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Indonesia & East Timor Digest

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June 4, 1998

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

June 3, 1998

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

Associated Press - May 28, 1998

Jakarta – Anti-government student protests flared again in Indonesia on Thursday, one week after the army evicted demonstrators from the Parliament complex in Jakarta.

Several hundred university students showed up at the main gate Thursday morning as President Habibie met inside with Parliament leaders to discuss his plans to reform the political system.

Kompas - May 28, 1998 (extracts)

Nine students of Djuanda University (Unida), Bogor, West Java have disappeared following an incident on 9 May during which a police officer was killed. Initially, 29 were unaccounted for, but 17 have now returned home and three are under arrest. But nine are still unaccounted for.

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.

May 27, 1998

Far Eastern Economic Review - May 27, 1998

John Mcbeth, Jakarta – Already feeble at the start of 1998, Indonesia's ability to feed its 200 million people has weakened further in recent months. The triple whammy of a severe drought, an economic slump and political turmoil have exposed fundamental flaws in the country's strategy for agriculture.

New York Times - May 27, 1998

Seth Mydans, Jakarta – Indonesia's political upheaval has worsened its severe economic problems, and a high-level team from the International Monetary Fund arrived here Tuesday to explore ways to restart its rescue package.

The Wall Street Journal - May 27, 1998

Richard Borsuk, Jakarta – The investigation of businesses linked to former Indonesian President Suharto's family and friends has widened, opening on several new fronts.

May 26, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - May 26, 1998

Lindsay Murdoch – Three churches claim they have obtained evidence that Indonesian soldiers are responsible for the deaths of at least 137 people during a military crackdown in Irian Jaya over 18 months.

May 24, 1998

Reuters - May 24, 1998

Terry Friel, Jakarta – The wealth of new Indonesian President Jusuf Habibie and his family is beginning to draw the same attention that helped bring about the ouster of his predecessor Suharto.

May 23, 1998

Ottawa Citizen - May 23, 1998

Jonathan Manthorpe, Jakarta – As Bacharuddin Habibie announced Indonesia's new cabinet Friday, the question became whether former president Suharto had indeed stepped down or merely stepped aside.

Reuters - May 23, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesia's newly-appointed Information Minister Lieutenant-General Yunus Yosfiah said today there would be no problems with media freedom if the local media was responsible and upheld their code of ethics.

Globe and Mail - May 23, 1998

Rod Mickleburgh, Jakarta – Hundreds of armed Indonesian soldiers stormed the parliament buildings here late last night, ending a five-day occupation by university students demanding an end to autocratic rule in the country.

Reuters - May 23, 1998

Jakarta – The son-in-law of former Indonesian president Suharto was relieved of command of the prestige after he had resigned as head of state a day earlier.

Washington Post - May 23, 1998

Dana Priest – US officials believe that an elite US-trained military unit in Indonesia has been involved in kidnapping and torturing political dissidents, and Washington is considering a permanent ban on ties with the unit, US defense and diplomatic officials said.

Jakarta Post - May 23, 1998

Jakarta – Students in many cities continued rallying for reform yesterday, with most demanding a fresh presidential election through a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and the trial of former president Soeharto for alleged abuses of power.

May 22, 1998

Sydney Morning Herald - May 22, 1998

Louise Williams – In the early hours of yesterday morning a deal was done – the last deal for President Soeharto.

His old ally, Mr Harmoko – the longest-serving Information Minister in Mr Soeharto's New Order Government, who helped manipulate and restrain the media to hide the realities of the President's rule – reappeared as executioner.

Wall Street Journal - May 22, 1998

Indonesian soldiers entered the Parliament building Friday and ordered student protesters who have occupied the building for several days to leave.

After dark, dozens of military trucks arrived loaded with soldiers, who leapt out and started beating the students with sticks. The students had taken over Parliament to press their demands for political reform.

Dow Jones Newswires - May 22, 1998

Jakarta – After pledging that his forces would protect ex-President Suharto and his family, powerful military chief Gen. Wiranto Friday rejected calls for an investigation into the former leader's wealth.

Since Suharto resigned Thursday, student protesters and other opponents have called for an inquiry into the fortune amassed by the Suharto clan during his 32-year rule.

May 21, 1998

Reuters - May 21, 1998

David Storey, Washington, May 21 Reuters - The United States went through the final motions of an ungainly diplomatic dance as Indonesia's President Suharto, one of its old guard of allies from the Cold War days, slid reluctantly from power.