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.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
December 8, 1997
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
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.
Timor's suffering women believe that a harsh program of 'ethnic dilution' is under way, writes Karen Kissane.
December 5, 1997
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
December 3, 1997
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.
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.
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.
December 1, 1997
Grave fears are held for the safety of Bobby Xavier, Boaventura, Cristiano Conjaka and Gaspar da Silva who are currently in detention at POLDA (the local police) station in Dili.
[The following is a translation of the text of a leaflet sent to ASIET by the Mega-Bintang-Rakyat Democratic Coalition. The leaflet was distributed widely in urban kampungs in a number of Indonesia cities.]
Suharto gravely ill, the Rupiah falls even further, Suharto's renomination opposed
Today, we, a number of artists of the Jakarta Artists Solidarity Group visited the offices of the Indonesian National Committee for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to protest against the banning of the play 'Marsinah Menggugat' (Marsinah Accuses) by the East Java regional police force.
The following are excerpts from a Human Rights Watch Asia Report: Communal Violence in West Kalimantan (40 pages), released in December 1997, compiled by Jayo.]
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – A U.S. based human rights group called on Monday for an independent investigation into violence in Indonesia earlier this year during which it said 500 people were killed, some beheaded and some the victims of cannibalism.
November 30, 1997
David Hogben – Two Indonesian security officers were arrested while installing electronics equipment in a secure zone at the Hotel Vancouver during this week's APEC conference.
The prime minister's office and the foreign affairs department confirmed Friday they were aware of the arrests earlier this week, but said they could give no details.
November 29, 1997
Jakarta – A student attacked a university lecturer in East Timor for trying to teach dispite a student boycott, a report here said Saturday.
Students at Universitas Timor Timor, in Dili, have called for a boycott to demand the release of students arrested during violence there last week.
Jakarta – An Indonesian man accused of the high-profile murder of an investigative journalist has been acquitted by a Central Java court, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Saturday.
November 27, 1997
Jakarta – Six East Timorese will be on trial accused of committing violent acts during recent incidents between students and security forces at the University of Dili on 14 November.
Concerns are still held for the safety of Bernandino Simao, Domingos da Silva, Francisco de Deus, Juvinal dos Santos and Silverio Baptista who remain in custody at POLDA (the local police station) in Dili, following their arrest on 14 November.
November 26, 1997
Jon Land – The Indonesian government is refusing to allow six East Timorese sheltering for more than three months in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta to leave for Portugal. Indonesian authorities allege that two of the East Timorese have been involved in the manufacture of homemade bombs and are members of a "terrorist group".
James Balowski – On November 18, the Javanese daily Surya reported that the chair of the Centre for Labour Struggles (PPBI), Dita Indah Sari, had been admitted to the Syaiful Anwar hospital in Malang, East Java, suffering typhoid. PPBI is affiliated with the banned People's Democratic Party (PRD).
Jakarta – The Indonesian authorities arrested on Tuesday a Timorese who they accused of murdering a policeman in Dili on 24 December 1996.
According to the authorities, Bobby Xavier, 27, allegedly attacked and killed policeman Alfredo Siga on the day Bishop D. Ximenes Belo returned to Dili after receiving the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.
Stuart Munckton and Arun Pradhan, Perth – On November 12, East Timorese and their supporters attended a protest at Parliament House to commemorate the 1991 Dili massacre.
Sean Moysey – Life in "Irian Jaya" – the name the Indonesian government gives to West Papua – is akin to the colonies of Spain in Latin America, or Europe in Africa. The land and its fruits are plundered by Indonesia. Against the immense military power of Indonesian authority stands an army of indigenous people, the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
Edward Alden – Indonesia has been under fire since the APEC summit opened in Vancouver six days ago – charged with illegally occupying East Timor, torturing opponents and jailing labour activists. Tuesday, Indonesia fired back.
Dili – The credibility and capability of the National Commission of Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) to find out ABRI's brutality in the University of East Timor late November 14, was in question. The uncertainty rose when Marzuki Darusman, the Commission's Vice-chairman acting as the Team Leader in a fact-finding mission, declared its findings.
November 25, 1997
George Tibbits, Vancouver – Police clashed with protesters Tuesday at the University of British Columbia, squirting pepper spray at them and arresting about three dozen while Pacific Rim leaders met at the school's heavily guarded anthropology museum.
Jakarta – Seventeen Indonesian housemaids died abroad while 46 others were either tortured or sexually abused over the past year, a report said.
Howard Williams, Vancouver – Two Indonesian nationals suspected of being government agents were arrested here Tuesday during an anti-Jakarta protest on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit, security officials and sources said.
"It would seem they were members of the Indonesian delegation," a senior Canadian security official told AFP.
The Indonesian Antara Newsagency claimed on 23 November that Indonesia's opposition political figure, Megawati Sukarnoputri said that East Timor is part of Indonesia. The report quotes Megawati as saying that "the integration of East Timor into Indonesia is the wish of the people there.
One rarely considered element of the environmental drama playing on Kalimantan is the widespread use of often dangerous pesticides. When big companies got an international flogging for using fire to clear the forest for plantations and new transmigration areas, someone floated the idea that chemical defoliants might be a good alternative to burning off.
November 24, 1997
Jakarta – The daughter of former Indonesian president Sukarno and a leading opposition personality, Megawarti [sic] Sukarnoputri, said on Saturday that East Timor was part of Indonesia.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – It was a disastrous week for Indonesia in what has become a publicity war over East Timor.
Any benefit gained by President Suharto's "quiet diplomacy" trip to meet South African leader Nelson Mandela was offset by a student riot, pictures alleging torture and the interrogation of East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
Dili – Marzuki Darusman, deputy chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, who is leading a team investigating an incident in the University of East Timor on 14th November, has said there were no casualties during the incident and no members of the security disturbance movement (GPK) had infiltrated into the campus as reported by various mass media outlets.
November 23, 1997
Vancouver – The Indonesian government has agreed to let Canada send doctors to assess the condition of jailed labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said Sunday.
Jakarta – Police in the Indonesian capital have arrested at least 13 people after two days of fighting between a local mafia and residents at a Jakarta market that left two dead, reports said Sunday.
The 13 people were arrested in two waves, late Thursday and late Friday, Jakarta Police Chief Hamami Nata told the Antara news agency.
November 22, 1997
President Suharto's half-brother and business tycoon Probosutedjo has agreed to drop charges against government officials for closing down his bank if they acknowledge that it is a sound bank.
"Of course we want to reach an out-of-court settlement," he said.
"We don't want to cause a headache to the governor of the central bank and the Minister of Finance."
The United States served notice Saturday that it would oppose Indonesian reprisals against Indonesians protesting their country's human rights abuses during an APEC meeting here.
Yenni Kwok, Kalimantan – The forest fires burning in Indonesia have endangered the health of millions of people across Southeast Asia, strained relations between Jakarta and its neighbors and earned the Indonesian government the contempt of environmentalists around the world.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto's son Mr Bambang Trihatmodjo is back in the banking business only weeks after his under-capitalised bank was liquidated under International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms - a move likely to further undermine confidence in Indonesia's ailing economy.