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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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January 27, 2000

South China Morning Post - January 27, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid has found a way to secure the retirement from the military of generals he appointed to his cabinet.

But critics say General Wiranto, now Co-ordinating Minister for Politics and Security, may yet evade prosecution over allegations of human rights abuses while he was armed forces chief.

CNN Asia Now - January 27, 2000 (abridged)

Banda Aceh – A new separatist group acting as an umbrella organization for several pro-independence movements in Aceh province is demanding both the military and the Free Aceh rebels agree to a cease-fire.

Agence France Presse - January 27, 2000 (abridged)

Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Thursday called on supporters of her party to work to assure that Indonesia remains united.

January 26, 2000

Green Left Weekly - January 26, 2000

Tim Murphy – Students from West Papua occupied the Dutch embassy in Jakarta on January 17. They are demanding that Holland fulfil its promises to help West Papua achieve independence from Indonesia.

Agence France Presse - January 26, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's illegal logging industry is backed by high-level corruption, an international environmental group charged here on Wednesday, as the World Bank said the country's commercial forests could be exhausted within 10-15 years.

Green Left Weekly - January 26, 2000

Indonesia's militant trade union, the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI), on January 20 condemned the minister of finance Bambang Sudibyo's proposal to increase the salaries of senior politicians. The increases are contained in the plan for the national budget being discussed by parliament.

Agence France Presse - January 26, 2000

Kupang – The real losers in East Timor's tumultuous transition to independence from Indonesia, the pro-Jakarta militias and their supporters, met at a rundown hotel here Wednesday to decide what to do now.

Green Left Weekly - January 26, 2000

Max Lane – The commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), Admiral Widodo, has met President Abdurrahman Wahid to assure him that the TNI is not planning a coup.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 26, 2000

Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – New Indonesian laws could prevent the trial of military officers accused of orchestrating violence in East Timor that left hundreds dead and whole towns razed, an international rights body has warned.

January 25, 2000

Australian Financial Review - January 25, 2000

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – In a significant thawing of the relationship with Indonesia, President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday withdrew his travel boycott on Australia and said he would like to make an official visit.

Kyodo News Service - January 25, 2000

Dario Agnote – With a pack of Australian-made apricot jam and some bread she picked up from a heap of thrash, Margarita Pereira, a skinny 8-year-old, and her eight siblings hurry back home.

For the first time, Pereira said she and her brothers and sisters will be able to taste the dark-colored sandwich spread.

South China Morning Post - January 25, 2000

Associated Press in Dili – Gangs of youths wielding machetes and clubs rioted on Tuesday in Dili's main marketplace, seriously injuring at least four people, eyewitnesses said.

Associated Press - January 25, 2000 (abridged)

Slobodan Lekic, Sabang – Indonesia's president on Tuesday accused disgruntled army generals and radical Muslims of provoking violence that threatens his fledgling democratic government and the unity of the sprawling Southeast Asian nation.

January 24, 2000

Reuters - January 24, 2000

Dili – East Timor will adopt the US dollar as its official currency under United Nations rule, a senior member of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT) told Reuters on Monday.

The decision has angered the CNRT, the main political organisation representing the Timorese, which lobbied strongly for the Portuguese escudo.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 24, 2000

Louise Williams, Mataram – The lobby of Lombok's expansive Senggigi Beach Hotel is bristling with machine guns. The verdant tropical gardens beyond are dotted with soldiers and idle staff, their Hawaiian-print uniforms still neatly pressed. The white sand beach, the resort's swimming pools, the rows of deck chairs all lie empty.

Time Magazine - January 24, 2000

Jason Tedjasukmana, Ambon – A twisted pile of scrap metal from buildings gutted during a year of armed conflict lies near one of the many "borders" separating Ambon's warring Muslims and Christians. The mass of corrugated steel, door frames and pipes represents opportunity for scavengers who can sell the metal to traders in East Java.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 24, 2000

John Martinkus, Dili – The Nobel Peace laureate Mr Jose Ramos Horta has blamed the Indonesian military for the militia border incursions that have seen Australian troops under fire in the past week.

Christian Science Monitor - January 24, 2000

Cameron W. Barr, Ambon – On the morning of December 23, a group of Muslims murdered scores of Christians, including women and children, at a plywood factory on the Indonesian island of Buru, according to three Christian employees who offer credible evidence of having survived the attack.

Agence France Presse - January 24, 2000

Jakarta – Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said here Monday that Jakarta and Canberra have agreed to look to the future and start rebuilding their relationship, dragged to an all-time low over the East Timor crisis.

Time Magazine - January 24, 2000

Nisid Hajari – No one would mistake the calm of Ambon for peace. The capital of Maluku province – epicenter of a yearlong orgy of religious violence – has been carved up into exclusive "sectors" by its Muslim and Christian residents.

News ›› Aceh ›› News & Issues
Agence France Presse - January 24, 2000

Banda Aceh – Preparations for a planned consultative congress on the future of the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh are nearing completion, participants said Monday on the eve of a visit by President Abdurrahman Wahid to the region.

"There has already been a lot of progress," said Amin Aziz, an academic who has been active in preparing the congress.

January 23, 2000

Agence France Presse - January 23, 2000

Jakarta – Nine people were killed in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, days ahead of a planned trip by President Abdurrahman Wahid to try to stem violence amid a rising clamour for a referendum on self-rule.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 23, 2000

Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Soeharto, facing accusations of corruption and self-enrichment on a vast scale, can expect to be amnestied – but not his family or cronies, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid was quoted as saying today.

Associated Press - January 23, 2000

Jakarta – Two environmentalists, including a British activist, were attacked and beaten by loggers in a national park in central Indonesia, a UK-based environmental group said Sunday.

Reuters - January 23, 2000

Singapore – Thirteen people were injured when Indonesian police and military joined forces early on Sunday to disperse demonstrators at a resort on the Indonesian island of Bintan, the resort operator said.

January 22, 2000

BBC News - January 22, 2000

Richard Galpin, Jakarta – Police in the Indonesian capital Jakarta have detained more than 100 men, some of them armed, as they tried to enter the city from the Moluccan Islands and West Timor.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 22, 2000

Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid has nominated reform of the legal and regulatory system as central to Indonesia's economic recovery and development.

In an address to the plenary session of the House of People's Representatives, delivered in conjunction with this week's budget, Mr Wahid said legal certainty would ensure justice was enforced.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 22, 2000

Marian Wilkinson and Peter Cole-Adams – Australia would consider a request to hand over classified intelligence material to the Indonesian human rights inquiry investigating war crimes in Timor, the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, said.

January 21, 2000

South China Morning Post - January 21, 2000

Vaudine England in Jakarta and Agencies in Mataram – Sporadic looting and attacks on ethnic Chinese and Christians continued for a fourth day on the tourist island of Lombok yesterday.

But by afternoon a measure of calm had been restored by the hundreds of troops and police rushed to the island east of Bali. Tourists on Lombok continued to flee, however.

Asiaweek - January 21, 2000

By Dewi Loveard, Jakarta – A local conflict rooted in long- simmering religious enmity. That is how Jakarta views the Muslim-Christian fighting in Ambon and other parts of the Maluku island chain. Scene of bitter sectarian strife over the past year, the Malukus have seen a fresh outbreak of violence in recent weeks.

South China Morning Post - January 21, 2000 (abridged)

Associated Press – At least seven people have died in the latest round of violence in the strife-torn Aceh province, human rights activists said on Friday.

The head of the People's Crisis Centre in the Bireum region said five bodies were found on Thursday with gunshot wounds. He said two of the dead were student human rights activists.

South China Morning Post - January 21, 2000

Associated Pressm, Washington – The United States gave Indonesia's fledgling democracy a vote of confidence on Thursday by substantially increasing aid to the world's fourth most populous nation.

Dow Jones Newswires - January 21, 2000

Ray Brindal, Canberra – Australia and East Timor stand to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties if oil and natural gas projects in the zone of cooperation in the Timor Sea proceed, an East Timorese spokesman said Thursday.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 21, 2000

Andrew Kilvert – Military authorities and political enforcers associated with the former Soeharto regime appear to be building up East Timor-style militias in the contested province of West Papua, human rights activists warned yesterday.

Australian Associated Press - January 21, 2000

John Martinkus, Dili – Pro-Indonesian militia challenged the authority of Australian troops in the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi this morning, the fifth time in the past three days.

The clashes with the militia, including one this week in which militiamen were wounded and one reportedly killed, have baffled the Australian-led Interfet UN peacekeeping force.

Australian Financial Review - January 21, 2000

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid expects his first Budget, which tries to meet a multitude of conflicting economic challenges, to return Indonesia to pre-crisis growth levels of 6-7 percent within five years.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 21, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Indonesia's Government fears that provocateurs linked to elements of the military and the regime of the corrupt former president Soeharto have begun a campaign to provoke religious and separatist violence across the archipelago.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 21, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's new Government unveiled its first Budget yesterday with pledges to reform the bankrupt banking sector. But it shied from granting the country's independence- minded regions more control over their finances.

World Socialist Web Site - January 21, 2000

Linda Tenenbaum – Four months after the Australian-led military occupation of East Timor, the United Nations is establishing a colonial-style administration in the former Indonesian territory. Already, its callous indifference to the plight of the local population is fuelling growing resentment.

January 20, 2000

Agence France Presse - January 20, 2000

Singapore – About 100 armed protestors have withdrawn from a power plant they illegally occupied at a Singapore-managed industrial park on Indonesia's Bintan island as part of a truce over land compensation claims, officials said Thursday.

Far Eastern Economic Review - January 20, 2000

Margot Cohen, Jakarta – It was a gut-wrenching evening for the Defenders of Islam.

Agence France Presse - January 20, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian government on Thursday asked parliament to approve a 10.5 percent rise in overall defence and security expenditure, but a 71.9 percent cut in development spending for the armed forces.

Sydney Morning Herald - January 20, 2000

Tensions are rising as the rebuilding of East Timor begins, Conor O'Clery writes from Dili.

The Guardian (UK) - January 20, 2000

John Aglionby, Jakarta – The foreign office minister John Battle yesterday defended the resumption of British arms sales to Indonesia in spite of the rapidly escalating social unrest, a divided military and warnings from other countries.

January 19, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald - January 19, 2000 (abridged)

Jakarta – A team promoting reconciliation in the strife-torn Maluku islands has named four men suspected of stirring up sectarian violence, and linked former president Soeharto and ex- defence chief General Wiranto to the clashes.

The Irish Times - January 19, 2000

Conor O'Clery, East Timor – The electricity power station in Los Palos, a remote town on the eastern plains of East Timor, survived the devastation wrought on the former Portuguese colony by pro-Indonesian forces in September. All it lacked was diesel fuel.

Green Left Weekly - January 19, 2000

Max Lane – For the first time since 1974, a public split has emerged within the Indonesian army's top generals over how best to preserve the political authority of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI). The split has been provoked by the inquiry, launched by the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights, into the events in East Timor that followed the August 30 referendum.

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesian Military (TNI) top brass lashed out at rumors of a coup attempt by the armed forces, saying such a move was contradictory to TNI culture.

TNI Chief of Territorial Affairs, Lt. Gen. Agus Widjojo, said after addressing a seminar on nationalism here that the country's five decade history has never seen a military plan to topple the government.

South China Morning Post - January 19, 2000

Vaudine England in Makassar, South Sulawesi and Agencies – Indonesia's leading reformist soldier and the regional commander for Sulawesi, Major-General Agus Wirahadikusumah, wants a neutral peacekeeping force to be deployed in the neighbouring Maluku Islands.

Green Left Weekly - January 19, 2000

Since the coming to power of Indonesia's brutal New Order regime in 1965, discussion and dissemination of Marxist ideas has been banned in Indonesia. However, on November 20, 200 students and activists gathered at the Bandung Institute of Technology campus for a seminar on the ideas of Karl Marx and their relevance in Indonesia.