Jakarta – Observers urged the Armed Forces (ABRI) on Monday to reconsider its shoot-on-sight order against rioters, saying that capturing the masterminds of recent unrest would do more to improve the military's image.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
February 9, 1999
Idi Cut – Residents have found bullet cartridges produced by the Bandung-based State Munitions Industries [Pindad] scattered around the Idi Cut Military Sector Command post in Darul Aman Subdistrict, East Aceh, the day after shots were fired to disperse a crowd gathered there early on Wednesday morning (3rd February).
Olle Tornquist, Oslo – Almost every day, I am asked two questions. The first is terribly hard to answer in a manner both brief and academically considered: what's happening to democratization in Indonesia?
Jakarta – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Alatas, denied that an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal has been reached to settle the East Timor problem by means of a referendum.
"That is not true. Indonesia shall never agree in a referendum," the Minister told Kompas who spoke with him on a long distance line to New York, Monday evening (8/2).
Jakarta – Indonesian security forces arrested scores of students Tuesday as they marched towards parliament in the first big anti-government demonstration this year, witnesses said.
February 8, 1999
John Colmey and David Liebhold, Jakarta - In the financial world they call it the poison pill, a labyrinth of cross-vested interests designed to protect a company from hostile takeover. In Indonesia, it was known as the New Order, or sometimes Suharto Inc.
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia has pushed ahead with its new quest for international assistance, as Japan confirmed it would provide $US2.4 billion before Indonesia holds general elections in June.
Jakarta The rush to prepare independent observers of the polls, slated to take place in barely five months, continues as the country's two largest Muslim organizations cooperate to prepare 123,600 volunteer poll observers.
Jakarta – Indonesia's official Human Rights Commission said on Monday religious rioting could easily break out again in the eastern island of Ambon, saying the death toll from clashes last month had passed 160.
Commissioner Albert Hasibuan criticised the military for being ineffective in preventing the unrest erupting and slow in putting it down.
They have no identity and are nameless. They are almost invisible, and, above all, certainly untouchable. Yet, they are so powerful as to have left a trail of untold deaths and massive destruction across the country in the space of only a few months.
Evelyn Leopold, United Nations – Indonesia apparently has agreed for the first time to a UN ballot in troubled East Timor as its foreign minister and his Portuguese counterpart mapped out steps that could lead to Jakarta's withdrawal from the territory by the end of the year, diplomats said.
Jakarta – Ex-president Suharto's brother-in-law, Ibnu Hartomo, has denied that he is seeking to protect Suharto by setting up a coalition of new parties.
February 7, 1999
Jakarta – The death toll from a clash between civilians and security forces in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province last week has risen to 21, a human rights group said on Sunday.
On Wednesday, police opened fire as they tried to disperse a crowd of around 5,000 people listening to a separatist speech in Idi Cut, east Aceh, 1,530 km northwest of Jakarta.
Diarmid O'Sullivan, Dili – In the garden of a house in Dili, capital of East Timor, a hundred villagers are camping out in fear of their lives. They have fled from the district of Maubara, an hour's drive west along the coast, to escape a gang of young thugs, armed and encouraged by the Indonesian army.
Troubled Province's Release To enable RI To Concentrate on Development, Says President
Jakarta – If Timor is release from its fold, Indonesia will be able to concentrate on developing its remaining provinces toward the next millenium, President BJ Habibie said here Saturday.
February 6, 1999
Jakarta – The Indonesian military has been given orders to shoot-on-sight in a bid to stamp out violence, Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto told reporters Saturday.
Jakarta – In the latest incidents of mass violence to hit Indonesia, separate mobs attacked a police post in Sumatra and burned the parliament house in West Kalimantan province, press reports said Saturday.
Michael Richardson, Jakarta – An Indonesian proposal to consider independence for East Timor if the disputed territory refuses to accept autonomy is a high-risk strategy that could encourage other restive parts of Indonesia – the world's largest island-nation – to break away or loosen the bonds holding it together, in the view of some analysts and officials in neighboring countries.
February 5, 1999
Lhokseumawe – Thousands of people coming from all parts of East Aceh made their way Thursday to Arakundo bridge to search the river for bodies of relatives missing following a clash between thousands of people and the security forces on Wednesday, 3 February.
[The following is a translation by Down to Earth of a report from Musirawas (South Sumatra) by local journalist, Taufik Wijaya. It was dated 31st Dec 1998, but received via SiaR 5th Feb 1999. Some technical details need to be checked, as they differ from information previously provided by Indonesian and Australian colleagues (see below).
Tom McCawley, Jakarta – Twenty years ago, Defense Minister Gen. Muhamad Yusuf issued a stern warning to Indonesia's armed forces. "All serving officers are forbidden to enter the world of commerce," he said. "Forget about trade if you want to be a good soldier." More than 300 military members were asked to resign.
Jakarta – The new law on political parties has cut the traditional sources of funding for the ruling party Golkar: contributions from civil servants and state companies and government contractors.
While Golkar could, under the law, still solicit money from individuals and corporations, their contributions arc not automatic as they used to be.
John Aglionby, Jakarta – Indonesian soldiers and police fired into a crowd of thousands of people returning from an Islamic prayer meeting in the north Sumatran province of Aceh, killing dozens and injuring more than 100, human rights activists said yesterday.
Jakarta – The governor of Indonesia's troubled Aceh province has called for the country to change from a republic to a federation to cope with growing separatist pressures.
The governor, Syamsuddin Mahmud, made the landmark call as new deaths were reported from clashes in the northern Sumatran province where Moslem rebels have been fighting for an Islamic state.
[The following is a transcription from a recording of a live report by Jonathan Head in East Timor.]
February 4, 1999
Dili – In November 1998, 11 East Timorese were killed and 831 displaced in the sub-regency of Alas, Manufahi regency, due to acts of terror, intimidation, detainment, torture, and arson perpetrated by the Indonesian military (ABRI).
Peter Symonds – After months of debate and haggling, the Indonesian parliament last week passed a series of amended political laws, which establish the framework for national elections on June 7. The legislation sets out in detail the new composition of the parliamentary bodies, the rules governing the election and the functioning of political parties.
East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao has pressed the Indonesian govt to disband the para-militaries in East Timor. He said their presence could trigger armed conflict, putting the lives of the people in danger.
February 3, 1999
Jakarta - Amid escalating tension in East Timor, the Armed Forces (ABRI) has denied supplying ammunition to the province to terrorize pro-referendum East Timorese and to protect pro-integration forces. Instead it has accused separatist "disturbance groups" of being behind the recent killings and terror.
Jakarta – The death toll in fighting between Moslem and Christian communities in Ambon in eastern Indonesia's Maluku province that began last month has risen to 95, a report said here Wednesday.
Jakarta – University rectors across the country are to recruit 450,000 students to monitor voting at 75 percent of the estimated 600,000 polling booths, even as experts warned of possible unrest marring the event planned for June 7.
[The following statement by the national secretariat of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET) was issued as a response to the Indonesian government's statement on autonomy and independence for East Timor.]
February 2, 1999
Margot Cohen – Presidential hopeful Megawati Sukarnoputri is unquestionably the most prominent woman in Indonesian politics today. So what has she done for women lately?
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia's powerful former first family is funding 12 political parties in an attempt to influence the June elections, opposition and party sources said yesterday.
February 1, 1999
Indonesia wants to resolve the East Timor problem rapidly because it had proved costly both economically and politically, Finance Minister Ginandjar Kartasasmita said at the weekend.
Vaudine England, Jakarta – To the beat of drums and the sound of marching bands, opposition leader Amien Rais was yesterday acclaimed as his party's leader and presidential candidate by a cheering crowd of tens of thousands.
A pro-independence demo in Dili called on people to remain calm in welcoming the Indonesian govt's announcement about independence for Timor.
Paul Daley, Canberra – Indonesia's military intelligence has offered a proposal to the East Timor resistance whereby it would swiftly remove Indonesian troops from the troubled province if former collaborators were protected.
Dili – The capital of the troubled territory of East Timor remained tense on Monday in the week after Indonesia's surprise announcement that it might allow independence.
With both supporters and opponents of the idea consolidating their plans, about 200 youths staged a rally to press for independence, crisscrossing the streets of capital Dili on trucks yelling slogans.
Greg Earl, Dili 00 It's about 500 metres from the squat Indonesian government architecture of the Dili port to the old Portuguese-style Motael church on the city's waterfront. For Dili's residents pondering the future of East Timor at the weekend, the contrast between the port and the church underlined the division in the city.
January 31, 1999
Jakarta – Irianese leaders, rebuking President B.J. Habibie for supporting the expansion plan of mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, demanded on Friday their people have a say in the process of licensing the development.
Banda Aceh – The Court Martial which sat in Banda Aceh on Saturday 30/1 sentenced Major Bayu Najib to six years' imprisonment for having viciously beaten up a number of detainees in the KNPI building in Lhokseumawe this January.
Jakarta – Hundreds of hoodlums from Indonesia's capital Jakarta arrived on the eastern island of Ambon days before it was hit by bloody riots that killed at least 65 people, a newspaper reported Monday.
January 30, 1999
Jakarta – A union of dozens of student groups said on Friday that they would appeal to the general public to join in their demands for a transitional government, which they hoped would transform the nation into a "New Indonesia".
Jakarta – The government's plan to form a civil militia has been denounced as "dangerous" by opposition leaders, but that has not stopped thousands of people in Bogor, West Java, from applying to join the civilian security units.
In statements which differ from those expressed by the government on East Timor, Abdulrachman Wahid of the NU and Megawati of the PDI both said they reject the government's proposal that Indonesia should let East Timor leave the Republic.
January 29, 1999
Jakarta – A military prosecutor Friday sought years of jail and dismissal from the armed forces for four soldiers charged with the fatal torturing of villagers under military detention in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, a report said.
Jakarta – A military tribunal trying 11 alleged abductors of political activists revealed on Thursday the involvement of higher-ranking officers who have yet to be processed legally.
Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Jailed East Timor rebel leader Xanana Gusmao Friday called for a cease-fire in his troubled homeland after Indonesia said it may free the territory after 23 years of bloody military-backed rule.