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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 9, 1999

Reuters - August 9, 1999

Jakarta – Hundreds of Confucians gave orchids to Indonesian riot police, burnt incense and chanted prayers on Monday to demand the government officially recognise their religion.

The 200 ethnic Chinese protesters gathered outside the office of Indonesia's General Election Commission to demand parliamentary seats to represent their community.

Jakarta Post - August 9, 1999

Jakarta – At least 10 hot spots, spread across five regencies, have been pinpointed in South Kalimantan since the end of July.

Madjedi, the head of the Environment Impact Management Body in South Kalimantan, told Antara on Sunday the sites were in Banjar Barat in Banjarmasin, Sungai Pinang in Banjar regency, Tabukan and Kuripan districts in Barito Kuala regency.

Reuters - August 9, 1999 (abridged)

Manila – Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas on Monday called "a myth" statements by East Timor's resistance leaders that the territory would vote overwhelmingly for independence if this month's ballot on self-rule was free.

August 8, 1999

Reuters - August 8, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Separatist rebels in Indonesia's Aceh province on Monday denied charges by human rights watchdog Amnesty International that they were executing military informers.

Straits Times - August 8, 1999

Jakarta – About 3,000 civilians have been roped in to help put out forest fires in the Indonesian province of Riau which have caused pollution to hit hazardous levels and the authorities to close kindergartens and put clinics on 24-hour standby.

August 7, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 7, 1999

Jakarta – An Indonesian rights watchdog group has said 82 people were killed, four were missing and 141 injured in recent days of Moslem-Christian violence in riot-torn Ambon, a report said Saturday.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 7, 1999

Mark Riley, New York – The United Nations plans to withdraw completely from East Timor if the territory threatens to dissolve into civil war after this month's autonomy ballot.

This would leave the Indonesian Army in control of the region, irrespective of whether the people vote for independence or to become an autonomous state within Indonesia.

Reuters - August 7, 1999 (abridged)

Prapan Chankaew, Dili – Indonesian ministers insisted during a visit to East Timor on Saturday that Jakarta could ensure security despite attacks on UN staff and fears of chaos after an August 30 independence ballot.

Irish Times - August 7, 1999

David Shanks – The Indonesian military is "openly and clearly distributing guns in the eastern towns of Baucau, Laga and other places. They are turning Timorese against Timorese. It is like hell," the Nobel laureate, Bishop Carlos Ximines Belo, said yesterday.

Reuters - August 7, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesian police on Saturday baton-charged hundreds of students protesting during President B.J. Habibie's visit to West Java and injured seven, witnesses said.

August 6, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 6, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Pro-Indonesia East Timorese militia on Friday attacked a group of students in a church in the township of Same, injuring one of them seriously, a foreign observer group said.

East Timor International Support Center - August 6, 1999

A meeting of top military, police, pro-autonomy and paramilitary leaders, in East Timor, has planned a guerrilla war if the autonomy plan is rejected at the vote on the territory's future on Aug 30. Also the miltias have been instructed to use violent means to disrupt voting, with the help of the Indonesian military (TNI) and the police.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 6, 1999 (abridged)

Lindsay Murdoch in Dili and Malcolm Brown – An American doctor credited with saving the lives of scores of East Timorese attacked by pro-Jakarta militias in Dili has been refused entry to Indonesia and put on a flight to Darwin.

South China Morning Post - August 6, 1999

Vaudine England, Dili – Pressure to increase the number of UN civilian police officers is increasing in the wake of persistent reports of pro-integration militias preparing for conflict.

Agence France Presse - August 6, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesian police early Friday removed nine Acehnese protesters from the grounds of the Netherlands embassy here, where they had been camped for more than 36 hours, one of the protestors said.

August 5, 1999

Associated Press - August 5, 1999

Banda Aceh – Separatist rebels in Aceh threatened Thursday to blow up a valuable natural gas refinery if Indonesia didn't withdraw troops from the strife-torn province.

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Thousands of indigenous villagers in the Irian Jaya town of Timika on Thursday protested against Indonesia's plans to carve the remote province into three parts, resident sources said. Police, however, put the number of protesters at about 100.

Straits Times - August 5, 1999

Jakarta – Aceh is to Indonesia what Georgia is to the United States – an integral part of the country. East Timor, by comparison, is like what Puerto Rico is to America, a territory.

Financial Times - August 5, 1999

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta – Police launched a crack-down on separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh yesterday, just as a general strike there highlighted growing support for secession.

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999

Jakarta – A general strike to protest military violence entered a second day Thursday in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, leaving cities and towns deserted, residents said.

Jakarta Post - August 5, 1999

Jakarta – Amnesty International on Wednesday accused the Indonesian Military (TNI) of rampant violence in Aceh and said that deploying more troops in the province would only worsen the situation.

Jakarta Post - August 5, 1999

Jakarta – The government says an estimated 470,000 refugees are now sheltering in the South Sulawesi capital of Ujungpandang after fleeing unrest in the troubled provinces of Maluku, East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya.

Reuters - August 5, 1999

Amy Chew, Jakarta – Indonesia's two main opposition parties have agreed to join forces in local-level politics, cementing an alliance that opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri hopes will carry her to the presidency in November.

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999

Jakarta – Some 42,300 troops and 11,000 civilian auxiliaries will be deployed to guard the first session of Indonesia's new national assembly in October, reports said Thursday.

The new People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the country's highest lawmaking body, reconstituted by the June 7 elections, will meet on October 1 and then elect a president in November.

August 4, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 4, 1999

Jakarta – The Indonesian government needs to act soon to stop forest fires spiralling out of control in a repeat of the widespread disaster in 1997, the country's leading environmental watchdog WALHI warned Wednesday.

August 3, 1999

Agence France Presse - August 3, 1999

Washington – The United States on Tuesday called for the quick selection of a new Indonesian president following the validation of last month's election results which show the opposition party of Megawati Sukarnoputri beating the ruling party of current President B.J. Habibie.

Reuters - August 3, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Dili – The Indonesian military continues to support militias that are harassing and intimidating East Timorese ahead of an independence vote, an agency headed by former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.

Tapol - August 3, 1999

[The following Memo was prepared by Tapol to reveal how the British Government continues to trot out totally misleading statements about the use of Hawk aircraft in East Timor.]

Australian Associated Press - August 3, 1999

John Martinkus, East Timor – They came in a snaking line across the high mountain pass. Exhausted but laughing, relieved to be at the end of a harrowing 20 kilometre walk.

August 2, 1999

Joyo Indonesian News - August 2, 1999

[The following is an excerpt from the July 29 speach by Megawati Soekarnoputri "The People's Victory in the Election of 1999" on the issue of the East Timor ballot.]

South China Morning Post - August 2, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Comments by armed forces chief and Defence Minister General Wiranto since opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's dramatic political speech suggest he is a vital kingmaker in the months of politicking ahead – but one whose loyalty remains to the armed forces.

Reuters - August 2, 1999

Dili – The United Nations Monday declared the registration process for East Timor's August 30 ballot on independence a success, saying it had already registered almost all the expected voters.

Financial Times (London) - August 2, 1999 (abridged)

Gwen Robinson, Sydney – The Australian government has stepped up its diplomatic involvement in the politically troubled regions of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, following visits by top officials to East Timor and PNG in the past few days.

The Irish Times - August 2, 1999

Tjitschke Linksma looks at the plight of East Timor refugees after travelling with a UN convoy which brought one group their first consignment of aid in weeks.

Agence France Presse - August 2, 1999

Jakarta – Some 5,000 people in the remote Indonesian province of Irian Jaya held a peaceful rally Monday to call for an independent Melanesian state, witnesses said.

The protestors, many holding bibles, marched through the town of Timika singing hymns and later headed to the office of the Mimika regent to convey their demands, one witness said by phone.

The Guardian (UK) - August 2, 1999

John Aglionby, Medan – Dozens of uncontrolled forest fires are breaking out every day across western Indonesia, blanketing much of south-east Asia in a polluted haze and raising fears that there could be a repeat of the smog crisis of two years ago.

Agence France Presse - August 2, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – A total of 7,000 troops will launch an operation to hunt down separatist rebels in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, the chief of the Aceh police said in a report Monday.

Jakarta Post - August 2, 1999

Jakarta – Officials in Banda Aceh have raised concerns over the deteriorating conditions among refugees which have reached some 140,000 people in Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh. Aceh's secretary to the governor, Sofyan Muchtar, told Antara on Saturday, "Their health is getting worse due to inadequate sanitary facilities and lack of clean water."

August 1, 1999

South China Morning Post - August 1, 1999

Vaudine England – Getting a small box of books out of the cargo office at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was how one friend learned about corruption in Indonesia.

As soon as she got out of her taxi near the warehouse, the touts arrived, waving cardboard folders that carried all the documents she required, insisting she pay for their help.

Reuters - August 1, 1999

Banda Aceh – Police in violence torn Aceh province have found 15 more bodies dumped in ravines near the site of a recent massacre, bringing the death toll to 71, police sources and residents said on Sunday.

The bodies were found on Saturday in western Aceh's Alur Baru village, about two km from a village where dozens of people were gunned down last Monday.

Agence France Presse - August 1, 1999 (abridged)

Dili – Two gunmen, reportedly members of the pro-Indonesia militia, shot dead a man in East Timor on Sunday, prompting an angry crowd to set fire to the house of a known militia member.

Angelino Amaral, 24, was shot in the street not far from his home in the Taibesi district of the territory's capital Dili before dawn following a traffic accident, witnesses said.

July 31, 1999

The Age - July 31, 1999 (abridged)

Mark Riley, New York – The United Nations is drafting plans for an administration to rule East Timor for up to four years if, as expected, the territory votes to break away from Indonesia.

July 30, 1999

Reuters - July 30, 1999

Tim Johnston, Dili – Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday the opposing factions in East Timor should share power after the August 30 ballot on independence.

But Downer, in the East Timor capital for a 24-hour visit, said there were "enormous risks ahead" before, during and after the UN-run ballot.

Straits Times - July 30, 1999

Geraldine Yeo and Yeoh En-lai – Bustling Batam became a ghost-town yesterday as residents stayed indoors and shops stayed shut after at least nine people died in ethnic clashes that started over the weekend.

Agence France Presse - July 30, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Residents in the troubled western province of Aceh have dug up 51 bodies of civilians killed by Indonesian trooops last week for allegedly possessing illegal arms, a report said Friday.

Indonesian Observer - July 30, 1999

Jakarta – About 80 workers, representing thousands of fellow workers at PT Tripatra Caltex Pacific, in the Sumatra province of Riau, yesterday reported a string of military cruelties to the House of Representatives (DPR).

They said, military personnel has shot workers at two separate demonstrations, on July 15th and 23rd, causing dozens of workers to be injured.

Agence France Presse - July 30, 1999

Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Suharto was discharged from hospital and returned home Friday after 10 days of treatment for a minor stroke, witnesses said.

July 29, 1999

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 29, 1999

Rebellion is seriously brewing in Aceh province. With an overseas arms supply, substantial funding and popular support, the Aceh Merdeka movement could pose a threat much worse than East Timor's separatist struggle.

By John McBeth in Jakarta, Syamsul Indrapatra in Banda Aceh, Nate Thayer in Bangkok and Bertil Lintner in Stockholm

Agence France Presse - July 29, 1999

Dili – The arrest of a gun-toting militia member at a United Nations registration post Thursday was the latest in a series of violent incidents in this Indonesian-ruled territory this week.

"There just seems to be a general upsurge of activity over the last four days," a well-informed local source said.

South China Morning Post - July 29, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta - Efforts by the Muslim-based political parties to offer a new presidential candidate are gathering steam, partly to avoid having a woman in the top job and partly to avoid what Muslim leaders label a "polarisation" of society.