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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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June 10, 1998

Associated Press - June 10, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Dili – Rejecting a presidential promise of special status for their homeland within Indonesia, thousands of East Timorese demonstrated today for the right to vote for full independence.

More than 3,000 students and others gathered on the grounds of the state-funded University of East Timor.

New York Times - June 10, 1998

Seth Mydans, Jakarta – Human rights and women's aid groups have begun to document what they say appears to have been an organized campaign of assaults, gang rapes and killings of ethnic Chinese women during three days of rioting in Jakarta last month.

The Age - June 10, 1998

Seven days of anti-government protest on the Indonesian resort island of Bali have led to all 46 members of the local legislature agreeing to resign.

The protests were directed against the President, Dr Jusuf Habibie, and Bali's former governor, Mr Ida Bagus Oka, who is now Population Minister, the Jakarta Post reported today.

June 9, 1998

Christian Science Monitor - June 9, 1998

Nicole Gaouette, Jakarta – They noticed the grenade after lunch. It lay just inside the courtyard, a tiny space crammed with boxes, cars, volunteers on break, and two warbling songbirds in cages.

The Australian - June 9, 1998

As many as 10,000 striking workers scuffled with, and threw rocks at, anti-riot police when they staged a 10km march through the streets of Indonesia's second city, Surabaya, yesterday.

Police and witnesses said violence broke out when a line of police blocked the path of the marchers as they approached East Java's provincial parliament building.

June 8, 1998

East Timor International Support Centre - June 8, 1998

A report just received by ETISC from reliable sources in Dili, East Timor confirms that a very significant gathering took place there on Saturday 6 June.

Jakarta Post - June 8, 1998

Semarang – Hundreds of leaders of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) have agreed to set up a political party – 14 years after Indonesia's largest Islamic organization shunned politics.

Washington Post - June 8, 1998 (abridged)

Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – Indonesia Elang Mulya Lesmana's parents first noticed changes in their son at the beginning of April. He started reading newspapers, asking questions about the country's economic decline, becoming more politically aware.

Financial Times - June 8, 1998

Habibie does not have a firm grip on economic policy or political power. If the country does not return to stability soon, say Peter Montagnon and Sander Thoenes, it could be set back years

June 6, 1998

Washington Post - June 6, 1998

Cindy Shiner, Jakarta - From a noisy green tollbooth on the Winyoto highway, 26-year-old Yanto can pull in the equivalent of his daily salary in less than five minutes, collecting 30 cents a car. After half an hour, he has gathered an amount equal to a month's pay from the outstretched hands of the drivers.

Sydney Morning Herald - June 6, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – In the final days of the Soeharto regime, the Government made one last desperate attempt to maintain control of way the crisis was reported by ordering all television stations to submit their broadcasts for clearance to a Government-controlled "TV pool" which would ensure a "positive spin".

The Australian - June 6, 1998

Robert Garran and Maria Ceresa – Fears are growing among analysts in Indonesia and Australia that a poor rice harvest and sharp fall in government rice stockpiles will spark more riots in Jakarta and rural areas.

June 5, 1998

Agence France Presse - June 5, 1998

Jakarta – More than 39,000 people have been killed in military operations against a separatist movement in the northern Indonesian province of Aceh in recent years, a rights group said.

Suara Pembaruan - June 5, 1998 (Slightly abbreviated posting by Tapol)

Kontras, the Committee for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, has urged the Military Police to investigate thoroughly and with all haste the kidnapping of a number of activists. Further delays will only make it more difficult for several key witnesses to furnish statements. Delays are also spreading greater fear among the kidnapped activists who have since returned home.

Australian Financial Review - June 5, 1998

Greg Earl, Jakarta – Indonesia has secured an agreement with international banks to roll over its $US80bn ($128.8bn) in private sector foreign debt – a development which may help stabilise the ailing rupiah.

Jakarta Post - June 5, 1998

Jakarta – The National Commission or Human Rights will soon begin investigating reports that more than 39,000 Acehnese have died in various military operations over the past decade and that 1,000 (of) others are still in military detention in Indonesia's westernmost province.

June 4, 1998

Jakarta Post - June 4, 1998

Jakarta – Hundreds of striking bus drivers of the state-run PPD bus company gave a rousing welcome yesterday to released labor union chair-man Muchtar Pakpahan as he paid them an impromptu visit.

The Guardian - June 4, 1998

John Aglionby – A women's rights monitoring group in Indonesia is investigating reports that dozens of women were raped during the rioting last month that contributed to the downfall of the country's dictator, Suharto.

Far Eastern Economic Review - June 4, 1998

By John McBeth, Michael Vatikiotis and Margot Cohen in Jakarta – The Javanese King has gone, long live the President – but how long will B.J. Habibie remain president?

Reuters - June 4, 1998

Jakarta – Most of Indonesia's senior military officers in the troubled territory of East Timor died on Thursday in a helicopter crash, a military official said.

South China Morning Post - June 4, 1998

Jakarta – Student protesters shouted "Hang Suharto" outside Parliament and staged a rowdy protest in a main street yesterday, ignoring an appeal by the military chief to halt "out-of-control" condemnation of the ousted leader.

Mr Suharto, a former army general who turns 77 on Monday, faces growing demands to surrender riches accumulated during three decades in power.

Far Eastern Economic Review - June 4, 1998

Salil Tripathi, Jakarta – The highway stretched to the horizon. It was empty save for some shattered glass, burned tyres that had disintegrated into a heap of ash, and scattered bricks. The traffic lights at the toll plaza flashed amber; the tollgates were raised skyward in abject surrender.

Far Eastern Economic Review - June 4, 1998

John McBeth, Jakarta – One of the first casualties of the post-Suharto era was the former president's ambitious son-in-law, Lt.-Gen. Prabowo Subianto. Outflanked by his boss, armed-forces chief Gen. Wiranto, Prabowo was removed from his command of Indonesia's main combat force and assigned to head a staff college in Bandung.

Dow Jones Newswires - June 4, 1998

Jakarta – Stranding passengers, hundreds of bus drivers in Jakarta went on strike Thursday to protest against corruption and demand higher salaries.

Kompas - June 4, 1998

The Buskers Association of Yogyakarta (SPI) has called on armed forces commander-in-chief General Wiranto to investigate the death of Leonardus Nugroho Iskandar, known to his friends as Gilang, 24, a busker who was also a reformation activist in Solo. After going missing for two weeks, Gilang's body found on 23 May, lying under some trees on the side of the Tawangmangu-Madiun road.

June 3, 1998

Reuters - June 3, 1998

Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Indonesia's official human rights body said on Wednesday that 1,188 people were killed in rioting which ravaged the capital Jakarta last month, more than double the death toll given by the military.

Suara Pembaruan - June 3, 1998 (Summary by Tapol)

The commander-in-chief of the armed forces (ABRI), General Wiranto , has issued a warning that people who fail to restrain themselves in their calls for reform will have to confront the armed forces.

The New York Times - June 3, 1998

Joseph Kahn – Almost immediately after becoming president of Indonesia, B.J. Habibie pledged to create "a clean government, free from corruption, collusion, and nepotism." But one of the biggest threats to his rule may be growing concern that he and his family, following the model of former President Suharto, used public office to amass a private fortune.

Jakarta Post - June 3, 1998

Surabaya – Hundreds of students marched yesterday afternoon to the private SCTV television station here demanding their demonstration for reform be broadcast and refused to budge until the station managers yielded.

ASIET Statement - June 3, 1998

The time has come for the Coalition government to withdraw all support for the corrupt New Order regime in Indonesia. Suharto may have gone, but the foundations of the Suharto dictatorship remain – foundations like the constitutional right of the army to intervene in politics and the outlawing of parties the dictatorship doesn't like.

June 2, 1998

Suara Pembaruan - June 2, 1998 (Summary only by Tapol)

In a speech to mark the anniversary of 'Pancasila Day', 1 June, Megawati Sukarnoputri said she is feeling deeply troubled to hear the terrible things people are now saying about former President Suharto. She cannot believe that Indonesians would treat their former president in such a way, which, she says, is not in keeping with the Pancasila.

WSJ/Dow Jones Newswires - June 2, 1998

While Suharto's business associates spread far beyond his immediate family, the most intense focus of the crackdown is bound to be the businesses of his six children.

Jakarta Post - June 2, 1998

Jakarta – Emboldened by the success of student demonstrations for reform in major cities, fishermen, farmers and other groups are holding rallies to call attention to their own causes.

Reuters - June 2, 1998

Jakarta – President Jusuf Habibie has no plans to change Indonesia's policy on the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, the Jakarta Post reported on Tuesday.

American Reporter - June 2, 1998

Andreas Harsono, Jakarta – When dozens of people entered a spacious house on the Gunung Sahari street in a bustling part of Jakarta on May 14, they knew that the high-fenced building belonged to Indonesia's number one tycoon, Liem Sioe Liong a.k.a. Sudono Salim. "The dog of Suharto," brayed one visitor.

Jakarta Post - June 2, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's economy contracted by 8.51 percent in the first quarter of 1998, the Central Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.

Sugito Suwito, the bureau's chairman, also predicted that gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by 10.1 percent this year, compared to the government's prediction in April that the economy would contract by 5 percent this year.

Tapol - June 2, 1998

At least 1,500 students took part in a free-speech assembly at the University of East Timor in Dili today, 1 June, according to a report received by TAPOL from local sources.

The event took place despite attempts by the University Rector, P. Theo T. Ralella to prevent it from happening.

June 1, 1998

The Independent - June 1, 1998

Fran Abrams – Britain has spent almost £300,000 on military aid to Indonesia since Labour came to power, new figures reveal.

The money spent by the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and, to a lesser extent, the Department for International Development – does not include the budget for promoting arms sales to the regime, which remains secret.

Tempo Interactive - June 1998

Xanana Gusmao, ex-leader of the East Timorese guerrilla fighters who reject integration with Indonesia, has said that the Suharto regime is responsible for most of the problems in East Timor.

Jakarta Post - June 1, 1998

Jakarta – Students in several cities, in a move resembling their colleagues' stand in Jakarta recently, are occupying local legislative councils to make their demands heard.

Agence France Presse - June 1, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian military has scheduled for Saturday the court martials of 19 soldiers suspected of gunning down student demonstrators on May 12, a report said Monday.

Austalian Financial Review - June 1998

George J. Aditjondro – Rays of hope of Indonesia's democracy seem to emerge. Two of Habibie's relatives – a brother and a son – have stepped down from powerful public offices, four political prisoners have been released, and promises of a new election law and the repeal of the repressive press censor law have been made.

May 30, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - May 30, 1998

Removing Soeharto was the easy part. Now Indonesia must grapple with his legacy of three decades of corruption and cronyism. Louise Williams reports.

Every day for the past two weeks Adi has stood in front of the charred shell of his electronics store in Jakarta's normally frenetic Chinatown district, the nauseating smell of burnt plastic lingering in the air.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 30, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – President Soeharto's richest son, Mr Bambang Trihatmodjo, resigned from the board of his Bimantara business empire yesterday as scores of protesters outside the company's headquarters demanded trials for the Soeharto clan.

May 29, 1998

Ottawa (Business Wire) May 29, 1998

The Indonesian forest fires of 1997 resulted in over USD 3 billion in damages, according to a study partly funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and released today in Singapore by the Economy and Environment Program for South East Asia (EEPSEA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Australian Financial Review - May 29, 1998

Greg Earl, Jakarta – President Habibie appears to have fended off attempts to quickly replace him with a deal yesterday to delay any meeting of the country's presidential election college until at least the end of this year.

Straits Times - May 29, 1998

Jakarta – Hot on the heels of an admission that its own soldiers are believed to have shot dead six student protesters, the Indonesian armed forces yesterday announced that senior police officers under its command were involved in the kidnapping of anti-government activists.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 29, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – The Habibie Government scrambled yesterday to set a timetable for political reforms, including new elections next year, as fresh student protests flared in the capital and provincial cities.

DIGEST No.61 - May 29, 1998

The riots in Jakarta 13-15 May were probably the worst Indonesia has ever seen. In proportion almost equally devastating riots took place in Medan and surrounds (4-5 May), Palembang (13 May), and Solo and surrounds (14-15 May, with at least 19 dead). When President Suharto resigned, these events were somewhat overshadowed in the media.

May 28, 1998

Kompas - May 28, 1998

The National Human Rights Commission said in a statement issued Wednesday that human rights had been violated towards students at Trisakti University who were being prevented from speaking freely. Several students at the university said they had been threatened by unknown persons who warned them not to give evidence to the Commission.