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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 20, 1999

The Australian - August 20, 1999

Don Greenlees – Several hundred East Timorese militiamen handed over a motley collection of homemade pistols and rifles at a military-style parade in Dili yesterday in a symbolic gesture of compliance with agreements to disarm ahead of the August 30 ballot.

Carter Center - August 20, 1999 (abridged)

The popular consultation moved into a new phase this week, with the end of the registration process and the beginning of the political campaign period, which is scheduled to run through August 27.

Agence France Presse - August 20, 1999

Jakarta – Continued violence between separatists and the military has claimed 11 lives in the past two days in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, sources and reports said Saturday.

Agence France Presse - August 20, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Dili – The 24th anniversary of East Timor's main armed separatist group, Falintil, was marked Friday with flag raisings, weddings and baptism across the territory.

August 19, 1999

Wall Street Journal - August 19, 1999

Sidney Jones, Hong Kong – On August 30, barring further delays, the people of East Timor will vote on whether they wish to remain part of Indonesia as an autonomous region or form an independent state. Virtually all eligible voters, almost 450,000, have now registered, despite violence and intimidation from Indonesian army-backed groups to prevent them from doing so.

Associated Press - August 19, 1999

Stephen Spencer, Canberra – Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today lashed out at critics of Australia's East Timor policy in an extraordinarily bitter speech that also branded his opposition counterpart Laurie Brereton loopy.

Far Eastern Economic Review - August 19, 1999

John McBeth – These are uncertain times for Indonesia's 4 million bureaucrats as they struggle to adjust to a new political environment in which public scrutiny is putting old practices at risk. Many civil servants have found themselves the target of public wrath for past or present infractions.

Agence France Presse - August 19, 1999

Jakarta – Ailing former Indonesian President Suharto has been found well enough to return home, but it was uncertain whether he would leave soon or later in the week, the head of his team of doctors said.

Agence France Presse - August 19, 1999

Jakarta – A leading Indonesian environmental watchdog said Thursday it had filed suit against President B.J. Habibie over a failed government project to develop one-million hectares (370,000 acres) of peat bog in Borneo.

Agence France Presse - August 19, 1999

Ambon – Authorities have suspended all civilian flights to this riot-torn Indonesian city because of escalating Moslem-Christian violence and handed the airport over to the military, sources said Thursday.

A duty officer at the military information office said the suspension affected all commercial flights to and from Pattimura civilian airport, across a bay from the city.

August 18, 1999

Jakarta Post - August 18, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Independence Day was quiet in Dili, the capital of East Timor, where people preferred to attend the anniversary of the separatist group Falintil. Merriment, however, was still seen among pro-Indonesia groups rallying the city in various vehicles in the campaign ahead of the August 30 self-determination vote.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 18, 1999

There will be fierce retaliation if Jakarta thwarts East Timor's independence ballot, writes Jose Ramos Horta.

The ballot to determine East Timor's future could turn into the biggest electoral fraud of modern times. Intimidation and violence remain widespread ahead of the August 30 referendum, despite the repeated promises by Indonesian authorities to end the terror.

South China Morning Post - August 18, 1999

As violence flared on the eve of the nation's 54th Independence Day, leaders of the main political parties launched a scathing attack on President Bacharuddin Habibie's state of the nation speech, saying it showed he lacked the will to weed out corruption.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 18, 1999

Mark Dodd – Indonesia marked its independence anniversary in East Timor yesterday in a gala ceremony that may be its last in the troubled territory, which is less than a fortnight away from the United Nations-organised ballot on self-determination.

Associated Press - August 18, 1999

Washington – Indonesia is failing to protect voters in East Timor against widespread harassment ahead of an August 30 referendum on the disputed territory's future, Amnesty International asserted Wednesday.

The human rights organization cited "unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and disappearances," including a new outbreak of violence earlier Wednesday.

August 17, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - August 17, 1999

Yenny Zannuba, Jakarta – Detained East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao has warned that his forces will track down and kill Indonesian soldiers caught supplying weapons to rival pro-Jakarta militias.

Associated Press - August 17, 1999

Slobodan Lekic, Jakarta – Indonesia's independence day was marred today by clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot police in Jakarta, the strafing of East Timor's separatist movement's headquarters and reports that five people were killed in strife-torn Aceh province.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - August 17, 1999

The first half of 1999 has seen an alarming escalation of human rights violations in East Timor. The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) today launched a new report detailing this serious rise in violations between January to June 1999.

Associated Press - August 17, 1999

United Nations – In an effort to prevent retaliation against voters, the results of East Timor's upcoming ballot won't contain a geographic breakdown of independence supporters and opponents, a senior UN official said Tuesday.

August 16, 1999

Associated Press - August 16, 1999 (abridged)

Aceh – Troops shot a man to death as he ripped down an Indonesian flag in Aceh province Sunday, police and residents said Monday.

North Aceh police chief Syafei Aksal said soldiers killed the civilian in Lhoksukon district, near the city of Lhokseumawe, about 1,750 kilometers northwest of Jakarta.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 16, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili – More than 4,000 exuberant East Timorese crammed around a small waterfront office in Dili yesterday, watching as the independence flag was raised for the first time in 23 years, marking the beginning of the Falintil party's referendum campaign.

Straits Times - August 16, 1999

Marianne Kearney, Dili – Despite a huge turnout at an independence rally in Dili on Saturday, leaders of East Timor's independence movement (CNRT) announced they would not stage campaign rallies, due to fear of attacks by pro-autonomy groups.

Jakarta Post - August 16, 1999

Jakarta – Gen. Wiranto launched a verbal offensive on Saturday against attacks on the human rights record of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and its perceived apathy toward reform.

August 15, 1999

The Observer (UK) - August 15, 1999

John Aglionby, Jakarta – The company of Indonesian soldiers was clearly very frightened. Two of their colleagues and one civilian were dead, three other soldiers and half-a-dozen civilians were badly injured; the ground was littered with spent cartridges.

Washington Post - August 15, 1999

Keith B.

Agence France Presse - August 15, 1999

Dili – Seven men accused of taking part in a militia attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in East Timor have been jailed for four months, a UN spokesman said Sunday.

The accused were ordered to serve their sentences "with no time off," David Wimhurst, spokesman for the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), told AFP. He did not elaborate on when the sentences were handed down.

August 14, 1999

Sydney Morning Herald - August 14, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili – East Timor's military commander has been recalled on the eve of the political campaign leading up to the August 30 referendum to decide the territory's future.

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1999

Jakarta – Former Indonesian President Suharto on Saturday returned the Pertamina hospital where he had been treated for a mild stroke last month, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"He came in at 10am and that is about the only thing I can say," spokeswoman Susilowati said. "It is only normal for someone who has been treated for a stroke, there are controls to be done.,

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesian Military Chief General Wiranto on Saturday hinted for the first time that he is willing to negotiate with Aceh guerrillas to end the violence which has plagued the province for decades.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 14, 1999

The Free Aceh guerillas are vowing to fight to the death as Indonesian troops step up their crackdown in the province. Lindsay Murdoch talks to those in the firing line.

Financial Review - August 14, 1999

Tim Dodd – Indonesian marines, in their trademark purple berets, walked slowly through the village in double file, automatic weapons at the ready, while people hid in their houses. Today they did not search buildings or take anybody away.

August 13, 1999

Reuters - August 13, 1999

Canberra – Australia said on Friday it appeared the Indonesian military was becoming less involved with East Timor's pro-Jakarta militias, accused by the United States of intimidation ahead of an August independence ballot.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 13, 1999

Mark Dodd, Dili – Two students were killed after an attack by pro-Indonesian militia on Wednesday which has raised serious questions about the impartiality of local police in the lead-up to the ballot on East Timor's future.

Reuters - August 13, 1999

Jakarta – The United Nations has endorsed the setting up of a special council to oversee the disputed region of East Timor after it holds an August 30 ballot on independence, a top UN official said on Friday.

Dow Jones Newswires - August 13, 1999

New York – The International Monetary Fund Friday issued a blunt warning to the Indonesian government to quickly get to the bottom of a scandal involving PT Bank Bali and a senior official of the ruling Golkar party.

August 12, 1999

Far Eastern Economic Review - August 12, 1999

Hong Kong – The Review has obtained a confidential report prepared for the central bank by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. that shows Bank Indonesia bent its own rules to save seven institutions earlier this year. The most prominent is Bank Nusa Nasional, owned by the family of influential businessman Aburizal Bakrie, a member of Habibie's board of economic advisers.

Reuters - August 12, 1999

Ambon – Indonesian soldiers opened fire on a church in the ravaged island of Ambon killing 24 people, the priest who buried most of the dead told Reuters Thursday.

August 10, 1999

Reuters - August 10, 1999

Canberra – The United States denied a newspaper report Tuesday that it told Australian defense strategists in June it would consider deploying up to 15,000 troops to East Timor if bloodshed escalated there.

Jakarta Post - August 10, 1999

Jayapura – Members of the National Commission on Human Rights concluded from their visit here saying that the Irianese lived in fear.

Associated Press - August 10, 1999

Ambon – Muslim and Christian mobs fought street battles in eastern Indonesia, killing at least 18 people and injuring about 120, police and hospital workers said today. Riot police shot and killed some people, witnesses said. Mobs stabbed or beat others.

The Age - August 10, 1999 [abridged]

Paul Daley, Canberra – American military officials told Australian defence strategists in June that the US would consider deploying up to 15,000 troops to East Timor, if bloodshed dramatically escalated in the troubled Indonesian province.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - August 10, 1999

Dili – Indonesian opposition leader and presidential front-runner Megawati Sukarnoputri on Tuesday appealed to supporters in East Timor to vote for autonomy rather than independence in the territory's August 30 referendum.

Agence France Presse - August 10, 1999

Sydney – Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was accused Tuesday of deceit after being forced to admit he was wrong to deny that US officials had suggested Australian participation in a peacekeeping force for East Timor.

Jakarta Post - August 10, 1999

Jakarta – Amien Rais praised Abdurrahman Wahid for the latter's willingness to be presidential candidate of the new political alliance that Amien forged, called "the axis force," and said the assent was a boost to democratization.

Jakarta Post - August 10, 1999

Jakarta – A group of around 200 students rallied outside the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Monday, demanding the disbandment of its Team of 15, whose members have been suspected of abusing their authority in the selection of interest group representatives for the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

Straits Times - August 10, 1999

Susan Sim, Banda Aceh – Pressure is mounting on Jakarta to hold peace talks with a belligerent separatist group it is trying to crush and make a policy shift that could amount to an admission that it has lost political and moral authority in the country's westernmost province.

August 9, 1999

Straits Times - August 9, 1999

Susan Sim, Pidie – Village chief Idris Yahya started packing when he heard the machine-gun fire early Friday morning. PPRM riot troops were in the vicinity and that meant one thing: It was no longer safe to stay in Keumala.

Reuters - August 9, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – At least 20 people have been killed in new unrest in Indonesia's bloodied Aceh province, including 14 civilians blasted to death by grenades, separatist rebels and human rights groups said Monday.

Straits Times - August 9, 1999

Susan Sim, Banda Aceh – One year after the Indonesian military apologised for past abuses and pledged to withdraw troops, a humanitarian crisis is brewing in Aceh as a renewed crackdown on armed insurgents creates a growing refugee problem, social activists here warn.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - August 9, 1999

Dili – Representatives from East Timor's rival political factions on Monday agreed to commit themselves and their supporters to a peaceful referendum campaign in the lead-up to a self-determination ballot scheduled for August 30.