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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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March 9, 1997

Straits Times - March 9, 1997

Jakarta – The Indonesian government will break new ground in the May general election by allowing foreign observers free access to the polls.

"We will invite neighbouring and foreign countries to monitor the election," Home Affairs Minister Yogie Memet, also chairman of the National Election Institute, was quoted as saying in yesterday's editions of the Jakarta Post daily.

Straits Times - March 9, 1997

A verbal spat at a concert late last year unleashed a wave of riots in West Kalimantan that left about 200 people dead and two dozen settlements destroyed. In a recent special report, The Jakarta Post examines the causes of the riots that have pitted the native Dayaks against the Madurese community.

March 8, 1997

AP-Dow Jones News Service - March 8, 1997

Jakarta – Human rights group Asia Watch called for the immediate release of noted dissident Sri Bintang Pamungkas, who was being arrested on charges of subversion.

The New York-based group described the detention of Pamungkas, a former outspoken legislator, as further evidence of President Suharto's increasingly harsh response to his critics.

Straits Times - March 8, 1997

Jakarta – At least six people had been killed as tribal clashes in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya entered a second day yesterday, local sources said.

"War broke out again this morning, fiercer than yesterday, and three people have already been killed, shot by arrows," said Mr Tom Beanal, head of the Institute for the Amungme Society from Timika, in Irian Jaya.

Kompas - March 8, 1997

The head of SBSI (Serikat Buruh Sejahtra Indonesia, Indonesian Trade Union for Prosperity) Muchtar Pakpahan refused to appear at the South Jakarta State Court on Thursday (6/3) because he was suffering from vertigo.

Witnesses from the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) Budiman Sudjatmiko and Garda Sembiring also did not appear in court.

Straits Times - March 8, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia's National Election Committee yesterday approved a final list of 2,285 candidates from three political parties sanctioned to contest the parliamentary election in May.

Eight candidates from a provisional list of 2,293 approved by the committee in January were dropped for various reasons, including resignations and death.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 8, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto has ordered the army reserve to prepare to mobilise to counter further civil unrest, warning political dissidents that anti-Government groups would not be tolerated.

ABC International News - March 8, 1997

The Indonesian Journalists Association is to sue Central Java security officials accused of roughing up a journalist.

The association's branch in Yogyakarta, central Java, says it will sue the local security authorities in the town of Bantul, ten kilometres south of Yogyakarta.

ASIET - March 8, 1997

[Statement for the International Women's Day March, 8, 1997.]

Dita Sari, Chairperson of Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggles and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party of Indonesia. Dita was a guest speaker at the 1995 Perth IWD march and rally.

South China Morning Post - March 8, 1997

Joe Leahy, Jakarta – President Suharto has warned his former military unit, the elite Strategic Reserve Command, to stay on alert to counter "anti-government" groups.

March 7, 1997

South China Morning Post - March 7, 1997

Joe Leahy – Sri Bintang Pamungkas says the Government has played into his hands by detaining him and senior members of his outlawed Indonesian United Democratic Party.

Bintang, the party's founder and chairman, claims his detention is part of a nationwide sweep on dissidents before the national election on May 29.

TAPOL News Release - March 7, 1997

The Government today refused to cancel arms export licences to Indonesia triggering a legal challenge from three campaigning organisations. It will be the first ever legal challenge to the Government's arms export policy.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 7, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – A former member of Parliament and prominent pro-democracy activist, Sri Bintang Pamungkas, has been arrested on subversion charges carrying a maximum penalty of death, closing one of the last channels of political opposition ahead of the May national elections.

SiaR - March 7, 1997

[This is our translation of two news reports on the tragic recent events in West Kalimantan sent via Kabar dari PIJAR on Wednesday, March 12, 1997 4:49 AM (Translation provided by Down-to-Earth).]

A chronology of the conflicts following the Sanggau Ledo events

Kyodo - March 7, 1997

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has rejected a plan by the United Nations to station a human rights commissioner in Jakarta to monitor the situation in East Timor, a newspaper said Friday.

Media Indonesia - March 7, 1997

Jakarta – A Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) circular calling for an election boycott has also been distributed in Bogor, West Java. The circular was pasted up in all of the strategic places at around 3am last night in the name of KPP-PRD.

March 6, 1997

Sydney Morning Herald - March 6, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – In an apparent effort to boost their international image, the Indonesian armed forces have asked three prestigious British universities to establish the country's first officers' training program to include human rights and international law.

Unknown - March 6, 1997

[This item was received on March 6. The original sender and posting are unknown. Grammatical and spelling errors have been left uncorrected intentionally - JB]


South China Morning Post - March 6, 1997

Joe Leahy in Jakarta and Reuterss in Washington – A United States congressman who wants Washington to cut aid to Indonesia because of human rights violations in East Timor is being manipulated by separatist forces in the province, the Indonesian Government suggested yesterday.

Agence France Presse - March 6, 1997

A foreign ministry official has dismissed a report that the UN High Commission for Human Rights is to open an office in Jakarta to monitor the situation in East Timor, a report said Friday.

Kompas - March 6, 1997

Jakarta – Garda Sembiring, one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) members accused of subversion and his lawyer carried out a "walk out" action on Wednesday March 5. This was in response to a decision by the judge to allow the prosecutor to read out a witness' statement in accordance with the Preliminary Investigation Report (BAP).

March 5, 1997

Sydney Morning Herald - March 5, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing a "crisis of national unity", with up to 1,200 people missing following three months of ethnic fighting in West Kalimantan, according to a recent fact-finding mission.

Straits Times - March 5, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian police in the East Timorese enclave of Ambeno have arrested nine people over ethnic unrest there last month, which left one migrant dead, The Jakarta Post reported yesterday.

Jakarta Post - March 5, 1997

Jakarta – Three Democratie People's Party (PRD) activists refused yesterday to testify against their leader Budiman Sujatmiko who is on trial for subversion.

Straits Times - March 5, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian Vice-President Try Sutrisno has warned Catholic Students' Association activists against being provoked by campaigns aimed at discrediting the government and stirring up political chaos.

The Guardian - March 5, 1997

John Gittings – The son-in-law of President Suharto, Indonesia's ageing dictator, has persuaded a research centre at London University to set up a five-year training project for senior military officers.

Media Indonesia - March 5, 1997

Tasikmalaya – Kodim (Komando Dearah Militer, District Military Command) III Siliwangi said yesterday (4/2) they were still searching for the maker and distributor of a leaflet who's contents discredited the New Order government and called for an election boycott. Around 6,000 leaflets were sized, 200 are believed to have already been distributed.

Wall Street Journal - March 5, 1997

Jack David, Jakarta – Pessimists say that the current political trials of a dozen labor and student activists here indicate declining stability in Indonesia, and a bleak future for human rights observance.

March 4, 1997

South China Morning Post - March 4, 1997

Joe Leahy, Jakarta – The Islamic Development Party is unlikely to carry out its threat to nominate one of its own members for the presidency, analysts say.

This is despite its record as the only party to run an independent candidate for the vice-presidency during the Suharto era.

Jakarta Post - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan, standing trial for his alleged antigovernment statements, exploded in court yesterday and accused presiding Judge Djazuli P. Sudibyo of ignoring his poor health.

Straits Times - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) has never considered holding a special session to assess the capability of President Suharto, according to Deputy Speaker Ismail Hasan Metareum, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday.

Suara Merdeka - 4 March, 1997

Jakarta – In the ongoing case of Mochtar Pakpahan, at the South Jakarta state court was shaken yesterday. The reason? The judge accused the defendant of exaggerating his illness. He also said Pakpahan wanted to be written about in the newspapers.

Straits Times - March 4, 1997

S N Vasuki – Indonesia's parliamentary election on May 29 has entered a decisive phase with an independent election committee preparing to monitor the polls and a leading opposition party threatening to ignore tough government restrictions on campaigning.

Media Indonesia - March 4, 1997 (Abridged)

Megawati Sukarnoputri was interrogated for the second time Tuesday with regard to the celebration of the 24th anniversary of the PDI which took place at her home. South Jakarta chief of police said afterwards that it was likely she would become a suspect. (Until now she has been questioned as a 'witness'.)

South China Morning Post - March 4, 1997

Joe Leahy, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto faces the first challenge to his 30-year rule after the country's Islamic-based party said yesterday it may nominate candidates to run for president and vice-president.

East Timor Action Network - March 4, 1997

New York – A new study by the World Policy Institute reveals that the United States has supplied over $1.1 billion worth of weaponry to Indonesia in the two decades since the Suharto regime's invasion of East Timor. This new data on U.S. arms supplies to Indonesia comes at a time when U.S.-Indonesian relations are much in the news.

Jakarta Post - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Central Java textile maker PT Sritex has won a Rp 2 5 billion (US$10.87 million) contract to make 500,000 military uniforms for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) starting this year, a company executive said.

Reuters - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Eight East Timorese men who entered the French embassy in Jakarta early on Tuesday will go to Portugal, an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

"We have been contacted by the French embassy and the Indonesian government and we are making the usual arrangements," an ICRC official, who asked not to be named, said.

Antara - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Munawir Sjadzali, said "clobbering" does not violate human rights so long as it is intended to safeguard national security and take care of public interests.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 4, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's minority Muslim party has approved a boycott of the upcoming national elections in one key region and says it may ignore the Soeharto Government's campaign rules elsewhere because they overwhelming favour the ruling party.

Straits Times - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – The Indonesian government will not want to risk losing its current close relationship with Muslims by undermining the Muhammadiyah Muslim organisation or its chairman, Mr Amien Rais, an Indonesian political science lecturer has said.

Media Indonesia - March 4, 1997

Tangerang – Strikes in Tangerang and Bogor continue. In Tangerang three companies were paralyzed after workers struck demanding better wages and conditions. Thousands of public transport drivers have also gone on strike.

In Bogor, thousands of workers went on strike at PT Timur Jaya Prestasi (TJP) and PT Chungsan Mitra Internasional.

Reuters - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian police on Monday completed questioning of ousted minority party leader Megawati Sukarnoputri over a political rally at her home in January.

Ms Megawati, daughter of late founding president Sukarno, was questioned at the South Jakarta Police Headquarters for about 11/2 hours.

Far Eastern Economic Review - March 4, 1997

A Louisiana district court dismissed a class-action suit filed by Amungme tribal activist Yosefa Alomang against Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold for alleged environmental and human-rights abuses around its giant Grasberg mine in the Central Highlands of Irian Jaya, Indonesia.

March 3, 1997

Agence France Presse - March 3, 1997

Indonesia's armed forces chief has lent the military's backing to the ruling Golkar party ahead of May polls, the state news agency reported yesterday.

General Feisal Tanjung, speaking here on Saturday in the lead up to May 29 general elections, said "the big Abri (armed forces) family" channels its "political aspirations" to Golkar.

Australian Associated Press - March 3, 1997

Gordon Feeney, Jakarta – Leading Indonesian journalist-turned-political activist Goenawan Muhamad today predicted President Suharto would rule for another 10 years amid greater repression.

Asia Times - March 3, 1997

Ong Hock Chuan, Jakarta – One economic casualty of the spate of riots to strike Indonesia over the past few months may be the owners of supermarket chains, a sector that was expected to see huge expansions throughout the country this year with the entry of international retailers such as Wal-Mart.

Antara - March 3, 1997

Semarang, C Java – President Soeharto said the personnel of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) would face heavier challenges in their dedication to the nation.

Diario de Noticias - March 3, 1997

[Interview with Mari Alkatiri, Fretilin secretary for external relations. Lisbon, Byline: Abel Coelho de Morais. Original Language: Portuguese.]

DN: According to recent reports, the situation in Timor has worsened. How would you describe Indonesia's activities in the territory?

ASIET Action Alert - March 3, 1997

At midnight on March 3, nine (9) Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) underground Town Leadership Committees organised a coordinated Graffiti Action in the cities of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Solo, Semarang (all in Java), Lampung and Medan (in Sumatra) and Menado in Sulawesi.