Jakarta – House Speaker Harmoko swore in yesterday 38 new members of the House of Representatives/People's Consultative Assembly (DPR/MPR), including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo and former Jakarta military chief Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, as part of the preparations for the special MPR session in November.
Indonesia & East Timor Digest
August 14, 1998
August 13, 1998
Jakarta – A coalition of political activists protested at the presidential office here Thursday against new regulations restricting public demonstration and putting key installations including the palace off-limits, witnesses said.
Gustavo Capdevila, Geneva – Indonesia's government showed concrete evidence of its policy for gradual liberalisation on the human rights front, signing a co-operation agreement with the United Nations (UN) human rights entity.
Jakarta – A wildcat strike by some 5,000 workers at one of the world's largest copper and gold mines, PT Freeport Indonesia, dragged into its fourth day Thursday with no sign of a breathrough, the company said. "We're hopeful, but there's no breakthrough yet," a Freeport spokeswoman in Jakarta told AFP, adding that negotiations were continuing.
Jakarta – Shops were back in business in the small West Java town of Labuan on Thursday, a day after hundreds of people attacked three ethnic Chinese-owned shops there, police said there. "All shops are open again today, including the Ayung, Babah Java and Nang Tung shops," said Corporal Unang of the police in Labuan, a sleepy town on the southwestern coast of West Java.
August 12, 1998
Yogyakarta – The Indonesian government is set to free more political prisoners soon, Justice Minister Muladi disclosed here on Monday.
Sydney – The five East Timorese political parties in East Timor have made a combined call for self-determination for their people and set out a plan to end the illegal Indonesian occupation and annexation of their country.
Cindy Shiner, Jakarta – There are two legends in Javanese culture about what happens when a man marries the daughter of a king: The groom could be like Jaka Tingkir, who killed his father-in-law and established a new kingdom. Or he could follow the footsteps of Ageng Mangir, who attempted several coups against another sultan and ended up dead.
Actual troop numbers in East Timor since 1975 are not known, but two patterns are apparent: Indonesia has always claimed to have fewer troops in East Timor than actually are there and Indonesia has regularly said that it is reducing troop numbers in East Timor – for the sake of suggesting that there is no military problem – but at the same time has actually maintained troop numbers,
Yang Razali Kassim – In a recent gruesome cover story on the situation on Aceh, the Indonesian weekly magazine Gatra recounted the case of a man who was brought at gunpoint by a soldier to a hill in Aceh. Teungku Ayub was given a live demonstration of what could happen to rebels: a fellow villager, tied to a tree, was shot dead and his body left to rot.
August 11, 1998
S. Karene Witcher, Jakarta – A unit of the World Bank aims to be among the first creditors to push a troubled Indonesian borrower over the brink by using Indonesia's new bankruptcy law.
[This article was forwarded to Joyo without date and publication. The journalist writes frequently about Indonesia for The Guardian (UK).]
Jakarta – The abduction of political activists were not ordered by the Armed Forces' (ABRI) top brass, but were carried out because of then Army Special Force (Kopassus) chief Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto's interpretation of his superiors' instructions, the Officers Honor Council (DKP) concluded yesterday.
On Monday, August 10, the State Administrative Court (PTUN) in Jakarta announced the success of a People's Democratic Party (PRD) demand challenging the decision to ban the PRD issued by the Minister of Home Affairs, Yogie S. Memet last year. The decision is therefore no longer valid and the status of the PRD as a banned party has been withdrawn.
Jakarta – Indonesia has begun rescheduling repayment of its public debt, its top finance minister said Tuesday, as bankers and business confirmed it had failed to meet repayments for the first time in its history.
Jakarta – A group of some 20 Indonesian activists Tuesday picketted the Myanmar embassy here to demand the release of 18 activists, including three Indonesians, arrested by the military junta in Yangon.
August 9, 1998
Carmel Budiardjo – Three events in the past couple of weeks point to a new strategy by the ABRI leadership in projecting a different image for the armed forces in post-Suharto Indonesia:
Jakarta – Indonesian President B.J. Habibie has for the first time in an interview laid out his basic criteria for political parties to qualify to take part in the elections he has promised the nation.
August 8, 1998
Following a flood of complaints from people in Aceh about years of unrestricted abuses by the security forces and reports of the discovery of nearly a dozen mass graves, the armed forces commander, General Wiranto, made an unscheduled 12-hour visit to Aceh on Friday to accounce the ending of special military operations in the region and the withdrawal of "non-organic" troops from th
Jakarta – The mass media has recorded the establishment of 56 new political parties since government restrictions were lifted in the aftermath of Soeharto's resignation. Some have been registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs and some have not.
Jakarta – The armed forces promised Friday to begin removing troops from Aceh province, where the military has been accused of killing thousands of people suspected of being separatists in the last decade. The defense minister and armed forces commander, Gen.
Fourteen non-governmental organisations in Aceh have issued a joint statement in response to the decision announced two weeks ago by the armed forces commander, General Wiranto, to end Aceh's status as a military operational region, to withdraw non-organic troops from the region, and to make an apology for the past actions of Indonesian troops in the region.
August 7, 1998
Jakarta – Indonesia's armed forces are readying to step in to protect the country's businesses from looters and thieves as reports mount of people driven to pillage through desperation.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Local leaders yesterday rejected a breakthrough agreement to discuss autonomy for their province which they said sidestepped demands for a referendum and the release of jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
Joyce Teo, Singapore – To stave off severe food shortages in Indonesia during the coming months, the country is importing ever-increasing amounts of rice, mostly with the help of foreign countries, agricultural analysts and industry sources told Dow Jones Newswires.
Jakarta – A group of Muslim students staged a protest at the defense ministry Friday, demanding new investigations into a riot that left more than a dozen Muslims dead in the Indonesian capital 14 years ago.
Jakarta – A rights organization Friday said it suspected Indonesian military involvement in the disappearance of five people after a bloody pro-independence demonstration early last month which left one dead in the remote province of Irian Jaya.
August 6, 1998
A representative of the Forum of Concern for Human Rights in Aceh, in a three-day visit to Pidie, North and East Aceh had brought to light 800 cases of atrocities which took place during the period of the military operational designation of the region, including thirty which are particularly gruesome.
Jakarta – A group of retired generals, former Cabinet ministers and senior politicians pledged Thursday to struggle for more democracy in Indonesia as a united front. The group, calling itself "Barisan Nasional," or national front, declared that a major aim would be to weaken the influence of the ruling Golkar party in the government.
Melbourne – Former Indonesian political prisoner and democracy advocate Sri Bintang Pamungkas said on Thursday his party would contest general elections expected next year, questioning whether new President B.J. Habibie could break the legacy of the former Suharto regime.
August 5, 1998
Alcina Monteiro, Lisbon – East Timor resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday welcomed a deal between Portugal and Indonesia to open talks on autonomy for the Indonesian-occupied territory, but he cautioned that any final accord would need to be put to a referendum.
Shoeb Kagda, Surabaya – On the road leading into the town centre from the airport, Surabaya's economic decline is starkly visible. On both sides of the road, rows and rows of small shops are shuttered and closed two months after bloody riots and looting brought the city to its knees.
Andrew Marshall, Jakarta – Nearly half of Indonesias children have failed to enrol for the new school year as deepening poverty forces more parents to put their children to work, the countrys education minister said on Wednesday.
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The armed forces have systematically violated human rights in the province of Aceh and should be brought to justice, a member of a fact-finding team said yesterday.
Jakarta – Indonesian legislators have urged the government and the armed forces to end military operations in Aceh and withdraw combat troops from the province in northern Sumatra, news reports said on Wednesday.
Indonesia's crippled companies can draw little comfort from this week's launch of an agency to help restructure their crushing foreign debts, analysts say – they need hefty debt write-offs, not just rescheduling, to save them.
Surabaya – Thousands of people in East Java armed with knives, sticks and metal chains blocked a planned visit yesterday by Muslim leader Amien Rais to a town near Indonesia's second city of Surabaya, residents said.
Jakarta – Eight soldiers have been identified as suspects by an army investigation into the fatal shooting of a student at a pro-independence rally in Indonesias province of Irian Jaya, the official Antara news agency said on Wednesday.
August 4, 1998
Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The once-untouchable Indonesian general and son-in-law of the former president Soeharto, Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto, will be called before a military inquiry for his alleged role in a series of kidnappings, the military announced yesterday.
Several leading human rights activists have expressed their dismay with the decision of the armed forces commander in chief, General Wiranto, to set up a military Honour Council, DKP, to investigate Lieutenant-General Prabowo and two other top-ranking officers, all connected with the army's elite force, Kopassus, in connection with the abduction of activists.
August 3, 1998
Mantik Kusjanto, Jakarta – Indonesia in July posted its second highest monthly inflation rate this year with prices jumping 68.72 percent on a year-on-year basis as latest figures showed a further slowdown in trade.
According to an Antara report published in Waspada on 2 August, fourteen bodies have been discovered in a mass grave on Sanglang Island in the Sunda Strait. News of the discovery of these bodies has spread to people in the districts of Serang and Cilegon, West Java. It is thought that they may be the bodies of the fourteen activists still believed to be missing.
Vienna – A massive inflow of foreign money early this year supports suggestions that former Indonesian President Suharto moved billions of dollars to Austrian banks shortly before his downfall, an Austrian business newspaper has said.
Jakarta – Rebels struggling for independence for East Timor say they will continue to fight Indonesian troops despite fresh diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the troubled territory.
Jakarta – City Military commander Maj. Gen. Djadja Suparman has warned Jakartans of the existence of certain parties who have been attempting to spread rumors and terror in the capital to create social unrest.
When he took the reins from Suharto in May, B.J. Habibie was generally viewed as a short-term, transitional President. Since then, he has confounded the skeptics by spearheading political reforms that depart radically from the policies of his predecessor.
August 2, 1998
Indonesia's chief of police, Lt. General Roesmanhadi has announced that all expressions of opinion through demonstrations, rallies, public meetings and announcements in the mass media or through the Internet by persons or groups that fail to notify the police in advance will be dispersed and regarded as unlawful.
August 1, 1998
Many hundreds of people in Aceh are now coming forward to give evidence of disappearances, killings and torture during the time the region has been designated as a 'military operational district'. The following information is taken from a report in an Acehnese daily, Serambi Indonesia, 29 July 1998:
Andreas Harsono, Dili – The most likely transition from being only a "province" of Indonesia to being either an independent state or an autonomous area would pose enormous challenges for the relatively small East Timor.
Jakarta – Mystery surrounds a missing student activist who apparently turned up alive and well in the southern Philippines, with officials and his family saying he may not be the man they are looking for.