Jakarta – Tension remained high throughout villages in the eastern Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara on Wednesday after clashes between residents that left at least five people dead, police and news reports said.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
March 31, 1999
Jakarta – East Timor's detained rebel chief Wednesday accused the Indonesian military of conspiring to undermine a planned vote on autonomy in the Indonesian-controlled territory.
Indonesia has been arming civilian militias in East Timor to create chaos that will sabotage the vote, which is expected in July, guerrilla leader Jose Alexandre Gusmao said.
Jakarta – Standard and Poor's hurriedly restored Indonesia's long-term foreign currency sovereign rating Wednesday, just a day after a downgrade by the US agency sparked an angry central bank rejoinder.
Performing a rare about-face, the New York-based credit assessor said it had "reset" the rating from "Selective Default" back up to "Triple-C-Plus."
March 30, 1999
Jakarta – A senior minister and the national police chief arrived in Indonesian Borneo Tuesday as calm returned after days of grisly ethnic violence that left over 200 dead and displaced more than 28,000 people.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The court ruling allowing ministers to campaign will undermine public confidence in a fair poll and could threaten the smooth running of the election, analysts said.
Padang – Seven students were injured and 46 arrested after clashes with security forces during a protest here against a Jakarta-appointed caretaker administration put in place after the governor resigned.
Jakarta – The Indonesian Electoral Commission has issued a definitive schedule for the June 7 election process, documents showed Tuesday.
In a ruling issued by the 53-member commission, voter registration for the polls, the first since the fall of former president Suharto, will be held from April 5 to May 4 and the final list of voters issued on May 13.
Tomi Soetjipto, Jakarta – Around half of Indonesia's children aged under five suffer from malnutrition as economic crisis plunges families into poverty, a UNICEF official said. The figure, based on UNICEF research and experience in the field, represents around 11.5 million children.
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Pro-independence Timorese leaders plan to seize millions of dollars' worth of properties in East Timor acquired by the family of disgraced former president Soeharto during Indonesia's 23-year rule of the former Portuguese colony.
Jakarta – Some 100 Indonesian students on Tuesday marched to the Elections Commission headquarters here to demand the disbanding of the ruling Golkar party ahead of the pivotal June 7 election.
The Student Action Forum for Reform and Democracy (Famred) chanted "disband Golkar" as their advance was blocked near the office by some 40 anti-riot police and troops.
March 29, 1999
Thomas Wagner, Jakarta – Ever since President Suharto resigned last year during widespread rioting, his successor, B.J. Habibie, has impressed many Indonesians by lifting some of the authoritarian restrictions that they had lived under for decades.
Karen Polglaze, Dili – Bony arms raise gnarled hands in a shaky Mexican wave as the call to salute rings out across the buckled, weed-infested square of the village of Maubara.
Surabaya – The supporters of other political parties have continued to vandalise the Golkar party's flags, banners, stickers, and signs. Most of the Golkar signs mounted in the streets were pulled apart by crowds, many wearing the colours of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-Struggle), when mass meetings of that party were being held.
Jakarta – An angry mob vandalized seven shop-houses in the eastern Indonesian province of Irian Jaya following the death of a college teacher in police custody, a report said Monday.
Christine T. Tjandraningsih, Jakarta – An Indonesian committee passed a code of conduct Monday for the general election campaign, set from May 19 to June 4, that includes the ban of street rallies and the disqualification of parties from the June 7 election if they abuse the rules.
Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – A local government authority in East Timor has begun a compulsory survey of all public servants to find out if they support independence for the troubled province, observers said.
The regent of Bobonaro, Guilherme Dos Santos, issued the instruction on March 24 requiring all employees in the town of Maliana to fill in a form stating their views.
March 28, 1999
Canberra – Defence Minister John Moore today defended the holding of joint military exercises with Indonesia's armed forces (ABRI following allegations about military operations within Indonesia.
Canberra – The federal opposition has backed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao's call for pro-integrationist militias to be disarmed urgently.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Laurie Brereton today supported Mr Gusmao's view that a democratic process would be jeopardised if these militia groups remained armed in the lead up to a ballot on independence.
Indonesia's experiment in population control has left a bloody legacy, reports John Aglionby in Pontianak
Sarni Kemal was wearing everything he owns when the headhunters came – a ripped shirt, a pair of grubby jeans and his underpants. When they came, he fled with his wife and eight children into a forest.
March 27, 1999
Jakarta – The death toll from nearly two weeks of ethnic violence in Borneo rose to about 260 when new attacks on villages killed at least 15 people and dozens of refugees died of injuries or illnesses, newspapers reported Saturday.
The United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy, has said that not only have women been raped by military personnel in East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya, but that in some cases victims were sent photographs of their own rape.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – The release of 10 political prisoners after 33 years in jail said little about any government commitment to political freedom, historians and other former political detainees said yesterday.
The 10, jailed for their part in the alleged communist coup attempt of 1965, were freed late on Thursday.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar party could threaten the credibility of June's general election if it resorts to vote-buying, the nation's top electoral official warned yesterday.
Rudini, the chairman of the General Election Commission, said Golkar was ready to "play dirty" by buying votes and forcing the private sector to donate campaign funds.
March 26, 1999
Jakarta – Indonesia's current economic crisis has led to widespread malnutrition amongst many pregnant women and children, a study conducted by the Helen Keller Indonesia foundation concluded yesterday.
According to the non-governmental organization's report, the social conditions in Jakarta are twice as bad as conditions in Bangladesh.
Desmond Wrightm, Banda Aceh – Indonesia's president on Friday apologised to the restive province of Aceh for years of human rights abuses, as thousands of protesters demanding self-rule clashed with police and soldiers.
Hospitals said 111 people were injured, eight seriously, in clashes between protesters and security forces. Three people had been shot.
Dili – Three people were killed Friday after Indonesian soldiers opened fire while trying to catch a suspected killer in East Timor, police said.
Bacau district police chief Major S.C. Marpaung said the soldiers were chasing a suspected murderer, identified as Faria, when they opened fire in Gariwai village in Baucua district.
March 25, 1999
John McBeth in Jakarta and Dini Djalal in Ambon – Ambon has long been a tragedy waiting to happen. Ever since Indonesia became independent 50 years ago, a tradition of nonviolence, known as pela gandong, had kept a tenuous peace between Muslims and Christians.
Thousands of students from a number of universities took part in a demonstration outside the local assembly building in Banda Aceh denouncing President Habibie's visit to Aceh and calling for a referendum. They arrived at the assembly in convoys of vehicles.
Vikram Khanna, Singapore – Indonesian political leader Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday said his party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), is open to forming a coalition with the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, as well as with Muslim leader Amien Rais and other democratic parties, to form a government in Indonesia after the general elections in June.
Raissa Robles in Manila and Vaudine England in Jakarta – About 600 Indonesian rebels have just finished training at a Muslim separatist camp in the southern Philippines, the Philippine military claimed yesterday.
March 24, 1999
David Watts, Singkawang – Indonesia has sent in 1,000 armed police officers to try to stamp out ethnic violence between Madurese migrants and locals yesterday before it spreads further in this province in Borneo.
Jakarta - President B.J. Habibie has granted amnesty to 42 political prisoners accused of subversion. Two of them were involved in the Candi Borobudur bombing case, Hasbi Abdullah and Husein Ali Al Habsyi, and the other 40 people in subversion cases in Aceh.
Sydney – East Timorese independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, today called for urgent United Nations intervention to stop Indonesian army and militia atrocities against innocent East Timorese civilians, and to prevent an old guard clique at the highest levels of Indonesian government from undermining the UN-brokered self-determination deal for East Timor.
Jakarta – Indonesia's election commission on Wednesday said it would bar government ministers from campaigning for June's parliamentary election, a day after the government announced that most of them could.
Jakarta – Indonesia will release 10 ageing political prisoners, including ex-Colonel Abdul Latief, all sentenced to death more than 30 years ago for alleged involvement in the 1965 coup, Justice Minister Muladi said Wednesday.
Jakarta – A son of former Indonesian president Suharto will stand trial next month for his suspected involvement in a multi-million dollar land scam, reports said Wednesday.
The dossier on Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Suharto's youngest son, was handed to the South Jakarta district court Tuesday by a public prosecutor, the state Antara news agency said.
Karen Polglaze, Dili – East Timor's armed resistance force Falintil for the first time overnight engaged in a shoot-out with a pro-integration paramilitary force, a Catholic source said today.
The three hour shoot-out was the result of a surprise attack by the Halilintar paramilitary group on a secret meeting of Falintil guerrillas, the source said.
Lisbon – The chief international spokesman for the East Timorese resistance charged Tuesday that former Indonesian President Suharto, a military commander and the foreign ministry were secretly funding much of the recent violence in the territory.
Pontianak - Over 10,000 Madurese from Sambas regency have poured into this city and surrounding areas to escape the violence with local Malays and Dayaks. The exodus continued on Tuesday, while over 13,000 people in the Pemangkat coastal sub-district of Sambas were waiting to be evacuated.
Geneva – Chinese women raped during last year's disturbances in Indonesia have been threatened in order to shut them up, a United Nations investigator reported Wednesday.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, special reporter to the UN human rights commission, said she was convinced despite police denials that there were mass rapes including gang rapes during the riots.
Canberra – A cabinet minister from the Whitlam government today apologised to the people of East Timor for the Australia's inaction over the Indonesian invasion of the former Portuguese colony.
March 23, 1999
The escalating violence in Ambon and Sulawesi since the fall of Soeharto has led to communities torn apart, with neighbour killing neighbour. Louise Williams reports.
Jakarta – Indonesia's struggling privatization program suffered another setback Monday, when the government said it won't complete three key sales this fiscal year.
Christine T. Tjandraningsih – The ongoing economic crisis that has plagued Indonesia since the middle of 1997 has left children hungry in the country, with at least 610 reported to have died in recent months from malnutrition, international organizations said Tuesday.
Jakarta – Hundreds of Indonesian bank employees who lost their jobs when the government shut down 38 banks this month staged a protest march through central Jakarta Tuesday demanding increased severance pay.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – In a sign that Indonesia does not want the international community tampering with its sovereignty over East Timor, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said his Government refused to have any permanent United Nations presence in the territory until next month.
Andi Jatmiko, Simpang Monterado – Indonesian soldiers fired shots in the air Tuesday to scare off fighters armed with spears, swords and homemade guns who tried to attack another ethnic group on Borneo island.
Palu – The People's Democratic Party (PRD) has said that for the PRD, the 1999 election campaign is not just about getting votes. What was more important for the PRD was to providing political education to the people to increase their political consciousness.
Jakarta – Two Indonesian soldiers believed to have been abducted by separatists in the troubled province of Aceh have been found dead following the arrest of one of the alleged killers, a report said Tuesday.
Jakarta – Indonesian troops opened fire to disperse a crowd protesting the acquittal of an MP charged with embezzling 12 million dollars, injuring one student, reports said Tuesday.
Around 200 students outside the courthouse in Ujung Pandang on Monday pelted stones after Nurdin Halid, an MP for the ruling Golkar Party, was acquitted, the Jakarta Post said.