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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 31, 1999

The Age - August 31, 1999

Paul Daley, Canberra – Australia has rejected advances from the United States to cooperate on peacekeeping plans for strife-torn East Timor. The diplomatic snub comes as Washington considers whether to send the Marines into East Timor if a United Nations peacekeeping force is needed.

Agence France Presse - August 31, 1999

Jakarta – An Indonesian group Tuesday slammed world bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for failing to sound the alarm over an 80-million-dollar bank scam, despite closely monitoring the Indonesian economy.

Agence France Presse - August 31, 1999

London – The British government was forced Tuesday to defend a decision to invite Indonesia to Britain's biggest arms fair, after it emerged that British-made jets were used to intimidate people in East Timor.

August 30, 1999

The Nation (Bangkok) - August 30, 1999

Steven Gan – Today the people will decide. After 23 years of brutal Indonesian occupation, East Timorese will be given a choice: independence or autonomy. Some 450,000 people are due to vote in a historic referendum to either opt for a union with Indonesia or to put their half-island on the road to eventual independence.

Time Magazine - August 23-30, 1999

Born June 6, 1901 in Surabaya; 1927 - Founds movement for independence from the Dutch; 1945 - After Japanese surrender, declares independence and is elected President; 1963 - Names himself President for Life; 1965 - Overthrown by military takeover and later replaced by Suharto; 1970 - Dies June 21 in Jakarta after two years of house arrest.

Time Magazine - August 23-30, 1999

Eric Ellis, Singapore – Every time Christovita Wiloto sits down at his computer, the 30-year-old banker is reminded of how tough his job is. His screensaver depicts hungry sharks circling their prey – a wry metaphor for the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

Associated Press - August 30, 1999

Banda Aceh – Inspired by East Timor's independence referendum, students occupied a government building Monday, demanding a similar vote in the violence-torn Indonesian province of Aceh.

President B.J. Habibie, however, repeated that he would not allow a referendum in Aceh where hundreds have been killed this year in fighting between the military and separatists.

August 29, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 29, 1999

Jakarta – It is a murky tale which strikes deep at the even murkier heart of Indonesian banking, and heavyweights of international finance warn it could spell ruin for Southeast Asia's shakiest economy.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 29, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – Australia's senior observers have given a gloomy assessment of Monday's historic ballot on the future of East Timor, but said there was no alternative but to press ahead.

Dow Jones Newswires - August 29, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Washington – US President Bill Clinton has warned the president of Indonesia that relations with the US will be seriously damaged – including an implicit threat to curtail international aid – if there is mass violence during next week's referendum on self-rule in East Timor, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing senior administration officials.

August 28, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Protests greeted a visit Saturday to the restive Aceh province by a delegation of Indonesian ministers and senior officials bringing aid for refugees fleeing violence between troops and Moslem rebels.

In the latest attack, four gunmen shot dead a soldier in Pidie district on Friday.

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1999

Jakarta – Fires which have resumed in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan regions have ravaged at least 5,561 hectares of forest and scrub in the past month, a report said Saturday.

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Dili – The United Nations on Friday led international condemnation of Indonesia's handling of militia violence in East Timor as an exiled separatist leader called for a UN peacekeeping force.

The United Nations demanded that Indonesia crack down on armed anti-independence militias trying to disrupt Monday's vote on East Timor's future.

The Age - August 28, 1999

Craig Skehan – The Indonesian Government has hit back at foreign critics of the upsurge in violence in East Timor, arguing it does not need outside pressure over its handing of Monday's ballot on self-determination in the territory.

Australian Financial Review - August 28, 1999

Brian Toohey – Australian policy makers have fought long and hard to get the international community to trust Indonesia's security forces to prevent a bloodbath in East Timor.

The Age - August 28, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili – Under intense diplomatic pressure, Jakarta has recalled from Dili a senior intelligence officer alleged to be a key figure behind militia activity in East Timor.

South China Morning Post - August 28, 1999

Militiamen strutted the capital's streets yesterday, a day after going on a deadly rampage, as a final rally in the campaign for next week's vote fell victim to the violence.

Armed police were on guard, but there was no sign of a planned joint rally by supporters and opponents of independence on the last day of official campaigning for Monday's autonomy ballot.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 28, 1999

The battle for the hearts and minds – and votes – of the East Timorese people will not lose its passion, writes Hamish McDonald from Dili, even after Monday's referendum.

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1999

Jakarta – The savage riots that swept Indonesia in mid-May before the fall of ex-president Suharto were organized by professional agitators, Jakarta's governor was Friday quoted as saying. "They were organized," Governor Sutiyoso was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying in a two-hour hearing at the Justice Ministry with a government-sponsored fact-finding team.

August 27, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 27, 1999 (abridged)

Lisbon – The Indonesian army will fight to the last soldier if a UN peacekeeping force is sent to East Timor without Jakarta's approval, a senior Indonesian diplomat told the Portuguese news agency Lusa on Friday.

Reuters - August 27, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Lisbon – A photographer with US magazine Time said on Friday he had witnessed Indonesian police shoot dead a 25-year-old unarmed protester in the head during clashes in East Timor ahead of Monday's ballot on independence.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - August 27, 1999

Mark Colvin: We begin the programme tonight in Dili, capital of East Timor, where there's been a major and ominous development involving a shoot-out involving pro-autonomy militias and pro-independence supporters. Our correspondent, Mark Bowling, was in the middle of it and he's just endured a fairly dangerous situation getting out of it. Mark joins me on the satellite phone now.

Australian Financial Review - August 27, 1999

Tim Dodd, Dili – United Nation officials are considering whether Monday's referendum for independence on East Timor can go ahead after pro-Indonesia militia groups fought pitched battles with independence supporters in Dili's streets yesterday afternoon, leaving at least three people dead.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 27, 1999

Mark Dodd – Something is rotten in the regency of Suai. About 3,000 East Timorese refugees are living in unsanitary conditions, without adequate food, water or medicine, crammed into the grounds of an unfinished church under grass roof humpies and plastic sheeting.

Agence France Presse - August 27, 1999

Jakarta – Scores of students in the easternmost Indonesian province of Irian Jaya have protested over the alleged involvement of British elite troops in a violent hostage-rescue operation in 1996, a report said Friday.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 27, 1999

Peter Cole-Adams – Australia put military units on standby yesterday to evacuate about 200 Australians, and other foreign nationals, from East Timor after Monday's vote on the future of the province.

The Defence Minister, Mr Moore, and the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, told their Indonesian counterparts, General Wiranto and Mr Ali Alatas, about the decision in advance.

South China Morning Post - August 27, 1999

Joanna Jolly, Dili – It was after the thousands opposed to independence had paraded through Dili that a hard-core of several hundred militiamen showed the true colours of the pro-integration campaign.

August 26, 1999

The Age - August 26, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – Indonesia's top officials in East Timor are preparing to reject the outcome of Monday's ballot on the territory's future, claiming the way the United Nations will count the votes is flawed.

The Age - August 26, 1999

Antony Balmain – As East Timor prepares to vote in a United Nations ballot to decide its future, documents show Australia played an active and secret role to ensure Irian Jaya became a part of Indonesia in another UN-supervised vote – the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969.

Jakarta Post - August 26, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Jailed East Timor resistance leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao promised on Wednesday to offer amnesty to his political opponents if East Timorese voted for independence on the August 30 ballot.

August 25, 1999

Deutsche Presse Agentur - August 25, 1999

Jakarta – Logging and forest fires are destroying rainforests and the wildlife they support, government authorities and environmentalists warned yesterday.

Reuters - August 25, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Tim Johnston, Dili – A leading opponent of East Timorese independence said on Tuesday that a narrow loss in next Monday's ballot on the future status of the troubled territory would lead to a renewed guerrilla war.

The warning came as Indonesia's military warned that militants on both sides were out to provoke violence in the troubled territory.

The Age - August 25, 1999

Gay Alcorn, Washington – The Clinton administration said today that, on a practical level, it was too late for an armed United Nations peacekeeping force to enter East Timor before Monday's historic ballot, but said nothing about the possibility of a force immediately after the vote.

Associated Press - August 25, 1999

Convinced they will win a historic UN-supervised referendum by a landslide next week, up to 10,000 jubilant supporters of independence for East Timor defied threats by rivals and choked the streets of Dili on Wednesday.

August 24, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - August 24, 1999

Peter Cole-Adams – The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, telephoned his Indonesian counterpart, Mr Ali Alatas, last night to repeat Australia's concern over security breakdowns in East Timor.

Agence France Presse - August 24, 1999

Jakarta – Fresh Moslem-Christian clashes in Indonesia's spice Moluccas islands have left up to 12 people dead, scores injured and several churches torched, sources and reports said Tuesday.

Asian Wall Street Journal - August 24, 1999

Jeremy Wagstaff, Dili – The United Nations mission in East Timor has refused applications by 24 Indonesian government-linked youth groups to send observers to this month's referendum on the future of East Timor, in a move likely to deepen a rift between the UN team and Jakarta.

August 23, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - August 23, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Dili Armed militias massing in East Timor near the western border plan to go to war to stop the territory they hold becoming independent, United Nations officials have warned.

The Age - August 23, 1999

Jill Jolliffe, Darwin – Almost exactly 24 years ago, Darwin was put to the test when thousands of traumatised East Timorese refugees fleeing civil war landed from every imaginable type of vessel, only eight months after Cyclone Tracy had almost wiped the city from the face of the earth.

Agence France Presse - August 23, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesian security personnel in the capital on Monday arrested at least nine students who had attempted to protest at the palace against clinging Suharto-era politicians and political and economic practices.

Indonesian Observer - August 23, 1999

Jakarta – Police yesterday beefed up security at the US$2.5 billion Arun LNG refinery following reports of arson over the weekend, and have blamed rebels for a new round of killings in the restive Aceh province.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 23, 1999

Mark Dodd – After 24 years of fighting for independence, a senior commander of one of the world's most enduring guerilla groups says he is considering what once seemed unthinkable – a return to a normal life cut short when Indonesian troops stormed ashore in East Timor in 1975.

Reuters - August 23, 1999

The recent surge of violence in East Timor is part of a deliberate pattern to scare voters away from participating in the August 30 referendum on the territory's future status, the United Nations said on Monday.

August 22, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 22, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Some 2,000 Indonesian Moslems held a mass prayer here Sunday calling for an end to mounting violence in two of the country's major trouble spots – Ambon and the western province of Aceh.

Jakarta Post - August 22, 1999

Ati Nurbaiti, Lhokseumawe – National Police chief Gen. Roesmanhadi was in Lhokseumawe, the capital of North Aceh regency, last month. He was told there had just been contact between security personnel and armed groups, and that two police officers had been shot.

Agence France Presse - August 22, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – A pro-Indonesia group has called on the United Nations to count the votes at next week's self-determination ballot at the stations where they are cast, the state Antara news agency said Sunday.

August 21, 1999

South China Morning Post - August 21, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – While international attention is focused on the forthcoming ballot in East Timor, the Indonesian armed forces chief has threatened to impose emergency rule in Aceh.

August 20, 1999

Indonesian Observer - August 20, 1999

Jakarta – Former President Soeharto left hospital yesterday after five days of treatment for intestinal bleeding as his lawyer brushed aside rumors his client is seeking treatment abroad.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 20, 1999

Mark Dodd – With 10 days remaining before East Timor votes on self-determination, the head of the United Nations mission in Dili, Mr Ian Martin, has called for the removal of Indonesian Army personnel involved in deadly pro-Jakarta militia violence.

Agence France Presse - August 20, 1999

Dili – Armed pro-Indonesian militia attacked a crowd of people outside a church compound in the East Timor town of Suai, leaving several injured, a rights group said here.