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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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December 23, 1998

Associated Press - December 23, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – The government has approved a military plan to recruit civilians to help police fight crime in Indonesia, an official said Wednesday. Minister of Information Yunus Yosfiah said 40,000 civilians would be recruited in January and would be trained in all military training centers across the country.

Jakarta Post - December 23, 1998

Jakarta – Visiting United Nations (UN) special envoy Jamsheed Marker said he was pleased with his meeting with Armed Forces Commander Gen. Wiranto here Monday which can be useful for future dialogs on the East Timor issue.

December 22, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 22, 1998

Jakarta – Eleven members of the Indonesian armed forces will face a military court Wednesday, charged with involvement in the abduction and torture of political activists, a rights group said Tuesday.

Waspada - December 22, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Seven government offices were seriously damaged and seven people – four soldiers and three civilians – were seriously injured when hundreds of people flooded into Lhokseumawe early Monday morning.

December 21, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 21, 1998

Jakarta – Two major Indonesian student groups have said they plan to halt their almost-daily street protests during the Moslem fasting month that began Sunday, a report said here Monday.

The City Forum (Forkot) and the Jakarta Student Senates Communication Forum (FKSMJ) were considering other forms of protests during the fasting month, the Indonesian Observer said.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesia will release between 40 and 50 political prisoners, including East Timorese, later this week but top East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao will not be among them, a minister said Monday.

Jakarta Post - December 21, 1998

Jakarta – Rights campaigner Benjamin Mangkoedilaga said on Saturday that an investigation into recent unrest in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, revealed that it was not a spontaneous eruption of outrage over earlier unrest in Jakarta.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – A mob of more than 1,000 people attacked three churches, a Catholic school, a clinic and scores of houses near here on the eve of the Moslem fasting month, a report said Monday.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 1998

Jakarta – A popular Moslem leader has defended a weekend meeting with fallen Indonesian president Suharto against mounting criticism, saying the veteran leader still had a strong influence on the nation's political life, reports said Monday.

Agence France Presse - December 21, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian government, following up on the results of a government-set probe team into the violent May riots, Monday admitted 76 rapes had been committed, but denied they were organized, a minister said.

December 20, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 20, 1998

Dili – A special envoy of the UN secretary general was airlifted by helicopter from the Komoro airport here Sunday as hundreds of protestors stormed the terminal, witnesses said.

December 19, 1998

Reuters - December 19, 1998

Jakarta – The military, stung by fierce criticism, yesterday put on hold plans for a 40,000-member "bamboo militia" many fear would be nothing more than state-sanctioned thugs.

Jakarta Post - December 19, 1998

Jakarta – Protesting students involved in a clash with troops and police officers on Thursday have defended their actions, saying that assaults on security personnel were in retaliation for heavy handed crowd control measures used against them during demonstrations.

Jakarta Post - December 19, 1998

Jakarta – A day after clashes between students and security personnel in Jakarta ended with dozens injured on both sides, noted scholars, religious leaders and the military renewed their appeals for an end to demonstrations during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan.

Agence France Presse - December 19, 1998

Dili – More than 1,000 pro-independence residents of East Timor rallied in the capital Dili Saturday, preparing to greet the UN secretary general's special envoy on the territory Jamsheed Marker.

December 18, 1998

Lusa - December 18, 1998

Helsinki – Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate Jose Ramos Horta said in Helsinki on Thursday he agreed with jailed East Timorese former guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao's proposal for a transition period leading to a referendum on self-determination in his occupied home land.

Agence France Presse - December 18, 1998

Jakarta – The World Bank has decided to delay a planned one billion dollar loan to Indonesia until after elections in June of 1999, a report said Friday.

Associated Press - December 18, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Indonesian troops blocked roads near the presidential palace and other strategic sites Friday as 1,200 students staged anti-government rallies. Extra police were also deployed near the US Embassy amid fears of demonstrations in the predominantly Muslim country against the US missile strikes on Iraq.

Kompas - December 18, 1998

Jakarta – Only a week after demonstrations against violence were held in Jakarta, when another bloody incident took place on Thursday (17/12). A clash broke out between security troops and demonstrating students on the way to Parliament House/People's Consultative Assembly in Senayan.

Agence France Presse - December 18, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's national human rights body and the Catholic church have both bowed out of a state security council announced last week by President B.J. Habibie, saying they thought their membership was inappropriate, reports said Friday.

Reuters - December 18, 1998

Farah Mihlar, Colombo – A United Nations investigator Friday accused the Indonesian military under former President Suharto of carrying out widespread rapes in various parts of the country.

ASIET - December 18, 1998

[The following summary was prepared by ASIET based upon initial reports posted by the Committee of the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the People's Democratic Party (PRD) and Aldera (Peoples Democratic Alliance).]

December 17, 1998

Lusa - December 17, 1998

Lisbon – There has been a mixed reaction to jailed East Timorese armed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao's interview with LUSA earlier this week.

December 16, 1998

Jakarta Post - December 16, 1998

Jakarta – A resounding majority of people believe Indonesia has a leadership crisis, a new survey says. Good leadership is important, particularly at a time of an acute national crisis. Is Indonesia undergoing a leadership crisis? The Jakarta Post and the D&R news magazine commissioned a poll to find out what people think about the issue.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 16, 1998

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – The Habibie Government is preparing to ban former president Soeharto from leaving Indonesia amid renewed calls for him to be investigated over a wave of extrajudicial killings in the 1980s.

Asia Pulse - December 16, 1998

Jakarta – The country's debt service ratio (DSR) is predicted to reach an alarming level of 49.3% in the current fiscal year ending in March next year.

Agence France Presse - December 16, 1998

Lisbon – Portugal and Indonesia will open interest sections in each other's capitals in January as part of a slow but sure fence-mending bid between states that became enemies two decades ago over East Timor.

The row goes back to 1975 when Indonesia invaded the territory a year after Portugal abandoned it to fractious independence movements.

Jakarta Post - December 16, 1998

Jakarta – The city police arrested 259 student protesters from the City Forum (Forkot) on Tuesday for allegedly staging a street rally without the required permit. Two hundreds and fifty-one of the arrested protesters were females.

Agence France Presse - December 16, 1998

Jakarta – The people of East Timor should consider accepting an Indonesian offer of autonomy before a referendum on self-determination is held in the former Portuguese colony, jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao said in an interview published Wednesday.

BBC - December 16, 1998

Indonesian security forces have used tear gas and clubs to break up a large demonstration near the Defence Ministry in the capital, Jakarta.

Violence also broke out in the east of the country where more than 1,500 people went on the rampage, shouting "Burn Chinese shops!"

Agence France Presse - December 16, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian students have vowed to pursue their pro-reform protests during the the Moslem fasting month of Ramadan despite calls by the religious affairs minister to halt street protests, reports said Wednesday.

December 15, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 15, 1998

Jakarta – Thousands of Moslems attacked and burned down three houses and two mosques in two villages on Indonesia's Madura island, off the coast of eastern Java, following rumors a deviant Islamic sect was active there, a report said Tuesday.

Suara Pembaruan - December 15, 1998

The military commander in East Timor, Colonel Tono Suratman said that if you wanted to have a ceasefire, it would be necessary for UN monitors to be present. He was answering a journalist after holding a meeting at his command headquarters in Dili with Canadian ambassador Kenneth Sungults.

Straits Times - December 15, 1998

Susan Sim, Jakarta – Indonesia's "politically homeless" middle-class cynics, ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs, indigenous minorities and the formerly powerful will soon have their own political party – the country's 115th.

December 14, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 14, 1998 (abridged)

Dili – Hundreds of students from three universities and academies here Monday staged a demonstration at the local parliament to protest against violence and oppression by the Indonesian armed forces.

Jakarta Post - December 14, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Only a day after a bloody clash between villagers in Bali that killed at least three people, a mob of about 1,000 people rioted in the Central Java town of Surakarta in the early hours of Sunday.

Agence France Presse - December 14, 1998

Jakarta – The head of police in the Indonesian province of Central Java has ordered his forces to shoot rioters on sight after a mob rampage in Solo, a report said here Monday.

"I have issued a shoot-on-sight order against rioters in Central Java," police chief Major General Nurfaizi was quoted by the Media Indonesia daily as saying in Solo, Central Java, on Sunday

Jakarta Post - December 14, 1998

Jakarta – A group of workers joined a student demonstration on Sunday at the University of Indonesia campus in Depok, West Java, as a way of expressing their wish not to be left behind by the students.

Reuters - December 14, 1998

Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta – The Indonesian military's promise of a huge vigilante force to protect people from mounting crime and violence has only managed to add to fears that the country is an ever more dangerous place to live, analysts said on Monday.

December 13, 1998

Agence France Presse - December 13, 1998

Jakarta – Tension remained high in northern Bali despite heavy security deployed following a brawl among villagers that left three dead and scores injured, reports said Sunday

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.