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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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March 5, 1998

Lusa - March 5, 1998

Jakarta – Three alleged Timorese activists were arrested in Dili by the Indonesian authorities on 26 February, Indonesian news agency Antara said on Wednesday.

New York Times - March 5, 1998

Seth Mydans, Jakarta – As a decision nears on whether to infuse billions of dollars in international aid into Indonesia, a close look at President Suharto's performance shows a pattern of evasions and half-measures on the economic reforms he agreed to recently.

March 4, 1998

Agence France Presse - March 4, 1998

Jakarta – Thousands of Indonesian students shouting "reject Suharto" rallied at two campuses Wednesday to demand the resignation of their country's veteran ruler, witnesses said.

Lusa - March 4, 1998

Lisbon – A group of six Timorese who had sought refuge at the Spanish embassy three weeks ago left Indonesia to Portugal on Tuesday, the Portuguese Red Cross announced.

The six Timorese who have complained of persecution by the Indonesian police, left Indonesia in a KLM flight.

South China Morning Post - March 4, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Jailed trade unionist Muchtar Pakpahan warned a senior US State Department official yesterday against donating aid to Indonesia without demanding political reforms.

The Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Stanley Roth, met Pakpahan for one hour at a hospital where he is receiving medical treatment for a lung tumour.

Associated Press - March 4, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – Thousands of banner-waving university students demanded President Suharto's ouster Wednesday – the largest display of anger yet over the economic crisis that has Indonesia in an upheaval.

March 3, 1998

Kompas - March 3, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

123 demonstrators who took part in a 'Red-and-White Brigade' demonstration in Jakarta on 11 February are to be charged under Law No 5/PNPS/1993 regarding involvement in political activities, according to the public affairs officer of the Jakarta police force. The law allows a maximum penalty of five years.

SiaR - March 3, 1998

Jakarta – According to SiaR sources, General Wiranto, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is to be replaced in mid-March. Wiranto will fill a post in the new cabinet as Minister of Defence and Security. The source mentioned that General Subagyo, presently Chief of Staff of the Army (KSAD), will replace Wiranto, while the post of KSAD will be filled by Lieut.Gen. Prabowo.

Kyodo - March 3, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign exchange reserves dropped to 16.33 billion U.S. dollars at the end of February from 17.07 billion dollars Feb. 16, and from 28.85 billion dollars in June 1997, before the country began to face its current economic crisis, the central bank said Tuesday.

March 2, 1998

Agence France Presse - March 2, 1998

Jakarta – The Indonesian military Monday formally denied persistent rumours an army battalion had deserted its base on the outskirts of Jakarta and accused an outlawed leftist group of trying to stir up trouble.

March 1, 1998

Info-Pembebasan - March 1, 1998

[The following is a slightly abridged translation of an interview with the coordinator of the Central Committee Leadership of the People's Democratic Party (Komite Pimpinan Pusat - Partai Rakyat Demokratik, KPP-PRD), Mirah Mahardika.]

Los Angeles Times - March 1, 1998 (Excerpts)

Asia: As the Indonesian president prepares for a 7th term amid social and financial upheaval, the White House decides that pressing for radical change could lead to chaos.

Associated Press - March 1, 1998

Balikpapan – Wildlife officials said Saturday that they had found the charred remains of dozens of rare animals in a national park in eastern Borneo, where forest fires are burning.

February 28, 1998

South China Morning Post - February 28 1998

Jenny Grant, Samarinda – Towns and villages in East Kalimantan province are suffering a severe water crisis, with river levels drastically lowered by drought and fire-fighting.

The low level of the capital Samarinda's main Mahakam River has made water from it unfit for people to drink.

Reuters - February 28, 1998 (extracts)

Jakarta - The essential qualifications to be Indonesia's vice-president are a low profile and a good supply of jokes to entertain President Suharto, outgoing Vice-President Try Sutrisno has said.

Try, who is retiring at the end of a five-year term in March, was quoted by the Jakarta Post on Saturday as telling local reporters that Suharto was like a "ship's captain."

February 27, 1998

Lusa - February 27, 1998

Dili – Fighting between Timorese guerrillas and Indonesian forces in the East Timor region of Ermera on Wednesday caused the death of two resistance members and one Indonesian soldier, according to a military source.

Jakarta Post - February 27, 1998

Jakarta – With the General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly only three days away, students across Java staged demonstrations yesterday to press their demands for lower prices and political reform.

Major peaceful demonstrations were staged in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Purwokerto and Kudus.

Australian Financial Review - February 27, 1998

Jakarta's vice-presidential battle may help Soeharto save face, suggests George J. Aditjondro

Kompas - February 27. 1998

Palembang – The LBH (Institute for Legal Aid) regional offices in Palembang were attacked at 1 PM today (26/2) by a group of unknown assailants. Stones and bottles of beer were thrown, causing some damage to the facilities, mostly broken windows.

Straits Times - February 27, 1998

Jakarta – Muslim politician Amien Rais, a longtime critic of the Suharto administration, yesterday said that he was withdrawing his bid for the presidency and supporting the re-election of Mr Suharto for a record seventh five-year term.

February 26, 1998

Agence France Presse - February 26, 1998 (Extracts)

Jakarta – More than 3,000 students rallied noisily in the Indonesian capital Thursday, blaming President Suharto and his government for the crisis which has crippled the country.

Far Eastern Economic Review - February 26, 1998

A defiant Suharto gambles everything on an unorthodox financial plan that could cost Indonesia the IMF's support. In the process, the region's one-time leader may have become its biggest liability.

February 25, 1998

Tapol - February 25, 1998

Today the 25th of February, Cecilia Redner and Marija Fischer from the women's ploughshares group Choose Life were found guilty of attempt to malicious damage and violation of the law protecting facilities important to society (roughly translated). Cecilia, a priest in the Church of Sweden, was sentenced to fines and three years of correctional education.

Agence France Presse - February 25, 1998 (Extracts)

Jakarta – Fires raged in remote Indonesian forests Wednesday as regional environmental ministers met to try to avoid a repeat of last year's choking haze which engulfed much of SE Asia.

Estimates of the number of fires burning in East Kalimantan alone ranged between 300 and 1,000 while dozens more were said to be blazing in Riau, central Sumatra.

Agence France Presse and Associated Press - February 25, 1998 (extracts from Tapol)

Jakarta – A long-time bastion of support for President Suharto turned on him Wednesday as hundreds of current and former students at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta, condemned the leadership they helped to install in 1966

Wall Street Journal - February 25, 1998

Canberra – International Monetary Fund Director for Asia-Pacific Hubert Neiss Wednesday said the fund is examining ways to preserve subsidies for food, rice and cooking oil in Indonesia under its assistance package.

Straits Times - February 25, 1998

Jakarta – The ruling Golkar's executive board has warned its MPs that they face unspecified disciplinary action if they nominated anyone other than Research and Technology Minister B. J. Habibie at next week's presidential and vice-presidential election, newspapers here reported yesterday.

BBC - February 25, 1998

The resurgence of bush and forest fires in Indonesia has raised fears of a return of the massive blanket of smog that smothered much of Southeast Asia last year. The haze of 1997 was caused by thousands of blazes across the country, but why were they so widespread?

February 24, 1998

Agence France Presse - February 24, 1998

Jakarta – The spectre of current food shortages leading to a famine throughout the island of Java has emerged as a major threat to President Suharto's regime, observers say, adding it could even cripple his hold on power.

International Herald Tribune - February 24, 1998

Seth Mydans, Samarinda – Indonesia The eastern coast of Borneo, dry after a year of drought, is bursting into flame again, raising fears that a wave of choking smoke could soon blanket Southeast Asia as it did last autumn.

Agence France Presse - February 24, 1998

Jakarta – Hundreds of students have rallied in one Indonesian city and six are on hunger strike elsewhere demanding comprehensive political and economic reforms.

February 23, 1998

Washington Post - February 23, 1998

Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – Indonesia-Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous country, is sliding steadily toward economic and social chaos.

Tapol - February 23, 1998

Three women activists of the group of "Suara Ibu Peduli" who were organising and participating in a peaceful demonstration in front of the Hotel indonesia, Jakarta, were arrested by the Police and taken into the custody of Polda Jaya, Monday, 23 Feb, 1998.

The three women are Dr. Karlina Leksono Supeli, Gadis Arivia Effendi, and Wilasih Noviana.

Tapol - February 23, 1998 (slightly abridged)

At a time when Indonesia is in the grip of a grave economic and political crisis, President Suharto, the Indonesian dictator, with the support of ABRI, the Indonesian armed forces, is further intensifying the level of repression in his determination to stay in power at all costs.

February 21, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - February 21, 1998

David Jenkins – As Indonesian street demonstrations go, it may not have seemed much to write home about. A couple of dozen young men, some with their baseball caps worn backwards, milling about under the tamarind trees, shouting abuse at the occupants of a nearby office block and holding up placards painted on white, pink and pale blue cardboard.

Australian Financial Review - February 21, 1998

Peter Hartcher – One of Indonesia's key Islamic leaders has promised to lead a "people's power" mass movement to unseat President Soeharto unless his regime can solve the country's crisis within a year.

February 20, 1998

Reuters - February 20, 1998

Mantik Kusjanto, Jakarta – President Suharto made a surprise move on Friday to restore fading confidence among Indonesians in their government by guaranteeing a pay-out on all legal deposits in 16 banks liquidated last year.

The government had previously said it would cover up to 20 million rupiah in each account of the 16 banks which amounted to 1.7 trillion rupiah.

Asiaweek - February 20, 1998

Jose Manuel Tesoro, Jakarta – For Indonesia's Armed Forces, summoning 25,000 troops in full battle gear to a rain-slicked parking lot in south Jakarta early Feb. 7 was its way of making a statement.

SiaR - February 20, 1998

Jakarta - Demonstrations and riots to protest the increase in the nine basic needs and demands for political reform which have erupted in several cities and regions during the period over the month of January up to 19 February l998 have resulted in 3 deaths, 921 detentions and 14 disappearances.

People's Democratic Party - February 20, 1998

To all of the Indonesian people who are patriots and continue to struggle from the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) – February 20, 1998.

The national situation

South China Morning Post - February 20, 1998

Barry Porter, Jakarta – Indonesia's President Suharto is showing signs he may yield to mounting international pressure and postpone his controversial plan to introduce a Hong Kong-style currency board system.

German Finance Minister Theo Waigel emerged from a meeting with the Indonesian leader saying he had been given the impression that the plan was now under review.

February 19, 1998

Washington Post - February 19, 1998

Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta, For some, B.J. Habibie is a visionary, an ardent economic nationalist and the very image of a thoroughly modern Muslim intellectual. He inspires millions with his grand plan to transform Indonesia into a leader of industry and high technology for the next century.

Lusa - February 19, 1998

Lisbon – East Timorese activist Jose Ramos Horta has disagreed with the disclosure of a letter allegedly sent by the jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao where he argued against appeals for an end of armed fight in the troubled territory.

Sydney Morning Herald - February 19, 1998

James Woodford – The Chief of the Defence Force, General John Baker, the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, and the Defence Minister, Mr McLachlan, expressed serious concerns yesterday about the strategic implications of the economic turmoil gripping Asia.

Down to Earth - February 19, 1998

Indonesian Forestry Minister Djamaluddin said in January that Indonesia could experience a second year of prolonged drought this year because of the El Nino effect. His warnings are supported by experts at the Integrated Forest Fires Management project in East Kalimantan (IFFM).

Kompas - February 19, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

The Jakarta military commander Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin announced Wednesday that all demonstrations on the streets of the capital are banned forthwith, because they cause disruption to the traffic and disturb the general public.

Washington Post - February 19, 1998

Keith B. Richburg, Jakarta – At The Cipto Mangunkusumo Central Hospital here, doctors found that they no longer could afford the specially treated plastic bags which hold blood for transfusions. So the hospital director asked staffers to scour the local markets in search of old-fashioned milk bottles that could be washed out and used instead.

DIGEST No. 52 - February 19, 1998

For all the almost hysterical reporting of unrest in the press, no one has yet tried to create an overall picture of what has happened on the ground. The chronology below is preliminary and based largely on Indonesian-language sources.

February 18, 1998

South China Morning Post - February 18, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – Rioters in West Java had admitted being paid to initiate unrest, police said yesterday.

Police in the town of Cirebon said their inquiries were focused on seven out of 85 people arrested during three days of attacks against Chinese-owned shops and property.

East Timor Human Rights Centre - February 18, 1998 (summary only)

In 1997 the international community showed a new willingness to search for solutions to the problems of conflict and human rights violations in East Timor.