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More protests on the way, say students
Straits Times - January 7, 1999
Jakarta -- Students from Java, Lampung and Bali issued a defiant New Year statement vowing to continue with demonstrations this year as a means to maintain pressure on the government, The Jakarta Post reported yesterday. In their statement, 18 student groups under the Front for Indonesian Youth Struggle (FPPI) also defended charges of growing radicalisation in the student movement.
They said that any such trend was merely a response to the government's clumsy handling of student protests and its unwillingness to take heed of the demonstrators' demands. "Student demonstrations are our way of making our stance and demands known to the government," a FPPI spokesman told reporters.
Responding to complaints made by the public that their protests caused traffic congestion, he said: "We would like to ask in return, why do students express themselves through demonstrations and even sacrifice their lives? "We do all that because the government ... has so far ignored us and our demands."
Many calls have been made for students to stop street rallies during Ramadan -- a request which they have so far heeded. Leading Muslim figure Abdurrahman Wahid said students should stop demonstrating altogether, saying that it was enough to have brought down former President Suharto.
But others argue that the protests should continue. With an eye on the general election in June, the students maintained that they must keep up the pressure on the government to ensure that the public is not "hoodwinked" by attempts that might be made to favour government candidates at the polls.
"How can the election be trusted ... if the political Bills are deliberated without the involvement of the true forces in politics?" the students said in their statement. They added that Indonesians must remember that existing legislative bodies were put in place by Mr Suharto's New Order administration.
[On January 6, Reuters
reported that thousands of factory workers rallied in Surabaya to demand
higher wages, throwing firecrackers at passing cars. Workers were demanding
wage increases and bigger bonuses for the Eid al-Fitr celebrations at the
end of the Moslem fasting month. There were no reports of arrests or injuries
- James Balowski.]
Lisbon -- The senior commander of the East Timorese guerrilla movement has rejected all attempts to split or discredit the occupied territory's resistance to domination by Indonesia.
Falur Rate Laek, first commander of the guerrilla's movement third region, said in a statement issued earlier this month that he and his men continued to support jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao. The statement was received by Lusa in Lisbon on Wednesday.
The statement was issued in reaction to alleged remarks by another commander of the East Timorese guerrilla movement, Lere Anan Timur, who allegedly accused Gusmao of treason for supporting a transition period for his occupied homeland before a referendum on self-determination.
Both commanders are members of FALINTIL, the armed wing of the East Timorese resistance to Indonesia's military occupation forces.
Canberra -- Hundreds of East Timorese were fleeing the countryside because of ongoing civilian killings and torture by the Indonesian military, it was alleged today.
The fresh allegations of atrocities were contained in videotapes smuggled out of the former Portuguese island colony and broadcast nationally by SBS.
The footage, filmed in a guerrilla freedom fighters' camp, gave credence to allegations of a civilian massacre at the town of Alas in November which the Indonesian government has denied happened.
"We fled because there was a massacre in the town of Alas, towards Fahinian," a man, who was not identified, told SBS. "In Fahinian, I heard the military stabbed people to death." East Timorese Bishop Carlos Belo reportedly estimated more than 40 people had been killed in Alas. SBS said hundreds of villagers had fled the countryside to the relative safety of the capital, Dili.
Luis de Fatima Soares, who left his home of Manufahi, said his foster son and brother-in-law were killed by the military. He said he had been beaten and kicked so badly by soldiers of Indonesia's 315 Battalion that he cannot walk. "They beat me with batons. They punched me. They kicked me," he said. "They punched my chest, my ears and my eyes."
A man from the village of Orana said he was bashed by troops without provocation. "They turned towards me and my child was standing next to me," he said. "They punched me twice and slapped me across the face. They also hit me with the gun butt."
SBS showed a photograph of the tortured and mutilated body of 24-year-old East Timorese Francisco Xavier. His nails were allegedly pulled from his hands and his tongue cut out by soldiers.
East Timorese resistance leader-in-exile and Nobel Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta said the allegations did not surprise him. "Even after (former president) Suharto's collapse, when Indonesia's supposed to be going through democratic reforms, you still have people in East Timor arrested arbitrarily, interrogated, tortured and killed," Mr Ramos-Horta said. "This is going on daily throughout the country."
An Australian military attache who visited East Timor last month but was denied access to Alas concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove massacre allegations. However, he found several villagers had been killed and a number of houses burned.
[On January 7, a report by the Portuguese news agency Lusa said that up to 1,000 people have fled to Dili, with most of the refugees coming from the areas of Maubara, Maliana, Viqueque, Alas, Same and Ainaro. Other sources told Lusa that around 600 people had sought shelter in a church in Viqueque, that the area of Ainaro continued to be "completely closed" by Indonesian troops and that pro-Indonesian militias were spreading terror among the civilian population in the countryside - James Balowski.]
Dili -- Two men were killed and five wounded in East Timor when supporters of a referendum on the future of the troubled territory clashed with an armed militia backing autonomy, a source said Monday.
Militia members at a security post in Ainaro district fired into a mob of about 100 people late on Sunday after warning shots were ignored, the source here said.
The head of the East Timor military information service, Captain Agus Nukasa, said autonomy supporters had complained of harassment and terror by those who backed a referendum for the former Portuguese colony which Indonesia annexed in 1976.
They said several houses in the area had been burned, forcing them to establish an armed civilian militia set up with the help of the military, Nukasa said. The militia established five security posts which apparently irritated the referendum lobby, he added. Security authorities were still investigating the violence.
[On January 5, the Lusa
news agency reported that lack of medical assistance in a hospital in Dili
could endanger the lives of the victims. The CNRT coordinator in East Timor,
Leandro Isaac, also told Lusa that "hundreds" of civilians had recently
fled to Dili because they feared attacks by the pro-Indonesian militia
movement, Sukarelawan, which is operating in the Ainaro area - James Balowski.]
Jakarta -- Mob violence rocked two cities in the Indonesian provinces of Central Java and West Kalimantan, leaving a dozen people injured, including one with a gunshot wound, reports said here Thursday.
Hundreds of people, angered by the death of a man in police detention, attacked a police post in Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan late Tuesday, the Kompas daily said.
Six people were injured including two policemen when the mob armed with rifles, knives and machetes, attacked the police post after the death of a man being held on suspicion of theft, the daily said.
In Brebes, on the northern coast of Central Java, thousands of villagers from five hamlets fought on the main highway from late Monday until early Tuesday, the Suara Karya daily said.
One man was shot in the leg, as police attempted to disband the crowd and five were seriously injured during the brawl with slash wounds. The fighting apparently started over a dispute among youths over the management of a parking area, the daily said.
[On January 7, Associated Press reported that police fired plastic bullets at hundreds of stone-throwing youths in a Jakarta neighborhood. Three rioters and one policeman were injured and three police motorcycles were burned - James Balowski.]
Jakarta -- The Indonesian military found a body believed to be the fourth of seven soldiers killed in an apparent ambush in the troubled province of Aceh as a search continued for two marine hostages, officials said Sunday.
The body of the soldier was the fourth found since mobs Tuesday dragged 18 troopers off buses passing though the Simpang Ulim district in East Aceh and killed seven of them. "Another body was found off the coast by fishermen. The body was caught in the fish net and is currently being transported to the hospital," an officer at the East Aceh police station told AFP.
Three other bodies were found in Arakundo river. Their bodies showed multiple slash wounds and bore marks suggesting they may have been hanged or trussed up. The remaining three soldiers were unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, the search intensified for two marines kidnapped in a separate incident Wednesday in the North Aceh district of Muara Dua. North Aceh deputy police chief Major Amrin Remico said 26 platoons of troops from the army, the marines and the police's mobile brigade unit, totalling some 780 men, were scouring the area. "We have yet to succeed in contacting the kidnappers. So the two hostages are still out there," Remico told AFP.
Remico had earlier said the two marines were presumed to be alive since other soldiers who managed to flee were not harmed. The two marines were among five soldiers captured by a crowd in Blang Panjang village of North Aceh.
Armed forces chief General Wiranto has blamed the "Free Aceh" Islamic separatist movement for the killings in Tuesday's attack. The group has been waging for decades a low-level war for a separate Islamic state.
"The same old groups who want Aceh's independence (were behind the killings)," Wiranto said, warning the violence could jeopardize a military withdrawal from the province.
"This was not the work of ... Aceh people who hope to see an end to the military operation zone," Wiranto added.
Remico said the military was planning to raid a village where one of the leaders of the Free Aceh separatist movement is suspected to be hiding, but did not have further details.
Regional military commander Major General Ismed Yuzairi said Thursday the military is hunting the leader of the Free Aceh movement Ahmad Kandang, whom he believed had "provoked people to do brutal activities in Aceh."
A resurgence of Free Aceh activity in the late 1980s prompted the military to declare Aceh a special zone, with troops from outside the province deployed to quash the rebel movement.
After the special military status was lifted following the fall of former president Suharto last year, fact-finding teams found mass graves containing hundreds of corpses of people allegedly slaughtered by the military.
Jakarta -- Nine civilians were killed and 23 seriously injured when Indonesian troops fired on "separatists" Sunday after a mob attacked a government building in the rebellious province of Aceh, local police said. Witnesses and human rights groups had earlier put the death toll at six.
"The nine dead civilians were shot, 23 suffered heavy injuries and we have detained 123 people," northern Aceh police chief Colonel Iskandar Hasan told reporters in the town of Lhokseumawe Sunday night. "We fired warning shots and then shot at the separatists."
"There were certain groups who tried to instigate the crowds. They belong to a group led by Ahmad Kandang," Hasan said, referring to an alleged local separatist leader. Newspapers quoted other local security officials as saying the rebels had used civilians as human shields.
The violence erupted Sunday morning in the village of Kandang near the industrial center of Lhokseumawe, some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) northwest of the capital Jakarta on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. A crowd marching toward Lhokseumawe to protest the detention of a villager by police attacked a government building en route, residents said.
Separatist movements have been simmering for years in the resource-rich, staunchly Muslim province for years. Locals and human rights groups say a nine-year army crackdown against the rebels resulted in widespread torture, rape and summary executions.
[On January 5, Reuters reported that combat troops may be sent back to Aceh following the recent spate of violence. State Secretary, Akbar Tanjung was quoted as saying it was also possible that the province may be returned to the status of a "military operations zone". This was later denied by armed forces chief, Wiranto, who was quoted by the Indonesian Observer on January 7 as saying "ABRI will not revive Aceh's status as a special military operational region" - James Balowski.]
Jakarta -- New unrest has been sparked in several Indonesian towns by rumours of deaths in police custody, environmental pollution and anti-Chinese tensions, reports said Sunday.
Violence was reported in different parts of the far-flung archipelago. One mob set ablaze a police post and a store in Java while an ethnic Chinese-owned shop was ransacked by angry Moslems on the eastern island of Sulawesi.
Villagers in Cilangkap and Cicadas, both in the West Java district of Purwakarta, angered by air pollution from two fibre factories late Saturday attacked the plants, injuring at least one worker and damaging two employees' buses, the Suara Pembaruan evening daily said.
In Purwakarta, thousands of villagers attacked the factories of PT South Pacific Viscose and PT Indho Bharat Rayon after a demand for medical insurance was rejected by the management of both companies. Security forces intervened to prevent further damage, the Suara Pembaruan said.
The private television channel Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia said one policeman was injured as the mob pelted security forces trying to block their way into the plants. Suara Pembaruan said a member of staff was injured as the mob stormed the administration office at one of the plants, damaging equipment.
The mob left several buildings within the factory compounds damaged, one guardian post burned and two company buses wrecked. A workers' cooperative unit at one of the plants was also looted, the television station said. Villagers said the factories were releasing dust and foul-smelling air pollution which was hazardous to residents.
Meanwhile, 84 people were arrested following violence, including looting, that marred New Year's Eve celebrations in three West Java provincial towns, the Sinar Pagi daily said.
Hundreds of youths in Sukabumi, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of here, gathered at the central square and destroyed ornamental flower beds and shops before police and troops stopped them from rampaging through a nearby night market.
In Bandung, capital of West Java province, riot police were called in to stop vandals who smashed the windows of five banks and hurled rocks through shop windows and at passing motorists.
Reports said a local supermarket, six shops and automatic bank teller machines were also looted in the West Java town of Garut.
Jakarta -- Rumours of deaths in police custody and anti-Chinese tensions sparked new unrest in Indonesia, reports said Sunday. One mob set ablaze a police post and a store in Java while another shop was ransacked by angry Moslems on the island of Sulawesi.
Rumours that a thief had died in police custody in Surabaya, East Java, led to the burning Saturday of the store where the thief was caught and the police post where he was taken, the Media Indonesia daily said.
The mob torched at least five cars and five motorcycles but security forces stopped them from inflicting serious damage on nearby real estate, the daily said. Several attackers were arrested, it added but no figures were given.
Angry Moslems attacked an ethnic Chinese-owned shop in South Buntulia, in the Gorontalo district of North Sulawesi, after a customer overheard the owner labelling a Moslem prayer mat as a mere rug, the Jakarta Post daily said. The mob hauled the contents of the shop onto the street and set it on fire.
Indonesia has been hit by almost daily unrest and demonstrations in recent months as the economic crisis has exacerbated social tensions. The Surabaya mob had been allegedly angered by a report that thieves arrested while trying to rob the store had died while being questioned.
Surabaya police chief Colonel Alfian Anwari confirmed that one of the thieves had died at the police station but said the victim had been badly beaten by a mob when he was handed over to police. "When they handed him over his condition was already critical, maybe he had been manhandled before, when he was caught for the theft," Anwari said.
Eighty-four people have been arrested following violence, including looting, that marred New Year Eve celebrations in three West Java province towns, the Sinar Pagi daily said.
West Java police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Istanto said 30 people were arrested in Bandung, 29 in Garut and another 25 in Sukabumi after unrest around midnight last Thursday.
Hundreds of youths in Sukabumi, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of here, gathered at the central square and destroyed ornamental flower beds and shops. Police and troops stopped the mob from rampaging through a nearby night market.
In Bandung, capital of West Java province, riot police were called in to stop vandals who smashed the windows of five banks and hurled rocks through shop windows and at passing motorists.
Reports said the looting
of a local supermarket, six shops and automatic bank teller machines marred
New Year festivities in Garut.
Jakarta -- A 28-year-old political activist testified at a court martial here Friday that he was subjected to repeated electric shock treatment after being abducted during the last months of the Suharto regime.
Speaking as a witness at the trial of 11 members of the elite special forces unit charged with abducting nine activists, Neza Patria said he was subjected to the shocks during a three-day interrogation.
"They asked me if I knew Mega, Gus Dur, Benny Murdani... every time I answered no, I was submitted to shocks," said Neza, one of nine activists the feared Kopassus special forces soldiers are accused of abducting.
He was referring to opposition politician Megawati Sukarnoputri, Moslem leader Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and retired military intelligence chief and Suharto critic Benny Murdani.
Neza, one of three victims in the small court room packed with some 100 journalists, lawyers and observers, at first refused to testify, saying before he did he wanted the military to produce information on 13 missing activists.
Chief military judge Colonel Santoso told Reza he would face legal action if he failed to testify, and added information on the 13 would be unlikely to resurface unless he did. Santoso also rejected arguments put forward by the National Commission on Human Rights last week, which called for the court martial to be halted.
Citing a prosecution argument that the 11 had acted on their own out of concern for national security, the commission had said the trial appeared designed solely to shelter the military high command and make scapegoats out of the accused, seven of them junior officers.
The elite Kopassus was commanded by Prabowo Subianto, a son-in- law of former president Suharto, at the time of the abductions. Prabowo has since been dismissed from the military in connection with the kidnappings and is now in Jordan.
The chief judge asked the 11 accused, standing ramrod straight in their trademark red berets, if they would like to seek legal counsel before the court-martial resumed, but all said no.
Reza told the court that he and fellow activist Aan Rusdianto were grabbed by four men in plain clothes at night from the apartment they shared on March 13, frogmarched downstairs, blindfolded and manacled and driven to an unknown destination.
He said he was interrogated and tortured for three days, before being moved to an unknown place for one day, then spent three months incarcerated in Jakarta's police headquarters before being released.
Asked to identify any of the defendants, he pointed to 36-year- old Captain Yulius Sylvanus. Syvanus however told the court he thought it would have been impossible for Reza to have seen him, as he had met only Aan and used a different vehicle.
"He (Reza) was in the kitchen peeling an apple at the time I opened the door and was met by Aan and he could not have seen me," Sylvanus said. The trial was set to resume later Friday afternoon.
Human rights organizations say a total of 23 activists were abducted in the last months of the rule of former president Suharto, who stepped down in May amid mass protests, but the 11 accused are charged only with the abductions of the nine who have resurfaced. One has been found dead, and 13 others remain missing.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta -- About two weeks after Indonesian strongman Suharto stepped down from his 32-year presidency, Indonesian editor, poet and political activist Goenawan Mohamad brought his lieutenants to a villa in the scenic Puncak area in the southern belt of Jakarta. Goenawan brought with him just one agenda: how should they anticipate the huge political changes in Indonesia?
Indeed, he noted, Suharto did not step down voluntarily on May 21, 1998. Suharto was forced to resign amid nationwide student protests and massive rioting in many parts of this world's forth most populous country. Many Indonesians of Chinese-descent were victimized in the riots, their houses burned down and Chinese women sexually harassed.
Suharto's successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, promised to reform the country's political system, to hold fair elections, to release political prisoners and to support a free media. But many found it difficult to believe that a Suharto crony like Habibie would implement such measures.
Most of the journalists who attended the Puncak meeting were working for the Jakarta-based Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information, a low-profile "think tank" whose only objective is achieve freedom of the press in Indonesia. Goenawan and several other journalists set up the group up a few months after the Suharto government closed down Indonesia's oldest weekly news magazine, TEMPO, in June 1994, when Goenawan was its editor-in-chief.
But to the surprise of many, Habibie has tried to keep his pledge. He announced a bold decision in June to open the media to all comers. His government allows journalists to establish independent organizations, cutting down the monopoly of the state-controlled Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI). Newspapers would no longer need political connections to get a license to run a printing press.
The result: many new newspapers immediately entered the market. Three months after the move, the Ministry of Information has issued more than 500 press licenses -- more than the Suharto regime issued in the 32 years of his rule. New daily newspapers emerged not only in Jakarta but also provincial cities, including Medan in northern Sumatra, Surabaya in the eastern part of Java as well as Ujungpandang in southern Sulawesi.
Private radio stations raced into news reporting, an area the government had monopolized, after the collapse of the government-controlled Radio Indonesia (RRI). Information Minister Muhammad Yunus declared in June that private stations could reduce the compulsory relay of the RRI news reports from 14 times to three times per day, a huge relief for millions of Indonesians who had become terminally bored with government propaganda.
Jakarta-based stations such as Trijaya FM, Sonora and Elshinta immediately began producing their own news reports. Elshinta 90.05 FM went even further, broadcasting the BBC Indonesian Service in November 1998. That was a bold decision in a country where many government officials and army officers still consider the respected British radio service "too critical."
But the new openness has also driven the emergence of sensationalism. Many of the new tabloids tend to publish speculative reporting that freely mixes facts and opinions. Tabloids tend to spice up their reports with sex and crime.
The Warta Republik tabloid, for example, published a December report on how former Vice President Try Sutrisno and former Defense Minister Edi Sudrajat had allegedly competed to date a widow. Neither Sutrisno nor Sudrajat were interviewed -- and neither was the widow.
The resulting lawsuits against the media include a case that pits the Jakarta military command against the Tajuk bi-weekly. The military accused the magazine of tarnishing its reputation in a report that said former Jakarta commander Major General Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, a close associate of Suharto's son-in-law Prabowo Subianto, was involved in instigating the massive riots of May 14-16, 1998.
Prabowo himself was transferred from his position one day after the fall of his father-in-law amid widespread speculation that the three-star general was also involved in kidnapping human rights activists as well as instigating the riots, when more than 6,000 buildings burned and some 1,200 people killed in the fires.
But the new openness doesn't mean that it is totally better. Indonesian soldiers harassed and beat up more than four dozen journalists in the difficult period between April and November 1998. Sayuti, a photographer for the Jakarta-based Media Indonesia daily, was shot in the chest while photographing soldiers shooting into a crowd in Jakarta.
Tutang Muchtar of the Jakarta-based weekly "Sinar" was beaten by eight soldiers while covering a student demonstration in Jakarta. Although Muchtar showed his attackers his journalist identification card, he was beaten until he bled and his camera was seized.
Several foreign journalists were also expelled from Indonesia prior to Suharto's departure in May. Police in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta arrested Akhihiro Nonaka, a journalist with the Japan-based "Asia Press" and photographer Anthony Ashley of the Perth-based "West Australian" newspaper. Both were questioned prior to the seizure of their film and expulsion from the city. Countless incidents also took place involving journalists who traveled out of Jakarta and faced army intimidation in the provinces.
Even after the fall of Suharto, the Habibie government still expels or prohibits entry to foreign journalists at the Jakarta airport. John Stackhouse, a New Delhi-based Canadian journalist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, was expelled on Nov. 10, 1998. Stackhouse was told his name was on an Indonesian military blacklist and denied permission to enter the country, forcing him to board an outbound flight to Kuala Lumpur.
"It is disappointing that, having fully complied with the Indonesian immigration procedures, he was denied access to such an important country at such an important time," Globe and Mail foreign editor Patrick Martin said.
As if trying to justify such decisions, Indonesian generals continually accuse journalists, both foreign and Indonesian, of meddling in national politics and bullying the military. In one of the most recent incidents, three Indonesian journalists were hospitalized trying to photograph an anti-Habibie student protest in Jakarta in November.
Radio and television journalists, however, boldly stepped up their coverage of the protest, vividly demonstrating to their audience how the military used automatic weapons, batons and other army equipment excessively to crack down on peaceful student protests. Goenawan himself, one of the most respected journalists in Indonesia, praised the courageous radio and television journalists, thanking many of them in a simple ceremony in December 1998. At least six students were killed in May, and several more died in November.
Goenawan and his colleagues say they believe that Suharto is gone but that to an extent, his regime is here to stay. Habibie knew Suharto for more than 40 years. The powerful armed forces, known as ABRI, still holds many key political positions in Indonesia. ABRI has also decided to preserve the militaristic Dwifungsi doctrine which authorizes the army to be involved both in politics and security matters.
The role of the media will
become more important as Indonesia moves toward its first election in June
1999 -- supposedly the first free election since 1955. During the Suharto
rule, who rose to power since 1965, the seven five-yearly elections were
carefully tailored to give legitimacy to his one-man rule.
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Jakarta -- The leader of Indonesia's largest Moslem organisation on Thursday accused followers of former President Suharto of instigating a wave of ethnic and religious violence that has shaken the country in recent months.
Abdurrahman Wahid, head of the moderate Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) organisation which claims 30 million followers and considered a possible presidential candidate, said the hand of Suharto followers could be seen in Moslem- Christian clashes that broke out in November.
In November, 13 people were killed when a Moslem mob set upon Christians in the Ketapang area of Jakarta and torched several churches and a gambling hall. A week later youths set mosques ablaze in the eastern Indonesian town of Kupang, setting off a spate of tit-for-tat arson attacks on mosques and churches.
Human rights groups have said there is evidence both incidents were organised, rather than spontaneous eruptions of anger. "The Ketapang and Kupang incidents show that most of Suharto's supporters cannot accept the changes in the country," Wahid told a news conference after holding a meeting with fellow Moslem leader and opposition figurehead Amien Rais.
Suharto was forced from power in May amid a crippling economic crisis, mass student-led protests against his 32 year rule and an explosion of rioting in Jakarta that claimed almost 1,200 lives. He faces an official investigation into allegations he amassed billions of dollars through corruption during his rule.
Rais has previously said a wave of mysterious ninja-style killings last year which claimed more than 180 lives in Java may also have been instigated by Suharto followers to destabilise the nation.
At the news conference, Wahid defended his decision that Suharto be included in a "national dialogue" with leading political and religious figures aimed at fostering reconciliation and an end to spiralling violence in Indonesia. "Suharto needs to be included in a national dialogue and he must sign a statement saying there wouldn't be any more violence," Wahid said.
Rais, former leader of the Muhammadiyah Moslem movement that claims 28 million followers and now head of the National Mandate Party (PAN), is seen as one of Wahid's main rivals in parliamentary elections scheduled for June.
But the two men denied that they were enemies. "In democracy I am allowed to have differences with Rais and he with me," Wahid said. Rais said their meeting had brought the two men closer. "Differences between us are getting thinner, we have different ways to examine the situation but the bottom line is (our differences) are nothing worrying," he said.
Jakarta -- The Indonesian military has released most of the scores of villagers detained in a sweep of separatist targets in troubled Aceh province, a rights official said Thursday.
Of 170 men taken into custody since Sunday, some 166 were released on Wednesday, the director of the Iskandar Muda Legal Aid Foundation, Yacob Hamzah, told AFP from the northern Aceh city of Lhokseumawe.
The release came ahead of the arrival of a four-man National Commission of Human Rights team in Lhokseumawe where the detainees had been held.
Local military commander, Colonel Johnny Wahab, put the number of people released on Wednesday at 133, the Jakarta Post said. "We released these people because thy did not commit any serious offenses ... Their mistakes can be forgiven and tolerated," Wahab was quoted as saying.
The mass detentions followed military raids on several villages in a hunt for Ahmad Kandang, leader of the Free Aceh separatist movement. The army has blamed the group for instigating kidnapping of two marine officers and for the murder of seven soldiers in a separate ambush.
At least 17 people were killed and scores wounded in Sunday's raids but Kandang was not found. "There were reports that two young children had died in Sunday's raid in Simpang Kibre, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Lhokseumawe, but I have yet to confirm this news," Hamzah told AFP.
Hamzah added that be believed the imminent arrival of the human rights team and several foreign reporters from Jakarta had made the military withdraw or lower the profile of some 700 troops in the city. "Today there are no soldiers, I don't know where they hid. Yesterday they were like ants all over the place," he said.
Two marines, one of them an officer, were kidnapped on Wednesday last week in the north Aceh district of Muara Dua. The kidnapping happened a day after the murders of seven off-duty soldiers in east Aceh. Their bodies were thrown in a river. Most of the bodies found bore torture marks.
Jakarta -- The ruling Golkar is holding out for the right of the country's four million public servants to join political parties, turning its back on mounting calls for the bureaucracy's neutrality in elections.
Golkar deputy chairman Marzuki Darusman said on Monday that barring civil servants from becoming members or executives of political parties would create "problems" He added that "the (civil and political) rights of citizens is stipulated in the Convention of the International Labor Organization . the rights must not be curtailed".
The chairman of the Indonesian Civil Servants Corps, Feisal Tamim, proposed that civil servants should retire if they wished to join political parties. "A civil servant must choose whether to be a civil servant or to be a politician," said Tamin, who is also the secretary-general of the Ministry of Home Affairs
At the core of the debate is whether the new law on political parties -- passed by the House of Representatives (DPR) sooner than the Jan. 28 deadline -- should bar civil servants from joining political parties
The government originally wanted to impose the ban as a guarantee of the bureaucracy's neutrality. But it later bowed to Golkar's wish by proposing an additional clause providing an avenue for civil servants to enter politics. A civil servant wishing to become a political party member or executive must "take leave without the state's stipend".
Other factions -- the Indonesian Democratic Party, the United Development Party and the Armed Forces -- ultimately agreed to the new proposal, but a final decision has yet to be reached. Tamin even proposed that civil servants wishing to join political parties seek "early retirement" instead of "just taking leave"
Golkar legislator Yasril A Baharuddin attacked such move as the "killing" of the civil servants' economic rights. "Golkar wants civil servants to be neutral, that civil servants not be allowed to become members of executive of political parties but, if they wish to, they must (only) take temporary leave," he said. "Because they might want to resume as civil servants. "
Andi Mattalatta, Golkar faction chairman at the DPR, seconded the argument "Golkar will fight for civil servants rights as citizens. As a well-educated component of the nation, civil servants will be able to help improve the performance of political parties (as members) and this doesn't refer to Golkar only."
Andi conceded the problem was how to ensure that civil servants, especially those in high ranking positions, did not abuse state facilities for the interests of their own parties.
Marzuki proposed that preventative measures be regulated through other laws. "In the United States, Australia and Japan, civil servants are allowed to wear two hats, " said Marzuki, who is also chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights
Despite the debate, factions deliberating draft laws on elections, political parties and status of the legislatures expressed their commitment that the bill on political parties be passed before the Jan. 28 deadline.
Four issues requiring further deliberation are civil servants' political rights, the non-elected seats to be allotted to the Armed Forces, the state ideology Pancasila, and on adjustment to the proportional representation voting system.
Legislator Budi Harsono, who chairs the deliberation on elections bill, said all factions were still waiting for "guidance and instructions" from their respective leaders in the faction central boards.
But Budi said the debate regarding ABRI seats and the structure and position of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), DPR and regional DPR would conclude by Friday. "I'm still optimistic we can solve (outstanding problems)."
On Monday's deliberation, Budi said the matter discussed concerned which of the 300 societal groups would be selected to have representatives in the MPR. "We are discussing how to reduce the number to under 100," he said.
Jakarta -- A 40-strong delegation of representatives from the Indonesian province of Aceh Friday called on President B.J. Habibie to swiftly punish human rights violators in the troubled province.
The delegation also demanded greater autonomy and a more equitable share of the wealth the nation earned from the province. "The people of Aceh ... urge the central government to immediately and comprehensively probe, according to the law, violators of human rights," in Aceh, a statement handed to the president read.
The delegation also sought a general amnesty and rehabilitation for all Acehnese political detainees. The government should accord wide autonomy to Aceh and a larger share, up to 80 percent, of the region's wealth to the local government, the delegation said.
The staunchly Moslem stronghold of Aceh holds a "special territory status" accorded by Jakarta to honor the major contribution of the Acehnese people in the forming of the Indonesian republic in the 1940s. However, the special territory status does not entail any elements of autonomy.
President Habibie "will seriously consider what was expressed by the people of Aceh," State Secretary Akbar Tanjung told journalists after the meeting. He said Habibie told his visitors his government was also working on a law that would govern the division of revenues between the central government and the provinces.
Aceh Governor Syamsudin Machmud, who led the delegation, said he was told by Habibie that the president has instructed a newly-set up security council, the military and officials to "discusss the problem and settle any violation of the laws, by civilians or by the military.
The delegation included several leading Acehnese legislators, Moslem scholars, academics, students and youths, journalists and NGO activists.
Tomi Soetjipto, Jakarta -- Indonesian troops opened fire to disperse a mob near a separatist's home in the troubled province of Aceh whom they claim masterminded weekend violence in which nine people died, witnesses and the military said on Tuesday.
"On Monday the unit raided a house of Ahmad Kandang of the separatist Free Aceh group," Colonel Johny Wahab, military commander of the industrial town of Lhokseumawe on the northern tip of Sumatra island, told Reuters.
"He was responsible for Sunday's violence," Wahab said, adding there were no casualties in the raid. The troops failed to find Kandang but locals said they saw 15 people being taken away in a military truck.
The raid followed a riot on Sunday near Lhokseumawe when troops opened fire on an angry mob killing nine civilians. The army says separatist snipers started the shooting.
Witnesses said that in Monday's raid, security forces fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of hundreds who had surrounded the separatist's house in Lhokseumawe, some 1,600 km northwest of Jakarta.
One local journalist said that the attack took place at around 5.00 pm on Monday. "Security forces blocked the main road from five to six. None of us could go out of the town between that time," he said.
Colonel Wahab said that the town was back to normal on Tuesday though a number of shops were closed. "The town is still quiet, it seems people are still afraid to go out," he said. Locals said troops were still patrolling the city centre.
Jakarta -- Nearly 50 inmates escaped from a prison in Indonesia's troubled province of Aceh, the state Antara news agency reported Monday.
The 47 inmates pushed through the main gate of the Jantho prison in Aceh Besar district Sunday as guards escorted out two visitors. Five guards were threatened by some of the inmates, who were armed with knives.
Police so far only managed to capture a woman inmate, who was caught on a motorcycle with her husband in Sulimum district, some 20 kilometres from the prison. Armed Forces spokesperson Major General Syamsul Ma'arif said here Monday the incident was "purely criminal" and unrelated to recent violences in the province.
Jakarta -- Indonesian President B.J. Habibie Tuesday defended a much-criticized government plan to raise a 40,000-strong civilian militia saying it was urgently needed to uphold law and security.
He also said the 40,000 fell far short of what the country really needed. "Considering the urgency of the need to uphold the law and create a feeling of security in the society, there is a need to involve the concrete participation of the people ... in efforts to defend the nation," Habibie said.
In a wide-ranging draft budget speech, Habibie told parliament the militia, known as the People's Security (Kamra), would bolster the over-stretched police force.
"The setting up of the Kamra, using a strict selection criteria, will also provide temporary employment for job-seekers whose numbers have been on the rise because of layoffs," Habibie said.
"There is a (growing) tendency for the weakening of the respect of legal principles and an increase in violations of the law by people, especially as a result of the economic crisis," Habibie said.
"Law enforcement officials should take a clear and firm stand ... and the people should also step up awareness of their rights and responsibilities in upholding the law."
Habibie said a 40,000 militia was urgently needed, but a 70,000- strong militia within two years would be better, bringing the ratio of police to the population from 1:1,100 to 1:750. The ideal ratio, if compared to developed countries, was around 1:300, he added.
Finance Minister Bambang Subianto, in a budget briefing Monday, said the government was setting aside 300 billion rupiah (40 million dollars) to train the civilian militia but gave no further details.
The militia scheme was first aired by military chief General Wiranto in December but received stiff opposition with critics who said that far from relieving social tensions it would worsen them. A draft bill allowing the army to form the military will be submitted to parliament this month, Justice Minister Muladi has said.
The army came under strong criticism from human rights groups here and abroad last month when it used 125,000 civilians, many of them from groups with reputations for violence and thuggery, to boost security at a legislative assembly session in Jakarta.
Many of the volunteers cruised the city in convoys of buses, threatening civilians with sharpened bamboo stakes and knives, sparking clashes with students and civilians during which at least four of the militiamen were killed.
Jakarta -- Indonesian president B.J. Habibie on Tuesday lashed out at the country's press here Tuesday, accusing it of exaggerated and unbalanced reporting that threatened to spread confusion and unrest.
"Behind the dynamics of the (press) freedom, it is now felt that there is a worrisome press attitude currently developing," Habibie told parliament in a speech to unveil the draft state budget for 1999-2000.
He said the attitude was "press reporting which is exaggerated or unbalanced, that has the potentials to give rise to confusion and unrest within the society."
Although stating a free press was important in a democracy, Habibie said the press also had a responsibility to maintain the unity, cohesion and survival of the nation.
"Press freedom which prioritizes objective, complete, balanced, just and responsible reporting is needed," he said. He urged the press to pay attention to developing professionalism and to the journalistic code of ethics.
It was the toughest criticism yet by the president, who freed the Indonesian press from decades of repression soon after taking over from former president Suharto last year. After taking power, Habibie revoked restrictions on new publications, eased formalities for new publishing permits and revoked the monopoly of the Indonesian Journalists Association as the sole media workers' association.
But his government has since criticized the media several times for their straightforward and comprehensive reporting of the tumultuous events following Suharto's fall, which has included violence between soldiers and students as well as rioting.
Unlike the Suharto era, the press has also felt free to voice repeated criticism of both Habibie and his government. An earlier suggestion by Habibie that journalists be licenced like doctors was rejected by the press as untenable.
Jakarta -- The Jakarta Police shot 191 suspected criminals for various reasons in 1998, killing 90 of them, but its chief said the action was justified in every incident.
"The officers had no choice but to fire as the suspects were either endangering the lives of the victims or attacking the officers," Maj. Gen. Noegroho Djajoesman told a news conference last week reviewing the 1998 police log.
Twelve suspected criminals lost their lives to lynchings by mobs. A further 21 were wounded, Noegroho said. Admonishing the public for taking the law into their own hands, he said suspected criminals should be handed over to law enforcement officers. "Such efforts (mob justice) are totally against the law."
During the corresponding period five police officers died in the line of duty, he said. Fifty others were seriously injured and another 62 slightly wounded.
Noegroho also reported that his strong force of about 15,000 officers in Greater Jakarta netted 2,621 criminals in their routine Thunder Operation last year. The number includes 86 students involved in street brawls and 58 drug-related suspects, he said.
Internally, the Jakarta Police punished 50 officers for various offenses. Four of them were demoted. Honored were 102 personnel for outstanding performance and public service, he said.
The city police, whose jurisdiction covers Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok, recorded 177 drugs cases with 215 suspects including 10 foreigners. Confiscated evidence included 3.7 kilograms of heroin, 44.9 kilograms of marijuana and 2.7 kilograms of amphetamine-derivative shabu-shabu, 38,090 Ecstasy pills along with 27.8 kilograms of its raw materials, and 19,504 barbiturate pills, Noegroho said. A FN 22 gun and a pen gun were also seized together with nine machines to produce the Ecstasy pills, he added.
Notorious street crimes in 1998 included 32 robberies of bank customers, and 29 cases involving taxi drivers, he said. Out of the 32 robberies against bank customers, only 12 cases could be solved by the police by arresting 23 suspects, he said.
Although not touching on the infamous Trisakti shooting incident of May and the Black Friday tragedy at the Semanggi cloverleaf in November, Noegroho listed major riots, including the two which ensued from the shooting incidents.
During the May 13 to May 15 riots, police arrested 1,919 suspected looters. Fifty-four were arrested during the Nov. 14 unrest. Of the May looters, 336 suspects were tried and the remainder released. Of the November number, 50 went to court and four were released. Noegroho did not disclose when or where the trials were held.
There were 115 student brawls in 1998 in which 16 teenagers were killed and 76 others sustained either serious or minor injuries. Of the 1,476 students detained, only 73 would be tried.
Many adult Jakartans also chose to settle their conflicts on the streets. Police, he said, dealt during the year with at least 16 clashes between neighboring residents, mostly in densely populated areas in Central Jakarta. "In general, they were only sparked by misunderstandings," Noegroho said.
At the end of his presentation, Noegroho appealed to city dwellers from all walks of life to work together to secure the capital, particularly for the momentous general election in June. "I hope that Jakartans will not be easily provoked and divided by those who intend to separate this nation," the twostar general said.
Jakarta -- Indonesia freed 42 political prisoners in a New Year's amnesty and plans to revoke a key legal weapon once used to bolster the rule of former President Suharto, local media reported Saturday.
The moves are part of a reform program led by Suharto's successor, President B.J. Habibie, who has been targeted by student protesters demanding swifter democratic change.
Habibie freed dozens of political prisoners and pledged parliamentary elections this year after taking over from Suharto, who stepped down in May following riots and protests against his 32-year rule.
The prisoners released Dec. 31 include 26 separatist activists from the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, where rebels have fought the Indonesian military since it invaded in 1975.
However, East Timor's jailed rebel chief, Xanana Gusmao, was not granted his freedom. He is serving a 20-year sentence in a Jakarta prison and is seen as a major player in UN-sponsored talks between Indonesia and Portugal to solve the long-running conflict.
The government also freed 16 prisoners involved in other separatist movements, including 15 people from the Sumatra island region of Lampung and one from Aceh province. They had been sentenced in 1990 to jail terms ranging from 16 years to life.
Newspapers quoted Justice Minister Muladi as saying the government will revoke Indonesia's anti-subversion law before the elections scheduled for June. Parliament will begin debate on whether to scrap the law this month, he said.
The law, which carried a maximum penalty of death, was a potent legal instrument because it could define virtually any anti- government activity as subversion. Suharto often used it to jail and muzzle opponents.
Jakarta -- A political fight was looming here Saturday over the likely disqualification of scores of new political parties from taking part in the first general elections since the fall of Suharto.
The wrangle was triggered by a statement by Home Affairs Minister Syarwan Hamid last week that only 15 of some 120 parties that have sprung up since Suharto's fall would qualify for the June 7 polls under new laws being drawn up by parliament.
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, a former Suharto protege, in a New Year's Eve address pledged he would do all he could to ensure the elections would be free and fair, and urged Indonesians to see them as the door to a new beginning.
But a university student senate in Central Java warned in an announcement published by the Indonesian Observer Saturday that if it saw the new rules as unfair or "benefitting the status quo" it could boycott the polls. The Diponogoro University senate also said it would welcome any political parties unhappy with the rules to join the boycott.
Sources among student groups in Jakarta, who have been at the forefront of the reform battle with massive street demonstrations, told AFP they were awaiting the publication of the parliamentary rules before taking action. "It is becoming clear that the (Jakarta student) groups will be divided between those who are for the elections, and those against," said one student leader from Forkot, the students' City Forum grouping some 30 universities in the greater Jakarta area.
Meanwhile respected moderate Moslem scholar, Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, lashed out at any boycott plan, and called a separate move mooted last week by the smaller parties to hold their own election as "unconstitutional."
"If there is a rival election, it is clearly unconstitutional," said Gus Dur, who has been shuttling between the armed forces, the president, the students and leading reformists in an attempt to shore up national unity at a time of waning confidence in the government. The currrent government, Gus Dur said, was "in a mess," but the best way out was through elections "organized by a fair and just committee" with the Habibie government acting only as a facilitator.
Should only 15 parties meet a government proposal now before parliament for representation in one third of the country's 27 provinces, more than 100 parties of the new parties that have mushrooomed since Suharto's fall on May 21 would be out of the running.
Some critics of the government proposals have counter-proposed that all 120 be allowed to run in June 1999 to serve as a weeding-out process for the next five-yearly elections in 2005.
But the only parties represented in parliament are the three allowed under Suharto's rule -- the ruling Golkar party, the Moslem-oriented United development Party (PPP) and the smaller Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI).
The current leading presidential hopefuls are Habibie, Megawati Sukarnoputri, popular daughter of the country's founding president Sukarno, and Moslem intellectual Amien Rais.
Megawati was kicked out of the PDI leadership when the Suharto government rigged a PDI conference in 1996, a move that was greeted by widespread rioting in Jakarta.
The Golkar-majority parliament
is currently deadlocked over whether civil servants should be allowed to
hold party posts, a practice which helped Golkar sweep every poll since
the early 1970s.
Jakarta -- The dominant party Golkar begged on Tuesday that the powerful Armed Forces (ABRI) reconsider its expressed stance of no longer supporting any political parties, including Golkar, in the coming polls.
"The ties between Golkar and ABRI are a historical fact. We are hoping that this close relationship be taken inta account by ABRI," GoLkaI chairman Akbar Tandjung told reporters after a House of Representatives (DPR) plenary session for the presentation of the 1999/2000 state budget.
"It's legal for Golkar to maintain the ties as the other political parties are also eager to have such a relationship with ABRI," said Akbar who is also Minister/State Secretary.
The Army sponsored in 1964 the merge of six mass organizations to form Golkar in an effort to overcome the increasing influence of the now-outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
The ABRl-Golkar relationship continued with the introduction of the A-B-G tripartite organizational structure in 1985, in which A represents ABRI, B represents the bureaucracy and G the existing mass and social organizations allied under Golkar's umbrella.
In response to Golkar's appeal, Armed Forces Chief of Territorial Affairs Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dismissed the possibility of reestablishing the ties with the organization.
"ABRI is determined to becomte a good referee in the upcoming general election," he told reporters separately after the House plenary session. "ABRI will, therefore, maintain its neutrality and not side with any political parties, " he said.
He said ABRI's interest was to have a general election that is safe, orderly, democratic, open, accountable, honest and fair "I think that's what ABRI wants to do. And we are all preparing for it," Susilo said.
On a separate occasion. chairman of the National Awakening Party (PAN) Amien Rais said his party would be ready to coalesce with any political parties after the general election.
"We'll be ready to form a coalition with any parties, as long as they have the same platform and goals as ours," he said, while addressing the opening of the Yogyakarta chapter of the party.
Amien, however, said it would be least likely to form a coalition with Golkar, given the deep distrust that people have for the political organization which for the past three decades had been acting as the political machinery of Soeharto's New Order regime.
"Although Golkar repents and asks for forgiveness, it's still the least likely altemative for us to form a coalition with it," he said.
Amien acknowledged the considerable financial resources at Golkar's disposal for next June's general election which he believed originated from the Dakab Foundation.
"People at the grassroots do not bother with political parties. They'll vote for any party that gives them money."
"And I do not want the Dakab fund to be used for a certain political party's interest," he said, adding that Golkar had the capability of doing such a thing.
Dakab, established in 1985 used to provide financial support for the dominant Golkar. Its assets are said to be worth Rp 836.20 billion (US$106.8 million). This foundation collected Rp 50 from the monthly salaries of low-level Moslem civil servants and Armed Forces (ABRI) members.
Senior officials had their monthly pay docked by Rp 1,000. Soeharto, however, had last November handed over to the government the funds from the seven charity foundations.. he chaired, a total of about Rp 4 trillion (US$530 million). They included the Dakab Foundation.
Andreas Harsono, Jakarta -- Indonesian military commander Gen. Wiranto managed to consolidate his power base after launching a major reshuffle of his command structure that involves 100 officers.
Political observers said the reshuffle announced on Monday had practically sidelined officers who are closely associated to Wiranto's archrival, ousted Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto.
Muhammad A.S. Hikam of the Indonesian Institute of Science said Wiranto had actually booted "unreliable officers" such as Maj. Gen. Djoko Subroto of the East Java military command.
According to Hikam, Subroto failed to observe a Wiranto instruction that the East Java command halt and investigate a mysterious killing spree that claimed more than 150 lives in the area late last year.
Another military commander, Maj. Gen. Ismed Yuzairi of the northern Sumatra command, was apparently replaced because of his inability to cope with the growing unrest in the politically- sensitive Aceh region on the northern tip of Sumatra.
Yuzairi is also a close ally of Prabowo, the son-in-law of former President Suharto, who stepped down in May amid nationwide student protests and rioting in many Indonesian cities.
Wiranto dismissed Prabowo and some other officers soon after Suharto's resignation, saying that they were involved in the kidnapping of human rights activists in early 1998. But Prabowo hasn't been charged and is now in Jordan to start a business there.
Indonesian media reported that those who were promoted on Monday are close to Wiranto, adding to speculation that the general is likely to be a presidential candidate in the election scheduled for November 1999.
Wiranto, however, dismissed such speculation, saying that it the promotions are merely a routine tour of duty. He also dismissed speculation that he is sidelining "green officers". "There is no such a speculation," Wiranto told reporters on Monday.
"Green officers" refers to Islamic soldiers who advocate that Muslim officers control the majority of key positions in the armed forces. The opponent of those officers are usually called the nationalist "red-and-white" group.
The rivalry between the two groups is a public secret in Indonesia. Prabowo belongs to the "green group" after making many public statements on the issue and meeting with various Muslim figures. The low-profile Wiranto is speculated to be a nationalist officer who makes his decisions strictly on merit.
Lt. Gen. Sugiono, the deputy army chief, will take the military's number three job as head of general affairs. Sugiono replaces Lt. Gen. Fachrul Razi, who was given a job in the defense department.
The new deputy army chief is Lt. Gen. Johny Lumintang, a former head of the army command school who has served in the remote province of Irian Jaya, where a small band of separatist rebels operate.
In the turbulent hours that followed Suharto's ouster, Lumintang replaced Prabowo as head of the elite Army Strategic Reserves but lasted only one day in the position. Many believe that Wiranto failed to defend his appointment of Lumintang after his opponents, including Senior Minister of Defense and Political Affairs Feisal Tanjung, had apparently charged that Wiranto favored a Christian officer over the Muslims.
Apparently referring to the reshuffle, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, in an interview with the Singapore-based CNBC Asia broadcast Tuesday evening, said said the Indonesian military is united "as never before."
During the 32-year rule of Suharto, military appointments were usually made by Suharto himself, a retired five-star general. But many analysts think that the current reshuffle was catalyzed by Wiranto himself, instead of Habibie.
An insider closely related to one of the demoted officers said that the army two-star general was "shocked" when he learned that he was to be transferred to an unknown position. Quoting this two-star general, the insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Tuesday that Wiranto had obviously appointed officers loyal to Suharto.
The general made a reference to Lt. Gen. Sugiono and Maj. Gen. Tyasno Sudarto. Like Wiranto and other top commanders, Sugiono is a former personal adjutant to the 77-year-old Suharto.
Sudarto is the military commander in Central Java, a center of anti-government campus activism, who will take over from Maj. Gen. Zacky Makarim, once a close associate of Prabowo, as head of the military intelligence agency. "No way that we could expect this regime to prosecute Suharto nor Prabowo," the insider said, adding that the new military line-up is very likely to protect the Suhartos.
The general was also quoted as saying that Wiranto regularly meets Suharto, perhaps suggesting that Wiranto still consults Suharto when making major decisions, including the reshuffle.
Military spokesman Syamsul Ma'arif dismissed speculation that the reshuffle was a move to rid ABRI, as the armed forces are known, of "Muslim elements" and said it was a regular change in tours of duty.
Also promoted were Army Strategic Reserves command Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, who will become the new East Java military commander, replacing Subroto. The military's reputation has been seriously damaged by a series of human rights abuses amid the recent nationwide unrest.