Rather than produce an exhaustive list of the multiplicity of events occurred last year or try to place them in rigorous order of importance, the aim of this text is to identify the trajectories and underlying tendencies of the East Timor question during the period in question. It is, therefore, a fairly summary account of how the problem evolved during 1996.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
January 1, 1997
Amnesty International (UK) is calling on the UK Goverment to urgently revoke export licences granted to a UK company, Alvis, for the sale of armoured vehicles to Indonesia. This call comes in the light of mounting evidence about the use of such equipment in commiting grave human rights cviolations in that country.
Jakarta – The head of Nadhlatul Ulama [NU, Association of Muslim Scholars)] Abdurrahman Wahid openly and during the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika Dialogue Forum in Jakarta, Tuesday night, said that the Humanika Foundation was involved in the riots in Tasikmalaya some while ago.
December 15, 1996
Charlotte Clayton – Jose Ramos-Horta is the Fretilin activist and self styled Foreign Minister of a nonexisting Republic.
On December 11, 1996 Jose was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. A prize that puts him in the same league as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Willy Brandt, Albert Lutuli and Martin Luther King.
November 6, 1996
Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing a major credibility challenge to its economic assistance package with President Soeharto's son yesterday launching a legal challenge to the closure of his bank.
November 1, 1996
The folly of pushing ahead with a huge rice conversion project in Central Kalimantan without any environmental impact assessment, is becoming evident. Problems are arising in all aspects of the million hectare project, which was announced by Presidential decree last year and launched in February 1996.
October 15, 1996
Once, Indonesia's President Suharto was considered a demigod by his people; a leader whose power over his country of more than 17,000 islands extended into a near-magical realm.
But even magic, these days, cannot slow he forces of change when they are set of by the frustrations of close to 200 million people.
October 11, 1996
Jakarta – After enduring 21 years of brutal occupation at the hands of the Indonesian military, the East Timorese people deserve the long-suppressed right to decide their future for themselves, said Florentino Sarmento, one of the most prominent and respected leaders of the East Timorese Catholic community.
September 18, 1996
James Balowski – Despite the ongoing crackdown against PRD (People's Democratic Party) members and other pro-democracy activists, when John Howard meets with President Suharto this week, you can be sure that promoting Australian business interests will be his primary concern. "Money" will certainly be high on the agenda this week – "blood" will not.
August 29, 1996
Hundreds of thousands of hectares of pristine tropical peat forests in Central Kalimantan are about to be destroyed for a huge rice development project which experts say cannot work.
The rapid development of Indonesia's pulp and paper industry will put yet more pressure on the country's already severely depleted forests.
August 1, 1996
In our last issue we described how Indonesia, and especially Kalimantan's gold belt has become a honeypot for Canadian companies. They are hoping to strike gold in a big way, like Bre-X Minerals Ltd, which has discovered a massive deposit now estimated to contain some 40 million ounces of gold.
Garuda Indonesian Airline offices in Europe and Australia, are starting to become targets of protests against the Suharto regime, after the regime's brutal intervention in Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), which led to the bloody attack on PDI'sheadquarters, on Saturday, July 27, 1996. All pro-democracy activists in Indonesia do appreciate these campaigns.
February 28, 1996
The long-running dispute between the Bentian people of East Kalimantan and the logging company PT Kahold Utama remains unresolved. The dispute reached a new stage when indigenous villagers from Jelmu Sibak, in Kutai district, accompanied by NGO representatives travelled to Jakarta to meet members of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).
February 19, 1996
Jakarta – The head of NU Abdurrahman Wahid said yesterday that he is not convinced that a number of Maduran's went to Kalimantan to "provoke the people". He added that the two kiai (Islamic teachers) have stated their concern of the victims and damage of the riots.
February 1, 1996
In West Kalimantan too, indigenous people are struggling to defend their customary land against commercial interests.
September 19, 1995
Max Lane – It's surprising that any observer of Indonesian society and politics could accept the official line that Indonesia's approach to the resolution of issues is "consensual".
March 22, 1995
By Noam Chomsky - January 1995
February 1, 1995
Rudy Habibie is arguably Indonesia's most influential citizen, after President Suharto, of course. Although officially he only holds the humble position of Minister of Research and Technology in the cabinet, he is far more powerful than that. As Suharto's foster-son, Habibie's power seemingly knows no bounds.
July 1, 1994
This article originally appeared in Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal, Issue #2, July-September, 1994
By Max Lane