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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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May 9, 1997

Peoples Democratic Party - May 9, 1997

Today on May 9, the national leadership of the PRD in coordination with the city leadership of the PRD in eight major cities (Lampung, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Semarang, Surabaya, Palu and Manado) again carried out a graffiti and poster campaign calling on the Indonesian people to boycott the 1997 elections, which are unconstitutional, corrupt and do not promise change towards the

Tapol - May 9, 1997

The London Times' diplomatic editor, Michael Binyon reported on 8 May that Robin Cook, the new Foreign Secretary, has told Foreign Office officials that the Government will take a much tougher line than the Conservatives on arms exports and may halt all weapons deliveries to countries with dubious human rights records, such as President Suharto's Indonesia.

Straits Times - May 9, 1997

Washington – Key members of the US government supported military assistance and training to Indonesia as the best tool to advance democracy there, despite recent calls to sanction it for human-rights violations.

Mr Doug Bereuter, chairman of the House sub-committee on the Asia-Pacific, said at a special hearing on US policy towards Indonesia, on Wednesday:

PRD Media Release - May 9, 1997 (From Tapol)

Early today, 9 May, the Central Committee, in coordination with committees in eight cities, Lampung, Bandung, Yogya, Solo, Semarang, Surabaya, Palu and Menado carried out a second graffiti action, putting up posters calling on the entire Indonesian people to boycott the unconstitutional and corrupt 1997 elections which will do nothing to bring about change and democratic reform.

PRD - May 9, 1997

In accordance with instructions of the KPP-PRD, today on May 9 between 2am and 3am West Indonesian Time (WIB), there was a graffiti action across Semarang.

What follows is a chronology:

May 8, 1997

Canada NewsWire - May 8, 1997

Montreal – While trade ministers arrived in Montreal to talk about APEC, Warren Allmand, Bob White and other Canadian labour leaders, and Amnesty International also arrived to deliver a very different message.

Jakarta Post - May 8, 1997

Surabaya – After scores of AirLangga University (Unair) student held a Golput [White Movement, election boycott] action some time ago, yesterday it was the turn of around 100 17 August University (Untag) Surabaya students to hold a rally. They called themselves the Kelompok Aliansi Mahasiswa Untag untuk Keadilan (Untag Student Alliance Group for Justice, AMUK).

May 7, 1997

Tapol - May 7, 1997

[We offer below a summary of the first part of the statement in court on 21 April made by nine activists of the Partai Rakyat Demokratik, the PRD, at the conclusion of their trial, a week before they were all sentenced.

May 6, 1997

Kompas - May 6, 1997 (Abridged from Tapol )

The nine PRD activists who were found guilty and sentenced last week on charges of subversion have filed appeals against the verdict with the appeal court.

Straits Times - May 6, 1997

Susan Sim, Jakarta – The fabled Busang gold mine, once described as the richest find this century with a reputed 71 million ounces of gold, is a scam "without precedent in the history of mining anywhere in the world", a report has concluded.

Kompas - May 6, 1997 (Abridged)

[Odd indeed that the Suharto regime has chosen to take Buchori and not Soebadio to court for an act that was clearly the latter's responsibility. The reason is not difficult to find, the embarrassment of charging an elderly and highly respected politician from the Sukarno era. Tapol]

PRD Statement - May 6, 1997

Democracy is at its nadir! The sentences meted out to the eleven PRD activists have proven that the New Order regime is an oppressive regime. It proves that fundamental differences of opinion are not allowed in this country. In the history of the world, only dictatorial regimes dare to put political parties on trial.

Kompas - May 6, 1997 (Abridged from Tapol)

Former MP Sri Bintang Pamungkas was moved from a detention cell at the attorney-general's office [where he has been held since 6 March] to Cipinang Prison, Jakarta, to serve a 34 month sentence for insulting the president. This followed rejection of his appeal against the verdict by the Supreme Court on 11 April 1997.

May 5, 1997

Voice of America - May 5, 1997

Jenny Grant, Yogyakarta – Political tension in Central Java is rising after a series of clashes between rival party supporters. Jenny Grant reports from Yogyakarta the killing of a local gangster has added to the uneasiness.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - May 5, 1997

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) holds grave fears for the safety of four East Timorese men who were arrested on 30 March 1997 in the sub-district of Atabae, Bobonaro, by members of the SGI (Special Intelligence Unit) and Kopassus (Special Forces Command).

Message from Elizabeth Wong of Suaram - May 5, 1997

A Malaysian citizen and prominent human rights activist, Dr. Syed Husin Ali, was detained at Soekarno-Hatta airport, taken to the hotel where he was participant at a United Nations Seminar and NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine in Jakarta before being deported on 4th of May, by the Indonesian immigration and military.

Straits Times - May 5, 1997

Derwin Pereira, Jakarta – Indonesian soldiers broke up a demonstration by Muslim youths carrying mock coffins and flaming torches in the Central Java city of Yogjakarta as tensions between rival parties escalated in the run-up to this month's general election.

Tapol Press Release - May 5, 1997

Eleven activists, including three East Timorese and a journalist, were arrested early today Monday when they entered a factory site in the south of England to protest against the export of armoured vehicles to Indonesia. Seven were released after being held by police for fifteen hours but the three East Timorese and the journalist are still in custody.

Canadian Press - May 5, 1997

A patch of Indonesian jungle that Bre-X Minerals had hailed as the gold find of the century is actually a tampering job "without precedent" in the history of mining anywhere in the world, new tests show.

Bre-X released the information in a statement late last night.

May 3, 1997

Radio Australia - May 3, 1997

Scores of people are reportedly injured after clashes between supporters of Indonesia's main opposition party and backers of the ruling Golkar party in Pekalongan, Central Java.

South China Morning Post - May 3, 1997

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The Government is waging war against a new breed of freedom fighter for East Timor - the computer hacker.

A Portuguese hacker was the latest Internet guerilla to sneak behind enemy lines - breaking into a military Web site to plaster the word "propaganda" across the green and brown camouflage page.

May 2, 1997

Amnesty International - May 2, 1997

According to an unconfirmed report, at about 4.30pm on 21 April 1997 members of the security forces shot and arrested Edison Marcal Dias Freitas, an East Timorese man from Santa Cruz in Dili. On 23 April, relatives went to the police station in Dili to inquire as to his whereabouts and state of health, but without success. Since then there has been no more information.

Straits Times - May 2, 1997

By Susan Sim, Jakarta – The Muslim-oriented United Development Party (PPP) begins its second round of campaigning in Java today amid heightened tensions, a result of sporadic clashes between its supporters and those of the ruling Golkar party late on Wednesday which marred the fourth day of the hustings.

Agence France Presse - May 2, 1997

Jakarta – Election violence hit several towns on the fourth day of the country's electoral campaign.

In Pekalongan, a coastal town in northern Central Java, supporters of the ruling Golkar party clashed with those of the Muslim-led United Development Party (PPP) on Wednesday, leaving five people injured and several buildings damaged, Kompas said.

ASIET - May 2, 1997

On May 2, the Full Federal Court has set aside a decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal that East Timorese refugee, Jong Kim Koe, was not a refugee under the international Refugees Convention to which Australia is a party. The Tribunal will now need to re-hear the case.

May 1, 1997

Progressive Magazine - May 1997

Eyal Press – Never underestimate the power of partisanship to alter the consciousness of America's pundits and policymakers.

Labor Alerts - May 1, 1997

The ink was barely dry on the Presidential task force agreement on sweatshops when new labor protests erupted because of inadequate pay at Nike factories. On April 22 and then again on April 25, 10,000 workers went on strike at a Nike factory in Indonesia. During the same week, 1,300 workers went on strike at a Nike factory in Vietnam.

April 30, 1997

South China Morning Post - April 30, 1997

Agencies in Jakarta – The minority Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), already hit by a damaging split, may cancel election campaigning in the second city of Surabaya after a brawl yesterday between rival supporters.

Media Indonesia - 30 April, 1997

Jakarta – The trial of the case of insulting the president involving Aberson Marle Sihaloho, was coloured by a walk out by the accused and his lawyer Luhut MP Pangaribuan.

In the South Central Jakarta court yesterday, the court showed a video recording of an Aberson speech at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Headquarters in Central Jakarta on July 13, 1996.

April 29, 1997

South China Morning Post - April 29, 1997

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Riot police violently broke up a protest outside a courtroom in the capital yesterday where pro-democracy activists were sentenced to jail terms of up to 13 years.

Globe and Mail - April 29, 1997

John Stackhouse, Jakarta – On the second day of a national election campaign, an Indonesian court sentenced five young pro-democracy activists yesterday to jail terms of up to 13 years for speaking out against the government.

Sydney Morning Herald - April 29, 1997

Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Soeharto Government has announced that it will appeal against a 13-year sentence for subversion handed down yesterday on the leader of an anti-government group, demanding a harsher penalty for the activist it blames for last year's political riots in Jakarta.

Eye witness report - 28 April. 1997

This Monday, 28 April is the day of the verdict for eleven PRD activists. Although they have already stated that they do not acknowledge this show trial, Budiman, Garda Sembiring, Iwan, Pranowo, and Suroso arrived at the Jakarta Central Court on Jalan Gajah Mada. They arrived at 9.56am.

Kompas - April 29, 1997

Jakarta – Nine of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) were sentenced earlier today (28/4) to prison sentences of up to 13 years. The accused refused to attend the reading of the court's verdict after declaring that they had lost their trust in the Indonesian justice system.

April 28, 1997

Dow Jones News - April 28, 1997

Dili – Four men have been arrested in the killing of a member of Indonesia's ruling Golkar party during an election meeting in East Timor, police said Monday.

The arrests brought to six the number of men held in connection with the killing Sunday of Alsino da Costa, 29. It was the only violence on the first day of the official campaign period for May 29 general elections.

Amnesty International - April 28, 1997

As Indonesia begins its "Festival of Democracy" – the 1997 parliamentary election campaign – Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of a group of student activists sentenced today to lengthy prison terms in Jakarta for their entirely peaceful pro-democracy activities.

Republika - April 28, 1997

Bandung – Pajajaran University students held a rally in Bandung on 26 April on the first anniversary of the Ujungpandang tragedy. The rally was marred, however, by a scuffle, and a student was arrested. Prior to the event, university authorities were checking student identification cards before the students were allowed on campus.

Wall Street Journal - April 28, 1997

Dili – Four men have been arrested in the killing of a member of Indonesia's ruling Golkar party during an election meeting in East Timor, police said Monday.

The arrests brought to six the number of men held in connection with the killing Sunday of Alsino da Costa, 29. It was the only violence on the first day of the official campaign period for May 29 general elections.

Kathleen J. Brahney - April 18-May 28, 1997

Independent Media Indonesia opined (5/28): "During this cooling-off week, as we ponder programs and campaigners, it is difficult to draw logical conclusions. What stays in mind is only the unrest. However, there is nothing we can do. As bad as the political parties may be...we must vote for one as better than the others."

April 27, 1997

Reuters - April 27, 1997

Jakarta – Five East Timorese, including a junior high school student, have gone on trial in the territory in connection with the death of a soldier on a Christmas eve, Indonesia's official Antara news agency reported on Sunday.

Antara said the trial of the defendants, aged between 17 and 22, started on Saturday in Dili, East Timor's capital, under tight security.

April 26, 1997

Reuters - April 26, 1997

Jakarta – An Indonesian plant producing shoes for U.S. athletic-wear maker Nike Inc shut down for the weekend following protests over wages by thousands of workers, a plant official said on Saturday.

Kompas - 26 April, 1997

Tangerang - About 6,000 workers from PT HASI (Hardaya Aneka Shoes Industry) Tangerang-producer of Nike shoes-went on strike and broke the glasses of the plant's office on Friday (25/4).

Radio Australia - April 26, 1997

Scores of people have been injured in a riot near the Indonesian capital Jakarta by several thousand workers from a shoe factory who were demanding higher wages.

The Republika daily says after a rally for better pay, workers went on a rampage, throwing objects at the factory which produces Nike shoes, and damaging vehicles.

Jakarta Post - 26 April, 1997

Jakarta - Eight groups within Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest Moslem organization, yesterday endorsed boycotting the election as a form of political participation.

Almost immediately afterward NU chairman Abdurrahman Wahid lashed out at the groups, saying they had overstepped their boundary and used the organization's name arbitrarily.

April 25, 1997

Tapol - April 25, 1997

The General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Union, Bill Jordan, has written to the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Michel Hansenne, complaining about the heavy sentences of 6 and 4 year passed down respectively on trade union activists, Dita Indah Sari and Coen Hussein Pontoh in Surabaya last week, and calling on him to raise the

Kompas - 25 April, 1997

Jakarta – The accused in the subversion case Wilson carried out a walk out action. He objected when the testimony of the witness Didit Sutopo and Dita Indah Sari from their Preliminary Investigation Reports (BAP) were read. He continued to ask that those involved be presented.

Amnesty International - April 25, 1997

Eighteen people believed to have been detained in East Timor on suspicion of links with the armed resistance in East Timor, Falintil, are feared to be at risk of torture or ill-treatment in custody.

April 24, 1997

Kompas - 24 April, 1997

Jakarta – Megawati Soekarnoputri in her daily message, Wednesday (23/4), said, the entire membership and supporters of the Megawati Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) throughout the country will not take part in campaign activities in the name of the PDI during the campaign period of the 1997 General Elections.

ASIET - April 24, 1997

On April 22 in Surabaya, the kangaroo court handling the case of Dita Sari handed down a sentence of six years. The prosecution had demanded nine years. Dita's co-defendants, Coen Hussein Pontoh and Mohammed Soleh were sentenced four years each. Dita and her lawyers immediately denounced the court as a farce and swore to continue the struggles.

Kompas - April 24, 1997 (from Tapol)

PRD activist and student leader, Mohamad Sholeh, 23, who is a member of the PRD's student solidarity organisation SMID, in Surabaya has been sentenced to four years. The court declared that Sholeh, a fourth year student at a private university, had been found guilty of engaging in subversion by trying to undermine the state ideology.