Sydney – Amnesty International said on Thursday that torture, disappearances and unlawful killings continued in Indonesia despite President B.J. Habibie's human rights reforms since coming to power in May 1998.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
March 18, 1999
Gerry van Klinken – Is Indonesia's social fabric disintegrating? Or are the peasants simply in revolt? It's time to take a serious look at the accepted wisdom on what lies behind the epidemic of social unrest in this vast archipelago. Those outside Indonesia have seen their TV screens filled with images of smoke-blackened shops and Indonesian parents weeping over dead children.
March 17, 1999
Peter Symonds – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced last Thursday that Portuguese and Indonesian representatives had agreed to a "direct" ballot for the people of East Timor to decide on an autonomy plan being drawn up by the Indonesian regime.
Melbourne – Australia's defence forces have been placed on their highest level of military preparedness since the Vietnam War, in what analysts see as a clear sign of Canberra's growing unease with regional instability across Asia.
Jakarta – Indonesian authorities are to investigate whether relatives of former president Suharto are selling lavish London properties, and have called back his son-in-law from abroad for questioning, officials said Wednesday.
Canberra – Indonesian soldiers sent to quell religious rioting on Ambon worsened the violence because they were not trained in non-lethal crowd control, the US-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Jakarta - The links between Pramoedya Ananta Toer and the People's Democratic Party (PRD) go back some time, starting in 1996. This matter was raised by the PRD's representative in the General Election Committee (KPU), Hendri Kuok, in a special interview with Detikcom at the KPU offices on Wednesday, March 17.
March 16, 1999
Vaudine England, Jakarta – Only three per cent of Indonesians see any connection between democracy and elections – but nearly everyone intends to vote in the country's June poll.
Indonesians also feel cautiously optimistic about their country's direction and future despite their concerns about the economy, according to the first nationwide survey of Indonesians' views.
Jakarta – Scattered protests by bank employees greeted the weekend closure of 38 private banks here on Monday as owners of the closed banks mulled whether to sue the government over the move.
Jakarta – More than 200 East Timorese have reportedly been paid sums equivalent to between 50 and 100 euros to take part in a Wednesday pro-Indonesia demonstration in front of the Jakarta residence where East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao is held under house arrest.
Jay Solomon, Jakarta – Abdurrahman Wahid, the chairman of Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, ruled out supporting opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri for president. Instead, he said NU and its main political arm, the National Awakening Party, or PKB, would back either himself or the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamungkubuwono X.
Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, quietly confident of securing the presidency this year, has vowed to put up a "clean and respectable" government with the will to restore confidence to a country rocked by a financial crisis and ethnic bloodshed.
Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has set up a seven-member team, called the Team of Seven, to make a draft electoral code of conduct and stipulate internal rulings.
Commission chairman Rudini said it selected seven names from the 53-member commission to form the small team on the issues.
March 15, 1999
Jakarta – Leftist author Pramudya Ananta Toer hailed by international critics as Indonesia's leading modern novelist but gagged here until the fall of Suharto, is travel abroad for the first time in 40 years, Fordham University said Monday.
Martin Regg Cohn, Pusong – As Muslim worshippers ambled toward the onion-shaped domes of the village mosque, truckloads of combat troops moved into position. For the soldiers lying in wait, the noon call to prayer was their cue to attack.
Ambon – Indonesian forces on the ravaged island of Ambon have been ordered to shoot residents who refuse to surrender weapons, a senior commander said.
"The security apparatus will take the policy of asking the people to surrender their weapons voluntarily at least three times," Colonel Karel Ralahalu told a news conference late on Sunday.
Michelle Grattan – Australians could be in East Timor by late next month as part of a United Nations contingent helping to plan for a July-August election on independence.
Jakarta – The 53 members of the newly established National Elections Committee (KPU) are to convene on Monday morning to discuss a draft code of conduct for election campaigning, which includes a ban on mass mobilization of supporters.
Jayapura – Irian Jaya Governor Freddy Numberi has confirmed that the government has rejected the Irian Jaya people's demand for the independence of West Papua (Irian Jaya) which representatives of the Irian Jaya people conveyed to President B.J. Habibie during a recent dialogue.
March 14, 1999
Sydney – The Indonesian government remained committed to releasing jailed resistance leader Jose Xanana Gusmao from house detention, possibly before a vote on the future of East Timor, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in an interview screened here.
Geoff Spencer, Ambon – Indonesian soldiers raided homes and searched boat passengers Sunday in a security crackdown on the island of Ambon to quell fighting between Christians and Muslims that has killed more than 200 people in less that two months.
Despite their efforts, 15 houses were burned near a military hospital after nightfall.
Dili – The first Portuguese diplomat to visit East Timor since Indonesia's 1975 invasion met with the troubled territory's two Roman Catholic bishops Sunday, amid reports of renewed factional violence.
Soraya Permatasari, Jakarta – Indonesia's textile industry, once a significant national breadwinner, has withered into a shadow of its former self under the strains of the country's deep economic crisis.
Huge exposures to foreign borrowings and expensive raw materials have undermined what was a major export earner.
Labour is exporting more guns and other military equipment to Indonesia than the Tories – in spite of Robin Cook's much-vaunted "ethical" foreign policy. Sales of small arms, including machineguns, have even doubled under Labour.
Andrew Marshall, Dili – East Timor, according to Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, is "nothing but rocks." And if this impoverished region chooses independence, it faces the daunting task of building an economy from rubble.
March 13, 1999
London – The Blair Labour Government is exporting more than its predecessors, a British newspaper has revealed, despite Indonesia's ongoing illegal occupation of East Timor.
Sander Thoenes – The prospect that Indonesia may annul the 1975 annexation of East Timor before the end of this year, following a vote in which Timorese are expected to reject an offer of autonomy, has sent thousands of non-Timorese packing.
Gde Anugrah Arka, Jakarta – Indonesia said on Saturday it had closed 38 banks as part of a cleanup of the debt-laden industry considered crucial to efforts to rescue its ravaged economy.
March 12, 1999
Jakarta – Rock-throwing students damaged at least four churches and four Catholic schools in Ujunagpandang, the capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province, witnesses said Friday.
Jakarta – A human rights group has called on the government to unconditionally release jailed Indonesian political party leader Budiman Sujatmiko, dismissing an offer of clemency as unacceptable, press reports said Friday.
Jakarta – Former president Suharto's youngest son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, was slapped under city arrest for 20 days Friday pending trial for his alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar land scam.
Jakarta – Jailed East Timor rebel leader Xanana Gusmao on Friday led international praise for Indonesia's agreement to hold a direct vote in East Timor that could speed the process to independence.
Andrew Marshall, Maubara – A pro-Indonesia militia controls this town. Men armed with rifles, spearguns and knives patrol the streets.
Maubara has been torn apart. Thousands have fled in fear for their lives. But the men accused of causing the trouble say it is not their fault.
March 11, 1999
Ambon – Religious violence worsened on riot-torn Ambon Island after outnumbered troops opened fire on Muslim and Christian mobs fighting each other with spears, knives and gasoline bombs. Religious officials said 12 people were killed.
Jakarta – Lawyers for ex-Indonesian president Suharto on Thursday filed legal papers with the attorney general's office to demand that an inquiry into the former leader be stopped as hundreds of pro-Suharto protestors demonstrated outside.
Evelyn Leopold, United Nations – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced Thursday that Indonesia and Portugal had agreed on a "direct" ballot for the people of East Timor to decide whether they wanted autonomy or independence.
Jakarta – A former general and minister in the Suharto administration was elected chairman of Indonesia's newly-established election commission Thursday and sworn in hours later by President B.J. Habibie.
Jakarta – A soldier and a local official, were shot dead by unidentified men in separate incidents in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, it was reported here Thursday.
Ambon – Fires from burned homes smouldered and occasional warning shots rang out Thursday in the empty and tightly-guarded streets of Ambon, a day after renewed Moslem-Christian street battles.
"There is still some burning of homes in the eastern part of the city at the Tantui village, but it is unclear how many homes have been damaged," a reporter said.
Jakarta – The heads of warring factions in East Timor Thursday said they had agreed to work towards peace after a landmark meeting on hostilities in the strife-torn territory.
Eduardo Lachica – An Indonesian opposition leader called on the US to help his country conduct free and fair elections, and Washington may be only too happy to oblige.
Demonstrations held on March 11 in a number of cities were not to commemorate the anniversary of the Supersemar, the document which enabled General Suharto to carry out a coup against Sukarno. Instead it became a momentum for simultaneous mass actions.
Ambon – Indonesian police Thursday handed over control of this riot-torn city to the army, after a day of pitched battles between Moslems and Christians that left up to 10 dead and scores wounded.
Jakarta – Student protesters, demanding the resignation of President B.J. Habibie, threw rocks at riot police who blocked them from marching on to Parliament Thursday.
The march through central Jakarta was the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations by students unhappy about the pace of political reform in the world's fourth-most populous nation.
Jakarta – Opposition leader Megawati Soekarnoputri has claimed her party won't oppose independence for East Timor, but as long as the province remains part of Indonesia, the military has every right to defend it, says one of her aides.
Jakarta – The Indonesian government is uncertain whether this year's landmark national election will be able to go ahead in East Timor or the troubled city of Ambon, a senior official said Thursday.
March 10, 1999
Jakarta – Indonesian students pressing for the trial of former President Suharto say it is the only way to restore public faith in the government of Dr B.J. Habibie, The Jakarta Post has reported.
United Nations – Indonesia on Wednesday denied "back-pedaling" on autonomy proposals for East Timor, but ruled out an agreement on a draft autonomy package at current talks here.
Jakarta – The World Bank's exposure to Indonesia is approaching its limit of 13.5 bln usd for a single large borrower, reducing the scope for additional lending in the next few years, the bank said in an interim assistance strategy document.
150 students on work experience from Syiahkuala University, Banda Aceh, who have been placed in North Aceh protested against Mobil Oil Indonesia on Monday 8/3.
The students protested with banners and by making speeches demanding that Mobil Oil take full responsibility for the environment, work force, community development. The protest took place between 10.00 and 15.00.