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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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May 24, 2000

Jakarta Post - May 24, 2000

Palu – Three people were killed and 15 others injured while scores of houses were set ablaze in fierce clashes that erupted in the town of Poso on Tuesday.

Green Left Weekly - May 24, 2000

Desi Utomo – In Indonesia, racism is one of the most pressing problems facing society.

Green Left Weekly - May 24, 2000

May Sair, Jakarta – Textile company Texmaco has black-listed 15 workers who led a strike at a factory here for better wages. It is refusing to allow the 15 to join the workers' negotiating team or to re-register for employment.

Jakarta Post - May 24, 2000

Bandung – Some 200 textile companies in the West Java chapter of the Indonesian Textile Association (API) threatened on Tuesday to stop production if the electricity rate hike was not revised within a week.

Straits Times - May 24, 2000

Paul Jacob – The Indonesian military's territorial affairs chief yesterday cautioned against any move towards a federal system, saying it could expose the country to "larger costs and higher risks".

Business Times - May 24, 2000

Yang Razali Kassim - The general is not saying. But it's what he fails to say that confirms it: dissatisfaction is building up within the military against President Abdurrahman Wahid.

May 23, 2000

Jakarta Post - May 23, 2000

Jakarta – The city witnessed another wave of anti-Soeharto protests on Monday when over 1,200 university students from different groups rallied at the Presidential Palace, Attorney General's Office and near the residence of former president Soeharto.

Christian Science Monitor - May 23, 2000

Cameron W. Barr, Jakarta – For Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesia's first democratically elected president, the honeymoon is over. At least by the political standards of mere mortals.

May 22, 2000

Business Week - May 22, 2000

Michael Shari, Jakarta – What happens when a government puts its biggest bank up for sale and no one's much interested? Cacuk Sudarijanto doesn't even want to think about it. As head of Indonesia's vast debt cleanup operation, he's responsible for unloading Bank of Central Asia later this month.

South China Morning Post - May 22, 2000

Chris McCall, Jakarta – They catch the thief, beat him, often burn him alive. When the police arrive they find a corpse and no one knows who the killers are.

Straits Times - May 22, 2000

Susan Sim, Jakarta – The Indonesian military will begin a pilot project by the end of the year to phase out the territorial units that used to operate all over the country on behalf of political and other vested interests in Jakarta, the chief of its territorial affairs said yesterday.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 22, 2000

Mark Dodd, Dili – Making the transformation from a revolutionary front to an orthodox political party is a lot harder than it seems for East Timor's biggest pro-independence group, Fretilin.

May 21, 2000

Associated Press - May 21, 2000

Jakarta – On the eve of the second anniversary of Suharto's downfall, more than 500 students protested in front of the ex- dictator's home Saturday, demanding he be brought to trial for alleged corruption during 32 years in power.

The Melbourne Age - May 21, 2000

Brendan Nicholson – Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid plans to visit Australia in July – the first Indonesian leader to do so in 26 years.

May 20, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald - May 20, 2000

As fresh violence erupts in Indonesia's North Maluku, an Australian-based mining firm trapped in a no-man's land has its own battle to fight. Lindsay Murdoch reports.

Islamic extremists have obtained a large cache of high-powered weapons they plan to use in a jihad, or holy war, on an isolated island in eastern Indonesia.

Agence France Presse - May 20, 2000

Ambon – Troops were issued with shoot-on-sight orders and three people were shot dead by snipers yesterday, as Christians called for UN troops to intervene in the escalating sectarian violence in Ambon. Meanwhile, trapped civilians tried to flee the troubled city.

May 19, 2000

Jakarta Post - May 19, 2000

Jakarta – Graphic campaigns promoting condom use to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS have failed to change sexual behavior, an expert said.

Publisher of the Jakarta-based journal WartAIDS Chris W. Green told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that "if there was a reason not to use condoms, then people will use that reason".

Agence France Presse - May 19, 2000

Jakarta – In the words of a close advisor, Indonesian President Abdurrahman's Wahid's honeymoon, especially with the country's press, is "sliding away fast" after only six months in office.

South China Morning Post - May 19, 2000

Chris McCall and Agencies – Activists in Aceh yesterday urged Jakarta to set up a full human rights inquiry into abuses in the province if it wants a de facto ceasefire with separatist rebels to work.

Kompas - May 19, 2000

Kwangju – A coalition is very possible between the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and the Golkar Party to build a force in the General Session of the MPR in August 2000. The chairperson of the People's Advisory Assembly (MPR) Amien Rais stated this because of the disappointment of the efficient work of Abdurrahman Wahid's government.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 19, 2000

Jakarta – Two international human rights bodies yesterday dismissed as "seriously flawed" the just-concluded trial of 24 Indonesian soldiers and a civilian for a massacre in Aceh province, saying it had missed the real culprits in the slaughter.

AFX-Asia - May 19, 2000

Jakarta – A government sweep in Tarakan, East Kalimantan last week allegedly found indications of involvement in the multi- billion dollar Borneo illegal timber trade of Malaysian military elements and timber companies, Forestry and Plantations Ministry secretary general Suripto said.

May 18, 2000

South China Morning Post - May 18, 2000

Chris McCall, Jakarta – People in Aceh have reacted coldly to the jailing of 24 soldiers and their civilian informant over the massacre of 57 people at a school last July, saying it is just window dressing.

Business Times - May 18, 2000

Jakarta – Two years after former Indonesian president Suharto was ousted from office, large parts of the industrial empire that was forged by his family are still very much in business.

Agence France Presse - May 18, 2000

Jakarta – Some 150 Indonesian reporters accredited to the presidential palace went on strike yesterday to protest against shrinking access to information there.

The boycott followed the expulsion by presidential guards of journalists covering the arrival of ministers in the front yard of the Bina Graha, the office of President Abdurrahman Wahid, said one of the reporters.

Straits Times - May 18, 2000

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Former Indonesian military chief General Wiranto was grilled for more than seven hours on Tuesday by the Attorney-General's Office over his allegedly complicity in the devastation of newly-free East Timor last September.

Agence France Presse - May 18, 2000

Ambon – Nine people were killed and at least 60 injured Thursday as clashes raged for a third straight day between Muslims and Christian in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon, witnesses said.

The violence came a day after at least 23 people were killed in the worst clashes in a month between Muslims and Christians in Ambon, the capital of Maluku province.

South China Morning Post - May 18, 2000

Agencies in Ambon – At least 23 people were killed and more than 50 injured as fighting between Muslims and Christians intensified in Ambon in the Maluku islands.

Those killed since late on Tuesday included two members of the security forces, at least 12 Muslims and at least one Christian, officials, witnesses and the state Antara news agency said yesterday.

South China Morning Post - May 18, 2000

Chris McCall – Top Indonesian human rights activists heaped scorn on yesterday's convictions in Aceh, saying they set a bad precedent for future human rights trials over a host of unsettled cases from the past.

May 17, 2000

South China Morning Post - May 17, 2000

Chris McCall, Jakarta – Former military chief General Wiranto yesterday finally resigned his cabinet post, after hours of official questioning over the bloodshed that hit East Timor last year.

Condemning soldiers who took sides in the aftermath of the historic vote for independence, General Wiranto said he was stepping down after four months suspension from his post.

Dow Jones Newswires - May 17, 2000

Leigh Murray, Jakarta – Indonesia signed Wednesday the International Monetary Fund letter of intent that outlines key economic reform programs for the government to revamp the economy.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 2000

Jakarta – Mobs who have taken the law into their own hands in the face of weak law enforcement in and around the Indonesian capital have killed 40 people this year, police disclosed yesterday.

"Increasing mob justice indicates a slide in the respect for the law," the Antara national news agency quoted Jakarta police chief Major General Nurfaizi as saying.

Associated Press - May 17, 2000

Singapore – Mild haze in Singapore and Malaysia could rapidly get worse, with more smoke blowing in from forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, officials said Wednesday.

In Malaysia, a gray pall hung over Kuala Lumpur, obscuring the upper floors of the city's skyscrapers and the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest building.

Green Left Weekly - May 17, 2000

Jon Land - The 100,000 East Timorese refugees in camps in West Timor face daily hardship and terror from the pro-integration militia gangs which control or are active in many of the 200 camps. The repatriation of refugees to East Timor has slowed considerably.

Green Left Weekly - May 17, 2000

John Gauci, Sydney – "The goal of our union is to create prosperity as a welfare state similar to that of Europe or the US", Indonesian union leader Muchtar Pakpahan told 50 unionists gathered in the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union hall here on May 9.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 2000

Jakarta – The slide in Indonesia's currrency, the rupiah, has been caused by political and not economic problems, a senior presidential advisor on the economy said here Wednesday.

Reuters - May 17, 2000

Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta – A cloud of gloom has descended over Indonesia. Its financial markets have been plunging, along with hopes that a shambling government can lead the country out of economic ruin and political bedlam.

Green Left Weekly - May 17, 2000

Jon Land – Media reports during the recent visit to Australia by East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao highlighted the improving diplomatic relations between Australia, East Timor and Indonesia. Not so widely reported during Gusmao's trip were renewed calls for the Timor Gap Treaty to be renegotiated.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 2000 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Wednesday the Indonesian economy was now on the right track, and that it would not lower its 2000 economic growth rate forecast of three to four percent, despite the weakening rupiah.

May 16, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald - May 16, 2000

Mark Dodd, Dili – One of East Timor's biggest and best known political groups, Fretilin, which spearheaded the bloody 24-year struggle for independence from Indonesia, yesterday began an historic conference to discuss its transformation from revolutionary front to mainstream political party.

Catholic News Service - May 16, 2000

Jennifer E. Reed, Washington – Priests assisting people in western Timor's refugee camps say the "vast majority" want to return to East Timor, but intimidation by pro-Indonesia militias is keeping them there, said a US human rights activist.

Jakarta Post - May 16, 2000

Jakarta – An environmental group demanded a temporary halt to operations of mining company PT Freeport Indonesia following a May 4 accident which resulted in four missing workers.

The chairwoman of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Emmy Hafild also announced on Monday the organization's plans to sue Freeport on charges of environmental damage.

May 15, 2000

Jakarta Post - May 15, 2000

Jakarta – The theft and smuggling of logs in the country is highly organized and supported by security personnel and some officials, a top government official said.

Secretary-general of the Ministry of Forestry and Plantations Suripto told journalists in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, on Saturday that the thieves equipped themselves with sophisticated communication devices.

Reuters - May 15, 2000

Grace Nirang, Sukra – Tarjan stands barechested in the middle of his small rice field. Dejected. Already suffering from three years of economic crisis in Indonesia, Tarjan has watched rice prices tumble this season, forced down by too much rain and a flood of cheap imports.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 15, 2000

Mark Dodd, Dili – It is one of the darkest chapters of East Timor's independence struggle, Fretilin's purges and murder of several hundred dissidents and political prisoners in the aftermath of Indonesia's bloody 1975 invasion.

Agence France Presse - May 15, 2000

Washington – US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday hailed last week's truce agreement between Indonesia separatist rebels from its northern oil-rich province of Aceh, pledging US humanitarian aid to support the pact.

Agence France Presse - May 15, 2000

Jakarta – Angry residents have again blocked access to a gold mine in Indonesia's East Kalimantan region, an official said Monday as a row over land compensation threatened closure of the mine.

Wall Street Journal - May 15, 2000

Jay Solomon, Jakarta – The rupiah's continuing plunge is exposing rifts inside President Abdurrahman Wahid's government and eroding confidence among many Indonesians in the country's economic prospects.

Associated Press - May 15, 2000

Daniel Cooney, Jakarta – Indonesia's economy grew slower than expected in the first quarter, leading a senior government official to warn that political instability could set back the country's recovery.

News ›› Aceh ›› News & Issues
South China Morning Post - May 15, 2000

Chris McCall, Sigli – An Indonesian soldier cannot expect an easy life in troubled Aceh at the best of times, but most assume their own colleagues will not betray them. That was a mistake for former first sergeant Maju Ali Siagian.