Jakarta – Indonesia's House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill which will grant greater autonomy to the governments of the country's 27 provinces and their sub-regencies, witnesses said.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
April 21, 1999
Dili – Leaders of warring factions in the troubled Indonesian territory of East Timor on Wednesday signed a peace pact witnessed by Indonesia's military chief and East Timor's two bishops.
In the document, signed at the residence of Dili Bishop Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo, the groups pledged to "stop hatred, intimidation, and terror and try to help create peace."
Paul Kelly – Indonesia's President B. J. Habibie yesterday gave his personal word of honour that he was prepared to give East Timor independence.
The decision by the Habibie regime in 1998 to offer "the widest possible autonomy", including a separate electoral system, flag, and so on, was a retreat by the Habibie regime from the position of Suharto who refused any kind of autonomy.
Vaudine England – The "disappearance" of activists, whether temporary or permanent, is a political instrument common to past and present governments, a victim who was tortured said yesterday.
April 20, 1999
Human Rights Watch charged that the government of President Habibie could have prevented the violence in East Timor on Saturday by acting earlier to disarm pro-Indonesia militias.
David Jenkins – As East Timor descends into a new round of violence and savagery the time has come for searching questions to be asked of President B. J. Habibie and his sometimes unfathomable Defence Minister, General Wiranto.
Hong Kong – The trial of 11 members of Indonesia's elite special force found guilty of kidnapping pro-democracy activists was a farce designed to protect high-ranking soldiers, one of the nine who was captured and tortured said here Tuesday.
Things are quiet in Dili. At a government rally in front of the governor's office, Dili Mayor Domingus Soares publicly announced that Eurico Guterres, the head of the Aitarak "death squad" and vice-commander of all Abri-sponsored death squads, will be in charge of security and stability in East Timor.
Jakarta – Security forces fired warning shots when hundreds of students demanding a share of oil earnings stormed a Caltex Indonesia housing complex on Sumatra island Tuesday, wrecking cars and smashing office windows, sources said.
Lhokseumawe – Two people were killed when police in the Indonesian province of Aceh opened fire Tuesday to disperse thousands of pro-separatist students, residents said.
Hamish Mcdonald – Well-placed sources in Jakarta have supplied what could be the jigsaw pieces that make sense of the puzzling Indonesian policy on East Timor in recent months.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The People's Democratic Party has nominated three missing people to run as parliamentary candidates for the June general election.
Announcing the move yesterday, party chairman Budiman Sudjatmiko described the men – Petrus Bima Anugerah, Herman Hendrawan and Suyat – as three of its best cadres.
Jakarta – A mob attacked a Roman Catholic complex in the predominantly Moslem province of South Sulawesi, throwing fuel bombs that burned several buildings just hours after a blast at a main mosque in Jakarta, police said Tuesday.
April 19, 1999
Jakarta – Indonesian Justice Minister Muladi and jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao on Monday agreed there had been no call for war in the troubled territory against Jakarta.
Jakarta – Security forces mistakenedly opened fire on a crowd of ethnic Madurese migrants and local Malays in Indonesian Borneo killing four people and injuring three others, an official said Monday.
Mark Riley, New York – Indonesia is believed to have gutted the proposed statute of autonomy for East Timor, removing many of the major components and increasing the likelihood of continued clashes in the strife-torn region.
ABRI commander General Wiranto said that East Timor is still part of Indonesia and that any violations of the law by either side are intolerable. Asked about the entry of UN forces, he said this would happen at the appropriate time, ie when a decision has been taken regarding the option that is being offered.
Jakarta – Although the official election campaign period is still a month away, political parties across the country have moved their electioneering activities into high gear.
Jenny Grant – The Indonesian military not only turned a blind eye to Saturday's militia attacks in Dili but had prior knowledge of the planned targets at the most senior level, diplomatic sources claimed yesterday.
Lhokseumawe – Residents Monday raised separatist flags over their homes in several villages of Indonesia's northern Aceh district, a day after the flag figured prominently in a mass rally here, a witness said.
April 18, 1999
Tommy Ardiansyah, Dili – Indonesia's military Sunday rejected the blame for bloody violence that killed dozens of people in the disputed territory of East Timor, accusing pro-independence groups instead.
[The following report was received today from Fortilos and posted on the conferences in Bahasa Indonesia: Translated by Tapol.]
Some 150 paramilitaries who were trained by ABRI in East Timor to attack pro-independence activists arrived in Jakarta by ship on Friday 16 April.
April 17, 1999
Fires burning in central Sumatra have once again blanketed Singapore in a haze that has pushed up pollution levels in the city-state famed for its "clean and green" image. Parts of Malaysia have also been affected.
Peter Cole-Adams – No strategy is less flattering to a government than playing a waiting game. The appearance of impotence is unbecoming and, if the wait ends in failure, downright humiliating.
Diarmid O'Sullivan, Dili – Tensions are rising in the East Timorese capital, Dili, as thousands of pro-Indonesian militiamen pour in for a show of force today. At dusk yesterday the streets were empty as people hurried home to avoid militia patrols, some escorted by Indonesian soldiers.
"The Indonesian Government and Armed Forces (ABRI) are failing to protect East Timorese pro-independence supporters despite warnings of attacks by paramilitaries in East Timor, this weekend", Amnesty International said.
Jakarta – The Nobel laureate Roman Catholic Bishop of Dili, Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo, said Saturday he was scrapping a planned peace mass Sunday in the wake of a deadly rampage by pro-Indonesian militia in the East Timorese capital on Saturday.
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – The Portuguese colonialists who ruled East Timor for more than 400 years are fondly remembered for introducing Timorese to the art of the siesta.
Don Greenlees, Jakarta – A confidential Australian embassy report on the killing of East Timorese civilians in the town of Liquica concludes that allegations of a massacre are plausible and accuses the Indonesian military of colluding with militia forces in the lead-up to the incident.
Dili – They lay hugging the floor, screaming and weeping in terror as the shots and rocks blasted through the windows at the front of the house, trapped and unarmed.
April 16, 1999
[The following summarises a report from Yayasan HAK which was circulated in Bahasa by Fortilos.]
Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – The United Nations is planning a military-style operation to support its supervision of a scheduled July vote in violence-racked East Timor that includes the use of helicopters, aircraft, field hospitals and 70 four-wheel drive vehicles.
Christine Tjandraningsih, Jakarta – Indonesian military officials rejected claims Friday troops are planning to initiate violence in East Timor to scuttle a scheduled autonomy plebiscite for the territory and upcoming ministerial talks in New York.
Dili – Armed pro-Indonesian militias are enforcing a reign of fear in the East Timorese capital Dili where terrified residents increasingly feel abandoned to their fate.
Dili – A clash between Indonesian soldiers and pro-independence guerrillas today left three people dead, including the brother of one of Indonesia's top diplomats and a key negotiator in East Timor's conflict, the military said.
April 15, 1999
Philip Bowring, Jakarta – The communal horrors of East Timor, Ambon and West Kalimantan are real enough. But they no more describe Indonesia than Kashmir, Bihar and Assam describe India.
Jakarta – Bitter ethnic clashes between Madurese settlers and local Malays and Dayaks erupted for the fifth consecutive day Thursday in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province, police said. Rival mobs fought with homemade guns and torched each others' homes in the province's Sungairaya sub-district.
Lhokseumawe – Thousands of school students went on the rampage Thursday in three towns in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province to demand a referendum on self-determination, witnesses said.
The junior and high school students ripped national flags and state emblems off government offices in Lhoksukon, Baktya and Syamtalira Arun.
Jakarta – Indonesian has scrapped its draconian subversion law but introduced similar articles against sabotage and the spread of Marxism and Leninism to the criminal code, reports said Thursday.
The House of Representatves axed the anti-subversion law on Wednesday and brought six new articles into the criminal code, the Jakarta Post daily said.
Sigli – The security authorities in Pidie District continued with an operation Wednesday to pull down referendum banners which have been hung across the main provincial highway from Banda Aceh to Medan and along district roads in Pidie. According to witnesses, the banners were removed very early in the day.
Gerry van Klinken – For all his sometimes clownish mannerisms, President Habibie has in many ways been Indonesia's Gorbachev. He rode the crest of a wave of political creativity generated by the massive protests of last year. But now that wave has spent much of its force.
Lindsay Murdoch and Mark Dodd, Jakarta – Pro-Indonesian forces vowed yesterday to stage an "invade Dili" rally in the East Timorese capital on Saturday after Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao refused to back away from a call for his supporters to take up arms to defend themselves.
Jakarta – Comments by ex-president Suharto expressing doubt about whether Indonesia's June 7 elections will be free and fair show he does not believe in democracy, the deputy chairman of the election commission said Thursday.
"His political concept is based on authoritarianism. He does not believe in democracy," Adnan Buyung Nasution said on television.
Ambon – Sixty-four more bodies of those killed in recent riots in eastern Indonesian islands have been found, bringing the death toll to at least 177 in the clashes that started March 31, an official said Thursday.
April 14, 1999
Jakarta – The Indonesian military will court-martial a colonel who allegedly promised a Suharto-linked foundation a huge sum if he were reelected as a local government official, a report said Wednesday.
John Haseman, Jakarta – The recent outbreak of serious ethnic violence in Indonesia's Borneo province of West Kalimantan has underscored the difficulties Indonesia's armed forces face in trying to maintain domestic stability in a period of unprecedented political change and economic crisis.
Jakarta – At least nine students were injured and 62 arrested in a number of rallies held across Java on Tuesday to oppose the June 7 general election. The arrests were made following a clash between students grouped in the Indonesian University Big Family (KBUI) and riot police who were attempting to disperse the protesters on Jl. M.T. Haryono in East Jakarta.
Jakarta – A presidential advisory group and students on Tuesday called on Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to fullfill his promises to the people of troubled Aceh province, including dragging past human rights violators there to court.
April 13, 1999
Jakarta – In the first case of its kind in Indonesia, people in the oil-rich province of Riau have sued President B.J. Habibie for 22.5 billion dollars in compensation for lost oil revenues, reports said Tuesday.
The first hearing in the class action suit was held Monday in a court in the Riau city of Pakenbaru, the Kompas daily said.