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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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December 28, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald - December 28, 2000

Louise Williams – Sydney, you can't rebuild East Timor with teddies and thongs. And you shouldn't even give a child a teddy to play with outside in a tropical climate, because the soft, new toy quickly becomes a filthy health risk.

Far Eastern Economic Review - December 28, 2000

Sadanand Dhume, Jakarta – Sitting in a corner of a crowded South Jakarta cafi in jeans and a T-shirt, Nazaruddin Abdul Ghani is surprisingly calm for a 22-year-old who's fleeing for his life.

December 27, 2000

Christian Science Monitor - December 27, 2000

Dan Murphy, Jakarta – Shortly after Monitor contributor Sander Thoenes was killed in East Timor last year, it seemed as if justice would be served in his case. But that looks increasingly in doubt.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 27, 2000

Louise Williams – Four years ago, the then Islamic leader Abdurrahman Wahid publicly begged for forgiveness on behalf of Muslim mobs who had burned every church to the ground in the east Javanese town of Situbondo. He then defiantly opened the doors of his Jakarta home to the nation's Christian leaders.

Australian Financial Review - December 27, 2000

Tim Dodd, Jakarta – It would seem that Indonesia 's economy is now far from the intensive-care ward where it spent the whole of 1998 on economic life support.

Associated Press - December 27, 2000

Jakarta – Just days after Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid vowed to prevent the secession of the country's easternmost province, media reports said Wednesday that rebels in Irian Jaya had captured two members of the security forces.

Straits Times - December 27, 2000

Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – Senior Indonesian military officials yesterday blamed Muslim fundamentalists for the murderous wave of explosions across the archipelago on Christmas Eve.

December 26, 2000

South China Morning Post - December 26, 2000

Vaudine England – It is well-known that the armed forces of Indonesia have played a murky and repressive role at each vital moment in the country's modern history.

And it is also well-known that Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri is a reformist and popular leader, who grew into politics through her opposition to the military-backed regime of former president Suharto.

South China Morning Post - December 26, 2000

Vaudine England – The bombing of more than a dozen Christian churches across Indonesia on Christmas Eve was known about in advance by military intelligence, but politics precluded any prevention.

Police, human rights activists and President Abdurrahman Wahid believe the campaign was organised, well-funded and timed to inflict maximum terror.

Jakarta Post - December 26, 2000

Jakarta – At least 15 people were killed and dozens others injured when bombs exploded almost simultaneously in or outside churches in various towns on Sunday night, as Indonesia's minority Christian community was preparing to celebrate Christmas.

The casualties include:

Straits Times - December 26, 2000

Jakarta – Hundreds of workers of the five-star Shangri-La Hotel continued their strike for the third day yesterday, forcing the management to temporarily close their business activities and evacuate guests.

The situation has led the hotel to cancel all its year-end celebrations for Idul Fitri, Christmas, New Year's Eve and the New Year.

South China Morning Post - December 26, 2000

Vaudine England – Christians in Jakarta have come to know December as a time when their faith, commitment and tolerance will be tested.

Christmas this year came at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when predominantly Muslim Indonesia changes its business and social hours to cater to religion. It can be a trying time for those not of the Islamic faith.

December 25, 2000

Agence France Presse - December 25, 2000

Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid has left independence leaders in Indonesia's Irian Jaya province off the schedule of a two-day visit there which started Monday, a member of the pro-independence Papua Presidium said.

Associated Press - December 25, 2000

Kuala Lumpur – One-thousand-two-hundred illegal Indonesian workers boarded an Indonesian warship for deportation back to their country, Malaysia's national news agency Bernama and news reports said Monday.

American Reporter - December 25, 2000

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – Hendra Putra said a final prayer at a Christmas vigil Mass on Sunday evening and offered a friend a ride home. Talking quietly, the two men headed to Putra's small Honda motorbike in a little parking area fenced with chicken wire, part of a Catholic school compound next to Jakarta's Church of St. Joseph.

December 24, 2000

Straits Times - December 24, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has officially announced an average hike of 33.5 per cent in the monthly minimum wage in 24 provinces which is expected to become effective on January 1. The 24 provinces mentioned include the eight provinces where minimum wage increases were already announced last month.

December 23, 2000

Detik - December 23, 2000

Haidir Anwar Tanjung/BI & GB, Pekan Baru – When the 'Laskar Jihad', or Jihad Warriors, of Riau on Sumatra island burned down 100 properties belonging to people they claimed were involved in prostitution during the holy fasting month, little did they know it would unleash a wave of violence in the broader community.

Straits Times - December 23, 2000

Marianne Kearney, Wamena – Mr Yesaya Oagai, sitting cross-legged before a group of men from nearby villages in the lush Baliem valley, wins a chorus of agreement when he holds forth on Indonesia's motivation for developing its most backward province – Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua.

Detik - December 23, 2000

Hestiana Dharmastuti/Fitri & BI, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid's end year report card is apparently full of bad marks. The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation has slammed Gus Dur – as the president is known – for unsuccessful leadership throughout the year 2000 and for manipulating the law to protect the powerful under former regimes.

Agence France Presse - December 23, 2000

Jakarta – The Catholic church in Indonesia's embattled Maluku islands has appealed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for foreign troops to help contain the bloody two-year conflict between Muslims and Christians there.

South China Morning Post - December 23, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid has failed to fulfil his promise to protect human rights and re mains hobbled by a reactionary old guard left over from the disgraced Suharto regime. The criticism comes in a year-end report by the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (Elsham), which awarded Mr Wahid low marks for his efforts.

Agence France Presse - December 23, 2000

Jakarta – Hundreds of Muslims burned Israeli and US flags in a spate of pro-Palestinian protests in six Indonesian cities including the capital yesterday, witnesses and the state Antara news agency said.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 23, 2000

Louise Williams and agencies – The forced conversion of Christians to Islam in the violence-racked province of Maluku is part of a wider effort by the Indonesian military to discredit President Abdurrahman Wahid, the Uniting Church in Australia says.

Agence France Presse - December 23, 2000

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has postponed the registration of some 100,000 East Timorese refugees still langishing in squalid camps in Indonesian West Timor, the state Antara news agency said Saturday.

Associated Press - December 23, 2000

Jakarta – Authorities have canceled the passport of the fugitive son of former President Suharto to prevent him from fleeing Indonesia, officials said Friday.

December 22, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald - December 22, 2000

Mark Dodd, Dili – Christmas brings out the best in the East Timorese. Last year, despite the misery and destruction inflicted by the militia and their Indonesian army backers, even the poorest shanty town dwellers could scrounge enough material to build a nativity scene.

Straits Times - December 22, 2000

Jakarta – Managers and owners of major cafes and entertainment venues in the Indonesian capital have hired guards to safeguard their businesses on New Year's Eve in anticipation of possible attacks by Muslim groups.

Agence France Presse - December 22, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesian shares, which dropped 1.7 percent in value in the last trading week of the year and around 35 percent for the year, will need a strong breakthrough and sound government economic policies to attract players next year, analysts said Friday.

Asiaweek - December 22, 2000

Warren Caragata, Jakarta – Syahril Sabirin is back at work after six months away, and there's something of a celebration on. Jacket tossed over his shoulder, Indonesia's mild-mannered banking chief wades through a crowd of central bank employees welcoming him back like some dear uncle. The odd thing is, he's just spent half a year under house arrest, on charges of corruption.

December 21, 2000

Reuters - December 21, 2000

Tomi Soetjipto, Banda Aceh – Fear and despair have returned to haunt Indonesia's rebellious province of Aceh.

With a military crackdown looming, the chilling prospect is more bloodshed, a hardening of hatred towards Jakarta and growing calls for independence that will severly undermine President Abdurrahman Wahid's efforts to bring peace to his giant country.

Straits Times - December 21, 2000

Devi Asmarani, Banda Aceh – Were there a rating system for a presidential mission to a conflict-torn area, President Abdurrahman Wahid's visit to Aceh on Tuesday would probably have got a borderline pass. It was not a complete failure, but was far from a great success.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 2000

Jakarta – Muslim youth leaders on Friday joined a plea by lawyers and rights advocates for police to stop allowing violent vigilante raids on Indonesian nightspots in the name of Islam go unpunished.

"Violence, in any name, is nothing but intentional destruction," Imam Addaruqudni, head of the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah youth wing, told a joint media conference here.

Far Eastern Economic Review - December 21, 2000

Sadanand Dhume, Jakarta – Whoever thinks central banks are dull and stodgy probably hasn't been to Indonesia recently. Take, for instance, the latest drama to be enacted in Jakarta's corridors of power. On December 6, Bank Indonesia Governor Sjahril Sabirin strode back into his office after nearly six months of house arrest on unproven corruption charges.

South China Morning Post - December 21, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Indonesian police are investigating a bomb found in a hospital bathroom in Yogyakarta, central Java, which the royal capital's reigning sultan blamed on provocateurs.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 2000

Jakarta – Independence leaders jailed on subversion charges in Indonesia's remote Irian Jaya province have vowed to reject any attempt by President Abdurrahman Wahid or police to release them from prison early, a lawyer for the detainees said Thursday.

Jakarta Post - December 21, 2000

Jakarta – A soldier was mobbed to death in the remote town of Tiom, Irian Jaya, some 80 kilometers south of Wamena, following a dispute between officers and locals over the pulling down of the Morning Star separatist flag, an official said on Wednesday.

South China Morning Post - December 21, 2000

Chris McCall, Jakarta – Detained independence activist Muhammad Nazar has a simple message for Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid: turn up the heat on Aceh and you may stir up a war you cannot win.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's first democratically-elected president, under flak for failing to lead the nation out of its crippling problems, faces a decisive year ahead as pressure grows for his ouster.

December 20, 2000

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2000

Jakarta – Despite facing threats of violent protest, the government will continue with its plan to dissolve the civilian guards of the People's Security (Kamra) on Wednesday. "Due to the National Police's tight agenda for its year-end activities, Kamra will officially be dissolved tomorrow (Wednesday)," spokesman for the Ministry of Defense for foreign cooperation Commodore A.F.M.

South China Morning Post - December 20, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid's comments in Aceh belie how wide the gulf is between him and much of his Government and how little room he has to manoeuvre.

Agence France Presse - December 20, 2000

Jakarta – Former pro-Indonesia militia leaders from East Timor's Baucau district are preparing for a one-day visit to their homeland to see whether it's safe enough to bring 6,000 refugees home, their leader said Wednesday.

Jakarta Post - December 20, 2000

Jakarta – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will disburse its next loan tranche to Indonesia only after the House of Representatives completes a crucial amendment of the central bank law, Minister of Finance Prijadi Praptosuhardjo said on Tuesday.

Straits Times - December 20, 2000

Susan Sim, Jakarta – The first Cabinet of President Abdurrahman Wahid had been in place barely one week before he began telling aides he wanted to sack some of them.

His second, hand-picked Cabinet is enjoying, it would appear, a longer lifespan: Talk of its reshuffle only began in earnest last week, some 15 weeks after it was sworn in.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 20, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Australia has with held from United Nations prosecutors hundreds of hours of secret communication intercepts, which implicate dozens of people, including former armed forces chief General Wiranto, in last year's violence in East Timor.

December 19, 2000

Reuters - December 19, 2000

Tomi Soetjipto, Banda Aceh – Wearing a bullet-proof vest, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid visited the bloodied province of Aceh on Tuesday and urged separatists to join in developing the country.

Kyodo News - December 19, 2000

Christine T. Tjandraningsih, Jakarta – Despite offers of reconciliation from Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who spent 14 years in prison under the repressive Suharto regime for "communist activities," said Tuesday reconciliation is impossible.

Jakarta Post - December 19, 2000

Jakarta – East Timor militia leader Eurico Guterres will open the new year unlike any other as he faces court proceedings against him on January 2. He is charged with involvement in the seizure of weapons from an Atambua police station in East Nusa Tenggara in September.

Detik - December 19, 2000

Hestiana Dharmastuti/BI & GB, Jakarta – Around 50 female activists under the auspices of Indonesian Women's Solidarity (SPI) staged a rally at the famous Hotel Indonesia roundabout in the heart of Jakarta to commemorate International Migrant Workers' Day.

Associated Press - December 19, 2000

Jakarta – The youngest daughter of former Indonesian leader Suharto was sentenced yesterday to a 10-day suspended jail term for failing to report the loss of a pistol.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 19, 2000

Hamish McDonald – The Indonesian Government is hoping the new administration of George W. Bush will quickly end the American arms embargo that threatens to cripple its armed forces.

It also hopes for an end to the public criticism of its approach to militia violence in Timor and other human rights questions by the United States ambassador in Jakarta, Mr Robert Gelbard.