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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 23, 1998

Reuters - August 23, 1998

Surabaya – About 2,000 students demonstrated in Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya on Sunday, demanding that former President Suharto be brought to trial for the country's economic crisis.

August 22, 1998

Jakarta Post - August 22, 1998

Jakarta – Trade unions in all industrial sectors broke ranks and withdrew from the Federation of All Indonesian Workers Union (FSPSI) yesterday in a bid to topple the federation's central executive board.

Kompas - August 22, 1998 (Translated by Tapol)

[Waspada, the Medan daily, published today photographs of the exhumed skulls and bones and of the detention/torture centre ablaze, as well as a photograph of local people joyfully kicking and demolished a photo of Suharto that they had found hanging on the wall - Tapol.]

August 21, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 21, 1998

Jakarta – Gangs of grave robbers have been digging up Chinese graveyards in two cities on the Indonesian island of Java and looting them of coffins of valuables and discarding the remains, officials and a press report said Friday.

Straits Times - August 21, 1998 (abridged)

Lhokseumawe – Indonesian troops began a pullout from troubled Aceh province yesterday to cheers and catcalls from locals who say a nine-year army crackdown involved torture, rape and the dumping of victims in mass graves.

IPS - August 21, 1998

Kafil Yamin, Jakarta – August 17 this year was the first day of freedom in 32 years for Pujo Prasetyo, jailed for his involvement in the abortive communist-inspired coup of 1965.

August 20, 1998

Tapol - August 20 1998

[The following translation of a letter from an Acehnese refugee in a Malaysian gaol which was passed on to Tapol by the Acheh/Sumatra National Liberation Front office in Sweden.]

Reuters - August 20, 1998

Atlanta – US House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday criticized the World Bank for letting money go to waste in Indonesia, after an internal report said that bank funds may have been siphoned off by government officials.

News analysis by Arnold Kohen - August 20, 1998

There has been a flurry of activity and announcements on East Timor since the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, most recently with regard to the United Nations talks in New York on August 4 and 5. Many headlines greeted news of a possible autonomy agreement with enthusiasm.

National Council of Timorese Resistance - August 20, 1998

Fellow Countrymen – August 20 is the National Day of our glorious Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor, FALINTIL. Today, as in the future, the 20th of August will prevail in our minds as the day to remember all those who fell in defence of the sacred land of East Timor.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - August 20, 1998

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) today launched a new report on the current human rights situation in East Timor. The report documents human rights violations between January and June 1998 and assesses the Habibie's government's response to the human rights violations and its efforts to move towards a resolution of the conflict.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 20, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – As the Indonesian military faces a damning human rights investigation, residents of the northern province of Aceh are guarding what are claimed to be mass graves, saying they fear there will be attempts to remove the evidence.

August 19, 1998

The Age - August 19, 1998 (abridged)

[This item also included a second story titled "Jakarta's time of terror: a Chinese girl's tragic story" which was omitted because an almost identical item appeared in a previous issue of NetNews.]

Agence France Presse - August 19, 1998

Jakarta – Two weeks after its launch, an Indonesian agency tasked with helping the private sector to restructure its massive external debt has found no takers, an official said Wednesday.

Associated Press - August 19, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Clustered outside an Indonesian courthouse, students clapped when they heard a judge convict two policemen in the killings of campus protesters. Seconds later, they groaned in disappointment when the sentences were announced.

Associated Press - August 19, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – The Supreme Court has dismissed a case filed by opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri against the government over her 1996 ouster as head of the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), court officials said Wednesday.

Reuters - August 19, 1998

Ian MacKenzie, Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces, who have traditionally regarded themselves as the defenders of the country's unity and stability, are under unprecedented fire as they emerge from the shadow of the former president Suharto's regime. Last week was a black one for the armed forces, known by the acronym ABRI:

August 18, 1998

Jakarta Post - August 18, 1998

Jakarta – A recent survey on which party people will vote for shows that a majority of people have yet to make up their minds. However, those who have decided tend to support the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) led by Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Reuters - August 18, 1998

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – The air at the Bekasi municipal dump on the eastern fringes of Jakarta is thick with flies and the stench of a million tonnes of garbage. Ferreting among the mounds of stinking debris, their clothes, hands and faces smeared with grime, are hundreds of Indonesian children who should be at school.

The Australian - August 18, 1998

Don Greenlees – Three ageing Indonesian communists, jailed after the abortive 1965 coup, were granted their freedom yesterday in a round of Independence Day amnesties designed to bolster President B.J. Habibie's claims to promoting human rights.

August 17, 1998

Wall Street Journal - August 17, 1998

Jeremy Wagstaff, Jakarta – In his first Independence Day speech as president, B.J. Habibie used words and gestures to formally break with the authoritarian regime of his predecessor and paint his vision of a new democratic era. But while his marathon address won modest applause, Mr. Habibie is a long way from winning over the skeptics.

Chicago Tribune - August 17, 1998

Uli Schmetzer – On the athletic field of this coastal town, Indonesian soldiers armed with American-made M-16 assault rifles and wearing steel helmets stood in the cool shade of teak trees as they made residents of this troubled island line up under the hot midday sun.

August 15, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - August 15, 1998

Lhokseumawe – Local residents and human rights officials in Indonesia's Aceh province said yesterday anonymous groups had sought to intimidate them since the discovery of mass graves in the area, the site of a separatist insurgency that peaked in the early 1990s.

August 14, 1998

Jakarta Post - August 14, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – House Speaker Harmoko swore in yesterday 38 new members of the House of Representatives/People's Consultative Assembly (DPR/MPR), including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo and former Jakarta military chief Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, as part of the preparations for the special MPR session in November.

AFX-Asia - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – The police have arrested 16 people accused of instigating riots in May that caused the death of more than 1,000 people, reports said.

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – Around 2,000 villagers in the central Javanese town of Cilacap went on the rampage after their village chief refused to meet them when they came to protest his alleged corruption, reports and police said Friday.

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Some 100 East Timorese students from different universities in Indonesia protested Friday demanding the release of jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao and a referendum for the troubled territory.

Jakarta Post - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – The city military is soliciting help from foreign groups in its effort to identify people spreading rumors on the Internet of renewed riots in the capital.

South China Morning Post - August 14 1998

Greg Torode, Jakarta – Ethnic Chinese are starting to flee Indonesia amid threats of rape and rioting surrounding Monday's Independence Day celebrations. Travel agents said flights on Sunday and Monday to Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were almost full. Many Jakarta Chinese said they were preparing to move their families from houses into hotels.

August 13, 1998

Agence Press France - August 13, 1998

Jakarta – A coalition of political activists protested at the presidential office here Thursday against new regulations restricting public demonstration and putting key installations including the palace off-limits, witnesses said.

IPS - August 13, 1998 (abridged)

Gustavo Capdevila, Geneva – Indonesia's government showed concrete evidence of its policy for gradual liberalisation on the human rights front, signing a co-operation agreement with the United Nations (UN) human rights entity.

Agence Press France - August 13, 1998

Jakarta – Shops were back in business in the small West Java town of Labuan on Thursday, a day after hundreds of people attacked three ethnic Chinese-owned shops there, police said there. "All shops are open again today, including the Ayung, Babah Java and Nang Tung shops," said Corporal Unang of the police in Labuan, a sleepy town on the southwestern coast of West Java.

Agence Press France - August 13, 1998

Jakarta – A wildcat strike by some 5,000 workers at one of the world's largest copper and gold mines, PT Freeport Indonesia, dragged into its fourth day Thursday with no sign of a breathrough, the company said. "We're hopeful, but there's no breakthrough yet," a Freeport spokeswoman in Jakarta told AFP, adding that negotiations were continuing.

August 12, 1998

Washington Post - August 12, 1998

Cindy Shiner, Jakarta – There are two legends in Javanese culture about what happens when a man marries the daughter of a king: The groom could be like Jaka Tingkir, who killed his father-in-law and established a new kingdom. Or he could follow the footsteps of Ageng Mangir, who attempted several coups against another sultan and ended up dead.

East Timor International Support Center - August 12, 1998

Actual troop numbers in East Timor since 1975 are not known, but two patterns are apparent: Indonesia has always claimed to have fewer troops in East Timor than actually are there and Indonesia has regularly said that it is reducing troop numbers in East Timor – for the sake of suggesting that there is no military problem – but at the same time has actually maintained troop numbers,

Press release - August 12, 1998

Sydney – The five East Timorese political parties in East Timor have made a combined call for self-determination for their people and set out a plan to end the illegal Indonesian occupation and annexation of their country.

Antara - August 12, 1998

Yogyakarta – The Indonesian government is set to free more political prisoners soon, Justice Minister Muladi disclosed here on Monday.

Business Times - August 12, 1998

Yang Razali Kassim – In a recent gruesome cover story on the situation on Aceh, the Indonesian weekly magazine Gatra recounted the case of a man who was brought at gunpoint by a soldier to a hill in Aceh. Teungku Ayub was given a live demonstration of what could happen to rebels: a fellow villager, tied to a tree, was shot dead and his body left to rot.

August 11, 1998

Jakarta Post - August 11, 1998

Jakarta – The abduction of political activists were not ordered by the Armed Forces' (ABRI) top brass, but were carried out because of then Army Special Force (Kopassus) chief Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto's interpretation of his superiors' instructions, the Officers Honor Council (DKP) concluded yesterday.

Unknown - Posted August 11, 1998

[This article was forwarded to Joyo without date and publication. The journalist writes frequently about Indonesia for The Guardian (UK).]

Agence France Presse - August 11, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia has begun rescheduling repayment of its public debt, its top finance minister said Tuesday, as bankers and business confirmed it had failed to meet repayments for the first time in its history.

The Wall Street Journal - August 11, 1998

S. Karene Witcher, Jakarta – A unit of the World Bank aims to be among the first creditors to push a troubled Indonesian borrower over the brink by using Indonesia's new bankruptcy law.

Info-Pembebasan - August 11, 1998

On Monday, August 10, the State Administrative Court (PTUN) in Jakarta announced the success of a People's Democratic Party (PRD) demand challenging the decision to ban the PRD issued by the Minister of Home Affairs, Yogie S. Memet last year. The decision is therefore no longer valid and the status of the PRD as a banned party has been withdrawn.

Agence France Presse - August 11, 1998

Jakarta – A group of some 20 Indonesian activists Tuesday picketted the Myanmar embassy here to demand the release of 18 activists, including three Indonesians, arrested by the military junta in Yangon.

August 9, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 9, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian President B.J. Habibie has for the first time in an interview laid out his basic criteria for political parties to qualify to take part in the elections he has promised the nation.

Tapol - August 9, 1998

Carmel Budiardjo – Three events in the past couple of weeks point to a new strategy by the ABRI leadership in projecting a different image for the armed forces in post-Suharto Indonesia:

August 8, 1998

Banda Aceh - August 8, 1998

Fourteen non-governmental organisations in Aceh have issued a joint statement in response to the decision announced two weeks ago by the armed forces commander, General Wiranto, to end Aceh's status as a military operational region, to withdraw non-organic troops from the region, and to make an apology for the past actions of Indonesian troops in the region.

Tapol - August 8, 1998

Following a flood of complaints from people in Aceh about years of unrestricted abuses by the security forces and reports of the discovery of nearly a dozen mass graves, the armed forces commander, General Wiranto, made an unscheduled 12-hour visit to Aceh on Friday to accounce the ending of special military operations in the region and the withdrawal of "non-organic" troops from th

Jakarta Post - August 8, 1998

Jakarta – The mass media has recorded the establishment of 56 new political parties since government restrictions were lifted in the aftermath of Soeharto's resignation. Some have been registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs and some have not.

New York Times - August 8, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – The armed forces promised Friday to begin removing troops from Aceh province, where the military has been accused of killing thousands of people suspected of being separatists in the last decade. The defense minister and armed forces commander, Gen.