Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – About two weeks after Indonesian strongman Suharto stepped down from his 32-year presidency, Indonesian editor, poet and political activist Goenawan Mohamad brought his lieutenants to a villa in the scenic Puncak area in the southern belt of Jakarta.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 4, 1999
Jakarta – Nearly 50 inmates escaped from a prison in Indonesia's troubled province of Aceh, the state Antara news agency reported Monday.
The 47 inmates pushed through the main gate of the Jantho prison in Aceh Besar district Sunday as guards escorted out two visitors. Five guards were threatened by some of the inmates, who were armed with knives.
Jakarta – The Jakarta Police shot 191 suspected criminals for various reasons in 1998, killing 90 of them, but its chief said the action was justified in every incident.
Dili – Two men were killed and five wounded in East Timor when supporters of a referendum on the future of the troubled territory clashed with an armed militia backing autonomy, a source said Monday.
Militia members at a security post in Ainaro district fired into a mob of about 100 people late on Sunday after warning shots were ignored, the source here said.
January 3, 1999
Jakarta – New unrest has been sparked in several Indonesian towns by rumours of deaths in police custody, environmental pollution and anti-Chinese tensions, reports said Sunday.
Jakarta – The Indonesian military found a body believed to be the fourth of seven soldiers killed in an apparent ambush in the troubled province of Aceh as a search continued for two marine hostages, officials said Sunday.
Jakarta – Rumours of deaths in police custody and anti-Chinese tensions sparked new unrest in Indonesia, reports said Sunday. One mob set ablaze a police post and a store in Java while another shop was ransacked by angry Moslems on the island of Sulawesi.
Jakarta – Nine civilians were killed and 23 seriously injured when Indonesian troops fired on "separatists" Sunday after a mob attacked a government building in the rebellious province of Aceh, local police said. Witnesses and human rights groups had earlier put the death toll at six.
January 2, 1999
Jakarta – Violence marred New Year celebrations in at least four towns in the Indonesian province of West Java which saw looting and vandalism while revellers threw fireworks at passing motorists, newspapers said Saturday. Unrest broke out in the towns of Sukabumi, Bandung, Cilegon and Garut, but no casualties were reported, the newspapers said.
Jakarta – Indonesia freed 42 political prisoners in a New Year's amnesty and plans to revoke a key legal weapon once used to bolster the rule of former President Suharto, local media reported Saturday.
The moves are part of a reform program led by Suharto's successor, President B.J. Habibie, who has been targeted by student protesters demanding swifter democratic change.
Jakarta – A political fight was looming here Saturday over the likely disqualification of scores of new political parties from taking part in the first general elections since the fall of Suharto.
January 1, 1999
When Indonesia's Attorney General, Andi Mohamad Ghalib, formally named former president Suharto on December 23 last year as a suspect in a corruption case over a tax-exempt national car project, most politically aware Indonesians knew not to expect too much.
December 31, 1998
Jakarta – A crowd of people were holding three military men hostage in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province Thursday, two days after an ambush there left at least five off-duty soliders dead, reports and sources said Thursday.
Jakarta – Indonesia will release and rehabilitate 62 political prisoners including 20 East Timorese in the coming week, but East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao will not be among those freed, Justice Minister Muladi said Thursday.
Mark Dodd, Jakarta – On the eve of today's resumption of the trial of 11 Indonesian special forces soldiers for abducting political activists, one of their alleged victims relived his ordeal at their hands.
Jakarta – The Indonesian military on Thursday sent hundreds of troops into troubled Aceh province to search for the bodies of seven soldiers killed in an ambush and find three others held hostage.
December 30, 1998
Richard Borsuk – They were almost as close to former Indonesian President Suharto as his own family, and their business successes showed it: Beneficiaries of monopolies, state licenses and the strongman's generosity with national assets, Mohamad "Bob" Hasan and Liem Sioe Liong were billionaires during the 32-year Suharto regime.
Jakarta – Reoccupation of land by grassroots people and labor disputes following massive dismissals at many companies due to the monetary crisis were just two of the highlights during the year in Greater Jakarta.
Jakarta - Seven off-duty soldiers in western Indonesia's troubled Aceh province were tortured and killed in an ambush which the military said Wednesday was orchestrated by separatists.
Jakarta – Indonesian authorities have estimated that more than 500 million dollars had been lost by the state to graft, most of it to members and cronies of the family of fallen president Suharto.
Jakarta – Indonesia's police declared "zero tolerance" on looters and would shoot at offenders, admitting Wednesday warnings against rampant plundering of food trucks and stores had been futile.
December 29, 1998
Jakarta – Observers predicted on Monday that labor conditions would worsen next year due to the prolonged economic and political crises, warning that an unemployment rate of 38 million out of the total work force of 90 million represented a ticking time bomb.
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Pressure is mounting on the Government of Dr B.J. Habibie to force the return to Indonesia of Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto, the son-in-law of former president Soeharto, to face allegations that he ordered the kidnapping and torture of pro-democracy activists.
Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Suharto, his relatives and associates own almost nine million hectares (22.2 million acres) of forest land, and the family owns 204,983 hectares of prime real estate across the country, press reports said Tuesday.
Jakarta – Police and troops patrolled two Indonesian towns Tuesday after new riots left hundreds injured in Lampung, Central Sulawesi and North Sumatra provinces.
Andreas Harsono, Salatiga – Two boys were taking a nap as three men waited for the heavy tropical rain to stop under a red-and-black shelter in this city last week. Quietly, one man said, "We're lucky to have this bamboo shelter."
Shoeb Kagda, Jakarta – Indonesia will once again look to the international community for massive financial help in 1999 as the country continues to grapple with worsening political and social conditions which threaten to undermine its economic recovery and tear apart its social fabric.
December 28, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesian police on Monday summoned a leading student activist for questioning in a controversial subversion case involving 11 prominent public figures accused of instigating unrest.
Medan – Indonesian police on Monday opened fire on hundreds of farmers who occupied a state plantation on the island of Sumatra and also clashed with villagers in a strife-hit region of Sulawesi to bring a mass brawl under control.
Jakarta – Muslim scholars Abdurrahman Wahid and Emha Ainun Nadjib have issued dire warnings of chaos and even bloodshed in the run-up to the general election in June 1999 unless a national dialog for reconciliation was held to head off the danger.
Jakarta – All but 15 out of the 120 or so political parties that have mushroomed since the fall of Indonesian president Suharto are likely to be disqualified from the June elections if parliament endorses government proposals, a senior minister said Monday.
December 27, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesian Justice Minister Muladi said Monday the country's new government may be open to the return of hundreds who fled the country in the 1960s after being charged with being communists.
Jakarta – An angry mob set fire to a discotheque and damaged shops selling liquor in Christmas violence on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, government officials and residents said on Sunday.
Madrid – Portuguese lawyers on Saturday demanded the extradition of Indonesia's ex-president Suharto to bring him to court for genocide of the population of East Timor, Portugal's former colony.
December 26, 1998
Jakarta – A leading Indonesian human rights watchdog Saturday lashed out at the court martial of 11 soldiers on charges of abducting activists as "simplistic," and demanded that their commanding officers also be dragged to court.
December 25, 1998
There are days when Teungku Bintara wonders how he ever survived. For six months in 1990 and 1991 he languished in a military prison camp in Indonesia's Aceh province. One day, Bintara, then the headman of a nearby village, was put inside a room whose walls were splattered with human blood and hair.
December 23, 1998
Jakarta – Visiting United Nations (UN) special envoy Jamsheed Marker said he was pleased with his meeting with Armed Forces Commander Gen. Wiranto here Monday which can be useful for future dialogs on the East Timor issue.
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Indonesia's President, Dr B.J. Habibie, has ordered prosecutors to target Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto, the son-in-law of deposed president Soeharto, over the abductions of at least 24 political activists earlier this year.
Jakarta – The Indonesian government on Wednesday signed a letter of intent with the International Labor Organization (ILO) pledging to ratify three more human rights conventions.
Jakarta – The government plans to increase regional minimum wages by between 10 percent and 20 percent next April.
Jakarta – The government has approved a military plan to recruit civilians to help police fight crime in Indonesia, an official said Wednesday. Minister of Information Yunus Yosfiah said 40,000 civilians would be recruited in January and would be trained in all military training centers across the country.
December 22, 1998
Jakarta – Eleven members of the Indonesian armed forces will face a military court Wednesday, charged with involvement in the abduction and torture of political activists, a rights group said Tuesday.
Seven government offices were seriously damaged and seven people – four soldiers and three civilians – were seriously injured when hundreds of people flooded into Lhokseumawe early Monday morning.
December 21, 1998
Jakarta – A mob of more than 1,000 people attacked three churches, a Catholic school, a clinic and scores of houses near here on the eve of the Moslem fasting month, a report said Monday.
Jakarta – A popular Moslem leader has defended a weekend meeting with fallen Indonesian president Suharto against mounting criticism, saying the veteran leader still had a strong influence on the nation's political life, reports said Monday.
Jakarta – Rights campaigner Benjamin Mangkoedilaga said on Saturday that an investigation into recent unrest in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, revealed that it was not a spontaneous eruption of outrage over earlier unrest in Jakarta.
Jakarta – The Indonesian government, following up on the results of a government-set probe team into the violent May riots, Monday admitted 76 rapes had been committed, but denied they were organized, a minister said.
Jakarta – Indonesia will release between 40 and 50 political prisoners, including East Timorese, later this week but top East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao will not be among them, a minister said Monday.
Jakarta – Two major Indonesian student groups have said they plan to halt their almost-daily street protests during the Moslem fasting month that began Sunday, a report said here Monday.
The City Forum (Forkot) and the Jakarta Student Senates Communication Forum (FKSMJ) were considering other forms of protests during the fasting month, the Indonesian Observer said.
December 20, 1998
Dili – A special envoy of the UN secretary general was airlifted by helicopter from the Komoro airport here Sunday as hundreds of protestors stormed the terminal, witnesses said.