Jonathan Head, Jakarta – An ecumenical church is Indonesia has been destroyed by a mob near the capital, Jakarta, according to church sources. This is the latest in a series of attacks on churches, which are being blamed on rising resentment among Indonesia's Muslim majority of the disproportionate wealth of many Christians.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
December 24, 1997
JAKARTA – The government will launch a national drive to promote human rights protection next year as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights.
Surabaya – MateBEAN sources have tracked the identity of the four East Timor students and two other graduates kidnapped in Surabaya on Sunday 12 December 1997.
December 23, 1997
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesian Vice-President General Try Sutrisno has "banned" women from going on lavish foreign shopping expeditions during the country's economic crisis.
The Minister for Women's Affairs, Mien Sugandhi, quoted General Sutrisno as saying foreign shopping jaunts were a "no go".
Jakarta – President Soeharto said yesterday rumors that his health was failing, he was dead, or that the Armed Forces were planning a coup, were aimed at destabilizing the economy and toppling the government.
Surabaya – Unknown security officers arrested four East Timor students in Surabaya on Sunday 21 December 1997. MateBEAN source from Surabaya stated that only one out of four students was identified yet. His name is Romualdo Amaral Soares (36), a newly graduated student of ITATS Surabaya, majoring in industrial management.
Jakarta – Two alleged East Timor rebels were killed in armed fighting with Indonesian troops in the former Portuguese colony, reports said today.
Lieutenant Colonel Supadi, chief of East Timor's Ermera military district, said the two, killed on Saturday, were identified as Agustinho Mounsinho, 21, and Agustinho Coan, 24.
December 22, 1997
Human Rights Watch strongly protests the eight-year sentence handed down on December 18 to Indonesian human rights activist Agustiana bin Suryana after he was convicted of subversion by a court in Tasikmalaya, West Java.
As fears grow over the health of Indonesia's President Soeharto, so does talk of who may succeed him. David Jenkins look at who's who among the likely contenders.
When Indonesians talk about General Wiranto, the army chief whose effortless ascendancy coincides with deepening fears about the post-Soeharto future, they make little attempt to disguise their admiration.
Jay Solomon and Kate Linebaugh, Jakarta – Indonesian President Suharto Monday decided on a reshuffle at the country's central bank, reasserting control over economic policy following nearly a two-week absence from his daily duties due to ill-health.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – It's close to 3am and business is brisk behind the heavy velvet curtain shielding the back room from the jarring beat on the crowded dance floor of one of Jakarta's most expensive night clubs.
Baucau – The Baucau District Court in East Timor has passed jail terms on three local youths found to have committed a subversive act against the Indonesian government. The three youths are Muhammad Amin, 19, Fortunato Ximenes, 31, and Alvino Freitas, 19. All of them have been sentenced to 17 years in prison minus their detention time.
Jakarta – Four East Timorese rebels convicted in a grenade attack that killed 17 Indonesian security agents were sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.
Jakarta – Indonesia President Suharto, in a meeting with the nation's top business leaders Monday, said the central bank has spent 10% of its reserves, or $2 billion, intervening on behalf of the nation's currency in recent months.
He added, however, that the $18 billion remaining in reserves is enough to cover 4.5 months of imports.
Manatuto – A Red Beret military unit, infamously known as Kopassus had arbitrarily arrested Elias Soares (18), on 8 December 1997, with no clear reasons at all. The primary school graduate from Vemassa Sub-district, Bacau, was on his way from Vemassa to Dili. Until MateBEAN posted the news today, there was still no clues of his whereabouts and destiny.
Lisbon – Indonesian secret police have arrested five East Timorese university students in Surabaya, Java, on suspicion of supporting the pro-independence Socialist Association of Timor, the group said today.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's financial markets are showing the first signs of stability in three weeks, giving the Government a much-needed chance to regain its management credibility with the annual Budget to be delivered in the first week of January.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Soeharto has dismissed half the directors of the country's central bank and established a group of private sector advisers amid a growing struggle over economic policy.
Journalists and activists who attended a press conference which had been called to announce the results of a referendum held by the Gajah Mada University student body were disappointed and angry when they were told that the results would after all not be announced. The committee which had organised the event asked the journalists 'to understand' their position.
14,000 troops are being mobilised to secure the capital in a special operation over the coming holidays. Ten thousand of the troops will be from the police and the remaining four thousand from the army.
Jember – The Association of East Timor Students (IMPETTU) declared their support for East Timor Reconciliation and Unity Movement, GRPRTT. All IMPETTU chairmen signed the declaration in Jember, on 10 December 1997. Around four hundred East Timor students attended the announcement of the declaration.
December 21, 1997
Surabaya – In anticipation of the Session of the MPR in March next year, the Information Minister General (ret'd) Hartono said that he has issued strong warnings to fifteen newspapers about their reporting of news.
December 20, 1997
More than ten thousand students at Yogyakarta's prestigious Gadjah Mada University have expressed the view that Suharto should not be nominated as president at next year's MPR session.
Louise Williams – Food stocks in drought-stricken regions of Irian Jaya are almost exhausted and up to 20 per cent of the population of some villages has already died, according to the latest report on the famine by the Australian Red Cross.
December 19, 1997
Tasikmalaya – The district court in Tasiklamaya has passed a savage sentence of eight years on an activist from Garut named Agustiana who was accused of being the brains behind the riots that struck Tasikmalaya in West Java on 26 December last year.
December 18, 1997
Jakarta – Minister of Defense Edi Sudradjat told people yesterday not to be provoked by baseless rumors about a coup attempt.
Speaking to reporters after addressing the opening ceremony of an ASEAN seminar on Principles of Regional Resilience and Cooperation, Edi said people should not trust such misleading information.
Sander Thoenes – The prospect of a sixth smooth re-election of President Suharto next year was put in doubt this week when a leading party failed to nominate him and a group of retired generals called for a new president.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – As the Indonesian government ventures to overcome the current monetary crisis, rumours have started to circulate widely of an impending military coup in connection with the health of Indonesia's strong man, President Suharto.
A new, openly dissident movement has sprung up within East Timor. If Manuel Carrascalao's Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the People of Timor (GRPRTT) is as serious about its mission as it claims to be, it will represent a brave new initiative.
It comes from an unexpected corner. Manuel Carrascalao once actively supported East Timor's integration with Indonesia.
Jakarta – President Soeharto found it extremely difficult to understand why the rupiah had continued to fall against the U.S. dollar, a senior minister said yesterday.
Jakarta – Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana threw in the towel in the race for the vice presidency yesterday, saying she was not capable of carrying out the second top position.
The eldest daughter of President Soeharto said on the sidelines of the People's Consultative Assembly meeting that the nation needs a person of high quality for its vice president.
Darwin – Six East Timorese who have sought refuge in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta, since September 19, are in danger of being handed over to the Indonesian authorities.
Handwritten messages, smuggled out, have been received, here in Darwin, from the East Timorese holed up in the Austrian embassy, asking for help in the form of pressures to the Austrian government.
December 17, 1997
Dili – East Timor's police chief, Indonesian Colonel Rismanto, accused on Tuesday the Timorese guerrilla of being the responsible for the death of a civilian and injuries to a policeman during two separate attacks.
[The following is an abridged translation of a statement sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Kelompok Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi).
December 16, 1997
Sander Thoenes – The warning calls of growing unemployment echo through the alleys and back streets of Indonesia's inner cities.
They are the cries and whistles, rattling of spoons and banging of pots of the self-employed men and women who peddle food, ice cream, plastic buckets and other odds and ends from dawn to late at night.
Jakarta – The Working Committee of the People's Consultative Assembly (BP MPR) has received eight names proposed as candidate for VP. While as candidate for president 1998-2003 only one name was proposed, namely that of President Soeharto.
Dili – East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares has confirmed that the Movement for the Reconciliation and Unity of the People of East Timor, which had been established by a group of sympathizers, was a proscribed movement because it could threaten the integrity of the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Jakarta – World Bank country director for Indonesia Dennis de Tray urged the government and private sectors again yesterday to provide edible information to help store public confidence in the country's economy.
Salatiga – Military authorities in Salatiga banned "Seminar on the Prospects of Justice Movements, Peace and the Struggle for Human Rights in East Timor". The seminar itself was organised by the Communication Forum of Nahdlatul Ulama Students Movement (FKGMNU) last Monday 14 December 1997.
The South Jakarta district court has not yet fixed a date for the subversion trial of Sri-Bintang Pamungkas, the former MP who is currently serving a one-year sentence for insulting the head of state. But the chairman of the court confirmed that the trial will commence before the end of December.
Ali Kotarumalos, Jakarta – A dissident group of former Cabinet ministers, ex-politicians and retired generals urged Indonesian lawmakers Tuesday not to re-elect Asia's oldest and longest reigning head of state.
December 15, 1997
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing the first serious annual contraction in its economy since President Soeharto came to power amid fears that the country can no longer service its foreign debt because of the rupiah's dramatic plunge.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – The main streets in Jakarta's business district were crowded on Friday. Amid the skyscrapers, Jakartans rushed home for the weekend, and everything seemed normal.
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Famine triggered by a severe drought has spread to Indonesia's Moluccas region, threatening more than 80,000 people, while relief efforts continued in remote Irian Jaya, officials and the media reported on Monday.
December 14, 1997
Villagers in Riau province who fenced themselves in on ancestral land to back a compensation claim against Riau Andalan Paper and Pulp Company were driven from the area when heavily-armed forces of Brimob (Mobile Brigade), the special forces of the Indonesian police, attacked them with smoke bombs and tear-gas.
Two lawyers from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Institute, the PBHI, recently spent two days in Semarang in connection with several East Timorese who will shortly go on trial in connection with bomb-making. They were able to meet four of their clients who have been detained there since mid-September in connection with bomb-making at a house in Demak.
December 13, 1997
Seth Mydans, Tangerang – When economists worry about Indonesia's slump – its sinking currency, its ailing banks and its nearly $40 billion bailout package – they worry about people like Jumaluddin, a low-paid factory worker with a ready smile and a precarious future.
Nothing, until recently, has stood in the way of the sons and daughters of President Suharto, as they built up huge business empires through his 30-year reign. Democracy is controlled, the opposition neutered, the press harnessed. But at last something has happened to restrain them: Asia's economic crisis.
Anthony Bevins – Oxfam yesterday accused the Government of being in breach of its own guidelines on arms sales. Eleven arms-export licences have been granted to Indonesia since 28 July, when Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, announced new regulations for arms sales overseas.
December 12, 1997
Bekasi – The role of a paster is to help the "little" people, the poor and neglected. So it is natural for them to help those who are suffering. Thus said the presiding judge, Margono at the trial of Romo Sandyawan and his brother Benny Sumardi at the Bekasi state court, Monday (8/12).