia's new president, Abdurrahman Wahid, has adopted a new approach to solving ethnic and religious conflict in the archipelago.
Jayapura – Speaker after speaker at a landmark conference on the future of Indonesia's West Papua province called for independence yesterday as alarm bells over a possible new East Timor sounded in Jakarta.
Jakarta – Indonesian judges suspected of graft will be transferred to remote provinces in a bid to overhaul the legal system after a series of dubious verdicts which have hit investor confidence, Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said.
Chris McCall, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid was fighting for his job yesterday as he and his closest allies struggled to defuse a political scandal.
May 31, 2000
Jakarta – Mobil Oil Indonesia has temporarily suspended production from a satellite of its eastern Aceh gas field in the wake of last week's hostage taking incident, the company's spokesman said Wednesday.
"We are temporarily suspending our satellite operation in Pase field pending further review," Mobil's communications advisor in Jakarta, Julia Tumengkol, told AFP.
Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, has instructed state owned plantation companies to return some 40 percent of land taken by force or bought at unfair prices from local people in the past.
Jakarta – A funny thing happened on Sunday when President Abdurrahman Wahid went sailing with his top military commanders.
"I do not like it when my generals play politics with my acting State Secretary," he told his service chiefs and their commander-in-chief on the naval vessel Arun in the middle of Jakarta Bay.
Jakarta – As a result of his injuries, Coki Naipospos went to St Carolus Hospital for a medical report on his condition. Along with colleagues from PBHI, he took this report to the police but they refused to accept it because it was from a private hospital and told him to get a report from Cipto Mangungkusumo Hospital (RSCM).
Jon Land – From May 15 to 20, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) held a conference in Dili, East Timor. It was the first Fretilin conference in East Timor since the end of the Indonesian occupation.
Max Lane – The role of the International Monetary Fund in determining economic policy in Indonesia came under the spotlight after the 1997 economic crisis. In the wake of the crisis, the Suharto, Habibie and then the Wahid regimes surrendered virtually all sovereignty over government economic policy to the IMF.