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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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December 22, 1997

Sydney Morning Herald - December 22, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – It's close to 3am and business is brisk behind the heavy velvet curtain shielding the back room from the jarring beat on the crowded dance floor of one of Jakarta's most expensive night clubs.

Kompas - December 22, 1997

Baucau – The Baucau District Court in East Timor has passed jail terms on three local youths found to have committed a subversive act against the Indonesian government. The three youths are Muhammad Amin, 19, Fortunato Ximenes, 31, and Alvino Freitas, 19. All of them have been sentenced to 17 years in prison minus their detention time.

Associated Press - December 22, 1997

Jakarta – Four East Timorese rebels convicted in a grenade attack that killed 17 Indonesian security agents were sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison.

Dow Jones Newswires - December 22, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia President Suharto, in a meeting with the nation's top business leaders Monday, said the central bank has spent 10% of its reserves, or $2 billion, intervening on behalf of the nation's currency in recent months.

He added, however, that the $18 billion remaining in reserves is enough to cover 4.5 months of imports.

MateBEAN - December 22, 1997

Manatuto – A Red Beret military unit, infamously known as Kopassus had arbitrarily arrested Elias Soares (18), on 8 December 1997, with no clear reasons at all. The primary school graduate from Vemassa Sub-district, Bacau, was on his way from Vemassa to Dili. Until MateBEAN posted the news today, there was still no clues of his whereabouts and destiny.

Agence France Presse - December 22, 1997

Lisbon – Indonesian secret police have arrested five East Timorese university students in Surabaya, Java, on suspicion of supporting the pro-independence Socialist Association of Timor, the group said today.

Australian Financial Review - December 22, 1997

Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's financial markets are showing the first signs of stability in three weeks, giving the Government a much-needed chance to regain its management credibility with the annual Budget to be delivered in the first week of January.

Australian Financial Review - December 22, 1997

Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Soeharto has dismissed half the directors of the country's central bank and established a group of private sector advisers amid a growing struggle over economic policy.

Republika - December 22, 1997 (Summary of report by Tapol)

Journalists and activists who attended a press conference which had been called to announce the results of a referendum held by the Gajah Mada University student body were disappointed and angry when they were told that the results would after all not be announced. The committee which had organised the event asked the journalists 'to understand' their position.

Tapol - December 22, 1997

14,000 troops are being mobilised to secure the capital in a special operation over the coming holidays. Ten thousand of the troops will be from the police and the remaining four thousand from the army.

MateBEAN - December 22, 1997 (posted by ETISC)

Jember – The Association of East Timor Students (IMPETTU) declared their support for East Timor Reconciliation and Unity Movement, GRPRTT. All IMPETTU chairmen signed the declaration in Jember, on 10 December 1997. Around four hundred East Timor students attended the announcement of the declaration.

December 21, 1997

Akcaya - December 21, 1997 (extract only by Tapol)

Surabaya – In anticipation of the Session of the MPR in March next year, the Information Minister General (ret'd) Hartono said that he has issued strong warnings to fifteen newspapers about their reporting of news.

December 20, 1997

Tempo Interaktif - December 20, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

More than ten thousand students at Yogyakarta's prestigious Gadjah Mada University have expressed the view that Suharto should not be nominated as president at next year's MPR session.

The Age - December 20, 1997

Louise Williams – Food stocks in drought-stricken regions of Irian Jaya are almost exhausted and up to 20 per cent of the population of some villages has already died, according to the latest report on the famine by the Australian Red Cross.

December 19, 1997

SiaR - December 19, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

Tasikmalaya – The district court in Tasiklamaya has passed a savage sentence of eight years on an activist from Garut named Agustiana who was accused of being the brains behind the riots that struck Tasikmalaya in West Java on 26 December last year.

December 18, 1997

Jakarta Post - December 18, 1997

Jakarta – Minister of Defense Edi Sudradjat told people yesterday not to be provoked by baseless rumors about a coup attempt.

Speaking to reporters after addressing the opening ceremony of an ASEAN seminar on Principles of Regional Resilience and Cooperation, Edi said people should not trust such misleading information.

Financial Times - December 18, 1997

Sander Thoenes – The prospect of a sixth smooth re-election of President Suharto next year was put in doubt this week when a leading party failed to nominate him and a group of retired generals called for a new president.

The Nation - December 18, 1997

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – As the Indonesian government ventures to overcome the current monetary crisis, rumours have started to circulate widely of an impending military coup in connection with the health of Indonesia's strong man, President Suharto.

DIGEST No. 48 (Indonesian news with comment) - December 18, 1997

A new, openly dissident movement has sprung up within East Timor. If Manuel Carrascalao's Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the People of Timor (GRPRTT) is as serious about its mission as it claims to be, it will represent a brave new initiative.

It comes from an unexpected corner. Manuel Carrascalao once actively supported East Timor's integration with Indonesia.

Jakarta Post - December 18, 1997

Jakarta – President Soeharto found it extremely difficult to understand why the rupiah had continued to fall against the U.S. dollar, a senior minister said yesterday.

Jakarta Post - December 18, 1997

Jakarta – Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana threw in the towel in the race for the vice presidency yesterday, saying she was not capable of carrying out the second top position.

The eldest daughter of President Soeharto said on the sidelines of the People's Consultative Assembly meeting that the nation needs a person of high quality for its vice president.

The AustralAsian - December 18, 1997

Darwin – Six East Timorese who have sought refuge in the Austrian embassy in Jakarta, since September 19, are in danger of being handed over to the Indonesian authorities.

Handwritten messages, smuggled out, have been received, here in Darwin, from the East Timorese holed up in the Austrian embassy, asking for help in the form of pressures to the Austrian government.

December 17, 1997

Lusa - December 17, 1997

Dili – East Timor's police chief, Indonesian Colonel Rismanto, accused on Tuesday the Timorese guerrilla of being the responsible for the death of a civilian and injuries to a policeman during two separate attacks.

Indonesian People's Front - November 17, 1997

[The following is an abridged translation of a statement sent to ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor) by the National Committee for Democratic Struggle (Kelompok Nasional Perjuangan Demokrasi).

December 16, 1997

Kompas - December 16, 1997

Jakarta – The Working Committee of the People's Consultative Assembly (BP MPR) has received eight names proposed as candidate for VP. While as candidate for president 1998-2003 only one name was proposed, namely that of President Soeharto.

Antara - December 16, 1997

Dili – East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares has confirmed that the Movement for the Reconciliation and Unity of the People of East Timor, which had been established by a group of sympathizers, was a proscribed movement because it could threaten the integrity of the unitary Republic of Indonesia.

Jakarta Post - December 16, 1997

Jakarta – World Bank country director for Indonesia Dennis de Tray urged the government and private sectors again yesterday to provide edible information to help store public confidence in the country's economy.

MateBEAN - December 16, 1997

Salatiga – Military authorities in Salatiga banned "Seminar on the Prospects of Justice Movements, Peace and the Struggle for Human Rights in East Timor". The seminar itself was organised by the Communication Forum of Nahdlatul Ulama Students Movement (FKGMNU) last Monday 14 December 1997.

Kompas - December 16, 1997 (posted by Tapol)

The South Jakarta district court has not yet fixed a date for the subversion trial of Sri-Bintang Pamungkas, the former MP who is currently serving a one-year sentence for insulting the head of state. But the chairman of the court confirmed that the trial will commence before the end of December.

Associated Press - December 16, 1997

Ali Kotarumalos, Jakarta – A dissident group of former Cabinet ministers, ex-politicians and retired generals urged Indonesian lawmakers Tuesday not to re-elect Asia's oldest and longest reigning head of state.

Financial Times - December 16, 1997

Sander Thoenes – The warning calls of growing unemployment echo through the alleys and back streets of Indonesia's inner cities.

They are the cries and whistles, rattling of spoons and banging of pots of the self-employed men and women who peddle food, ice cream, plastic buckets and other odds and ends from dawn to late at night.

December 15, 1997

Australian Financial Review - December 15, 1997

Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia is facing the first serious annual contraction in its economy since President Soeharto came to power amid fears that the country can no longer service its foreign debt because of the rupiah's dramatic plunge.

The AustralAsian - December 15, 1997

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – The main streets in Jakarta's business district were crowded on Friday. Amid the skyscrapers, Jakartans rushed home for the weekend, and everything seemed normal.

Reuters - December 15, 1997

Lewa Pardomuan, Jakarta – Famine triggered by a severe drought has spread to Indonesia's Moluccas region, threatening more than 80,000 people, while relief efforts continued in remote Irian Jaya, officials and the media reported on Monday.

December 14, 1997

Tapol - December 14, 1997

Villagers in Riau province who fenced themselves in on ancestral land to back a compensation claim against Riau Andalan Paper and Pulp Company were driven from the area when heavily-armed forces of Brimob (Mobile Brigade), the special forces of the Indonesian police, attacked them with smoke bombs and tear-gas.

Tapol - December 14, 1997

Two lawyers from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Institute, the PBHI, recently spent two days in Semarang in connection with several East Timorese who will shortly go on trial in connection with bomb-making. They were able to meet four of their clients who have been detained there since mid-September in connection with bomb-making at a house in Demak.

December 13, 1997

New York Times - December 13, 1997

Seth Mydans, Tangerang – When economists worry about Indonesia's slump – its sinking currency, its ailing banks and its nearly $40 billion bailout package – they worry about people like Jumaluddin, a low-paid factory worker with a ready smile and a precarious future.

The Economist - December 13, 1997

Nothing, until recently, has stood in the way of the sons and daughters of President Suharto, as they built up huge business empires through his 30-year reign. Democracy is controlled, the opposition neutered, the press harnessed. But at last something has happened to restrain them: Asia's economic crisis.

The Independent - December 13, 1997

Anthony Bevins – Oxfam yesterday accused the Government of being in breach of its own guidelines on arms sales. Eleven arms-export licences have been granted to Indonesia since 28 July, when Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, announced new regulations for arms sales overseas.

December 12, 1997

Amnesty International - December 12, 1997

On 11 December 1997, two East Timorese men were sentenced to death after being found guilty of participating in an ambush on a truck carrying members of the Indonesian security forces. This is the first time the death penalty has been handed down by the courts in East Timor since its occupation by Indonesia in 1975.

Sydney Morning Herald - December 12, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Two Australian activists are in custody after being arrested by Indonesian security forces during a human rights demonstration on Wednesday in the central Javanese town of Semarang.

South China Morning Post - December 12, 1997

Controversial former MP Sri Bintang Pamungkas, serving a jail term for defaming President Suharto, will be put on trial for attempting to undermine the state, a report said yesterday.

The Nation - December 12, 1997

Andreas Harsono – Rumours about the health of the president have shaken the country as it struggles with an economic downturn.

South China Morning Post - December 12, 1997

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – More than 500 supporters of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri held a rowdy march yesterday after losing a crucial court battle linked to riots in the capital last year.

"There is no justice! Megawati for new president," the crowd chanted, only a block from the presidential palace.

Lusa - December 12, 1997

Dili – Two East Timorese human rights organisations said on Thursday that they had received during this year 339 complaints of human rights violations committed by the Indonesian security forces stationed in the territory.

The AustraAsian - December 12, 1997

Darwin – East Timor activist Vaughan Williams from the Darwin-based Australians for a Free East Timor is due to appear at the Northern Territory's Darwin Magistrates Court on Monday December 15 for publicly displaying pictures of East Timorese women being tortured by the Indonesian Armed Forces (Abri).

MateBEAN - December 12, 1997

Dili – During the last eleven months, there were 339 reported human rights violations in East Timor. It was reported by the East Timor people to Comissa Iustiti Et Pax (Commission for Justice and Peace), a special organization appointed by the Dili Diocese and the Human Rights and Law Foundation (HAK). However, many believe the number of human rights abuse is higher than that.

SiaR - December 12, 1997

Bekasi – The role of a paster is to help the "little" people, the poor and neglected. So it is natural for them to help those who are suffering. Thus said the presiding judge, Margono at the trial of Romo Sandyawan and his brother Benny Sumardi at the Bekasi state court, Monday (8/12).

December 11, 1997

Sydney Morning Herald - December 11, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – In one of the sharpest criticisms to date of East Asian business practices, a World Bank executive has warned that monopolies linked to President Soeharto's inner circle of family and friends are blocking Indonesia's economic recovery.

Reuters - December 11, 1997

Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Election violence, choking smog and regional economic turmoil have badly hit Indonesia's tourism industry this year, a government minister said on Thursday.

Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Minister Joop Ave said he expected single-digit growth in visitor arrivals for 1997 after more than 13 years of double-digit growth.