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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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February 25, 2000

Associated Press - February 25, 2000

Rome – Both sides in the Christian-Muslim conflict in Indonesia are using child soldiers, sending boys as young as seven into fighting with firebombs in their backpacks, the Vatican missionary news service said Thursday.

Agence France Presse - February 25, 2000

Washington – Indonesia has moved toward a more pluralistic democracy but human rights abuses remain rife, according to a US State Department human rights report released Friday.

Sydney Morning Herald - February 25, 2000

Mark Riley, New York – The United Nations Security Council has shelved plans for a UN human rights tribunal in East Timor, ignoring the recommendations of its own inquiry into the mayhem that followed August's independence ballot.

US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - February 25, 2000

February 24, 2000

South China Morning Post - February 24, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Officials and residents of Jakarta on one of its more peaceful days were surprised yesterday to hear President Abdurrahman Wahid proclaim a state of "high alert" in the capital to guard against a large demonstration that no one could find.

Jakarta Post - February 24, 2000

Jakarta – Thirteen people were injured when students and police clashed outside the Attorney General's Office in South Jakarta on Wednesday in the first violent protest in the capital this year.

February 23, 2000

Green Left Weekly - February 23, 2000

Indonesian police are threatening to imprison or deport Australian trade unionist Roger Smith. Smith, who works in Indonesia for the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, has been detained and interrogated over his participation in labour rallies and his meetings with Indonesian unionists.

Green Left Weekly - February 23, 2000

Jon Land, Dili – East Timorese workers at the floating Hotel Olympia and Amos W. complex have won better wages and conditions following a 24-hour sit-in strike. The action, which began on February 10, involved 40 hospitality and housekeeping workers. The dispute reflects increasing discontent within East Timorese society at low wages and high prices for basic commodities.

Green Left Weekly - February 23, 2000

Jon Land, Dili – The Socialist Party of Timor (PST) held its first national congress here on February 10-11. The event marked an important stage in the development of the PST and the socialist movement in East Timor. Some 250 delegates from across East Timor discussed and debated the way forward for the party.

The Melbourne Age - February 23, 2000

Paul Daley – Operatives from Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, made extraordinary efforts to implicate Australia in illegal spy flights in East Timor last year, according to Australian intelligence sources. The Indonesian operatives are also alleged to have posed as United Nations employees in an attempt to influence political outcomes in Timor.

Jakarta Post - February 23, 2000

Jakarta – The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) and the Information System and Legal Education Institute (Sisbikum) have urged workers to reject the new regional minimum wages, saying the level was too low and against international standards.

Time Magazine - February 23, 2000

Interview with Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesia's first civilian defense minister. Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesia's first civilian defense minister, is a soft-spoken intellectual who served as education minister under former president B.J. Habibie and environment minister under Habibie's predecessor, Suharto.

Time Magazine - February 23, 2000

General Wiranto has been a pivotal player in modern Indonesia. Appointed head of the armed forces by Suharto in 1998, he helped ease the dictator out of power, then saw the military through a series of crises: pro-democracy demonstrations in Jakarta, ethnic and religious violence in the provinces, the referendum on independence in East Timor.

Sydney Morning Herald - February 23, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – They call them Black Operations – kidnapping, killing, torturing, raping, burning and looting designed to intimidate opposition or set communities against each other. Sometimes they wear black masks, other times they pose as local thugs.

February 22, 2000

Jakarta Post - February 22, 2000

Jakarta – Official minimum wage levels throughout the country will increase between 15 percent and 55 percent from April 1, the Ministry of Manpower announced on Monday. Although representing significant increases, the new minimum wages for most regions barely cover the monthly living expenses of a single person, the ministry said.

South China Morning Post - February 22, 2000

Agence France Presse, Canberra – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Australian Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday that the Indonesian judicial process should be given a chance and played down the need for an international war crimes tribunal for East Timor.

South China Morning Post - February 22, 2000

Dow Jones, Jakarta – As Asia's only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Indonesia's coffers are filling with cash, according to analysts and Indonesian government officials, as the rally in crude oil generates a windfall for the struggling economy.

Kompas - February 22, 2000

Jakarta – In relation to the government's plans to cut fuel and electricity subsidies, on February 21, the People's Democratic Party (PRD), led by chairperson Budiman Sudjatmiko, met with President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) at the Bina Graha presidential offices [in Central Jakarta].

South China Morning Post - February 22, 2000

Reuters, Dili – World Bank president James Wolfensohn yesterday signed over its first US$21.5 million in reconstruction aid for East Timor, amid criticism the bank has dragged its feet in providing funds to help rebuild the ravaged territory.

Jakarta Post - February 22, 2000

Jakarta – President Abdurrahman Wahid said on Monday the government would push ahead with plans to increase electricity tariffs and fuel prices despite the public's protests, citing that it was part of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

February 21, 2000

South China Morning Post - February 21, 2000

Reuters in Dili – Australian troops in East Timor have been accused of sexual harassment of local women, the second such incident since multinational troops were sent in, a force spokesman said on Monday.

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2000

Jakarta – Political activist Andi Arief has attracted public attention by announcing that he no longer believes 14 fellow activists who disappeared in 1998 are still alive.

"I am sure that they died a long time ago. I have no proof of this, I just want those who killed them to get what they deserve," Andi told The Jakarta Post last Monday.

Freedom Forum Online - February 21, 2000

Arnold Zeitlin, Dili – In impoverished, war-devastated East Timor, the most urgent needs are food, water, shelter, clothing – and a printing press.

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2000 (slightly abridged)

Banda Aceh – Horror and tension again reigned here over the weekend when three suspected rebels were killed in a gunfight with police in North Aceh, while in Central Aceh the stench of rotting bodies led residents to a hidden mass grave.

February 20, 2000

Agence France Presse - February 20, 2000

Jakarta – World Bank President James Wolfensohn on Sunday catagorically denied reports millions of dollars of the bank's funds for Indonesia's poor had been funnelled to the militia that devastated East Timor last year.

Agence France Presse - February 20, 2000

Mota'ain – Indonesian troops fired in the air yesterday to halt fighting that broke out among East Timorese refugees and residents at an informal reunion at this border crossing point between East and West Timor, witnesses said.

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2000

Tangerang – Traffic heading to and from the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport here was blocked for at least three hours on Saturday afternoon by some 300 angry protesters, causing delays of several international and domestic flights.

February 19, 2000

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2000

Banda Aceh – Nine more people were reported killed in Aceh in the last two days, raising the death toll for the year to 179.

South China Morning Post - February 19, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – The World Bank says it knew of allegations concerning misuse of its money to fund East Timor militias but found no evidence when it checked the claims last June. Indonesian bureaucrats named in an Australian television documentary broadcast on Wednesday have, so far, remained silent.

Washington Post - February 19, 2000

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Jakarta – The Defense Department has quietly resumed training Indonesian military officers in the United States, restoring one element of its relationship with Indonesia that was suspended last year after Indonesian soldiers participated in the violence that engulfed East Timor.

February 18, 2000

Jakarta Post - February 18, 2000 (abridged)

Bandung – The newly created Office of the State Minister of Human Rights Affairs has received some 3,000 reports of missing persons, most of them alleged abductions in Aceh, East Timor and Jakarta.

Asia Pulse - February 18, 2000

Jakarta – A total of 72 national banks suffered combined losses of Rp38.7 trillion (US$5.5 billion) last year, while 92 others managed to register profit, a study said.

The study conducted by the research bureau of Infobank magazine on 164 national banks, a copy of which was made available on Thursday, suggested the loss was lower than the previous year's Rp62.49 trillion.

February 17, 2000

Jakarta Post - February 17, 2000

Jakarta – A team of seven prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office are investigating the alleged misuse of reforestation funds by five major figures linked to former president Soeharto.

Agence France Presse - February 17, 2000

Jakarta – Former Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto appeared on television here Wednesday to defend himself against allegations that he let his troops go on a bloody rampage in East Timor last year.

Asia Pulse - February 17, 2000

Jakarta – It will much longer to reduce the Indonesian military's influence on the economy than on politics or government, an observer said.

Agence France Presse - February 17, 2000 (abridged)

Jakarta – Nine policemen were injured and three residents suffered gunshot wounds when police opened fire during a riot in a town in Indonesia's easternmost province of Irian Jaya, a report said Thursday.

February 16, 2000

Agence France Presse - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wound up a protest-peppered, two-day visit to Indonesia Wednesday urging the government not to use force against separatist rebels and warning Jakarta to bring East Timor rights abusers to trial or face UN action.

Associated Press - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – A day after he was removed as senior government minister, Gen. Wiranto dropped into a popular Jakarta radio station and became their disc jockey for more than an hour, news reports said Wednesday.

Green Left Weekly - February 16, 2000

February 11, 500 workers from clothing manufacturer PT Matahari Sentosa I in Bandung, West Java, staged a sit-in at the parliament building here. The workers, members of the militant Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI) trade union, were demanding a 100% wage increase from their present daily pay of 7700 rupiah.

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – The life expectancy of the Irianese is about 40 years, the shortest among ethnic groups in Indonesia, due to malnutrition and a poor health service, a senior local official says.

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo vowed on Tuesday that the police would take up to three months, to complete an investigation into the July 27, 1996 bloody takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters.

Associated Press - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's economy grew 0.2 percent last year following its collapse during the 1998 Asian financial meltdown, according to statistics released Wednesday. The Central Statistics Bureau said the economy expanded 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter alone from a year ago. The economy grew 0.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Dateline (SBS Television) - February 16, 2000

Mark Davis – In a forest West of Dili, Filomena Amaral is about to learn the details of how her husband, a village schoolteacher and church leader, was tortured and killed.

Filomena: "Why was he killed? Was he a thief? Did he steal people's things or did he kill people like they killed him? No he died without fault."

Sydney Morning Herald - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid decided to suspend General Wiranto over his involvement in human rights abuses in East Timor after significant international pressure, a leading legislator, Mr Amien Rais, said yesterday.

Green Left Weekly - February 16, 2000

Dili – The East Timor Human Rights Commission (ETHRC) was established on October 1 to conduct investigations and monitoring of human rights violations in East Timor, educate the East Timorese people about human rights issues and establish rehabilitation, education and advocacy programs.

Media Indonesia - February 16, 2000

The commission investigating human rights violations in East Timor has finally completed the report of its findings. The evidence was so convincing that accusations of physical violence and threats to kill were included.

Australian Associated Press - February 16, 2000

Canberra – East Timor's main political organisation, the National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), was attacking some of the people it had fought to protect, it was reported today.

February 15, 2000

Agence France Presse - February 15, 2000

Bandah Aceh – A police chief, a military subdistrict chief and a policeman were shot dead by unknown gunmen today in the latest attacks on security officers in Indonesia's restive Aceh province, police said here.

Sydney Morning Herald - February 15, 2000

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Indonesia's military yesterday pledged its loyalty to President Wahid after he suspended General Wiranto in an extraordinary back-flip just hours after declaring that he could remain in the Cabinet.

South China Morning Post - February 15, 2000

Vaudine England, Jakarta – Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday achieved exactly what he wanted – General Wiranto's absence from government – without destabilising the nation's delicate political balance.