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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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May 20, 2002

Sydney Morning Herald May 20, 2002

Tom Hyland and Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – East Timor became an independent nation early this morning but a row over the unauthorised arrival of Indonesian warships highlighted the potential fragility of its hard-won freedom.

British Broadcasting Corporation - May 20, 2002


"If 92 countries are gathered here today it is because the settlement of the question of East Timor was the responsibility of the international community.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta – The US Congress will evaluate the embargo imposed on the Indonesian Military (TNI) in July, pending the completion of the ongoing Human Rights Tribunal in the country against military and civilian officials accused of committing gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999, an official said on Saturday.

ABC Lateline - May 20, 2002

[East Timor has claimed its independence. How is the new nation viewed by its imposing neighbour, Indonesia? Tony Eastley speaks with Wimar Witoelar, who was spokesman for Indonesia's former president Abdurrahmin Wahid, and who is now a visiting professor of journalism at Deakin University, in Victoria. Compere: Tony Eastley Reporter: Tony Eastley.]

Scott Burchill - May 20, 2002

As the East Timorese celebrated their hard-won independence overnight, spare a thought for the Jakarta lobby in Australia, including luminaries such as Dick Woolcott, Gough Whitlam, Gareth Evans and Paul Keating, to name only a few. How must they feel?

These men have dedicated much of their professional lives to opposing just such an event.

Baltimore Sun - May 20, 2002

Ben Terrall, Oakland, California – East Timor will celebrate its independence today after throwing off a 24-year Indonesian military occupation that killed 200,000 East Timorese.

Pacific News Service - May 20, 2002

Ben Terrall – As the world's newest nation looks forward, the US must look back at its complicity in East Timor's bloody past. Recently declassified documents reveal that the United States gave a "green light" to Indonesian dictator Suharto before his invasion of East Timor. It's no time, writes PNS contributor Ben Terrall, to renew military aid to Indonesia.

Reuters - May 20, 2002

Dili – Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri was greeted by 50 silent protesters shortly after she arrived in East Timor late on Sunday to attend independence events for a territory Jakarta once ruled with an iron fist.

South China Morning Post - May 20, 2002

Harald Bruning, Macau – East Timor's constitution, which came into force at midnight last night, is a combination of civil guarantees, national fervour and provisions for social welfare and public ownership of the half-island's natural resources.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 20, 2002

[It's the world's newest republic, but it will take a long time for old sores to heal. Lindsay Murdoch and Tom Hyland explain why guilty parties on both sides will get off scot-free.]

Reuters - May 20, 2002

Dili – East Timor formally swore in its cabinet on Monday, hours after the tiny territory became independent and new President Xanana Gusmao took office.

Melbourne Age - May 20 2002

Tom Hyland, Dili – Prime Minister John Howard has rejected suggestions that Australia has treated East Timor unfairly in negotiations over the carve-up of rich oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

Asia Pulse - May 20, 2002

Dili – On their first day of East Timor's independence, leaders of the new country raised the prospect of taking Australia to court to gain a greater share of the rights to resources in the waters dividing the two countries.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Yemris Fointuna, Atambua – As East Timorese proclaimed their hard-fought independence at midnight on May 19 and changed the name of their country to Timor Lorosae, some 30,000 refugees originally hailing from the new country opted to remain in Indonesia.

The Australian - May 20, 2002

Don Greenlees, Dili – Soon after sundown in a football field here, Domingos Ribero's gaze fixes on the screen of a makeshift outdoor cinema. Images from East Timor's violent past unfold before him, captivating a large audience who have been exposed to little of their own history.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Jakarta – The Indonesian Catholic society declared on Saturday the establishment of the Democratic Solidarity of Indonesian Catholics, a social organization which will serve asan alternative medium to channel people's concerns on current social and political issues.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Oyos Saroso, Bandar Lampung – Fishermen in Lampung have accused a sugar cane plantation company of polluting waters off the province's Pelabuhan Panjang, killing thousands of tons of fish.

The Lampung Fishermen's Association (SNL) urged that PT Gunung Madu Plantation (GMP) be taken to court and be ordered to pay damages of more than Rp 1 billion.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Jakarta – Assembly Speaker Amien Rais said on Monday that the nation must accept the fact that its former province of East Timor had become the world's newest country, reports said.

Straits Times - May 20, 2002

Robert Go, Jakarta – When Mr Haryanto, who runs a hardware store in West Jakarta, takes a payment from a customer these days he quickly scans the rupiah bills under a blue-light device designed to spot fakes.

"Some of the fakes are very difficult to tell apart from the genuine bills," he said.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, Jakarta – Human rights activists have set an early deadline for the government to open an ad hoc court to try military and police officers for alleged gross human rights violations in May 1998.

Straits Times - May 20, 2002

Ambon – Muslims in the riot-hit Indonesian province of Maluku yesterday surrendered hundreds of weapons and explosives to the security authorities.

Jakarta Post - May 20, 2002

Jakarta – Vice President Hamzah Haz expressed on Monday his sympathy over the Seroja fighters' frustration at President Megawati Soekarnoputri's visit to East Timor, but reminded the nation to move forward and to not only look at the past, reportssaid.

May 19, 2002

IMC - May 19, 2002

Simba – Today on the eve of the independence ceremonies for East Timor many of the international delegates arrived to address the press. At one press conference was the Australian president (sic) John Howard who was greeted by members of the International Solidarity Movement of West Papua and Aceh.

Sunday Telegraph (London) - May 19, 2002

Philip Sherwell – East Timor has not known a weekend like it. The flags of the world fluttered above Dili yesterday as workmen gave a final spruce-up to the down-at-heel waterfront capital before the arrival of dignitories from nearly 100 countries, including Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, for tonight's independence celebrations.

Australian Associated Press - May 19, 2002

An Australian with one of the closest associations with East Timor, former diplomat James Dunn, has concerns about East Timor's future as an independent country.

Boston Globe - May 19, 2002

Michael Casey, Liquica – Marie Fernanda remembered hearing the voices of the approaching attackers as her family was fixing dinner three years ago.

May 18, 2002

Jakarta Post - May 18, 2002

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Governor Abdullah Puteh held a closed-door meeting with activists of the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA) in Medan, North Sumatra on Thursday to familiarize them with the outcome of the peace talks in Geneva.

Straits Times - May 18, 2002

Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – Spurred on by recent problems between President Megawati Sukarnoputri and her deputy, national assembly chairman Amien Rais is fast moving in to consolidate his links with moderate Muslim groups to strengthen his position with an eye on the 2004 polls.

Melbourne Age - May 18, 2002

Mark Forbes – Australia and East Timor have reached agreement over exploiting the rich oil and gas fields in the Timor Gap, with Prime Minister John Howard to sign a treaty at independence celebrations in Dili next week.

Jakarta Post - May 18, 2002

Muhammad Nafik, Jakarta – East Timor's secession in 1999 has still left bitter pains for many Indonesians, particularly veterans who fought for its integration with Indonesia 27 years ago.

They lashed out at President Megawati Soekarnoputri's decision to visit East Timor to attend the former Indonesian province's independence declaration at midnight on Sunday.

New Zealand Herald - May 18, 2002

Audrey Young – At midnight on Sunday in East Timor, a greying former fighter with the rhythmic name of the newest sovereign nation of the century, East Timor.

In the shadows, sharing his emotional moment, will be his younger Australian wife, 36-year-old Kirsty Sword, pregnant with their second child.

Agence France Presse - May 18, 2002

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called on Indonesia to pursue the trials of officers accused of gross human rights abuses in East Timor effectively and credibly.

Associated Press - May 18, 2002

Jakarta – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Saturday downplayed the likelihood that an international tribunal would be established to try those responsible for violence that swept East Timor after it voted for independence in 1999.

Jakarta Post - May 18, 2002

Jakarta – Seventy military personnel in East Java will be court-martialled for various violations, a senior officer said on Friday.

Brawijaya East Java Military Police chief Col. Soejono revealed that the military personnel, who come from all the three forces in the Indonesian Military (TNI), face charges ranging from desertion to ordinary crimes.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 18, 2002

Jill Jolliffe – When Fretilin leaders first declared East Timor independent in Dili in 1975 few took much notice of Jose Alexandre Gusmao. But at midnight tomorrow the man who is now known simply as Xanana to many will become president of the new nation.

East Timor's first cabinet was sworn in on December 1, 1975, just six days before Indonesia invaded.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 18, 2002

An air of optimism buoys East Timor as it prepares to celebrate nationhood. But there are dark clouds on the horizon, Tom Hyland and Lindsay Murdoch report.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 18, 2002

Tom Hyland and Lindsay Murdoch, Dili – A fully armed Indonesian warship was last night ordered out of Dili Harbour by East Timor and the United Nations after it arrived unannounced and in violation of an agreement covering tomorrow's independence celebrations.

Straits Times - May 18, 2002

Devi Asmarani, Jakarta – Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung is staring at the end of an illustrious 30-year political career with more incriminating evidence being gathered against him in a graft trial and as members of his Golkar party plot to overthrow him.

May 17, 2002

Lusa - May 17, 2002

Conservative and isolated for decades, East Timor's Catholic Church is the most powerful institution in the soon-to-be nation, with many Timorese saying its charismatic leader, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, commands more respect than Xanana Gusamo.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Jakarta – More than 600,000 Indonesian migrant workers, mostly women, face labor exploitation in several countries as they are employed illegally, while hundreds are stranded at several embassies because of problems that developed with employers, labor exporters said on Thursday.

Japan Times - May 17, 2002

Alexander Weissink, Jakarta – The world's youngest democracy will have to stand on its own feet from Sunday. On this day East Timor will become the first newly independent nation of the 21st century. After more than 400 years of colonial rule by Portugal, 25 years of Indonesian occupation and over two years under UN administration, the wish of its people is being fulfilled.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Jakarta – About 100 members of the Association of Jakarta Becak (pedicab) Drivers staged a protest at the Ministry of Home Affairs, on Jl. Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta, demanding the revocation of the city bylaw on public order, which bans them from operating in the capital.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Leo Wahyudi S., Jakarta – Although city buses are not really supermarkets, passengers may buy a variety of goods on them at low prices.

It is very common nowadays to see hawkers getting in and out of buses, not only at bus stops but also at traffic lights in the city. Sometimes even along toll roads during traffic jams.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Jakarta – Excessive logging has pushed to near extinction at least 51 isolated tribes living as nomads in Waropen, Papua, the country's eastern most province.

Head of the Papua Social Welfare Office Onnes Rumandei said in Jayapura on Thursday that forests, which had long been the habitat for these tribes, were vanishing due to excessive logging by forest concessionaires.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Banda Aceh – At least 153 refugees from Central and South Aceh were forced to leave the United Nations Resource Center (UNRC) compound in Banda Aceh, four days after they fled their homes due to increasing violence and security risks.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Jakarta/Ambon – Human rights watchdog, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) blamed the escalating tension in Maluku on the lack of law enforcement and poor coordination between the security and civilian authorities.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

A'an Suryana and Berni K. Moestafa, Jakarta – A businessman once shared with an acquaintance his frustration and confusion in doing business in the democratic, but corrupt climate of Indonesia.

Straits Times - May 17, 2002

Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) is divided over how to deal with her errant deputy, with some members calling for Mr Hamzah Haz to be summoned to the palace for an explanation.

Jakarta Post - May 17, 2002

Muhammad Nafik, Jakarta – Opposition continued to grow on Thursday against the new broadcasting bill, which many critics see as an attempt by the government to once again curb freedom of the press.

If passed into law, they said, the bill will reestablish "repressive" governmental control of radio and television.

Agence France Presse - May 17, 2002

Bronwyn Curran, Dili – The flags of the world are fluttering above a frenzy of roof-fixing, painting and construction as East Timor's waterfront capital spruces up to welcome VIPs from 92 countries, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and exUS president Bill Clinton, for its giant May 19 independence party.