By Max Lane and Pramono (in Jakarta) – The frequency of protest actions in Indonesia has increased markedly over the last week. Worsening economic conditions, general anger over the lack of any real changes under the Habibie regime and students' return to campus after a three-month break are a volatile mixture.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
September 2, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces are an "inseparable part" of the country's reform drive and will not tolerate threats to the process, an influential general said here Wednesday.
"ABRI (the armed forces) will be an inseparable part of the reform process and any action which threatens reform must be stopped," Lieutenant General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesian security forces opened fire on rioters in the northern Aceh city of Lhokseumawe yesterday, killing two, and injuring at least a dozen. The shootings threaten the Habibie Government's reconciliation efforts in a province already angered by serious human rights abuses under the former Soeharto regime.
Bandung – Undaunted by the government's continued recognition of a rival camp, Megawati Soekarnoputri of the splintered Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) vowed on Tuesday she will lead her supporters at the general election next year.
Surabaya – Over 1,000 university students demonstrated peacefully here yesterday against soaring prices of basic commodities. "The government has failed to bring down the prices of basic commodities," student leader Muhaji said during the demonstration, the first large-scale protest here since former President Suharto resigned on May 21.
New York – East Timor's life expentancy is less than 50 years, according to a UN report released in New York on Wednesday.
The life expectancy for men in East Timor amount to just 46.6 years, while women in the territory occupied by Indonesia can expect to live average of 48.4 years. The life expentacy in Indonesia amounts to 63.3 years for men and 67 year for women.
Jakarta – The government was strongly urged Tuesday to reinvestigate the Lampung incident in February l989, which resulted in scores of deaths. Munir, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), who demanded the reinvestigation, said the death toll could be nearly eight times higher than the Armed Forces' (ABRI) account.
September 1, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesian anti-corruption NGOs and the World Bank will set up a joint team to probe leakages of project funds made available by the bank to Jakarta, the NGOs said here Tuesday.
"The World Bank will investigate corruption, collusion and nepotism together with the NGOs," said Kastorius Sinaga from the Concerned Citizens Movement on National Assets (Gempita).
Jakarta – A government investigation shows that funds in charitable foundations linked to ousted Indonesian president Suharto were misused and diverted to private firms, a senior minister said Tuesday.
Jakarta – The crippling economic crisis that has engulfed Indonesia since July has forced 90 percent of the country's book publishers to halt operations, a report said here Tuesday.
August 31, 1998
Jakarta – If life had gone the way he planned nine months ago, Dr B.J. Habibie would be planting tulips, writing a book or two about aeroplanes and just pottering around his retirement home in the northern German town of Hamburg today.
Gerry van Klinken – As Nazi Germany blamed the Jews for its economic ills, as Hansonite Australia blames Asians, so now Habibie's Indonesia is moving from mere rhetoric against the Chinese to real acts of terror.
Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Mobs burned buildings, stoned police cars and attacked ethnic Chinese in northern Indonesia on Monday in the biggest riot since deadly unrest in May helped oust former President Suharto.
Jakarta – Shots were heards as hundreds of onlookers Monday pelted and yelled insults at troops pulled out of the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, where soldiers fighting Islamic separatists have been accused of human rights abuses.
Greg Torode, Jakarta – Police in the central Javanese city of Cilacap reportedly have been ordered to shoot rioting fishermen if need be. Rioting flared for a second time on Saturday night as thousands of fishermen attacked and looted bosses' homes and public buildings over labour disputes.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Hundreds of ethnic Chinese business families fled the central Javanese town of Cilacap over the weekend after mobs torched warehouses, sunk fishing trawlers and attacked shops and homes.
August 30, 1998
Jakarta – A kidnapped political activist plans to file a lawsuit against ex-president Suharto's son-in-law for his involvement in the abduction and torture of scores of activists, press reports said Sunday.
August 29, 1998
Jakarta – About 100 protesters from the province of Irian Jaya picketed the Foreign Ministry yesterday, demanding independence for the former Dutch colony. The crowd, waving separatist "West Papua" flags and wearing "West Papua" T-shirts, sang traditional songs and brandished placards reading: "Stop colonialism in West Papua" and "Remember West Papua is a free nation".
Louise Williams, Pidie – "Did they hurt you, Mama?" the old woman's children and grandchildren asked, when she was dumped back in her rice farming village by soldiers from Indonesia's elite special forces.
Student demos were once more in the focus of the public during the last three days. This time they voiced dissatisfaction over rice prices, stopped military trucks recruted to transport rice and demanded abolishment of the Armed Forces' (ABRI) dual role.
August 28, 1998
Jakarta – Some 5,000 people angered by MPs' failure to heed their charges that gubernatorial elections were rigged stoned a local parliament building in eastern Indonesia, a report said Friday.
Jakarta – Security forces fired warning shots to fend off crowds Thursday on the third day of mass looting of rice mills and stores in the densely-populated Indonesian province of East Java, police and military there said.
Jean Rom, Brussels – Among the prisoners still held in Indonesia is Dita Indah Sari, the young leader of the PPBI, the trade union arm of the PRD opposition party, who has been languishing in prison since June 1996. Sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 1997 for "subversion", she suffered a particularly severe prison regime until the recent political changes in the country.
Yang Razali Kassim – Possibly the first organised move to probe into a range of alleged atrocities under the New Order regime of former president Suharto got underway this week with the launch of an independent investigative commission in Jakarta.
Jeremy Wagstaff and Jay Solomon – Grisly pictures of Indonesian Chinese rape victims circulating over the Internet and published in major newspapers havestoked international outrage in the last two weeks. The problem: Some of the pictures are fake.
Jakarta – The government has officially recognized Budi Hardjono as the new chairman of the conflict-ridden Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Budi was elected to the party's leadership on Wednesday during a congress marred by violent clashes and allegations of political intrigue.
August 26, 1998
Jakarta – Stocks slipped Wednesday, as early gains by some state-owned companies eased on concern of the country's political situation. The Jakarta Stock Exchange composite index eased 6.216, or 1.7%, to 360.927. Volume stood at 160 million shares valued at 249 billion rupiah. Decliners outnumbered advancers, 60 to 31, with 88 stocks unchanged and 109 others untraded.
On June 4, 1998, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued an appeal for release of political prisoners in Indonesia and East Timor, following President Soeharto's resignation and the lifting of some political controls.
Grainne Mccarthy and Kate Linebaugh, Jakarta – Just when Indonesia's Badan Urusan Logistik Nasional (Bulog) was being praised for operating multi-million dollar open tenders for the purchase of food commodities, the government fired its chairman in a move which could send the agency back to its corrupt ways, according to traders.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – On May 21, several hours after Indonesian strongman Suharto announced in a nationally-broadcast speech that he would step down from his 33-year authoritarian rule, Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto was relieved of his command of strategic forces in Jakarta.
August 25, 1998
Jakarta – Some 150 university students from campuses throughout greater Jakarta took to the streets Tuesday to demand price cuts and the resignation of Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, witnesses said.
Jakarta – Violent clashes erupted at an Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI) congress in Central Sulawesi Tuesday when hundreds of supporters from a rival party faction pelted rocks at the venue, witnesses said.
Jenny Grant – The discharging of the once powerful son-in-law of former president Suharto from the military should protect other senior figures from the abduction scandal.
Jakarta – Indonesian police beat up protesting textile workers here Tuesday to prevent them from marching to the International Labour Organization (ILO) office in the city's business district, a witness said.
August 24, 1998
Anthony Spaeth – When Indonesian students occupied the country's parliament in May, their principal demand was the resignation of Suharto, president of the country for 32 years. Within days, he had stepped down.
Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – If Indonesia's military believes it can appease public anger over mounting evidence of past atrocities by casting out its most hated figure, it is mistaken, analysts said on Monday.
Nearly 23 years after five Australian-based journalists were killed in East Timor, the International Commission of Jurists has found that doubts remain that Canberra is telling all it knows about the incident. In a special investigation, Foreign Editor Hamish McDonald uncovers some of the facts surrounding their deaths and traces a cover-up that continues to this day.
August 23, 1998
Surabaya – About 2,000 students demonstrated in Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya on Sunday, demanding that former President Suharto be brought to trial for the country's economic crisis.
August 22, 1998
Jakarta – Trade unions in all industrial sectors broke ranks and withdrew from the Federation of All Indonesian Workers Union (FSPSI) yesterday in a bid to topple the federation's central executive board.
[Waspada, the Medan daily, published today photographs of the exhumed skulls and bones and of the detention/torture centre ablaze, as well as a photograph of local people joyfully kicking and demolished a photo of Suharto that they had found hanging on the wall - Tapol.]
August 21, 1998
Jakarta – Gangs of grave robbers have been digging up Chinese graveyards in two cities on the Indonesian island of Java and looting them of coffins of valuables and discarding the remains, officials and a press report said Friday.
Lhokseumawe – Indonesian troops began a pullout from troubled Aceh province yesterday to cheers and catcalls from locals who say a nine-year army crackdown involved torture, rape and the dumping of victims in mass graves.
Kafil Yamin, Jakarta – August 17 this year was the first day of freedom in 32 years for Pujo Prasetyo, jailed for his involvement in the abortive communist-inspired coup of 1965.
August 20, 1998
There has been a flurry of activity and announcements on East Timor since the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, most recently with regard to the United Nations talks in New York on August 4 and 5. Many headlines greeted news of a possible autonomy agreement with enthusiasm.
The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) today launched a new report on the current human rights situation in East Timor. The report documents human rights violations between January and June 1998 and assesses the Habibie's government's response to the human rights violations and its efforts to move towards a resolution of the conflict.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – As the Indonesian military faces a damning human rights investigation, residents of the northern province of Aceh are guarding what are claimed to be mass graves, saying they fear there will be attempts to remove the evidence.
Atlanta – US House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday criticized the World Bank for letting money go to waste in Indonesia, after an internal report said that bank funds may have been siphoned off by government officials.
Fellow Countrymen – August 20 is the National Day of our glorious Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor, FALINTIL. Today, as in the future, the 20th of August will prevail in our minds as the day to remember all those who fell in defence of the sacred land of East Timor.
[The following translation of a letter from an Acehnese refugee in a Malaysian gaol which was passed on to Tapol by the Acheh/Sumatra National Liberation Front office in Sweden.]
August 19, 1998
Jakarta – The Supreme Court has dismissed a case filed by opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri against the government over her 1996 ouster as head of the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), court officials said Wednesday.