In a new report, "Deteriorating Human Rights in East Timor," Human Rights Watch/Asia says the conflict in the disputed territory has intensified since a series of guerrilla attacks around the Indonesian parliamentary elections last May.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
September 29, 1997
Mrs Wilhelmina Rennie, now of Ramsay, Isle of Man, flies to Australia on Friday October 10 to give evidence on the cover-up of her son's murder by Indonesian forces in Balibo, East Timor. Her only son, Malcolm, was a reporter for Australian Channel 9 TV. Killed with him on October 16 1975, were his cameraman, Brian Peters from Bristol and the 3-man crew from the rival Channel 7.
David Miller, Sumatra – Malaysian firefighters eager to get on with the job of fighting the forest and peat fires here have been forced to play a waiting game.
The Straits Times, which followed one team of firefighters over the weekend, found that it has only handled a handful of peat fires.
Eugene Moosa, Tokyo – Aviation experts discount the theory that zero visibility in dense smog could have caused the crash of an Indonesian Garuda airliner, but they have not ruled out another theory: engine failure caused by smog intake.
Derwin Pereira, Indonesia – has rejected blame for the haze blanketing large areas of South-east Asia, saying that one of the culprits is the El Nino climatic phenomenon that no one could have prevented.
September 28, 1997
Azhar Basri, Jakarta – An Indonesian ministerial report has blamed 176 logging and plantation firms over the huge forest fires which had already choked most areas in southeast Asia, saying that those companies had conducted the dangerous slash-and-burn practice to clear their land.
[The following is a translation of an interview sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples Democratic Party (PRD)]
September 27, 1997
John Vidal – The scale of one of the world's greatest manmade environmental catastrophes was becoming clear last night as poisonous fog blanketed up to 70 million people in six south-east Asian countries and scientists warned of long-term climate disruption.
September 26, 1997
The announcement in New York yesterday by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that the Foreign Office has blocked the sale of military equipment to Indonesia is being taken as a sign that the Labour Government is beginning to implement its ethical policy regarding arms sales to repressive regimes.
Yesterday morning, September 25, 30 activists from the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi, KNPD) and workers from PT. Sindol and Mega Beta Pratama loged a complaint because of military mistreatment against them which occurred at an action on September 23.
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Forest fires in Indonesia have spread to rubber and palm oil plantations and are likely to hit output, officials and traders said on Friday.
Agriculture Minister Syarifuddin Baharsyah said 173 plantation areas were reported to be on fire, 73 of which had actually made reports to the ministry.
Ian MacKenzie, Jakarta – Burning forest peat, too hot and thick to be put out by fire-fighting equipment alone, is now the major cause of choking smog spreading across Southeast Asia, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
"Peat is causing the majority of the smoke problem. It is causing the vast majority of the smoke," a Western source in contact with forestry experts said.
September 25, 1997
Sydney – More than 10,000 Australians have said to be ready to provide shelter to East Timorese refugees facing deportation, despite risking two-year jail terms.
September 24, 1997
Jakarta – Bureaucratic problems are blocking the departure of six East Timorese who have sought sanctuary in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta and asked to leave to Portugal.
The Austrian ambassador said on Tuesday the "biggest problem is setting the exact identity of those people", stressing the administrative procedures were "complex and long".
Jakarta – Indonesian Footwear Manufacturers' Association (Aprisindo) contested yesterday U.S. shoe giant Nike Inc's reason behind the termination of contracts with its four Indonesian partners.
The twenty two year old conflict in East Timor can come to an end if the two main parties engaged in armed violence in the territory are inspired by the higher interest of peace and the well being of the people.
The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information on the detention and trial of Mr Mochtar Pakpahan in Indonesia.
Jakarta – More than 1,300 workers at two shoe factories in North Jakarta went on strike yesterday and demonstrated at the House of Representatives, demanding welfare improvements. The strikers, mostly female employees of PT Sindoll Pratama and its subsidiary PI Mega Beta Pertiwi, both located on J1. Kapuk Muara arrived at the House at about 9 a.m.
September 23, 1997
Jakarta – Indonesian police have officially closed their investigation into the 1993 slaying of female labor activist Marsinah, which had sparked a controversy in the country and abroad after they failed to prove the latest evidence, an English-language newspaper said Tuesday.
[The following is an abridged translation of a leaflet sent to ASIET by the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (KNPD) which was distributed during the strike actions by workers from PT. Sindol and PT. Beta Mega Pertiwi.]
Geoff Spencer, Jakarta – A drought that has destroyed crops across the Indonesian archipelago and other Pacific islands could force villagers to begin eating a famine diet of insects, banana tree roots and leaves, an aid official said Tuesday.
Jakarta – The Environment Minister has released a list of 176 timber companies which are considered to be "at fault" in [causing] the fires in Sumatra and Kalamantan. Many of those listed are by conglomerates owned by people such as Lim Sioe Liong, Bob Hasan, Eka Tjipta Wijaya, and Prayogo Pangestu.
Jakarta – The wife of Dwi Sumaji, alias Iwik, the defendant on the murder of Bernas daily's reporter Udin, said that her husband was at home in the night it happened.
Sunarti, Iwik's wife, yesterday was present in Bantul district court, Yogyakarta, as a witness to unveil Iwik's alibi.
8.45 am - 1.800 workers from several factories (each from different organisations), from the JABOTEK industrial area [outside Jakarta] together with students mostly from the National Committee of Supporters of Democracy (KNPD) gathered at the entrance gate to the national parliament.
Jakarta – The Indonesian military has accused East Timorese rebels of killing five soldiers and seven civilians in the troubled territory, it was reported yesterday.
September 22, 1997
Lisbon – An East Timorese couple has been killed by Indonesia's intelligence service, Intel, the Timorese Socialist Association (AST) has said.
Quoting clandestine sources, the resistance movement said in a statement on Friday that the two had been killed last Wednesday night inside their house.
Martin Wolk, Portland – Nike Inc. said Monday it severed ties with four Indonesian-based factories because they failed to adhere to the company's requirements for wages and working conditions.
September 21, 1997
Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – Pressure is mounting on the Indonesian government from various groups in the country to strike hard against firms responsible for the forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Jakarta – Indonesia has arrested nearly 600 people for alleged involvement in ethnic riots in South Sulawesi province, the official Antara news agency reported on Sunday.
Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian non-governmental organisations staged a rare demonstration on Sunday demanding immediate and serious action from authorities to combat a smoky haze blanketing parts of Southeast Asia.
September 20, 1997
The health of millions of Indonesians - and of people in neighbouring countries - is threatened by the smoke from blazing forests. As Louise Williams reports, Jakarta not only has to cope with the crisis, but stop it happening again.
September 19, 1997
Jakarta – Police Friday detained two Australian trade unionists and at least nine Indonesian activists after ordering the closure of the annual meeting of a local union, witnesses said.
But the police released two Jakarta-based Dutch journalists they had taken in at the same time.
Jakarta – Six East Timorese, including a couple with two children, broke into the Austrian embassy in Jakarta on Friday and demanded political asylum, police sources said.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the six entered the embassy at about 10 a.m. (0300 GMT) and were still inside. Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.
September 18, 1997
Up to 13 East Timorese men have been arrested in Dili, the capital of East Timor, and near the town of Semarang on the Indonesian island of Java. It is not clear if the detainees have been granted access to independent legal assistance, raising fears that they may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment if still held incommunicado for interrogation.
Naomi Lee, Jakarta – Anti-Chinese riots in Ujung Pandang, which continued for a third day yesterday, have claimed three lives, police said, as victims of the violence - including Hong Kong businessmen - told of their terror at the hands of rampaging mobs.
The riots were sparked when an apparently mentally disturbed Chinese man stabbed two Muslim girls on Monday night.
Louise Williams, Pringluan, Central Java – More than three months ago the wells dried up and the villagers began to gather to pray for rain, the elders murmuring fearfully about the last great drought of 1962 when they ate boiled bark and rats.
September 17, 1997
It may not seem to be a privileged position, but the House speaker is the key to who could succeed Suharto, writes The Nation's Andreas Harsono.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto has publicly apologised to Indonesia's neighbours over thousands of forest fires which have sent a thick haze of smoke as far north as Kuala Lumpur, exposing tens of millions of people to dangerous levels of air pollution.
Ujung Pandang – Streets in the city of Ujung Pandang were quiet Wednesday, after security forces managed to quell two days of anti-Chinese rioting, a human rights group said.
Schools, shops and offices were closed in the provincial capital, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) northeast of the national capital, Jakarta.
Muklis Ali, Jakarta – Indonesia announced deep, wide-ranging spending cuts and delays in major projects on Tuesday to help cope with currency and share market upheavals.
Finance Minister Mar'ie Muhammad told a parliamentary commission that projects worth some 39 trillion rupiah ($13 billion) would be postponed, and projects worth 63 trillion rupiah would be reviewed.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – More than 200 Chinese-owned shops and dozens of vehicles were damaged in an riot which broke out in the capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province yesterday after an ethnic Chinese man hacked an indigenous Bugis girl to death with a machete.
September 16, 1997
[The following is a slightly abridged translation of a press release sent to ASIET by the National Committee of Democratic Struggle (KNPD, Komite Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi) in support of the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Student Action Council (Aksi Dewan Mahasiswa Universitas).]
Batam – A Batam company is selling large quantities of water daily to Singapore even though the island is suffering from a water shortage, an Indonesian newspaper has reported.
Jakarta – Mobs stoned shops owned by ethnic Chinese and burned cars in the capital of Indonesia's South Sulawesi province on Tuesday after a young girl was hacked to death, police said.
They said the rioting was sparked after an ethnic Chinese man killed a girl from the local Bugis community in the provincial capital Ujung Pandang on Monday night.
Jakarta – Indonesia abruptly shifted an ASEAN environmental meeting opening on Tuesday to Jakarta from remote Sulawesi due to smoke haze causing a pollution emergency over parts of Southeast Asia.
Indonesia's President Suharto was officially opening the meeting of environment ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – Big spending cuts unveiled in Indonesia on Tuesday will severely affect President Suharto's family, among the most sheltered members of the country's business elite, economists said.
September 15, 1997
[The following is slightly abridged translation of a statement sent to ASIET by the underground Peoples' Democratic Party (PRD)]
Muchtar Pakpahan, 43, is the president of the Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI), an independent trade union in Indonesia founded in 1992 that presently has 250,000 members. Pakpahan was arrested on 29 July 1996 and initially charged with subversion for his alleged involvement in the 27 July 1996 opposition demonstration.
September 14, 1997
Two books have just been launched about journalists victimized by the Indonesian law on the freedom of the press. Terbunuhnya Udin (The Murder of Udin) details the death of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (known as Udin), who worked for the Yogyakarta-based daily newspaper Bernas.