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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 31, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - August 31, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Hundreds of ethnic Chinese business families fled the central Javanese town of Cilacap over the weekend after mobs torched warehouses, sunk fishing trawlers and attacked shops and homes.

August 30, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 30, 1998

Jakarta – A kidnapped political activist plans to file a lawsuit against ex-president Suharto's son-in-law for his involvement in the abduction and torture of scores of activists, press reports said Sunday.

August 29, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - August 29, 1998

Louise Williams, Pidie – "Did they hurt you, Mama?" the old woman's children and grandchildren asked, when she was dumped back in her rice farming village by soldiers from Indonesia's elite special forces.

Kompas - August 29, 1998

Student demos were once more in the focus of the public during the last three days. This time they voiced dissatisfaction over rice prices, stopped military trucks recruted to transport rice and demanded abolishment of the Armed Forces' (ABRI) dual role.

Agence France Presse - August 29, 1998

Jakarta – About 100 protesters from the province of Irian Jaya picketed the Foreign Ministry yesterday, demanding independence for the former Dutch colony. The crowd, waving separatist "West Papua" flags and wearing "West Papua" T-shirts, sang traditional songs and brandished placards reading: "Stop colonialism in West Papua" and "Remember West Papua is a free nation".

August 28, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1998

Jakarta – Some 5,000 people angered by MPs' failure to heed their charges that gubernatorial elections were rigged stoned a local parliament building in eastern Indonesia, a report said Friday.

Agence France Presse - August 28, 1998

Jakarta – Security forces fired warning shots to fend off crowds Thursday on the third day of mass looting of rice mills and stores in the densely-populated Indonesian province of East Java, police and military there said.

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - August 28, 1998

Jean Rom, Brussels – Among the prisoners still held in Indonesia is Dita Indah Sari, the young leader of the PPBI, the trade union arm of the PRD opposition party, who has been languishing in prison since June 1996. Sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 1997 for "subversion", she suffered a particularly severe prison regime until the recent political changes in the country.

Business Times - August 28, 1998

Yang Razali Kassim – Possibly the first organised move to probe into a range of alleged atrocities under the New Order regime of former president Suharto got underway this week with the launch of an independent investigative commission in Jakarta.

Istiqlal (SiaR) - August 28, 1998

Jeremy Wagstaff and Jay Solomon – Grisly pictures of Indonesian Chinese rape victims circulating over the Internet and published in major newspapers havestoked international outrage in the last two weeks. The problem: Some of the pictures are fake.

Jakarta Post - August 28, 1998

Jakarta – The government has officially recognized Budi Hardjono as the new chairman of the conflict-ridden Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Budi was elected to the party's leadership on Wednesday during a congress marred by violent clashes and allegations of political intrigue.

August 26, 1998

Wall Street Journal - August 26, 1998

Jakarta – Stocks slipped Wednesday, as early gains by some state-owned companies eased on concern of the country's political situation. The Jakarta Stock Exchange composite index eased 6.216, or 1.7%, to 360.927. Volume stood at 160 million shares valued at 249 billion rupiah. Decliners outnumbered advancers, 60 to 31, with 88 stocks unchanged and 109 others untraded.

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch - August 26, 1998

On June 4, 1998, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued an appeal for release of political prisoners in Indonesia and East Timor, following President Soeharto's resignation and the lifting of some political controls.

Dow Jones Newswires - August 26, 1998

Grainne Mccarthy and Kate Linebaugh, Jakarta – Just when Indonesia's Badan Urusan Logistik Nasional (Bulog) was being praised for operating multi-million dollar open tenders for the purchase of food commodities, the government fired its chairman in a move which could send the agency back to its corrupt ways, according to traders.

American Reporter - August 26, 1998

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – On May 21, several hours after Indonesian strongman Suharto announced in a nationally-broadcast speech that he would step down from his 33-year authoritarian rule, Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto was relieved of his command of strategic forces in Jakarta.

August 25, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 25, 1998

Jakarta – Some 150 university students from campuses throughout greater Jakarta took to the streets Tuesday to demand price cuts and the resignation of Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, witnesses said.

Agence France Presse - August 25, 1998

Jakarta – Violent clashes erupted at an Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI) congress in Central Sulawesi Tuesday when hundreds of supporters from a rival party faction pelted rocks at the venue, witnesses said.

South China Morning Post - August 25, 1998

Jenny Grant – The discharging of the once powerful son-in-law of former president Suharto from the military should protect other senior figures from the abduction scandal.

Agence France Presse - August 25, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian police beat up protesting textile workers here Tuesday to prevent them from marching to the International Labour Organization (ILO) office in the city's business district, a witness said.

August 24, 1998

Time - August 24, 1998

Anthony Spaeth – When Indonesian students occupied the country's parliament in May, their principal demand was the resignation of Suharto, president of the country for 32 years. Within days, he had stepped down.

Reuters - August 24, 1998

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – If Indonesia's military believes it can appease public anger over mounting evidence of past atrocities by casting out its most hated figure, it is mistaken, analysts said on Monday.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 24, 1998

Nearly 23 years after five Australian-based journalists were killed in East Timor, the International Commission of Jurists has found that doubts remain that Canberra is telling all it knows about the incident. In a special investigation, Foreign Editor Hamish McDonald uncovers some of the facts surrounding their deaths and traces a cover-up that continues to this day.

August 23, 1998

Reuters - August 23, 1998

Surabaya – About 2,000 students demonstrated in Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya on Sunday, demanding that former President Suharto be brought to trial for the country's economic crisis.

August 22, 1998

Jakarta Post - August 22, 1998

Jakarta – Trade unions in all industrial sectors broke ranks and withdrew from the Federation of All Indonesian Workers Union (FSPSI) yesterday in a bid to topple the federation's central executive board.

Kompas - August 22, 1998 (Translated by Tapol)

[Waspada, the Medan daily, published today photographs of the exhumed skulls and bones and of the detention/torture centre ablaze, as well as a photograph of local people joyfully kicking and demolished a photo of Suharto that they had found hanging on the wall - Tapol.]

August 21, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 21, 1998

Jakarta – Gangs of grave robbers have been digging up Chinese graveyards in two cities on the Indonesian island of Java and looting them of coffins of valuables and discarding the remains, officials and a press report said Friday.

Straits Times - August 21, 1998 (abridged)

Lhokseumawe – Indonesian troops began a pullout from troubled Aceh province yesterday to cheers and catcalls from locals who say a nine-year army crackdown involved torture, rape and the dumping of victims in mass graves.

IPS - August 21, 1998

Kafil Yamin, Jakarta – August 17 this year was the first day of freedom in 32 years for Pujo Prasetyo, jailed for his involvement in the abortive communist-inspired coup of 1965.

August 20, 1998

Reuters - August 20, 1998

Atlanta – US House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday criticized the World Bank for letting money go to waste in Indonesia, after an internal report said that bank funds may have been siphoned off by government officials.

National Council of Timorese Resistance - August 20, 1998

Fellow Countrymen – August 20 is the National Day of our glorious Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor, FALINTIL. Today, as in the future, the 20th of August will prevail in our minds as the day to remember all those who fell in defence of the sacred land of East Timor.

Tapol - August 20 1998

[The following translation of a letter from an Acehnese refugee in a Malaysian gaol which was passed on to Tapol by the Acheh/Sumatra National Liberation Front office in Sweden.]

News analysis by Arnold Kohen - August 20, 1998

There has been a flurry of activity and announcements on East Timor since the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto, most recently with regard to the United Nations talks in New York on August 4 and 5. Many headlines greeted news of a possible autonomy agreement with enthusiasm.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - August 20, 1998

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) today launched a new report on the current human rights situation in East Timor. The report documents human rights violations between January and June 1998 and assesses the Habibie's government's response to the human rights violations and its efforts to move towards a resolution of the conflict.

Sydney Morning Herald - August 20, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – As the Indonesian military faces a damning human rights investigation, residents of the northern province of Aceh are guarding what are claimed to be mass graves, saying they fear there will be attempts to remove the evidence.

August 19, 1998

Reuters - August 19, 1998

Ian MacKenzie, Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces, who have traditionally regarded themselves as the defenders of the country's unity and stability, are under unprecedented fire as they emerge from the shadow of the former president Suharto's regime. Last week was a black one for the armed forces, known by the acronym ABRI:

The Age - August 19, 1998 (abridged)

[This item also included a second story titled "Jakarta's time of terror: a Chinese girl's tragic story" which was omitted because an almost identical item appeared in a previous issue of NetNews.]

Associated Press - August 19, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Clustered outside an Indonesian courthouse, students clapped when they heard a judge convict two policemen in the killings of campus protesters. Seconds later, they groaned in disappointment when the sentences were announced.

Agence France Presse - August 19, 1998

Jakarta – Two weeks after its launch, an Indonesian agency tasked with helping the private sector to restructure its massive external debt has found no takers, an official said Wednesday.

Associated Press - August 19, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – The Supreme Court has dismissed a case filed by opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri against the government over her 1996 ouster as head of the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), court officials said Wednesday.

August 18, 1998

Reuters - August 18, 1998

Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – The air at the Bekasi municipal dump on the eastern fringes of Jakarta is thick with flies and the stench of a million tonnes of garbage. Ferreting among the mounds of stinking debris, their clothes, hands and faces smeared with grime, are hundreds of Indonesian children who should be at school.

The Australian - August 18, 1998

Don Greenlees – Three ageing Indonesian communists, jailed after the abortive 1965 coup, were granted their freedom yesterday in a round of Independence Day amnesties designed to bolster President B.J. Habibie's claims to promoting human rights.

Jakarta Post - August 18, 1998

Jakarta – A recent survey on which party people will vote for shows that a majority of people have yet to make up their minds. However, those who have decided tend to support the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) led by Megawati Soekarnoputri.

August 17, 1998

Chicago Tribune - August 17, 1998

Uli Schmetzer – On the athletic field of this coastal town, Indonesian soldiers armed with American-made M-16 assault rifles and wearing steel helmets stood in the cool shade of teak trees as they made residents of this troubled island line up under the hot midday sun.

Wall Street Journal - August 17, 1998

Jeremy Wagstaff, Jakarta – In his first Independence Day speech as president, B.J. Habibie used words and gestures to formally break with the authoritarian regime of his predecessor and paint his vision of a new democratic era. But while his marathon address won modest applause, Mr. Habibie is a long way from winning over the skeptics.

August 15, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - August 15, 1998

Lhokseumawe – Local residents and human rights officials in Indonesia's Aceh province said yesterday anonymous groups had sought to intimidate them since the discovery of mass graves in the area, the site of a separatist insurgency that peaked in the early 1990s.

August 14, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Some 100 East Timorese students from different universities in Indonesia protested Friday demanding the release of jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao and a referendum for the troubled territory.

Jakarta Post - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – The city military is soliciting help from foreign groups in its effort to identify people spreading rumors on the Internet of renewed riots in the capital.

AFX-Asia - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – The police have arrested 16 people accused of instigating riots in May that caused the death of more than 1,000 people, reports said.

South China Morning Post - August 14 1998

Greg Torode, Jakarta – Ethnic Chinese are starting to flee Indonesia amid threats of rape and rioting surrounding Monday's Independence Day celebrations. Travel agents said flights on Sunday and Monday to Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were almost full. Many Jakarta Chinese said they were preparing to move their families from houses into hotels.

Agence France Presse - August 14, 1998

Jakarta – Around 2,000 villagers in the central Javanese town of Cilacap went on the rampage after their village chief refused to meet them when they came to protest his alleged corruption, reports and police said Friday.