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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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December 13, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 13, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian military is forging ahead with a plan to set up civilian militia to help police maintain law and order, armed forces chief General Wiranto said Sunday.

An initial 40,000 civilians would be recruited under the "Rakyat terlatih" (trained civilian) scheme "to be assigned in security disturbance-prone areas," he added.

Jakarta Post - December 13, 1998

Jakarta – In the face of repeated denials by the local government and military, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) announced on Saturday its conviction that political maneuvering was behind a recent killing spree in Banyuwangi, East Java, and surrounding areas.

December 12, 1998

Associated Press - December 12, 1998

Vienna – In a decision welcomed as a landmark by Portugal, European Union leaders Saturday backed calls for a referendum to decide the fate of East Timor, the former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia since 1975.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 12, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesian police will charge two prominent retired generals and 10 others with conspiracy to overthrow the Habibie Government, signalling a return to the heavy-handed repression of Government critics used by the Soeharto regime.

Van Zorge Report - December 12, 1998

Since coming to power last May President Habibie has repeatedly promised to investigate the Soeharto family and its cronies on charges of corruption, collusion and nepotism.

DeTAK - December 12, 1998

While [most] prisoners dream about and will do anything to be released from prison, Dita Sari has instead refused to be released. Initially, the only women political prisoner in Indonesia who was sentenced to five years jail, was happy to hear that she would be released on November 14. However, when she found out about the conditions of her release, Dita immediately rejected it.

Jakarta Post - December 12, 1998

Jakarta – A resounding "no" was voiced on Friday by public figures and scholars responding to the Armed. Forces (ABRI) plan to establish an armed civilian militia. Former defense minister Gen.

December 11, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 11, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian armed forces have sought to dampen fears of a military coup but are considering a controversial plan to train civilian militia to help supervise elections next year, reports said Friday.

Down To Earth - December 11, 1998 (slightly abridged)

[The following is a translation of a message sent to Down To Earth on December 9 from Padang, Sumatra. DtE has not been able to confirm the information as yet - James Balowski.]

Associated Press - December 11, 1998 (abridged)

Lisbon – Indonesian troops attacked East Timorese civilians in a village in the disputed territory, killing one person and wounding 22, an East Timor independence group in exile said Friday.

The attack took place Tuesday near Cailaco in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, according to a statement by the pro-independence Christian Democratic Union of East Timor.

Kompas - December 11, 1998

Jakarta - Uproarious anti violence demonstrations were held to commemorate the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations half a century ago on Thursday (10/12) in the capital. On the whole the action went by in a peaceful manner, even though it was joined in by thousands of students, activists, housewifes, professional people, researchers and reporters.

Kompas - December 11, 1998

Jakarta – The commemoration of 50 Years of the Universal Human Rights Declaration (HAM) on Thursday (10/12), took also place at eight other cities besides Jakarta. It was in general colored by parades, free speech fora, distribution of pamphlets and other activities. The 8 other towns were Ujungpandang, Padang, Lhokseumawe, Banda Aceh, Palu, Bandung, Semarang and Yogyakarta.

Asiaweek - December 11, 1998

The riots that engulfed jakarta last week have spent their malevolent force, at least for the time being. But few people realistically believe that Indonesia will not be hit by other upheavals as the new year opens. To think that President B. J.

Agence France Presse - December 11, 1998

Jakarta – A third day of rioting over soaring prices of fertilizers has left scores of shops vandalized and looted, three people wounded and 13 others arrested in the Indonesian city of Blora, reports said here Friday.

Financial Review - December 11, 1998

Greg Earl, Jakarta – The Indonesian Government is facing a damage bill of at least $30 billion to recapitalise more than 60 banks after the dual impact of bad lending practices and the economic crisis.

December 11, 1998

By Max Lane

[This paper was delivered at the conference: "Democracy in Indonesia – the crisis and beyond", organised by the University of Melbourne and Monash University, 11-12 December, 1998.]

December 10, 1998

Jakarta Post - December 10, 1998

Jakarta – The government and the House of Representatives agreed on Wednesday to ease requirements for existing political parties to contest the general election scheduled for next June 7.

The Age - December 10, 1998

Louise Williams – Protected by a cordon of riot troops, the man who ruled Indonesia with absolute authority for more than three decades, former President Soeharto, finally faced the humiliation of interrogation today over allegations of corruption and nepotism.

Reuters - December 10, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesia's economy is likely to contract about 14.8 percent in 1998 from the previous full year and by a further 5.8 percent in 1999, according to a Reuters poll of analysts from 12 leading brokerages and banks in Jakarta.

Associated Press - December 10, 1998

Jakarta – Angry students threw rocks and bottles at Jakarta's police headquarters while as many as 10,000 protesters choked the streets of Indonesia's capital Thursday and demanded more democracy.

It was one of the biggest days of protest since demonstrations and deadly riots forced ex-President Suharto to quit last May after 32 years of autocratic rule.

Jakarta Post - December 10, 1998

Jakarta – At least 17 student protesters were injured and 33 others detained by the police when demonstrators opposed to President B.J. Habibie and security personnel clashed near the President's residence on Jl. Patra Kuningan XIII in South Jakarta on Wednesday.

December 9, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 9, 1998

Jakarta – A brief chronology of the search for the alleged fortune accumulated by former Indonesian strongman Suharto since he stepped down from the presidency on May 21 after 32 years in power.

World Socialist Web Site - December 9, 1998

Peter Symonds – Six months after B.J.

December 8, 1998

Jakarta Post - December 8, 1998

Jakarta – Attorney General Andi M. Ghalib described the former president Soeharto's national car program, entrusted to his own son Hutomo Mandala Putra, as a graft-infested project designed entirely for self-profit.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 8, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Indonesian military will draw more East Timorese into the war against the pro-independence Fretilin guerillas by creating village militias, a move which could escalate tensions in the troubled province by pitting one group of East Timorese against another.

South China Morning Post - December 8, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The charitable foundations controlled by former president Suharto lent more money to his cronies than they gave to charity, the Attorney-General said yesterday. Attorney-General Andi Ghalib also confirmed Mr Suharto would be questioned tomorrow and two former ministers would be interrogated at his office today.

Agence France Presse - December 8, 1998

Jakarta – Three Indonesian student activists were arrested by police early Tuesday morning at their residence, sources said.

December 7, 1998

Associated Press - December 7, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Eleven people were injured when supporters of rival political parties clashed in an Indonesian town, a news report said Monday.

Fighting broke out on Sunday in Brebes, about 250 kilometers east of Jakarta, between followers of the ruling Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party, or PDI, who are loyal to opposition figure Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Info-Pembebasan - December 7, 1998

The "inter-party dialogue" organised by the Gajah Mada University (UGM) [in Central Java on December 6, which was attended by around 78 political parties was engineered. The dialogue was used to "force" all of the parties to take part in Habibie's election which will be "free" and "democratic". In reality there is no evidence that the election will be free or democratic.

Time - December 7, 1998

Terry Mccarthy, Jakarta – When Jimmy Siahae hit the ground, that was the end. The Muslim mob never let him up again. Their weapons were dull – bamboo staves, kitchen knives, metal spikes – but their hatred was sharp. Siahae was 45, a Christian from the eastern Indonesian island of Ambon, suspected of attacking their mosque.

Australian Financial Review - December 7, 1998

Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia has outlined yet another schedule for its elections next year as horse-trading over the shape of the new electoral system enters a volatile final phase.

A senior government official was quoted yesterday as saying the presidential election would be held on October 28 followed by the swearing in of a new president on November 10.

Reuters - December 7, 1998 (abridged)

Tomi Soetjipto, Jakarta – Thousands of East Timorese protesters rallied in the troubled territory's capital Monday to mark the anniversary of its invasion by Indonesian troops 23 years ago, witnesses said.

Crowds began gathering at around dawn in Dili and dispersed around midday after hoisting the East Timorese flag and laying a wreath outside the Santa Cruz cemetery.

December 6, 1998

Waspada - December 6, 1998 (summary only)

Isahak Daud, 38, was found guilty at the Sabang district court on Saturday of rebellion and the seizure of weapons and sentenced to 20 years. The court's verdict took two hours to read.

December 5, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 5, 1998

Jakarta – A group of new Indonesian graduates celebrated their last day as students by protesting on the capital's busiest traffic roundabout, accompanied by proud parents and friends.

Agence France Presse - December 5, 1998

Jakarta – Students from 14 Indonesian universities met here Saturday to launch a watchdog to monitor general elections pledged for June 7 next year, student sources said.

December 4, 1998

Inside Indonesia Digest 72 - December 4, 1998

After years of deadlock, President Habibie's offer in June of autonomy for East Timor has finally set wheels moving over the fate of the troubled territory. Every one seems relieved with the progress. Except, strangely enough, the East Timorese. Before dismissing East Timorese complaints as unrealistic, let's examine the facts.

Associated Press - December 4, 1998

Jakarta – Only eight out of more than 100 new political parties are currently eligible to contest parliamentary elections in Indonesia June 7, a news report said Friday.

Dozens of parties have mushroomed following last May's resignation of authoritarian President Suharto, who previously controlled political activity.

Agence France Presse - December 4, 1998

Jakarta – A Moslem mob Friday attacked and set on fire a Catholic church in South Sulawesi in the latest incident of religious strife to hit Indonesia in the past two weeks, residents said.

December 3, 1998

Jakarta Post - December 3, 1998

Jakarta – Former-vice president Try Sutrisno and former defense minister Edi Sudradjat, both retired Army generals, signed their names to a declaration on Tuesday to form a new political party along with nearly 100 other discontented members of Golkar.

Financial Times - December 3, 1998

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta – If there were fewer soldiers on the streets of Jakarta than might have been expected last week as Moslems and Christians clashed, buildings were torched and shops looted, it did not mean they were far away.

Dow Jones Newswires - December 3, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesia will hold parliamentary elections on June 7 and elect a new president on Aug. 29, speaker of the house of parliament Harmoko said Thursday.

Jakarta Post - December 3, 1998

Jakarta – The United Development Party (PPP) wound up its fourth congress on Wednesday by appointing new chairman Hamzah Haz and secretary-general Ali Marwan Hanan to lead it in the daunting task of facing stiffer political competition.

Far Easter Economic Review - December 3, 1998

John McBeth, Bireuen – Mention Indonesia's financial crisis to betel-nut farmer Abdullah Ali and the bony face under the floppy hat cracks into a delighted grin. "I'm very happy," says the father of seven at his modest home in the foothills near Bireuen. "Krismon" – a colloquial term for the crisis – "has been very good to me."

Tapol - December 3, 1998

A team of students which planned to visit Alas to conduct investigations into the human rights violations there was forced to return to Dili after being subjected to intimidatory actions by troops in Same to the north west of Alas.

Tapol - December 3, 1998

According to a report received today from the Peace and Justice Commission in Dili, a religious teacher named Francisco Carvalho was shot dead by two unidentified men as he was teaching at a school in Uatolari, Viqueque.

Jakarta Post - December 3, 1998

Jakarta – The majority of the Indonesian people do not believe the government's claim that the student movement has lost its purity, or that it had begun to represent the interests of a small group of people bent on bringing down the government of President B.J. Habibie, according to a recent poll.

Chicago Tribune - December 3, 1998

Liz Sly, Jakarta – Indonesia's angry students are more likely these days to shout "Down with Suharto," referring to the autocrat who was forced from office last May as the economy collapsed and unrest surged, than "Down with Habibie," an allusion to the functionary who succeeded him.

December 2, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 2, 1998

Jakarta – Thousands of Indonesian students took to the streets here again Wednesday, and managed for the first time to breach presidential palace security and directly demand that fallen strongman Suharto be brought to trial.

Retuters - December 2, 1998

Gde Anugrah Arka, Jakarta – Indonesia's ailing rupiah is out of intensive care and in the recovery ward – but anxious eyes are on the chart for any sign of a relapse.

The political turmoil and bloody unrest sweeping Indonesia has failed to dampen a steady rally that could see the rupiah breach the 7,000 barrier this month for the first time since January.

SiaR - December 2, 1998

Jakarta – Certain groups have seen indications that the riots in Ketapang [Jakarta - trans] and Kupang are forms of revenge perpetrated by civilian forces prepared by the Cendana Group in retaliation for the attacks on Soeharto's position and to serve as a warning to halt investigations into the Soeharto family.