Louise Williams, Jakarta – Two Australian activists are in custody after being arrested by Indonesian security forces during a human rights demonstration on Wednesday in the central Javanese town of Semarang.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
December 12, 1997
Controversial former MP Sri Bintang Pamungkas, serving a jail term for defaming President Suharto, will be put on trial for attempting to undermine the state, a report said yesterday.
Andreas Harsono – Rumours about the health of the president have shaken the country as it struggles with an economic downturn.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – More than 500 supporters of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri held a rowdy march yesterday after losing a crucial court battle linked to riots in the capital last year.
"There is no justice! Megawati for new president," the crowd chanted, only a block from the presidential palace.
Dili – Two East Timorese human rights organisations said on Thursday that they had received during this year 339 complaints of human rights violations committed by the Indonesian security forces stationed in the territory.
Darwin – East Timor activist Vaughan Williams from the Darwin-based Australians for a Free East Timor is due to appear at the Northern Territory's Darwin Magistrates Court on Monday December 15 for publicly displaying pictures of East Timorese women being tortured by the Indonesian Armed Forces (Abri).
Dili – During the last eleven months, there were 339 reported human rights violations in East Timor. It was reported by the East Timor people to Comissa Iustiti Et Pax (Commission for Justice and Peace), a special organization appointed by the Dili Diocese and the Human Rights and Law Foundation (HAK). However, many believe the number of human rights abuse is higher than that.
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).
December 11, 1997
Louise Williams, Jakarta – In one of the sharpest criticisms to date of East Asian business practices, a World Bank executive has warned that monopolies linked to President Soeharto's inner circle of family and friends are blocking Indonesia's economic recovery.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Election violence, choking smog and regional economic turmoil have badly hit Indonesia's tourism industry this year, a government minister said on Thursday.
Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Minister Joop Ave said he expected single-digit growth in visitor arrivals for 1997 after more than 13 years of double-digit growth.
Jakarta – The World Bank country director for Indonesia, Dennis de Tray, suggested yesterday that the government send signals to the market that it would undertake reform measures to restore public confidence.
De Tray said he was optimistic the country's monetary crisis would ease shortly provided the government stuck to its promised reform programs.
Surabaya – An increasingly excessive intervention by security authorities in many labor disputes has robbed workers of just and satisfying solutions, and of control over situations, an activist says.
December 10, 1997
James Balowski – According to People's Democratic Party (PRD) sources, Dita Indah Sari, chair of the PRD-affiliated Centre for Labour Struggle, was released from hospital on November 28. Dita had been in intensive care at the Syaiful Anwar hospital in Malang, East Java since November 18, suffering from typhoid.
Jakarta – The excessive use of force along with the neglect of civil and political rights remained a disturbing feature throughout the year, a leading rights group said in its year end assessment here yesterday.
Sarah Peart – During Indonesian President Suharto's recent visit to South Africa and Canada, he faced hundreds of activists protesting against the human rights abuses in both Indonesia and East Timor.
Jakarta – Jailed Indonesian labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan is being well treated by local doctors for an undiagnosed lung illness, a visiting Canadian specialist said on Wednesday.
"Up to the present time, as far as we can see, he is receiving optimal treatment here," Professor Stephen Lam told a news conference at Jakarta's Cikini Hospital.
Vannessa Hearman, Melbourne – Following an address from representatives of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET), the Victorian Australian Services Union's Victorian branch council passed a resolution in support of the campaign to free Indonesia's political prisoners.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Indonesian rupiah plunged more than 10 per cent yesterday amid growing concerns over President Soeharto's health and warnings of a loss of confidence in the Indonesian economy despite multi-billion dollar rescue loans by the International Monetary Fund.
December 9, 1997
Vancouver – East Timor resistance spokesman Jose Ramos-Horta has a good sense of humanity. When Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas was hospitalized in the Medistra Hospital in Jakarta in 1994, Ramos-Horta managed to send a facsimile.
The value of the rupiah fell sharply Monday to a new low of Rp 4,160 to the dollar. The fall appears to have been caused by news of Suharto's indisposition (he is said to be suffering from exhaustion) and the further weakening of other currencies in the region. Attempts by the Central Bank to intervene to prevent the fall were unsuccessful.
Jakarta – A small pro-democracy group on Tuesday began the second day of a hunger strike to protest at Indonesia's invasion of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975.
An Indonesian journalist named Joko Susilo from Jawa Pos has made a report from Oxford about people who were alleged to be the bodyguards of Jose Ramos-Horta in Oxford on 3 December. This is a complete distortion of what happened when Mr. Jose Ramos Horta gave his talk about East Timor in Oxford on 2 of December.
Sonny Inbaraj, Darwin – A number of East Timorese women have been covertly sterilised under Indonesia's national family programme as part of efforts to "undermine the survival" of its people as a distinct group, a new study says.
'I think the speculators and the money mafia are a plot by American spies', says psychic Ki Gendeng Pamungkas. 'They want to undermine the government. I don't think the IMF can do much good – they will be met with lots of demonstrations'.
Despite protests at the previous banning of "Marsinah Menggugat" (Marsinah Accuses) on 26 November 1997, the performance scheduled for 6 December at the Centre Culturel Francais (CCF) in Bandung was once again banned by authorities. The ban was reportedly carried out by the West Java police, the Bandung police and the Central Bandung police.
Jakarta – Indonesian officials denied on Tuesday that President Suharto was seriously ill after financial markets plunged on rumours the 76-year-old leader was ailing.
'Father is in good health. He is taking a rest. He is making use of his time to play with the grandchildren," Suharto's second son, businessman Bambang Trihatmodjo, told reporters.
Jakarta – Five members of the Indonesian People's Front (Front Rakyat Indonesia, FRI) began a hunger strike on the grounds of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation in Jakarta last Monday (8/12). They held the action as a protest against the Indonesian military invasion of East Timor 12 years ago, on December 8, 1975.
December 8, 1997
[A syndicated column circulated to a number of publications.]
Norman Solomon – One day in the spring of 1995, some policemen arrived and took Ahmad Taufik away. His crime? Independent journalism.
The Indonesian authorities condemned him for "sowing hatred against the government" – in other words, writing honestly about such matters as human rights.
A new organisation called Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the East Timorese People has come into being in East Timor, led by Manual Carrascalao as the chair and Francisco de Carvelho as secretary. Carrascalao who served as a member of the regional assembly for three terms is the brother of former East Timor government, Mario Carrascalao.
When established a decade ago, the Reforestation Fund promised to be medicine to heal the environmental wounds left by Indonesia's alarming rate of deforestation. Instead, the fund has become a convenient honey pot for anyone with the right connections, whether within the forest industry or outside it.
[The following is a translation of a report sent to ASIET by the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Komite Nasional untuk Perjuangan Demokrasi, KNPD).]
Chronology of the hunger strike by FRI activist commemorating the invasion of East Timor and the Indonesian Legal Aid Offices (YLBHI), Jl. Diponegoro no. 74, Central Jakarta.
The Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the people of East Timor is being obstructed by the administration in the region of Lautem. The initiative to set up this movement was taken by Manuel Carrascalao, brother of the former governor, Mario, and Maria Quintao; both are former members of the local assembly.
December 7, 1997
[The following is a translation of a statement sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (KPP-PRD) commemorating the invasion of East Timor, December 7, 1975 - ASIET.]
December 6, 1997
Timor's suffering women believe that a harsh program of 'ethnic dilution' is under way, writes Karen Kissane.
Paul Cleary in Canberra and Louise Williams in Jakarta – When Indonesia invaded East Timor 22 years ago, the population stood at 688,000 and was growing by 2 per cent a year. Today, instead of reaching a potential 1.1 million, the number of indigenous East Timorese is still roughly the same.
December 5, 1997
Dili – The identity of the four young men of Mau-bara, Liquisa is still a mystery. Witnesses interviewed by local journalists still can not gave assurance whether the killer was Fretilin Resistance group or ABRI soldiers disguising themselves as Fretilin.
Jakarta – Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief said yesterday that it was President Soeharto who ordered the use of state-owned social insurance company PT Jamsostek's funds to finance the deliberation of the manpower bill.
The Indonesian military is serious about redeeming its tarnished image, a top general said. The Nation's Rita Patiyasevi reports.
Macau – The Governor of East Timor, Abilio Osorio Soares, has ordered the police to arrest the leaders of the Movement for the Reunification and Unification of the People of East Timor (MRUPTL) recently created in Dili, the secretary-general of MRUPTL told Lusa on Thursday.
Dili – Lautem local government harassed the activity of the new East Timor Reconciliation Movement (GRPRTT). The movement itself was the initiative of ex-local parliament member, Manuel Carrascalao and Maria Quintao.
December 4, 1997
Jakarta – The Indonesian government has announced that it will stop issuing new logging permits except for Irian Jaya and East Timor.
The Forestry Ministry secretary general, Oetomo, said Wednesday that there were enough Forestry Concession Right Holders (HPH) in the country already.
John McBeth, Jakarta – Last February, an Indonesian military intelligence team filmed American human-rights activist Danny Kennedy lifting samples from the silt-laden Aikwa River in the lowlands of southern Irian Jaya. Later, when Kennedy attempted to airfreight the vials of water to Australia, he was detained and quickly deported.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's rupiah hit a record low yesterday, despite the massive International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue package, following the Soeharto Government's announcement that it would stop attempting to prop up the currency by intervening in the money market.
Jakarta – The bodies of four youths have been found in the troubled territory of East Timor and Indonesia's military has blamed their killings on rebels opposing Jakarta's rule, the official Antara news agency reported on Thursday.
East Timor army chief Colonel Slamat Sidabutar said the killing of four members of the Catholic youth group Mudika was a "terrorist" action.
Jakarta – Bank Indonesia, the central bank, yesterday denied rumors that it would convert bank deposits into government bonds and freeze U.S. dollar accounts.
December 3, 1997
Three of Horta's bodyguards were arrested yesterday by Oxford police and held in a cell in St Aldate police station after being caught beating up Ahmad Hanif, an Indonesian student, in the forecourt of St Anthony's College, Oxford University. One of them needed medical treatment because his finger was bitten by Hanif as he tried to defend himself.
Norm Dixon – Thirty-eight trade unionists protesting against the visit of Indonesian President Suharto to South Africa were arrested in Cape Town on November 20.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's Parliament is preparing to hand President Soeharto sweeping emergency powers that would allow security forces to take "preventive measures" against opponents of the regime in order to "secure national development".
Jakarta – The chief police of Dili, Colonel Rismanto, said on Tuesday he did not know the whereabouts of three East Timorese students who have disappeared since the incident at the University of Dili on 14 November.
University sources said that police wearing civilian clothes had taken three youth following clashes between students and security forces at the university.
December 2, 1997
Jakarta – Indonesia announced on Monday that it had appointed new chiefs for the police and army in Dili, capital of East Timor.
Lieutenant-Colonel Setyananto, police chief in Baucau for the past six months, was appointed to head the police in Dili, and Lieutenant-Colonel Endar Priyanto was chosen to lead the army forces in the East Timorese capital.