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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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August 7, 1998

Agence France Presse - August 7, 1998

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.

Dow Jones Newswires - August 7, 1998

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.

Agence France Presse - 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.

August 6, 1998

Associated Press - August 6, 1998 (abridged)

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.

Reuters - August 6, 1998

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.

Waspada - 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.

August 5, 1998

Reuters - 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.

Reuters - August 5, 1998

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.

South China Morning Post - August 5, 1998

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.

Business Times - August 5, 1998

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.

Reuters - August 5, 1998

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.

Business Times - August 5, 1998

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.

South China Morning Post - August 5, 1998

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.

Reuters - August 5, 1998

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.

August 4, 1998

Tapol - August 4, 1998

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.

Sydney Morning Herald - 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.

August 3, 1998

Tapol - August 3, 1998

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.

Time Magazine - August 3, 1998

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.

Straits Times - August 3, 1998

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.

Reuters - 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.

Jakarta Post - August 3, 1998

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.

Associated Press - August 3, 1998 (abridged)

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.

August 2, 1998

Waspada - August 2, 1998 (summary by Tapol)

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

Sydney Morning Herald - August 1, 1998

Jenny Grant, Dili – East Timorese are either watching or being watched. Residents say the "Mauhu", the network of spies linked to the military, are monitoring every office, home and church in the troubled territory. At night markets, they swarm to overhear private conversations, keep tabs on locals and offer foreigners free motorbike rides in exchange for scraps of information.

Financial Times - August 1, 1998

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta – Indonesian parliamentarians have found seven mass graves in the province of Aceh, according to a report on Friday in a prominent newspaper. The graves are the most dramatic discovery following recent revelations of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the government of former president Suharto.

Tapol - 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:

American Reporter - August 1, 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.

Agence France Presse - August 1, 1998

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.

Washington Post - August 1, 1998

Jakarta, Cindy Shiner – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen arrived here tonight on his first visit to Indonesia since violent upheavals in May ended three decades of authoritarian rule and forced the military to come to terms with its role in a freer and more modern society.

July 31, 1998

Antara - July 31, 1998

Jakarta - Reports on the rape of Chinese Indonesian women during the widespread rioting last May have been baffling the people as these reports lack proof, an observer here has said.

Timorese Democratic Union - July 31, 1998

Sydney – Three Indonesian secret police (SGI) thugs in civilian clothes gunned down East Timorese student leader, Pedro Arazjo, 24, outside his home in Dili early on Thursday, according to Timorese separatist leaders. Family members told how the three gunmen banged on the Arazjo family home door in the Dili suburb of Bairro Pite at about two o'clock in the morning.

SiaR - July 31, 1998

Jakarta – Around one hundred people from the People's Democratic Party (PRD), Papuan People's and the East Timore People's jointly demonstrated in front of the offices of the Minister of Justice on Thursday, July 31. They demanded that the government immediately release all political prisoners without conditions.

AFX-ASIA - July 31, 1998

Jakarta – The leaders of 11 political groupings have formed an opposition forum to prevent a victory by the ruling Golkar party in the next elections in 1999, newspapers quoted leaders of the political groups as saying. "A Golkar victory should be prevented, Golkar should the halted, rather than let the state be ruined," Ridwan Saidi, head of the Masyumi Baru Party, said.

July 30, 1998

Jakarta Post - July 30, 1998

Jakarta – Church officials and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) expressed their belief yesterday that a number of bodies found recently near Biak island, Irian Jaya, might be related to the military's shooting on pro-independence activists earlier this month.

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 30, 1998

John McBeth, Jakarta - Just a few months ago, Badan Urusan Logistik Nasional was the government-run monopoly everyone loved to hate. As late as April, the logistics agency for basic foodstuffs, better known as Bulog, was the prime example of all that was wrong with doing business in Suharto's Indonesia.

Reuters - July 30, 1998 (abridged)

Sydney – The United States is encouraging Indonesia's military to exercise restraint as the embattled Asian country copes with financial meltdown and social unrest, Defense Secretary William Cohen said Thursday.

Agence France Presse - July 30, 1998 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta – Jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao met Thursday in a Jakarta jail with Theo Syafei, the man who arrested him, to discuss the future of the former Portuguese colony.

Financial Times - July 30, 1998

Sander Thoenes – Customers at Maria Olandina Alves's little bamboo eatery get a spoonful of outspoken views on the latest news in East Timor included with the meal.

Agence France Presse - July 30, 1998

Paris – Here are the main points of the statement issued by the World Bank after some 30 donor countries and international organisations agreed here on Thursday to provide 7.9 billion dollars to Indonesia:

Reuters - July 30, 1998 (abridged)

Carol Giacomo, Sydney – Conditions in financially embattled Indonesia are expected to worsen significantly by the year's end, according to US and Asian officials. Some of the estimates go far beyond current projections, fanning fears that the world's most populous Moslem nation faces starvation and could implode.

July 29, 1998

The Guardian - July 29, 1998

Indonesia began its much publicised troop withdrawal from East Timor yesterday but the army immediately announced they would be replaced.

Serambi Indonesia - July 29, 1998 (summarised)

Sigli, Aceh – Several women testified to a parliamentary fact-finding mission on a visit to Sigli about their experiences at the hands of the security forces. The testimony was given at a meeting attended by about one thousand people, most of them widows and orphans.

Straits Times - July 29, 1998

Banda Aceh – Non-governmental organisations (NGO) have told a parliamentary group investigating violence in this autonomous Indonesian region that some 600 women had been raped over the past seven years, many allegedly by the military.

International Herald Tribune - July 29, 1998 (abridged)

Michael Richardson, Manila – As Indonesia withdrew nearly 400 troops from East Timor as a goodwill gesture Tuesday, the country's foreign minister laid out details for the first time of a plan to give "wide-ranging autonomy" to the disputed territory.

SiaR - July 29, 1998

Jakarta - The July 27 incident is already two years past, but the Minister of Home Affairs, Syarwan Hamid, continues to be asked to take responsibility for his involvement in engineering the overthrow of Megawati Sukarnoputri as chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

Jakarta Post - July 29, 1998

Jakarta – The Irianese community in Jakarta called on President B.J, Habibie yesterday to grant immediate autonomy to their home province and accused the central government of failing to bring prosperity to their territory.

July 28, 1998

Wall Street Journal - July 28, 1998

Jay Solomon, Jakarta – Indonesian police, amid growing pressure on authorities to get to the heart of May riots, believe they may have found one of the instigators: a retired crime lord turned Islamic preacher.

Kompas - July 28, 1998

Jakarta – Two People's Democratic Party (PRD) political prisoners who receive an amnesty from President B.J. Habibie, Wilson bin Nurtiyas and Ken Budha Kusumandaru, were forcibly evicted from the Cipinang Prison, Jakarta.

July 27, 1998

Tapol - July 27, 1998

In a statement issued on 24 July 1998, the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) has strongly criticised the Indonesian government's decision to set up a fact-fidning team to investigate a series of crimes, in particular the crimes which occurred during the riots in Jakarta on 13 - 15 May this year.

July 26, 1998

Lusa - July 26, 1998

Lisbon – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ramos Horta in Lisbon last week appealed to the inernartional community to "verify" Indonesia's announced troop withdrawal from his troubled homeland. Ramos Horta said the international community should check on the announced withdrawal of troops before believing it.