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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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September 9, 1998

Antara - September 9, 1998

Surabaya – Hundreds of people slashed teak trees at the Parengan forest and wrecked three police cars in Tuban district, west of here Tuesday, following the arrest of 149 men suspected of stealing teak logs.

Sydney Morning Herald - September 9, 1998

David Jenkins, Jakarta – Indonesia seems poised on the brink of another major crisis – one that is already triggering fears of renewed bloodletting.

Vancouver Sun - September 9, 1998

Rick Ouston and Ian Mulgrew – Internal government and RCMP correspondence covering the visit to Vancouver last year of then-Indonesian president Suharto show the RCMP were concerned about the threat of violence from his bodyguards and the federal government was intent on ensuring he was not embarrassed by protesters.

Agence France Presse - September 9, 1998 (abridged)

Dili – Five former political parties in the troubled territory of East Timor Wednesday announced the formation of a new national organisation and named jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao to head it.

Agence France Presse - September 9, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Mobs looted warehouses and stores of rice, sugar and instant noodles for the third straight day Wednesday in the Indonesian provincial capital of Pontianak, sources and press reports said. "The looting is continuing, this time in downtown Pontianak in the central market area," a staff member at the police information office told AFP by telephone.

Dow Jones Newswires - September 9, 1998

Jakarta – Faced with deadlock in getting embattled Indonesian debtors and banks to agree on debt restructuring, the government Wednesday made a last-ditch attempt to get both sides talking.

Agence France Presse - September 9, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Some 100 students demonstrated outside the attorney general's office here Wednesday demanding that ousted Indonesian president Suharto answer allegations in court of amassing billions while in power.

September 8, 1998

Agence France Presse - September 8, 1998

Jakarta – Anyone caught disrupting Indonesian government moves to beat food shortages could face execution, Justice Minister Muladi warned Tuesday as anger mounted over price hikes and the scarcity of vital supplies.

Agence France Presse - September 8, 1998

Jakarta – Police detained at least 74 people after a second day of rioting in Central Java in which scores of ethnic Chinese-owned stores and cars were torched or damaged Tuesday, Antara news agency reported. Thirty-two high-school students were among those held for questioning after rioting and looting in the town of Kebumen.

Agence France Presse - September 8, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – At least five people were injured early Tuesday as Indonesian riot police beat student protestors who were demanding that President B.J. Habibie step down and hand over power to a transitional authority. The riot police, using tear gas, chased the 250 protestors out of the parliament compound, hours after they had arrived there for an overnight vigil.

Agence France Presse - September 8, 1998

Jakarta – An international rights body Tuesday called on the Indonesian government to stop trying to discredit reports of gang rapes of ethnic Chinese women during May riots here, saying they were scaring off potential witnesses.

September 7, 1998

Associated Press - September 7, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Thousands of protesters rampaged through a central Java town Monday, burning and looting Chinese-owned shops and cars, while at least 2,000 students in the capital tore down the gates of Indonesia's parliament.

Washington Post - September 7, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Kevin Sullivan, Jakarta – Eleven-year-old Ipan, a cheerful little beggar in a buzz cut and a dirty T-shirt, knocks on car windows and sings and pleads for money with his 4-year-old sister, Tuti, holding tight to his side in her fading flowered dress.

September 6, 1998

Surya - September 6, 1998 (extract only from Tapol)

Jakarta – It has now been revealed that in his final days as president, Suharto ordered armed forces commander General Wiranto to finish off the reform leader, Amien Rais, along with thousands of students who had planned to march to the presidential palace to call for his resignation. This was revealed by a member of his personal staff, Prof Dr.

Agence France Presse - September 6, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's fallen president Suharto went on television late Sunday to deny allegations that he had accumulated a fortune worth billions of dollars during his 32 years in power.

September 5, 1998

Agence France Presse - September 5, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian police were on standby to stem industrial unrest at three factories in a West Java city Saturday, a day after a pay dispute at Indonesia's largest polyester producer turned violent.

Agence France Presse - September 5, 1998

Surabaya – Three people were injured and 32 others arrested when a clash erupted between troops and hundreds of villagers pillaging a teak forest near the town of Ngawi, 150 kilometres (95 miles) west of here, resident sources said Saturday.

September 4, 1998

Straits Times - September 4, 1998

How do you keep a fleet of buses and cars on the road when the cost of spare parts has skyrocketed by over 300 per cent? The answer: Find parts from other vehicles. "Motor cannibalism" has kept the transport industry alive in the crisis – but only barely.

The Australian - September 4, 1998

Don Greenlees – The slow wheels of Indonesian justice, rusted to a standstill after 32 years of Suharto rule, have finally begun to turn, bringing friends, business allies and even the children of the former president closer to a legal reckoning.

IPS - September 4, 1998

By Farhan Haq, New York – The US Senate's passage this week of restrictions on arms sales to Indonesia and demands for further political reforms have pleased some pro-democracy activists, who welcome the signs that Washington plans to keep some pressure on Jakarta.

Asiaweek - September 4, 1998

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Batam – Before he ruled all of Indonesia's 13,000 islands, he was in charge of just one. B.J. Habibie came about Batam the same way he later got the country. It was handed to him by a patron high in government. Not Suharto but one of the ex-president's longtime cronies: Ibnu Sutowo, head of state oil company Pertamina, which once managed the island.

Agence France Presse - September 4, 1998

Jakarta – A second general has denied an allegation by a former security guard of Indonesia's founding president Sukarno that he and three other generals forced Sukarno to hand over power to Suharto on March 11, 1966, reports said Friday.

Agence France Presse - September 4, 1998

Jakarta – A group of activists Friday burned caricatures of former president Suharto, his family and close associates in front of parliament, to protest their alleged involvement in bank scams and graft.

South China Morning Post - September 4, 1998

High school students arrested for their part in a violent riot this week in troubled Aceh province said they were asked to riot by strangers.

Asiaweek - September 4, 1998

Dewi Loveard, Jakarta – For a man whose visage was once seen everywhere, former president Suharto has dropped dramatically out of sight since his resignation on May 21. Suharto watchers now spend their time guessing which mosque he is likely to select for his Friday prayer session that week. The last sighting was on Aug.

September 3, 1998

Agence France Presse - September 3, 1998

Jakarta – Fourteen prisoners in the troubled territory of East Timor on Thursday entered the fourth day of hunger strike to press for the release of jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao, an official said Thursday.

Lusa - September 3, 1998

Dili – The pro-Indonesian newspaper "Suara Timor Timur" (Voice of East Timor) in Dili on Wednesday published an interview with the second commander of the territory's guerrilla movement. Taur Matan Ruak. The report said the interview had been held last Sunday.

Stratfor Global Intelligence update - September 3, 1998

Already pummeled by the general Asian economic collapse and the downturn in crude oil prices, Indonesia is facing yet another crisis – impending famine. The Indonesian newspaper "Kompas" reported on August 28 that rice supplies in Rengasdengklok, Jatirage, Plumbonsari, and Cilamaya are depleted.

Agence France Presse - September 3, 1998

Jakarta – A group of white collar workers marched in central Jakarta Thursday demanding that the government suspend income taxes if it cannot control spiralling inflation. The 30 office workers marched down the sidewalk of the main Thamrin street waving placards reading "Lower prices," and "We should not subsidize the rich," witnesses said.

Agence France Presse - September 3, 1998

Jakarta – As Indonesia sinks deeper into its worst economic crisis for decades, rice has increasingly become the favorite target of looters and robbers, reports said here Thursday.

September 2, 1998

South China Morning Post - September 2, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Villagers on the islands of Flores are eating leaves and jungle fruit because they can no longer afford rice.

East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet Alexander Talo said 13,000 Flores residents were eating tamarind leaves and mangrove fruits. "When people are starving, we should not try to cover it," Mr Talo said.

Agence France Presse - September 2, 1998

Jakarta – About 100 housewives, many with young children, on Wednesday gathered at Jakarta City Hall to demand serious government action to control soaring prices of basic goods.

Green Left Weekly - September 2, 1998

By Max Lane and Pramono (in Jakarta) – The frequency of protest actions in Indonesia has increased markedly over the last week. Worsening economic conditions, general anger over the lack of any real changes under the Habibie regime and students' return to campus after a three-month break are a volatile mixture.

Agence France Presse - September 2, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces are an "inseparable part" of the country's reform drive and will not tolerate threats to the process, an influential general said here Wednesday.

"ABRI (the armed forces) will be an inseparable part of the reform process and any action which threatens reform must be stopped," Lieutenant General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said.

Sydney Morning Herald - September 2, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesian security forces opened fire on rioters in the northern Aceh city of Lhokseumawe yesterday, killing two, and injuring at least a dozen. The shootings threaten the Habibie Government's reconciliation efforts in a province already angered by serious human rights abuses under the former Soeharto regime.

Jakarta Post - September 2, 1998

Bandung – Undaunted by the government's continued recognition of a rival camp, Megawati Soekarnoputri of the splintered Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) vowed on Tuesday she will lead her supporters at the general election next year.

Surabaya Post - September 2, 1998

Surabaya – Over 1,000 university students demonstrated peacefully here yesterday against soaring prices of basic commodities. "The government has failed to bring down the prices of basic commodities," student leader Muhaji said during the demonstration, the first large-scale protest here since former President Suharto resigned on May 21.

Lusa - September 2, 1998

New York – East Timor's life expentancy is less than 50 years, according to a UN report released in New York on Wednesday.

The life expectancy for men in East Timor amount to just 46.6 years, while women in the territory occupied by Indonesia can expect to live average of 48.4 years. The life expentacy in Indonesia amounts to 63.3 years for men and 67 year for women.

Jakarta Post - September 2, 1998

Jakarta – The government was strongly urged Tuesday to reinvestigate the Lampung incident in February l989, which resulted in scores of deaths. Munir, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), who demanded the reinvestigation, said the death toll could be nearly eight times higher than the Armed Forces' (ABRI) account.

Agence France Presse - September 2, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian authorities have finally given approval for the citizens of Yogyakarta to install the popular head of the region's royal family as their governor, reports said Wednesday.

Green Left Weekly - September 2, 1998

Max Lane – On August 26, 200,000 people rallied in Yogyakarta to protest against the refusal of the Indonesian government to ratify Sultan Hamengku Buwono X as governor of Yogyakarta.

Agence France Presse - September 2, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian armed forces will return to the troubled province of Aceh to restore security after two days of mob riots following a troop withdrawal, army chief General Wiranto said Wednesday.

September 1, 1998

Agence France Presse - September 1, 1998

Jakarta – A government investigation shows that funds in charitable foundations linked to ousted Indonesian president Suharto were misused and diverted to private firms, a senior minister said Tuesday.

Agence France Presse - September 1, 1998

Jakarta – The crippling economic crisis that has engulfed Indonesia since July has forced 90 percent of the country's book publishers to halt operations, a report said here Tuesday.

Agence France Presse - September 1, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian anti-corruption NGOs and the World Bank will set up a joint team to probe leakages of project funds made available by the bank to Jakarta, the NGOs said here Tuesday.

"The World Bank will investigate corruption, collusion and nepotism together with the NGOs," said Kastorius Sinaga from the Concerned Citizens Movement on National Assets (Gempita).

August 31, 1998

Straits Times - August 31, 1998

Jakarta – If life had gone the way he planned nine months ago, Dr B.J. Habibie would be planting tulips, writing a book or two about aeroplanes and just pottering around his retirement home in the northern German town of Hamburg today.

Digest 68 - August 31, 1998

Gerry van Klinken – As Nazi Germany blamed the Jews for its economic ills, as Hansonite Australia blames Asians, so now Habibie's Indonesia is moving from mere rhetoric against the Chinese to real acts of terror.

Associated Press - August 31, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Mobs burned buildings, stoned police cars and attacked ethnic Chinese in northern Indonesia on Monday in the biggest riot since deadly unrest in May helped oust former President Suharto.

Agence France Presse - August 31, 1998

Jakarta – Shots were heards as hundreds of onlookers Monday pelted and yelled insults at troops pulled out of the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh, where soldiers fighting Islamic separatists have been accused of human rights abuses.

South China Morning Post - August 31, 1998

Greg Torode, Jakarta – Police in the central Javanese city of Cilacap reportedly have been ordered to shoot rioting fishermen if need be. Rioting flared for a second time on Saturday night as thousands of fishermen attacked and looted bosses' homes and public buildings over labour disputes.