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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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March 29, 1999

Agence France Presse - March 29, 1999

Jakarta – An angry mob vandalized seven shop-houses in the eastern Indonesian province of Irian Jaya following the death of a college teacher in police custody, a report said Monday.

Kyodo - March 29, 1999

Christine T. Tjandraningsih, Jakarta – An Indonesian committee passed a code of conduct Monday for the general election campaign, set from May 19 to June 4, that includes the ban of street rallies and the disqualification of parties from the June 7 election if they abuse the rules.

Jawa Pos - March 29, 1999 (BBC summary)

Surabaya – The supporters of other political parties have continued to vandalise the Golkar party's flags, banners, stickers, and signs. Most of the Golkar signs mounted in the streets were pulled apart by crowds, many wearing the colours of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-Struggle), when mass meetings of that party were being held.

Australian Associated Press - March 29, 1999

Karen Polglaze, Dili – Bony arms raise gnarled hands in a shaky Mexican wave as the call to salute rings out across the buckled, weed-infested square of the village of Maubara.

Australian Associated Press - March 29, 1999 (abridged)

Karen Polglaze, Jakarta – A local government authority in East Timor has begun a compulsory survey of all public servants to find out if they support independence for the troubled province, observers said.

The regent of Bobonaro, Guilherme Dos Santos, issued the instruction on March 24 requiring all employees in the town of Maliana to fill in a form stating their views.

March 28, 1999

The Observer (UK) - March 28, 1999

Indonesia's experiment in population control has left a bloody legacy, reports John Aglionby in Pontianak

Sarni Kemal was wearing everything he owns when the headhunters came – a ripped shirt, a pair of grubby jeans and his underpants. When they came, he fled with his wife and eight children into a forest.

Australian Associated Press - March 28, 1999

Canberra – Defence Minister John Moore today defended the holding of joint military exercises with Indonesia's armed forces (ABRI following allegations about military operations within Indonesia.

Australian Associated Press - March 28, 1999

Canberra – The federal opposition has backed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao's call for pro-integrationist militias to be disarmed urgently.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Laurie Brereton today supported Mr Gusmao's view that a democratic process would be jeopardised if these militia groups remained armed in the lead up to a ballot on independence.

March 27, 1999

Associated Press - March 27, 1999

Jakarta – The death toll from nearly two weeks of ethnic violence in Borneo rose to about 260 when new attacks on villages killed at least 15 people and dozens of refugees died of injuries or illnesses, newspapers reported Saturday.

South China Morning Post - March 27, 1999

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar party could threaten the credibility of June's general election if it resorts to vote-buying, the nation's top electoral official warned yesterday.

Rudini, the chairman of the General Election Commission, said Golkar was ready to "play dirty" by buying votes and forcing the private sector to donate campaign funds.

Radio Australia (Melbourne) - March 27, 1999 (BBC summary)

The United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy, has said that not only have women been raped by military personnel in East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya, but that in some cases victims were sent photographs of their own rape.

South China Morning Post - March 27, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta – The release of 10 political prisoners after 33 years in jail said little about any government commitment to political freedom, historians and other former political detainees said yesterday.

The 10, jailed for their part in the alleged communist coup attempt of 1965, were freed late on Thursday.

March 26, 1999

Agence France Presse - March 26, 1999 (abridged)

Dili – Three people were killed Friday after Indonesian soldiers opened fire while trying to catch a suspected killer in East Timor, police said.

Bacau district police chief Major S.C. Marpaung said the soldiers were chasing a suspected murderer, identified as Faria, when they opened fire in Gariwai village in Baucua district.

Reuters - March 26, 1999

Desmond Wrightm, Banda Aceh – Indonesia's president on Friday apologised to the restive province of Aceh for years of human rights abuses, as thousands of protesters demanding self-rule clashed with police and soldiers.

Hospitals said 111 people were injured, eight seriously, in clashes between protesters and security forces. Three people had been shot.

Indonesian Observer - March 26, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's current economic crisis has led to widespread malnutrition amongst many pregnant women and children, a study conducted by the Helen Keller Indonesia foundation concluded yesterday.

According to the non-governmental organization's report, the social conditions in Jakarta are twice as bad as conditions in Bangladesh.

March 25, 1999

Far Eastern Economic Review - March 25, 1999

John McBeth in Jakarta and Dini Djalal in Ambon – Ambon has long been a tragedy waiting to happen. Ever since Indonesia became independent 50 years ago, a tradition of nonviolence, known as pela gandong, had kept a tenuous peace between Muslims and Christians.

Business Times - March 25, 1999

Vikram Khanna, Singapore – Indonesian political leader Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday said his party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), is open to forming a coalition with the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, as well as with Muslim leader Amien Rais and other democratic parties, to form a government in Indonesia after the general elections in June.

Waspada - March 25, 1999 (summary)

Thousands of students from a number of universities took part in a demonstration outside the local assembly building in Banda Aceh denouncing President Habibie's visit to Aceh and calling for a referendum. They arrived at the assembly in convoys of vehicles.

South China Morning Post - March 25, 1999

Raissa Robles in Manila and Vaudine England in Jakarta – About 600 Indonesian rebels have just finished training at a Muslim separatist camp in the southern Philippines, the Philippine military claimed yesterday.

March 24, 1999

Australian Associated Presse - March 24, 1999

Canberra – A cabinet minister from the Whitlam government today apologised to the people of East Timor for the Australia's inaction over the Indonesian invasion of the former Portuguese colony.

Timorese Democratic Union - March 24, 1999

Sydney – East Timorese independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, today called for urgent United Nations intervention to stop Indonesian army and militia atrocities against innocent East Timorese civilians, and to prevent an old guard clique at the highest levels of Indonesian government from undermining the UN-brokered self-determination deal for East Timor.

Lusa - March 24, 1999

Lisbon – The chief international spokesman for the East Timorese resistance charged Tuesday that former Indonesian President Suharto, a military commander and the foreign ministry were secretly funding much of the recent violence in the territory.

Australian Associated Presse - March 24, 1999 (abridged)

Karen Polglaze, Dili – East Timor's armed resistance force Falintil for the first time overnight engaged in a shoot-out with a pro-integration paramilitary force, a Catholic source said today.

The three hour shoot-out was the result of a surprise attack by the Halilintar paramilitary group on a secret meeting of Falintil guerrillas, the source said.

Agence France Presse - March 24, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia will release 10 ageing political prisoners, including ex-Colonel Abdul Latief, all sentenced to death more than 30 years ago for alleged involvement in the 1965 coup, Justice Minister Muladi said Wednesday.

Agence France Presse - March 24, 1999

Geneva – Chinese women raped during last year's disturbances in Indonesia have been threatened in order to shut them up, a United Nations investigator reported Wednesday.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, special reporter to the UN human rights commission, said she was convinced despite police denials that there were mass rapes including gang rapes during the riots.

Reuters - March 24, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's election commission on Wednesday said it would bar government ministers from campaigning for June's parliamentary election, a day after the government announced that most of them could.

Kompas - March 24, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta - President B.J. Habibie has granted amnesty to 42 political prisoners accused of subversion. Two of them were involved in the Candi Borobudur bombing case, Hasbi Abdullah and Husein Ali Al Habsyi, and the other 40 people in subversion cases in Aceh.

Agence France Presse - March 24, 1999

Jakarta – A son of former Indonesian president Suharto will stand trial next month for his suspected involvement in a multi-million dollar land scam, reports said Wednesday.

The dossier on Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Suharto's youngest son, was handed to the South Jakarta district court Tuesday by a public prosecutor, the state Antara news agency said.

The Times (London) - March 24, 1999

David Watts, Singkawang – Indonesia has sent in 1,000 armed police officers to try to stamp out ethnic violence between Madurese migrants and locals yesterday before it spreads further in this province in Borneo.

Jakarta Post - March 24, 1999

Pontianak - Over 10,000 Madurese from Sambas regency have poured into this city and surrounding areas to escape the violence with local Malays and Dayaks. The exodus continued on Tuesday, while over 13,000 people in the Pemangkat coastal sub-district of Sambas were waiting to be evacuated.

March 23, 1999

Agence France Presse - March 23, 1999

Jakarta – Two Indonesian soldiers believed to have been abducted by separatists in the troubled province of Aceh have been found dead following the arrest of one of the alleged killers, a report said Tuesday.

Japan Economic Newswire - March 23, 1999,

Christine T. Tjandraningsih – The ongoing economic crisis that has plagued Indonesia since the middle of 1997 has left children hungry in the country, with at least 610 reported to have died in recent months from malnutrition, international organizations said Tuesday.

Wall Street Journal - March 23, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesia's struggling privatization program suffered another setback Monday, when the government said it won't complete three key sales this fiscal year.

Kompas - March 23, 1999

Palu – The People's Democratic Party (PRD) has said that for the PRD, the 1999 election campaign is not just about getting votes. What was more important for the PRD was to providing political education to the people to increase their political consciousness.

Associated Press - March 23, 1999

Andi Jatmiko, Simpang Monterado – Indonesian soldiers fired shots in the air Tuesday to scare off fighters armed with spears, swords and homemade guns who tried to attack another ethnic group on Borneo island.

Agence France Presse - March 23, 1999

Sydney – Indonesia has rejected Australia's offer of a surgical team for East Timor, despite evidence of a looming health crisis in the province, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Tuesday.

South China Morning Post - March 23, 1999 (abridged)

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – In a sign that Indonesia does not want the international community tampering with its sovereignty over East Timor, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said his Government refused to have any permanent United Nations presence in the territory until next month.

Agence France Presse - March 23, 1999

Jakarta – Indonesian troops opened fire to disperse a crowd protesting the acquittal of an MP charged with embezzling 12 million dollars, injuring one student, reports said Tuesday.

Around 200 students outside the courthouse in Ujung Pandang on Monday pelted stones after Nurdin Halid, an MP for the ruling Golkar Party, was acquitted, the Jakarta Post said.

Agence France Presse - March 23, 1999

Jakarta – Hundreds of Indonesian bank employees who lost their jobs when the government shut down 38 banks this month staged a protest march through central Jakarta Tuesday demanding increased severance pay.

Sydney Morning Herald - March 23, 1999

The escalating violence in Ambon and Sulawesi since the fall of Soeharto has led to communities torn apart, with neighbour killing neighbour. Louise Williams reports.

March 22, 1999

ASIET - March 22, 1999

[The following is a speech by Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1) on the occasion of his swearing in as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) in Jakarta on March 21.]

Reuters - March 22, 1999

Amy Chew, Jakarta – Indonesia's spiralling violence, fuelled by a brutal economic recession and religious and ethnic tension, threatens to derail the country's first democratic election in more than 40 years.

Agence France Presse - March 22, 1999

Jakarta – One man was killed and 15 injured in a clash between supporters of rival parties campaigning for the June elections in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, a report said Monday.

Agence France Presse - March 22, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta – Hundreds of Indonesian youth rallied outside the United Nations office in Jakarta on Monday demanding independence for the troubled Aceh province, witnesses said.

The noisy demonstration by 200 members of Student Solidarity for Aceh comes five days ahead of a visit to the separatist-plagued province by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie.

Agence France Presse - March 22, 1999

Jakarta – Scores of Indonesians from 54 of the archipelago's different ethnic groups, many in native costume, rallied at the national parliament here Monday to demand more control of their lands and respect for their birthright.

Detikcom - March 22, 1999

Sigit Widodo, Jakarta - A third of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's life was spent in jail. But in jail his imagination as a writer did not die. Pram says he does not feel vengeful against the New Order regime, even though the former head of the People's Cultural Institute (Lekra) was jailed without trial for years on Buru island.

March 21, 1999

Asian Wall Street Journal - March 21, 1999

Jamie Mackie, Hong Kong – The ethnic violence that has flared up over the last two months on the island of Ambon, 2,000 kilometers east of Jakarta, has been horrifyingly brutal and intractable. The clashes have claimed the lives of around 200 people, and Indonesia's formidable security forces have been unable to stop the killing.

ASIET - March 21, 1999

[The following is a speech written by jailed chairperson of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), Budiman Sudjatmiko which was read at the "Grand Launch" of the PRD on March 21 in Jakarta.]

Comrades in struggle, leaders and members of the PRD,

"I can see clearly, though not completely, so that the darkness will slowly but surely clear away" - Cornel Simanjuntak

Detikcom - March 21, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Sigit Widodo, Jakarta – Although being campaigned against by the New Order regime for two years, the People's Democratic Party (PRD) is determined participate in the coming June elections. This was seen at the "Grand Launch" of the PRD at the Wisma Trisula Perwari Building in Menteng, Central Jakarta on Sunday.

March 20, 1999

CNRT press release - March 20, 1999

Jakarta – The office of CNRT President Xanana Gusmao received information today that a group of about 20 armed and masked men raided the Maliubu hamlet – "suco" of Ritabou, "posto" of Maliana – on the evening of Friday 19 March.