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.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
December 16, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
December 12, 1997
On 11 December 1997, two East Timorese men were sentenced to death after being found guilty of participating in an ambush on a truck carrying members of the Indonesian security forces. This is the first time the death penalty has been handed down by the courts in East Timor since its occupation by Indonesia in 1975.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.