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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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February 25, 1998

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

February 24, 1998

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.

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.

February 23, 1998

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.

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.

February 21, 1998

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.

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.

February 20, 1998

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

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.

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.

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.

February 19, 1998

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.

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, 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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

February 17, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - February 17, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Indonesia's ruling Golkar Party has announced that the controversial Technology Minister, Dr Jusuf Habibie, is its vice-presidential choice, a move which is certain to further undermine international business confidence, as rural rioting continues and the rupiah weakens.

Jakarta Post - February 17, 1998

Jakarta – Landslide support for B.J. Habibie failed to push former environment minister Emil Salim out of the race for the vice presidency yesterday.

Emil, who has strong support from fellow academics, pro-democracy activists and the public alike, will continue his bid for the post in an "exercise of democracy".

Reuters - February 17, 1998

Singapore - The assets of a handful of Indonesia's richest people could go a long way to bailing out the country if the $43 billion IMF rescue package falters, data published by Forbes Magazine shows.

East Timor Human Rights Centre annual report - February 17, 1998

February 16, 1998

Amnesty International - February 16, 1998

There is still no news of the whereabouts of Pius Lustrilanang, the student activist from the People's Democratic Alliance (Aldera) who has been missing since 4 February 1998.

February 15, 1998

Pikiran Rakyat - February 15, 1998 (abridged)

The Jakarta police force have foiled a plan to explode a grenade at the National Monument on Malam Takbir on 8 February, an event which was attended by President Suharto and Vice-President Try Sutrisno.

Two Korean-made grenades were seized and two suspects were arrested, identified only as Abd, 31, and Fa, 38.

February 14, 1998

Reuters - February 14, 1998

Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – At least three people have been killed and 154 detained in riots over rising prices directed mostly against shops run by Indonesia's minority Chinese, police and witnesses said on Saturday.

Mercury News - February 14, 1998

Michael Dorgan, Jakarta – It's 5:30 a.m. and a new day is dawning. The man many here would like to see as this country's next president has been rousted from a short sleep at a spartan Islamic center and is being rushed to the airport for his next campaign stop.

Kyodo - February 14, 1998

Jakarta – Some 2,000 students threw stones at several stores Saturday morning on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island after their rally to protest higher basic commodity prices turned into a riot, the state-run news agency Antara said.

Financial Times (London) - February 14, 1998

Sander Thoenes profiles Indonesia's likely next vice-president

February 13, 1998

MateBEAN - February 13, 1998

Dili – Security agents arrested two unidentified East Timorese youths, last Wednesday (11/2). The arrest took place near Dili State Court. At that time, the judge just began their hearing on the trial of six University of East Timor (UNTIM) students. They are accused of torturing Army soldiers in UNTIM campus.

International Herald Tribune - February 13, 1998

Michael Richardson, Singapore – With the Indonesian government short of money and preoccupied with an economic crisis that threatens to lead to serious social unrest, concern is growing in Singapore and Malaysia that the region will again be smothered in smoke pollution from uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia.

MateBEAN - February 13, 1998

Dili – Joao, 20, a citizen of Limanaru village, Raerobu, Sub-district Atabae, District Bobonaro, East Timor, had mysteriously disappeared from Guico Public Health Clinic (Puskesmas). An unknown armed group shot and kidnapped him.

Reuters - February 13, 1998

Indonesia's security forces plan to tap phones to monitor dissidents calls and pull the plug on conversations that are deemed political, a newspaper said on Friday.

Associated Press - February 13, 1998

Irwan Firdaus, Sukamandi – In the most violent day of protests yet in Indonesia's economic crisis, thousands went on the rampage in at least eight towns today, venting their anger against Chinese traders they blame for soaring prices and mass unemployment.

Business Times - February 13, 1998

Yang Razali Kassim, Singapore – In total defiance of the financial markets, and acting on a script by President Suharto, the top brass of ABRI, the Indonesian military, further consolidated their ranks this week behind Research and Technology Minister B J Habibie as possible heir apparent.

MateBEAN - February 13, 1998

Dili – Six University of East Timor (UNTIM) students were brought to trial, last Wednesday (11/2). Aniceto Guterres Lopes and Vincente Daton Igon, lawyers from the HAK (Legal, Justice and Human Rights) Foundation accompanied the six students to the Court.

February 12, 1998

Reuters - February 12, 1998

Raju Gopalakrishnan, Jakarta – President Suharto accused unnamed groups on Thursday of using Indonesia's economic crisis to undermine his government as the country announced the appointment of a new armed forces chief.

Reuters - February 12, 1998 (Extracts only)

Washington – The IMF is headed for a showdown with its third largest borrower on Thursday, insisting Indonesia was not ready for a rigid currency regime and highlighting political uncertainties there.

Associated Press - February 12, 1998

Christopher Torchia, Jakarta – It wasn't a bomb, but the box found next to a bank machine in an airport was meant to send a warning. Marked "explosive with remote," the package of plastic pipes and electric wires carried this warning: "Bring down prices or it will happen in other places."

Financial Times - February 12, 1998

Indonesia's plan for a currency board may look attractive. But it is a high-risk gamble that could cause huge damage. The superficial appeal of fixing the rupiah is clear, given that the currency's plummet to only a third of its pre-crisis valueh as wreaked havoc, especially to corporate balance sheets.

Surya - February 12 (Summary only from Tapol)

Dili – Six students of the University of East Timor have gone on trial on charges of 'torturing' three members of the armed forces. The trial commenced on 11 February.

The six [all political science students] are: Francisco de Deus, 20; Domingos da Silva, 25; Silveiro Baptista Ximenes, 23; Juvinal dos Santos Moniz, 22; Bernardino Simao, 23 and; Vicente Marquez da Crus, 21.

Wall Street Journal - February 12, 1998

Margot Cohen, Jakarta – Fadli Zon has a vision. The former student activist imagines his countrymen cycling slowly down Jakarta's Jalan Thamrin, a central boulevard normally choked with cars. Instead of Western clothes, everyone will be wearing sarongs made of rough cloth. "If necessary, we'll go backwards 10 or 15 years," he says fervently.

Independent Journalists Association (AJI) - February 12, 1998 (posted by Tapol)

Eighteen members of the People's Democratic Alliance, ALDERA, were arrested at crack of dawn Thursday by a force of 15 policemen, several of whom were in civvies. The police forced their way into the organisation's Bogor, West Java office and rounded up everyone there, without saying a word. The were taken away on three police vans to police headquarters in the city.

February 11, 1998

New York Times - February 11, 1998

Seth Mydans, Surabaya – The military officer seemed puzzled when asked about the giant Tactica armored water cannon that was parked beside him, in front of the glass-and-chrome Delta Plaza Shopping Center. "Vehicle?" he asked. "You mean those taxis over there?"

February 10, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - February 10, 1998

Louise Williams, Jakarta – Hundreds of people marched through Jakarta's main business district yesterday protesting against rising prices and unemployment, just a day after the armed forces paraded 25,000 troops in a massive show of force and warned against demonstrations.

February 9, 1998

Wall Street Journal - February 9, 1998

Raphael Pura, Jakarta – A food crisis is closing in on Indonesia. The coming crunch could compel the beleaguered country to seek at least $1 billion in emergency funds for short-term food subsidies to supplement an International Monetary Fund-backed financial rescue package announced last month.