Martin McLaughlin – Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers have joined in strikes and protests against the military-backed regime and the policies of crippling economic austerity imposed at the dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the US government.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
June 24, 1998
Dili – An estimated 50,000 people paraded through the streets of the East Timor capital yesterday in a motorcade protest calling for reform and dialogue on the future of the troubled territory, witnesses said.
Lewa Pardomuan, Dili – East Timorese reacted coolly on Wednesday to a meeting between the territory's Bishop Carlos Belo and Indonesian President B.J. Habibie and said fresh protests demanding a referendum on independence would be held on Thursday.
Jakarta – Minister of Justice Muladi reminds that the political detainees and prisoners who have been released should refrain from political actions which can disturb public security and order. In a state based on law, freed political detainees/prisoners are not immune to law and can be caught again if they violate the law.
June 23, 1998
Palu – Indigenous people from eight villages in Central Sulawesi and local student and NGO activists went to the Administrative Assembly in the provincial capital on Monday 22nd June. The representation of 75 people, led by Ruslan Sangadji, carried posters and banners in the name of the 'Action Committee of the People of Central Sulawesi for Land Law Reform'.
The recent success of Pauline Hanson's racist One Nation party in the Queensland elections presents new challenges for the progressive movement. Her repeated lie that the "white Anglo-Saxon male" is the most oppressed sector of Australian society is a statement which is inherently racist and anti-woman.
Jakarta – Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said yesterday that his forces would clamp down hard on any workers staging street demonstrations.
Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – The wealthy Chinese residential neighborhood of Pluit Timur emerged mostly unscathed from the May 13-15 Jakarta riots. Its residents want to keep it that way. On June 16, workers were binding long sticks of wood with barbed wire to form barricades.
Louise Williams, Jakarta – Armed soldiers fanned out across Jakarta today as a key labor leader threatened to launch a new wave of protests from Wednesday. Dr Muchtar Pakpahan called for a "reconciliation dialogue" between the Habibie Government and reform groups and the release of all remaining political prisoners.
Huge numbers of troops, tanks, rocket launchers, armed motor-cycle troops blockaded the University of Indonesia on Sunday June 21 to stop a rally of factory workers and students at the university.
June 22, 1998
Jakarta – About 500 Moslem students rallied outside parliament here Monday to protest against rising prices of food staples, witnesses said.
Gerry van Klinken – Mr Suharto's daughter Tutut told a journalist recently that after resigning as president her father was now resting at home. "If there are no visitors, he reads the newspaper or watches television with his grandchildren", she said.
Malang – The Armed Forces Socio-political Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that political and elite circles embroiled in protracted polemics, should feel ashamed before the common people.
On May 1, General Wiranto, commander of the armed forces and Defense Minister, set up a Fact-Finding Team to look into the disappearances, after strong domestic and international pressure to address the issue. As of June, six of the resurfaced activists had given testimony to the military police, but they say thus far, there has been no follow-up.
Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Indonesia's poverty rate may double, stripping at least 20 million people of their jobs, a World Bank official warned Monday in one of his bleakest assessments yet of the Asian nation's economic upheaval.
Louise Williams Jakarta and Jenny Grant in Dili – A new offer from Indonesia to grant East Timor special status and release the jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao would provide only a transitional solution, East Timorese leaders warned yesterday.
Allan Nairn – As the Suharto dictatorship collapsed, suddenly, on May 21, the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI), scrambled to safeguard their police state. Rather than have Suharto quit as a scheduled mass protest surged through the streets, the ABRI commander, General Wiranto, threatened the students with a "Tiananmen," and then persuaded Suharto to resign quietly.
June 21, 1998
Blitar – Thousands of people were jostling at the front yard of the late Mrs S Wardojo, the older sister of Bung Karno with the same mother, at Jl Sultan Agung No. 53 Kodya Blitar, Saturday evening (20/6).
June 20, 1998
Jenny Grant, Dili – Tension rose in the East Timorese capital of Dili yesterday as students entered their third day of protests against Indonesian rule. Two thousand students marched from the University of East Timor to the parliament building where they met legislature officers and demanded a referendum.
Jakarta – Indonesia's president today offered to release imprisoned East Timor rebel leader Jose Xanana Gusmao in return for world recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over the disputed territory.
June 19, 1998
Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – The Indonesian government is likely to pass a new law soon to ban "disruptive" political rallies and demonstrations which the powerful armed forces (ABRI) say is undermining confidence in the country's economy.
Jakarta – A port workers' strike entered its fourth day yesterday in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city and gateway to East Java province, causing losses of millions of rupiah, according to port officials.
Surabaya – The [truth about the] killing of a worker activist, Marsinah, in 1993 is to be revealed.
After failing yesterday to meet members of the Armed Forces parliamentary fraction, the families of five of the "disappeared" visited the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jakarta to seek help. [Altogether nine people are still missing, some since May last year.]
Jakarta – Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) executives aligned to Megawati Soekarnoputri have denied giving the order for a series of "takeovers" of party offices in several cities.
Philip Shenon, Washington – Indonesia's new president, B.J. Habibie, has appointed as a senior military adviser a retired army general who was ordered by a US court to pay millions of dollars in damages for his involvement in a 1991 massacre in which 270 people were estimated to have been killed.
June 18, 1998
Don Greenlees, Dili – Chanting, singing hymns and waving banners calling for an end to Indonesian rule, 2000 East Timorese paraded through the streets of Dili yesterday in an emotional outpouring over the killing of a 21-year-old local man by a soldier [Other reports have put the number of demonstrators as high as 10,000 - JB].
Lisbon – Hundreds of detentions, "missing" and deaths continued to occur in Indonesia and East Timor in 1997, according to the annual report by Amnesty International (AI).
Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – In the five decades since Indonesia achieved independence following a bloody anti-colonial war, the Indonesian Armed Forces, or ABRI, have played the pivotal role in the country's politics and society.
Jakarta – Indonesians are tearing up their useless credit cards, withdrawing everything from their bank accounts and learning to live in a creditless economy, said analysts and banks here.
As the rupiah spirals downwards to beyond 16,000 to the US dollar compared to 2,400 a year ago, and as banks fold and letters of credit dry up, people are turning to cash and barter.
Louise Williams, Dili – The battered Indonesian rupiah suffered another sharp fall yesterday, fuelling fears of widespread food shortages and more factory closures as the nation struggles to import even basic commodities such as rice and raw materials for production.
Jakarta – Indonesian military chief General Wiranto on Thursday warned of national disintegration and issued orders to the armed forces to act firmly to safeguard public order and national safety.
June 17, 1998
Jakarta – Prominent legal practitioners and observers expressed a degree of suspicion yesterday over the sudden dismissal of the attorney general and questioned the motive for making a military officer the country's top prosecutor.
Jakarta – The former Indonesian president, Mr Soeharto, had denied accusations that he amassed billions of dollars while in power, only holding savings from his salary and pensions, his lawyer said on Monday.
Jakarta – Poor Indonesian farmers have sabotaged a luxury golf course in West Java, planting crops on greens and carving the word "reform" on the fairway.
The farmers were taking revenge on the Cimacan Golf Club for the meagre compensation they received nine years ago when the land was taken from them, the Kompas newspaper reported yesterday.
John Aglionby, Jakarta – Released from the shackles of dictatorship, Indonesians are seizing their new political freedom with enthusiasm.
June 16, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesia's army chief said on Tuesday that East Timor's integration into Indonesia is supported by the territory's people, countering open calls for a referendum on self determination for the territory.
Jakarta – Thousands of people have rioted in three towns in Indonesia, damaging shops, houses, vehicles and churches, reports said Tuesday.
In Tegal, Central Java, a mob Monday set fire to two cars, including a police car, and two motorcycles, as well as damaging scores of shops and houses, two banks, a gas station and two churches, the Kompas daily said.
Louise Williams, Dili – East Timor's provincial Parliament met protesting pro-independence students yesterday for the first time and formally accepted their demands, including a call for United Nations peacekeepers to supervise a ceasefire in the contested province.
Jakarta – Some 300 employees of PT Aerowisata Catering Service (ACS), a subsidiary of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, staged a demonstration at the Garuda building here Tuesday to press several demands, including full payment of old-age allowance to company pensioners.
June 15, 1998
Darren Mcdermott, Singapore – The Indonesian rupiah's renewed plunge is undermining a week-old debt-restructuring agreement that already was struggling to win support.
Jakarta – An Indonesian military court on Monday agreed not to link two police officers with the fatal shooting of four university students during an anti-government demonstration last month.
But First Lieutenant Agus Tri Heryanto, 29, and Second Lieutenant Paryo, 38, will still face trial for wilfully disobeying or exceeding orders, the tribunal ruled.
Asmara Nababan, member of the National Human Rights Commission, Komnas HAM, speaking to the press at Jayapura airport shortly before returning to Jakarta on 15 June, confirmed that human rights abuses as documented in a report submitted to the Commission last month by three church leaders in the region of Timika had indeed occurred].
Louise Williams, Dili – The East Timorese Bishop Carlos Belo says a "transitional solution" to the protracted Timor conflict must include the immediate granting of special status to the contested province and the release of the jailed independence fighter Xanana Gusmao.
Thirty East Timorese visited Komnas HAM, the National Commission on Human Rights today to complain about the brutal attack on their peaceful demonstration last Friday.
Jakarta – Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said on Monday a referendum on East Timor's future would only trigger a divide among the territory's people. "It will only invite dissension between anti-and pro-integrationists," Alatas was quoted as telling reporters by the official Antara news agency.
Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Indonesian troops fired in the air to disperse rowdy protesters in Central Java on Monday after they stoned shops, residents said.
They said the protest began as a peaceful demonstration to demand that the local mayor resign.
David Liebhold, Jakarta – If Suharto had hoped that by stepping down he could assuage the anger of the Indonesian people, he is likely to be disappointed. After 32 years of allowing family and friends to squander the public wealth, it's payback time. Jakarta street vendors are selling photocopied lists of companies the Suharto family owns, complete with mug shots of his children.
June 14, 1998
Jakarta – President B. J. Habibie's government has begun a probe into the alleged use of the reforestation funds to finance businesses owned by former President Suharto's family and associates.
June 13, 1998
Lisbon – A former commander of the East Timorese separatist rebels, M'a Huno, was arrested late Friday in Dili and could be facing torture, a pro-independence East Timorese group warned Saturday.
In a statement sent to AFP in Lisbon, the Socialist Association of Timor said M'a Huno was arrested by Indonesian troops stationed in East Timor.