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ASIET Net News 31 – August 2-8, 1999

 Democratic struggle

 East Timor  Presidential succession  Political/Economic crisis  Aceh/West Papua  News & issues  Environment/Health  
Democratic struggle

Police charge anti-Habibie demo

Reuters - August 7, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta -- Indonesian police on Saturday baton-charged hundreds of students protesting during President B.J. Habibie's visit to West Java and injured seven, witnesses said.

Police moved to break up a demonstration by about 300 students trying to force their way into the state-run school of administration in Sumedang where Habibie was attending a ceremony for new graduates, the witnesses said.

The protesters, drawn from 11 universities in the region, fought back by hurling stones at the security forces. "Bring Habibie, Wiranto to court," said a banner the students displayed. General Wiranto is commander of Indonesia's armed forces.

The students also demanded that former President Suharto be tried for alleged corruption during his 32-year rule. Suharto, driven from power in May 1998, is under official investigation for allegedly amassing billions of dollars while in office. Sumedang is about 140 km southeast of Jakarta.
East Timor

New policing fears as militias amass arms

South China Morning Post - August 6, 1999

Vaudine England, Dili -- Pressure to increase the number of UN civilian police officers is increasing in the wake of persistent reports of pro-integration militias preparing for conflict.

"We've had reports about the stockpiling of arms," said Randall Garrison, of the International Federation of East Timor, an independent monitoring group accredited as observers of the UN ballot on autonomy for East Timor.

"We've spoken to people who have seen the arms in Maubisse, Maliana and elsewhere," he said, referring to towns in the western part of East Timor where militarisation is highest, near the border with West Timor. The numbers we heard were of 400 to 800 in [the town of] Same alone," he said.

"In the Ainaro region, local sources reported to federation observers that the [Indonesian armed forces] and the police were telling people there will be much bloodshed if the pro- independence option wins in the upcoming ballot, and they have tanks and warplanes waiting," said a statement by the federation.

"The local police chief has even stated that the police have 100 automatic weapons in storage, in preparation for future needs," it said.

David Wimhurst, spokesman for the UN Mission for East Timor (UNAMET), confirmed that talks were continuing in New York on the possibility of increasing the size of the civilian police detachment.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also called for a larger civilian police presence during his trip to the troubled territory a week ago. Diplomatic sources suggest that such an increase is possible -- at least after the ballot scheduled for August 30 -- in lieu of an armed peacekeeping force.

All sides involved in the consultation process in East Timor fear what will happen after the ballot, in which East Timorese will vote on Indonesia's proposal for comprehensive autonomy.

A variety of sources confirm serious fears of score-settling, or even large scale reprisals, after the vote. "Our concern is that we can still accommodate each other after the ballot," said Basilio Araujo, leader of the Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice, the political wing of the pro-integration militias.

"Power-sharing arrangements are now out of the question, because we are having a democratic vote -- the winner should take all."

Asked about the possibility of reprisals, he said: "We have prepared for the very worst. We have experience of 1975, of civil war -- we are even prepared for that. We have started collecting spears, machetes and sticks. We can use the stones - but only for defence. We hope we are not provoked."

Students attacked in church: NGO report

Agence France Presse - August 6, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta -- Pro-Indonesia East Timorese militia on Friday attacked a group of students in a church in the township of Same, injuring one of them seriously, a foreign observer group said.

"They had taken refuge in a church after being prevented from setting up a campaign post, and were attacked," Will Seaman of the International Federation for East Timor (IFET-OP), said by telephone from the capital of Dili.

Seaman told AFP that IFET-OP received the report of the attack by telephone from its observers in Same, some 60 kilometers south of Dili at around 2pm local time.

"It seems the weapons used in the attack were either knives or machetes," he said, adding that Indonesian police witnessed the attack but did not try to stop it.

"Accordidng to three of our IFET-OP observers present the police walked slowly towards the disturbance, but did nothing to prevent the attack," he said.

He was unable to say how many students or how many militia were involved in the incident, after which the students fled towards a UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) voter registration post .

But UNAMET staff said they were unable to help because security was beyond the scope of their mission, Seaman said.

Timor is 'hell' as voters register

Irish Times -- August 7, 1999

David Shanks -- The Indonesian military is "openly and clearly distributing guns in the eastern towns of Baucau, Laga and other places. They are turning Timorese against Timorese. It is like hell," the Nobel laureate, Bishop Carlos Ximines Belo, said yesterday. His comments came as 200 UN voter registration centres closed in advance of an August 30th "popular consultation" on autonomy/independence.

With 439,580 voters so far listed -- 12,390 of them from the diaspora -- registration has clearly been the success anti- independence militias have tried to prevent. Attacks by anti- independence militias in East Timor over the past six months have claimed 3,000 to 5,000 lives, according to "authoritative" Catholic Church sources quoted by the Washington-based Humanitarian Project on East Timor. Until now the figure was thought to be no more than 1,000.

Mr Arnord Kohen, director of the Humanitarian Project and author of an unofficial biography of the bishop, said that Bishop Belo told him by phone yesterday that in remote areas, Kopassus (special forces) and militias were still threatening people. The spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), Mr Hiro Ueki, reported two cases of harassment by pro- Indonesian militias on Thursday that left at least one UNAMET officer injured. At one registration post in Batugade, on the border of West Timor, a journalist yesterday witnessed 500 people claiming to be refugees arriving in Indonesian military trucks with brand new identification cards. They were sent back to get authentification documents, the journalist said.

In Railuka, a rebel mountain hideout in Manatuto district, a rebel commander said that 80 of his men had been unable to register. Mr Tom Hyland of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign said: "What a pity that the courage of the East Timorese people in braving intimidation to register has not been matched by Tony Blair and President Clinton who say they believe in democracy." Mr Hyland supports sending armed UN peacekeepers, a project under consideration at the UN, to help prevent expected heavy violence after the voting.

Trscaire yesterday warned that the distribution of guns signalled "a crisis point". Ms Fionnuala Gilsenan said: "If this is not acted upon it could be the prelude to a massive bloodbath."

Indonesia insists can keep peace

Reuters - August 7, 1999 (abridged)

Prapan Chankaew, Dili -- Indonesian ministers insisted during a visit to East Timor on Saturday that Jakarta could ensure security despite attacks on UN staff and fears of chaos after an August 30 independence ballot.

"We can keep the peace, we should keep the peace, because the Indonesian government is ... committed to have a peaceful solution and an actual solution to East Timor," Foreign Minister Ali Alatas told a news conference in Dili.

"We have no interest in having after the vote a situation that deteriorates into violence again."

Alatas and armed forces chief General Wiranto were in a team of 13 ministers who visited the former Portuguese colony for meetings with UN and Indonesian officials.

The United Nations is supervising East Timor's independence referendum, which has been delayed twice due to concerns over violence perpetrated by pro-Jakarta militias widely believed to be supported by the Indonesian military.

Pro-independence activists say Indonesia is deliberately sowing unrest in the territory and could try to fuel chaos if East Timor votes to break away from Indonesia. Militias who support Jakarta's rule have been behind a campaign of intimidation and violence this year in which scores of people have died, and have carried out several attacks on UN staff and property.

Two fresh attacks on UN staff came on Thursday. In one incident, dozens of armed pro-Jakarta militiamen forced their way into a voter registration post and attacked two staff, although no injuries were reported, the UN says. In a separate attack, a group of men hurled rocks and chunks of concrete at UN staff, injuring a UN police officer.

Concerns have been growing that if the vote goes against Indonesia, the militias may provoke further violence.

Ian Martin, head of the UN mission in East Timor, denied reports that the world body would simply abandon the territory after the election.

"The United Nations has no intention of abandoning East Timor. The agreement says we're here to stay after the balloting. That's our intention," he said.

Wiranto said both sides in East Timor should disarm. "Whatever the result is ... we hope to see peace maintained in East Timor. And this entirely depends on both sides," he said. "That's why it is important to lay down weapons."

He dismissed allegations the military was actively supporting pro-Jakarta militias. "It is clear that security officers will always try to promote peace before, during and after the referendum," he said.

How the UN plans to abandon a people

Sydney Morning Herald - August 7, 1999

Mark Riley, New York -- The United Nations plans to withdraw completely from East Timor if the territory threatens to dissolve into civil war after this month's autonomy ballot.

This would leave the Indonesian Army in control of the region, irrespective of whether the people vote for independence or to become an autonomous state within Indonesia.

As well, confidential plans are being developed for a UN peacekeeping mission of up to 10,000 troops -- including as many as 3,500 Australians -- but it would not enter the region until at least four months after the ballot, and possibly much later.

The UN has now rejected all suggestions that an international military force be sent into East Timor in the short term to avoid the threat of widespread violence.

Instead, if war did threaten to break out, all UN personnel -- including military advisers and police -- would be immediately pulled out for their own safety.

Indonesia would have full responsibility for security, despite accusations from as high up as the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, that its army has supported murderous raids by anti- independence militia in the lead-up to the August 30 ballot.

The only way for international troops to go into the territory would be as part of a coalition -- similar to the NATO forces in Kosovo -- but this would be unlikely to get the necessary backing from the UN Security Council.

UN officials said in interviews this week that they believed the chances of Australia mounting a unilateral military mission in such circumstances were "remote at best".

Australia remains the only major Western country that recognises Indonesian sovereignty in East Timor, meaning that the launching of such an independent mission would take a decision by the Prime Minister to effectively invade Indonesia.

At the same time, separate plans are being discussed to send in the 10,000 international troops early next year as part of what is being called a "Phase III peacekeeping mission".

But those troops would be dispatched only if Mr Annan was satisfied that there was a peace to keep. "In other words, if it turns into civil war in the short term, it will be up to the Indonesians to sort out the mess," one senior UN official said.

"There seems to be this persistent perception that the UN can simply send in the cavalry if widespread fighting breaks out. That is simply not true and the people who think that do not know how the UN operates."

Mr Josi Ramos Horta, the Nobel Prize-winning vice-president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, spoke to advisers in Mr Annan's office yesterday about security.

He said later in an interview with the Herald that he was now more confident of a peaceful ballot but believed the international community should still have a plan to intervene if widespread fighting broke out.

"The worst-case scenario -- which is real -- is that there is violence, that the violence is targeted at the UN, that they extract themselves and there is a catastrophic bloodbath in East Timor," Mr Ramos-Horta said. "They -- not only the UN but the countries that really matter, like Australia -- must create the conditions to ensure this does not happen.

"If it does, it will be disastrous for UN credibility and for the credibility of Australia. It would be disastrous for John Howard and for [Foreign Minister] Alexander Downer."

Mr Downer has discussed security with the United States Assistant Secretary of State, Mr Stanley Roth, in recent weeks.

Mr Roth said yesterday that he would not comment on sensitive matters that were still being discussed but a spokesman for him said the US policy was aimed at preventing the worst outcome.

"Our government is reluctant to go into detail about how we might respond in a hypothetical situation," he said. "Our aim is to make it clear to Indonesia that they have a responsibility to discuss every possible way to ensure the situation does not deteriorate to that degree and that the vote can be held in a peaceful and fair way."

The greatest stumbling block to an international military mission is that the UN charter does not provide for enforcement operations, only peacekeeping ones.

Any proposal to send in an independent coalition of forces would need the support of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the US, Britain, France, Russia and China.

UN officials do not believe Russia or China would approve of such a mission, on the basis that it would impugn Indonesian sovereignty.

East Timorese observers and pro-independence groups have warned of possible widespread reprisals by pro-Jakarta militias if the vote is for independence.

Political advisers at the UN believe that the risk of such reprisals is being overstated, suggesting that diplomatic pressure would be put on Indonesia to protect stability.

It is expected that between 12,000 and 15,000 Indonesian soldiers will be in the territory. But this will give cold comfort to the pro-independence groups, who have long accused the military of arming the militias responsible for recent massacres.

UN officials said this week that the UN charter and the April 5 agreement between Indonesia and the former colonial ruler Portugal on the process for self-determination prevented the UN from providing any significant military presence in the short term.

Under the agreement, Indonesia would retain control of East Timor in the period between the ballot and endorsement of the outcome by the new Indonesian Parliament. This period, known as Phase II, will be at least three months and possibly as long as six months.

The greater concern is that the territory could dissolve into civil war in that period if the vote is for independence and the militias try to overturn the result with force.

If independence is supported, the UN would assume notional control of the territory from the moment Jakarta accepts the vote and relinquishes all claims to sovereignty.

But the UN may not attempt to mount a new administration in East Timor for some time, until convinced it is safe to do so. "Our best strategy in Phase II is to keep impressing upon the Indonesians that they not simply walk away from the place and let it lapse into war," one official said.

"Countries like Australia and the US would have to play a leading role in maintaining the diplomatic pressure on Indonesia to hold its army firm and ensure it dealt with any violence even-handedly."

The UN's longer-term peacekeeping plan for Phase III of the self-determination process is still being developed, but the present proposal is for a strong military presence to remain in the territory for up to four years.

During this time, the UN would need to build a new administration in East Timor from the ground up. It would take over all basic government services from Indonesia including education, health, police and justice, transport, power and water supplies.

That process is expected to be long and expensive, and would require the UN to find ways of filling the big funding gaps as Indonesia withdrew its heavy subsidies on electricity and water and support of other services.

During that time, the UN would gradually build up its military presence, mainly at first with infantry to secure outlying trouble spots. Once the military command was satisfied peace was holding, it would scale back the original force from about 10,000 soldiers to about 6,000.

A heavier emphasis would then be put on engineering and communications corps, which would help the new East Timorese government build roads and bridges and establish a better telecommunications system.

Mr Ramos-Horta said that he believed the chances of a violence-free ballot on August 30 had improved in recent weeks, due largely to the actions of Australia diplomatically and as a force in the UN mission (UNAMET).

"On the other hand, the international community must now address the security situation in advance -- taking preventative action in contingency planning in order to intervene if necessary," he said.

"If the hardliners in Indonesia realise that the international community is serious about the threat of possible armed intervention in the case that things get out of hand, then they will think twice.

"The current discussions between Australia, New Zealand and the United States in the UN and in Washington about a possible military force can also function as preventative diplomacy in this regard."

Mr Ramos-Horta said the political climate in East Timor had been improved by Mrs Megawati Sukarnoputri's recent public commitment to accept the outcome of the ballot, even if it meant independence.

UN political advisers agreed that her position appeared to leave rogue elements of the anti-independence movement without a political power base.

The advisers are working on two possible political constructions for Indonesia following the recent national elections.

The first is that Mrs Sukarnoputri gathers the necessary coalition of support to become president, but only holds that position as a head of state, like a governor-general.

They believe that under this scenario, a vice-president would be elected to be the effective head of the executive government, taking the role of a prime minister. The second possibility is that President Habibie holds on to power, but with a new vice- president.

It is believed that the recent reshuffle at the upper end of the Indonesian military has been done to ease a passage out for the military commander, General Wiranto, so he can become a candidate for the vice-presidency.

The reorganisation has been seen in the UN as a way of fortifying General Wiranto's influence in the military in a way that would be crucial to his political ascendancy.

On the question of moving troops into East Timor, military advisers at the UN caution that mobilising such a large force cannot be done quickly or without widespread political support.

Physically transporting equipment, jeeps and machinery into East Timor presents its own problems in the absence of a serviceable major port. Only the US military has the capability to move that amount of heavy machinery by air, with its C5 Galaxy aircraft.

The UN has also rejected suggestions that it should now arm its police and military personnel in the territory, believing that recent attacks, including one on a UN convoy in Liquicia, could have been much worse if soldiers had returned fire.

UN officials said that the question of security after the ballot was difficult because Indonesia did not accept the growing belief that the vote would be for independence and was not prepared to make any agreements based on that belief.

The next important step in the process happens in Jakarta next week when meetings will be held to discuss an Australian-backed proposal to double the number of international police and soldiers in East Timor at the time of the ballot.

Australia has argued that this is needed to allow the UNAMET mission to complete its jobs of advising the East Timorese police on security and overseeing the transfer of ballot boxes on polling day and during the counting.

UNAMET has only 50 military advisers at present. Australia argues that this is insufficient to properly monitor the large Indonesian Army contingent and that the number should be increased to 300 or 350. The proposal also suggests an increase in the UN police numbers from 275 to between 575 and 600.

The UN is confident of reaching crucial agreements with the Indonesians on the increases, following in-principle approvals from key members of the Jakarta administration that resulted from the recent visit by Mr Downer.

The plan is for UN and Indonesian military and police officials to meet next Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by senior officials' meetings on Thursday and Friday.

Guerrilla commander leads long march

Australian Associated Press - August 3, 1999

John Martinkus, East Timor -- They came in a snaking line across the high mountain pass. Exhausted but laughing, relieved to be at the end of a harrowing 20 kilometre walk.

Striding purposefully out front was Falintil pro-independence Commandante Sabica, wearing sunglasses and a captured Indonesian army uniform. Flanking him on either side were his men, their automatic weapons slung across their shoulders.

Behind, struggling up the final hill, a ragged line of 190 students, pro-independence supporters and people forced to flee in the face of pro-integration militia attacks on their homes.

They all showed signs of a long time in the jungle. Grimy clothes, long hair, beards and the assortment of old military clothes picked up in the guerrillas' camp made some of them hard to distinguish from the armed guerrillas marching beside them.

The faces of the refugees and the guerrillas reflected East Timors racial mix from successive generations of foreign domination.

The European faces of the Portuguese, the Japanese reflected in the shape of their eyes, the flat-nosed Melanesian almost Papuan-looking mountain people and of course the latest additions from Java, Bali and Sumatra all present in the features of those forced to live in the mountain camps of the pro-independence guerrillas.

They were finally coming out of hiding to register for the August 30 UN-sponsored ballot that will give the people here the choice of remaining a part of Indonesia or opting to become an independent nation.

The concept of independence is what has kept these people living in the remote interior of East Timor since the Indonesian invasion in 1975.

The regional Commander Sabica Besi Kalil is 44 years old and one of only 10 guerrillas who have survived the entire period in the mountains since 1975 fighting the Indonesians.

Before the war he was a sergeant in the Portuguese army for three years and was part of the group that formed Falintil, the armed wing of the pro-independence Fretilin party that declared East Timor independent only nine days before the full scale Indonesian invasion in December 1975.

"It was very dangerous for us in the whole period until 1992 when the situation began to improve in the jungle," he said. "Here, in this area it has been calm since last May. We hear the Indonesian troops on the radio, they are very dispirited and very afraid. In this area they know how strong we are here."

The guerrillas here in the mountains behind East Timors second largest town Baucau have now concentrated in one camp in the mountains which contains by their own estimates over 500 fully armed men and roughly the same number of refugees fleeing violence from the Indonesian authorities and the pro-integration militia.

"We have people here from Dili, Alas, Same, Baucau, Viqueque and Ainaro," said the Commander, running through the centres where militia violence campaigns have been conducted since November last year.

The refugees seeking shelter have caused problems for the guerrillas. "We have difficulties with food and the security for so many people but since the beginning of the militia campaign we had no choice," said Sabica.

Naturally, the refugees have to accept the discipline of a guerrilla army that has survived against huge odds in these mountains.

"The refugees are under the control of Falintil when we want to attack the militia they will have to obey the rule of the high command," he said.

But now Falintil are talking peace. In the last week they have agreed to a United Nations cantonment plan where they concentrate their guerrillas in four large camps, away from population centres.

The presence of United Nations military liaison officers in these cantonments was the requirement of the guerrillas effective cessation of military activities.

If there is a pro-autonomy result Commander Sabica says that result will be respected. "We are fighting for a democracy so if the result is autonomy we will obey it," he said.

The Falintil guerrillas escort the refugees to the UN registration centre, which is deserted as night falls.

The next day they will try and arrange for the UN to come back to the main camp to register the guerrillas, who are not yet prepared to come out of the mountains.

They fear a trick by the same military that has been trying to wipe them out for the past 24 years and is now charged, under the terms of the agreement signed in New York between Portugal, Indonesia and the UN, with the security arrangements for the August 30 ballot.

Top military leaders plan guerrilla war

East Timor International Support Center - August 6, 1999

A meeting of top military, police, pro-autonomy and paramilitary leaders, in East Timor, has planned a guerrilla war if the autonomy plan is rejected at the vote on the territory's future on Aug 30. Also the miltias have been instructed to use violent means to disrupt voting, with the help of the Indonesian military (TNI) and the police.

This was revealed to ETISC over the weekend by a reliable source in Lisbon. The source said a secret six-hour meeting was held in East Timor's Korem headquarters, in Dili, on July 24 which was attended by the Komandan Korem (Regional Military Commander), Kapolwill (Head of the Police), Sekwilda (Secretary of the Local Legislative Assembly), pro-integration leaders and leaders of the paramilitary groups.

After long strategic discussions, according to the source, the meeting decided on the following work agenda in the period leading up to the Aug 30 vote:

  1. Mass mobilisation of the militias at the time of the campaigns to create riots and instigate violence so that the population is frightened to vote;
  2. A full resort to arms by the militias with the support of either the TNI or the Indonesian police. The families of the militias would be evacuated to West Timor and cared for by the Indonesian authorities;
  3. The targeting of key independence leaders by the militias;
  4. The planning of a drawn-out guerrilla war, waged by the militias, if Indonesia's autonomy plan is rejected at the August 30 vote;
  5. Seeking a full commitment from the authorities in Jakarta that Indonesia will not withdraw from East Timor, even under UN threat.
This work plan ties in with a secret Indonesian government report, dated July 3, which stated that there is a strong likelihood that a sharp increase in violence will accompany a result favouring independence.

The document signed by HR Garnadi, special assistant to General Feisal Tandjung, coordinating minister of politics and security, calls on the Indonesian government to confirm its commitment to the militias by "empowering the pro-integration forces."

The document calls on Jakarta to prepare West Timor for a huge influx of pro-integrationists and their supporters, and instructs the paramilitaries to destroy vital facilities during their withdrawal.

Earlier last week the Australian media, quoting diplomatic and church sources, warned that 400 to 500 assault rifles, grenades and mortars are being held in various Kodim (Indonesian military district command) posts along the West Timor frontier, ready to be handed out to the militias.

Clearly, the TNI -- conniving with the paramilitaries -- is planning a "scorched-earth" policy if the most likely outcome on August 30 is independence.

Under a May 5 agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations, Indonesia is solely responsible for security in the period leading up to the UN-sponsored ballot. But what happens after that is still not clear.

Even under the present circumstances, the TNI and the Indonesian police have done virtually nothing when militia groups went on their violent rampages against independence supporters. Despite numerous representations to Jakarta, the Indonesian military have refused to rein in the militias. As it is the security conditions, in the territory, simply do not exist for a truly genuine, democratic ballot to take place.

Because of this, there seems to be not much of a choice but to urge the international community to support the dispatch of armed United Nations peacekeepers to East Timor before the poll. It will be too late to go in if Indonesia-sponsored militia violence breaks out in a massive way before the arrival of the UN troops.

Australia's rejection of advances, at this juncture, from the United States to cooperate on peacekeeping plans for strife-torn East Timor is certainly not helpful.

End military ties with Jakarta, now!

The federal government has made much of its supposed foreign policy "shift" on East Timor. Foreign minister Alexander Downer travelled to Indonesia on July 30 for discussions with Indonesian government and military figures -- and postured as a grand defender of a free and fair poll on East Timor's future.

But other events demonstrate how thin Canberra's new-found "support" for East Timorese self-determination really is.

On August 2, military forces from Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea will begin joint air and sea exercises in northern Australia. Labelled "Kakadu '99", the exercises involve 4200 personnel and dozens of ships and are part of a long history of close collaboration between the Australian and Indonesian armed forces. This has included joint exercises by naval, air and land units, regular high-level exchanges and visits, and the training of Indonesian officers in Australia.

These ties have been defended and encouraged by successive federal governments as a mechanism for "influencing" the Indonesian military in a "positive" and "modern" direction. The abundant evidence of the Indonesian military's brutality has been dismissed out of hand as, in the words of Labor's foreign minister Gareth Evans at the time of the 1992 Dili massacre, "an aberration".

Following the Labor government's 1995 Security Treaty, Australia's defence relations with Indonesia became closer than with any other country, including the United States.

Since the resignation of Indonesian dictator Suharto in May 1998, the Australian government has argued that military ties should remain intact because continued cooperation will let Australia in on the ground floor of the "new" Indonesia. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The July 27 report from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council said (in UN-style understatement) that the security situation in East Timor prior to the August referendum on East Timor's relationship with Indonesia was "still inadequate". The folly of leaving the security and fairness of the poll to the Indonesian military has been well and truly shown by Indonesia's active support for, and shielding of, the anti- independence terror gangs.

Despite a name change and the formal separation of the police force and the armed forces, the Indonesian military remains, from top to bottom, as brutal and corrupt as it was under Suharto.

On July 26, the majority of members of Indonesia's election commission refused to endorse the results of the June 7 elections. The commission, made up of one representative from each registered political party, cited 120,000 unresolved electoral violations, many involving the elite's party, Golkar.

The Australian government is "cooperating" with the same elite, who pocketed billions of rupiah from corruption, supported by a military with very bloody hands, under Suharto. It is the same people, with the same goals and methods.

That the Australian government chooses to do so is not simply the result of stupidity or short-sightedness. It is because the Australian elite is complicit in, and profits from, the crimes of the Indonesian regime.

All those who are horrified by the Indonesian military's brutality and desperate attempts to hang onto power need to take urgent action to help force Canberra to end its military ties with Jakarta, now!

Banned: doctor treating victims attacks

Sydney Morning Herald - August 6, 1999 (abridged)

Lindsay Murdoch in Dili and Malcolm Brown -- An American doctor credited with saving the lives of scores of East Timorese attacked by pro-Jakarta militias in Dili has been refused entry to Indonesia and put on a flight to Darwin.

Dr Dan Murphy said he was told on arrival in Bali early yesterday en route to Dili that he was on an Indonesian immigration blacklist, even though he had obtained a valid visa at the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin to work in Dili under sponsorship of the Catholic relief agency Caritas.

Dr Murphy, an outspoken critic of violence against East Timorese villagers, said from Darwin he was upset that he could not return immediately to East Timor where there is a chronic shortage of doctors and many people refuse to be treated in Indonesian-run hospitals.

"People are dying there," he said. "I just want to get back." Often the only doctor available at night and with scant medicines and basic equipment Dr Murphy, 55, once used a hacksaw to amputate a patient's leg to save his life.

He recruited several other foreign volunteer doctors, including Australians, and campaigned for donated medical supplies. He is not paid.

Dr Murphy was told to leave Dili last weekend after overstaying his visa by five days and flew to Darwin, where his visa was renewed without delay.

The Indonesian news agency Antara quoted the Immigration chief in Dili, Mr Guning, on Monday as saying Dr Murphy was "staying illegally for more than two months" and using a tourist visa to work as a doctor.

The Antara report also said Dr Murphy was "known to be an activist critical of the Indonesian Government, particularly the military". Unnamed sources had said he was involved in a recent clash between non-government organisations and militia groups opposing independence.

Assurances about Hawks worthless

Tapol - August 3, 1999

[The following Memo was prepared by Tapol to reveal how the British Government continues to trot out totally misleading statements about the use of Hawk aircraft in East Timor.]

It has now been established beyond all doubt that British- supplied Hawk aircraft are being used in East Timor, despite assurances given over the years by the Indonesian authorities that this would not happen. There is no sign however that the British Government is willing to acknowledge this fact; it continues to adopt the same attitude to this question in its correspondence with MPs, as the following chronology shows:

16 July 1999: Sydney Morning Herald reported: "... Indonesia mounted a new show of force in Dili. An Indonesian Air force jet, one of three British-made Hawk 100 fighters based at Kupang in West Timor, made two low passes over the provincial capital, while a frigate appeared offshore."

16 July 1999: TAPOL wrote to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook drawing attention to the use of Hawk aircraft in this show of force and called on the Government to protest and to halt further deliveries of Hawk aircraft to Indonesia.

20 July 1999: Responding to a Parliamentary Question, Foreign Office Minister Geoffrey Hoon told the House that Robin Cook "has written to the Indonesian Government, voicing concern that Hawk fighter jets made in Britain may have been deployed over East Timor".

24 July 1999: General Wiranto, Indonesian Minister for Defence and Security/Commander Indonesian Armed Forces was quoted by the Jakarta daily, Berita Buana, as saying that the Hawk fighter jets flying over East Timor were involved in routine exercises connected with national reconnaissance. "It"s our national territory. Flights over our territory are only natural. The jets were not used in anti-guerrilla operations. The contract said that they would not be used in operations in East Timor. We haven"t done this."

29 July 1999: Tapol again wrote to Robin Cook drawing his attention to the admission by General Wiranto that the Hawks were being used in East Timor and again calling on the British Government to halt further deliveries of Hawk aircraft as well as other military equipment to Indonesia.

30 July 1999: Indonesia"s leading English-language daily, The Jakarta Post, reported: "... the military has placed a Hawk bomber (sic) in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, and an armed helicopter in Baucau, as precautions against illegal arms supplies -- reportedly coming from Australia -- to the Falintil resistance group in the troubled territory." In other words, the Hawks are being used for operational purposes in a counter- insurgency role in East Timor.

Government statements

Since the Labour Government came to power in May 1997, there are numerous references to Indonesian assurances regarding the Hawks supplied to Indonesia in correspondence with MPs and members of the public. The following are examples:

5 August 1997: Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett told Ann Clwyd MP in a letter: "In recent years, the Indonesian authorities have provided assurances that British-supplied military equipment would not be used in East Timor."

19 August 1997: A Ministry of Defence official wrote to Mr Craig Smallbone, saying: "We are confident that UK supplied Hawk have not been used in East Timor or, indeed, in a counter- insurgency role in Indonesia."

Similar quotations can be found in numerous letters since then. The wording has been the same throughout.

8 July 1999: Prime Minister Tony Blair, replying to a question on BBC Question Time about Hawk sales to Indonesia repeated these assurances, and said that "none of those aircraft are used in repressive action".

26 July 1999: Foreign Office Minister Geoffrey Hoon said in a letter to Gwyneth Dunwoody MP: "We have studied all the allegations about the use of UK-supplied Hawk over the years. We are confident that UK-supplied Hawk have not been used in a counter-insurgency role in Indonesia or in East Timor." [This was eleven days after a Hawk was sighted in Dili, five days after Robin Cook voiced concern to Jakarta that Hawk jets may have been deployed in East Timor and two days after General Wiranto had admitted that Hawks were being used in East Timor.]

Current delivery of Hawk fighters

In November 1996, the previous administration granted a licence to British Aerospace for the sale of sixteen Hawk fighter jets to Indonesia. After taking office in May 1997, the Labour Government rejected appeals for this licence to be revoked.

Delivery of these Hawks commenced in April this year, when it was announced by the Indonesian Air Force that two had been delivered and the other fourteen would be delivered monthly in batches of two.

Carter: military helping East Timor militias

Reuters - August 3, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Dili -- The Indonesian military continues to support militias that are harassing and intimidating East Timorese ahead of an independence vote, an agency headed by former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.

"The Carter Center is particularly concerned by clear evidence ... of Indonesian military and government support of pro-integration groups," said the Carter Center in a report.

The Atlanta-based Carter Center is observing the UN-organized August 30 vote, in which the East Timorese will be asked to choose between independence and integration with Indonesia.

The center said that although they had received some reports of intimidation by pro-independence groups, "Primary responsibility for the creation of a general climate of fear and intimidation in East Timor rests with the pro-integration militias."

The center said that although security seemed to have improved over recent weeks, that may have been because the militias had changed their tactics.

"Militia groups now maintain a lower profile, operate primarily at night and concentrate their activities in less accessible areas, but their threats and messages of intimidation remain largely unchanged," the report said.

The report also expressed concern that the voters had not been fully informed of what they will be expected to decide at the end of the month.

"The center is still concerned that not enough has been done to ensure that the people of East Timor clearly understand all the phases of the consultation process," it said.

Groups should share power: Downer

Reuters - July 30, 1999

Tim Johnston, Dili -- Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday the opposing factions in East Timor should share power after the August 30 ballot on independence.

But Downer, in the East Timor capital for a 24-hour visit, said there were "enormous risks ahead" before, during and after the UN-run ballot.

"After a quarter of century [of conflict] the reconciliation process is going to be extremely difficult, but it is a very important component of the future of East Timor," Downer told a news conference.

He suggested that power sharing after the vote would promote reconciliation between the parties. "I think that ... having a government which brings together people from both sides of the argument is a very positive idea. I think that it will be very important that there [is no] 'winner-take-all' approach to the result," he said.

Downer, on the first visit by an Australian foreign minister to East Timor, met with representatives of the Indonesian government and security forces as well as leaders of both sides of the East Timorese political divide.

He received a particularly warm welcome from a crowd of independence supporters. A group of about 100 people shouted slogans and sang pro-independence songs as Downer's convoy, accompanied by large numbers of Indonesian police, arrived at the office of the National Council for Timorese Resistance.

Downer told journalists he welcomed the United Nation's decision to go ahead with the ballot, in which the East Timorese will be asked to choose between independence and greater autonomy within Indonesia. But he warned that violence was still a possibility.

"We are pleased that the ballot is going ahead and that there is now a real opportunity to resolve the issue of East Timor after a generation of conflict," he said.

"There is a long way to go. There are enormous risks ahead and there has been so much violence now for so long, violence could erupt again."

There have been a number of threats against Australian citizens in East Timor, and Downer said he expected the Indonesian authorities, who are responsible for security during the process, to protect them.

Australia was one of the few developed nations to recognise Indonesia's 1976 annexation of East Timor. But since last year Canberra has become one of the most vocal supporters of the right of the East Timorese to decide their future.

Downer welcomed Thursday's statement from Megawati Sukarnoputri, who heads what is expected to be the largest party in Indonesia's new parliament, that she would respect the choice of the East Timorese.

"This does represent a big step forward in this East Timorese process because we can now expect that the People's Consultative Assembly [Indonesia's parliament] will pass any changes the people of East Timor vote for," he said.

Downer arrived on Friday and is due to fly to Papua New Guinea on Saturday morning.

We snub offer to send in the Marines

The Age - August 31, 1999

Paul Daley, Canberra -- Australia has rejected advances from the United States to cooperate on peacekeeping plans for strife- torn East Timor. The diplomatic snub comes as Washington considers whether to send the Marines into East Timor if a United Nations peacekeeping force is needed.

East Timor residents will vote at the end of this month on whether they want to break away from Indonesia. They are expected to vote in favor of independence, which observers fear may spark renewed violence by pro-Indonesian militia groups.

The Sunday Age believes that the Federal Government has ordered senior Australian defence strategists to reject an invitation to discuss strategy and intelligence planning for East Timor at US Pacific military headquarters in Honolulu.

During preliminary talks in recent weeks, American defence strategists said the US was considering the commitment of Marines to a UN peacekeeping or "peace-making" force, deployable before or after the 30 August ballot.

Defence and diplomatic sources told The Sunday Age that America made clear it expected Australia to lead any East Timor peacekeeping force that included US Marines.

After lengthy, top-level consideration, including senior Federal Government figures, Australian defence chiefs and leading diplomats rejected the US offer.

They told the Americans that any discussion of possible UN peacekeeping involving the Marine Corps was "premature" and could be "damaging" to bilateral relations between Australia and Indonesia.

It is believed this message was also conveyed by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr Ashton Calvert, during a recent meeting in the United States with the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Mr Stanley Roth.

Sources said Dr Calvert and Mr Roth disagreed on the circumstances under which an international force should be sent to East Timor.

Mr Roth said it was desirable for peacekeeping -- whether or not it involved US Marines -- to take place sooner rather than later while Dr Calvert took a more conservative approach. Sources told The Sunday Age that despite public perceptions to the contrary, the US appears willing to play a central, if not leading, role in peace monitoring or "peace making" -- the separation of warring parties -- in East Timor.

As human rights in the troubled Indonesian province have become an increasing preoccupation among prominent congressmen and senators, America has expressed increased pessimism about the aftermath of the forthcoming vote.

"The US has listened to arguments that it is premature for the UN to consider troops [for East Timor] before the vote. But there is a view amongst the influential [in the US] that after the vote ... [could] be leaving it too late," a diplomatic source explained.

Australia's decision to snub the US military's offer shows that, despite significant international pressure, Australia remains fiercely intent on protecting its bilateral relationship with Indonesia while conducting its own contingency planning for East Timor peacekeeping.

Australian military strategists say there is a high likelihood that the UN will ask Australia to make a significant contribution to a Timor force if significant violence accompanies a pro- independence vote.

Under Australia's contingency planning, perhaps 2000 Australian and New Zealand military experts would form the nucleus of a peacekeeping force, the bulk of whose ground troops would come from Pacific and Asian nations such as Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand.

Australia believes Indonesia would be more likely to accept ground troops from countries considered more "culturally akin" to Indonesia. Jakarta has consistently rejected the idea of accepting foreign, armed troops in East Timor. Australia believes this to be a legacy of Indonesia's colonial past.

Under Australian military contingencies, Australia would lead a UN force for East Timor, deployable only if significant violence accompanies a result of the forthcoming ballot.

The Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, yesterday praised Indonesian President B.J.Habibie, telling a Liberal Party state conference in Perth that the rest of the world needed to follow Australia's example and applaud him.

"I think Dr Habibie deserves a lot more credit for what he's done than he has received," he said. "You've got to remember that Habibie has presided over the transition of Indonesia to something that approximates democracy."

The Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, said in Dili that Australia was taking a neutral position on the vote. "At this sensitive time it makes sense for us to be neutral and let the (East Timorese) make up their own minds." He also appealed to the East Timorese not to target "foreign nationals trying to help East Timor through this extremely ... difficult time".

Man shot dead, crowd burns house

Agence France Presse - August 1, 1999 (abridged)

Dili -- Two gunmen, reportedly members of the pro-Indonesia militia, shot dead a man in East Timor on Sunday, prompting an angry crowd to set fire to the house of a known militia member.

Angelino Amaral, 24, was shot in the street not far from his home in the Taibesi district of the territory's capital Dili before dawn following a traffic accident, witnesses said.

One witness, Aderito Soares, said Amaral, who was riding a motorcycle, had inadvertently collided with another motorcycle carrying the two men.

"After they collided, the militia shot him," said Soares, 20. "They quarelled with each other," then the first shot was fired, he said.

Amaral, an employee of a state provincial bank, tried to run away but was shot again twice. Another witness, Manuel Oliveira, 27, also said the two gunmen were known to be members of the pro-Indonesia Aitarak militia.

An AFP journalist who saw Amaral's body after it was taken to the nearby Motael church noted two shotgun wounds on the victim's chest and another on his right arm.

"Our efforts to resucitate him failed and he died here," a nurse at Motael church said. The wounds appeared to have been made by regular firearms, and did not look like the messy injuries usually caused by the homemade weapons that are common here.

The Indonesian military has denied accusations that it supplies the militia with arms, and insists all weapons in their possession are homemade.

Amaral's elder brother Manuel said the family knew who had shot him, but did not say whether he was known to his attackers.

Shortly after the shooting, a crowd formed around the scene and then marched to a nearby house belonging to a known Aitarak member, an AFP photographer said.

They pelted the house with stones before setting it on fire. The blaze was doused shortly afterwards by neighbours who feared the fire would spread to their homes.

The mob ordered the photographer to leave the scene and warned him not to take any pictures. Several Indonesian policemen arrived on the scene, as well as members of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). A police spokesman said he had heard about the shooting but declined to comment.

Harassment, illness taking toll on Timorese

The Irish Times - August 2, 1999

Tjitschke Linksma looks at the plight of East Timor refugees after travelling with a UN convoy which brought one group their first consignment of aid in weeks.

Two rusty oil drums are lying in the soft shoulder of the small country road which leads to the area of Sare, which is 70 km west of the East Timorese capital, Dili, just inland from the north coast. Last weekend the oil drums were functioning as a roadblock controlled by the local militia, who would stop all passing cars and chase away unwanted visitors, waving violently with their machetes in the air.

On Friday, the militia stayed at their posts but allowed an official convoy of four trucks, organised by the United Nations Refugee Organisation, UNHCR, and POSKO, the network of local aid organisations, to pass.

Just after the roadblock, the convoy entered an empty noman's-land. For miles, the landscape is dominated by villages that have been burned to the ground and looted.

Hundreds of concrete floors show where wooden houses once stood in the tropical countryside of palm trees, bushes and long grass. A crossroads is littered with school-books and empty envelopes, evidence of a sudden exodus of villagers.

It is only after 12 km that the first houses and people begin to appear. Near a makeshift grass hut, a man is carrying his son. The four-year-old is terribly pale and too ill to walk. They belong to the first wave of refugees who fled at the beginning of the year from a variety of places to Faulara in the Sare region.

"The refugees are malnourished. They suffer from malaria, diarrhoea. respiratory infections and skin infections -- illness related to poor nutrition and lack of sanitation," says Galuh Wandita of POSKO.

In the past months, 100 people around Sare have died through lack of food and and insufficient medical care. "Someone who becomes ill will die within a few days," says Gohanna, a young woman who months ago fled with her husband and four children to Faulara.

According to UNHR estimates, there are about 7,000 internally displaced people in the Sare region. The number of refugees in East Timor is put at 50-60,000 refugees, nearly 10 per cent of the population. While some of the trucks of the convoy unload rice, sugar, medicine, dried fish and jerry cans, the refugees wait patiently for the relief workers to distribute the goods.

This is the second aid convoy to arrive in the Sare region. The first, which was supported by the UN, was attacked by militia on July 4th on its way back to Dili.

Though the attack provoked an international outcry, violence still continues in the Sare region, with the militia regularly burning houses.

On the morning of July 18th, the Indonesian army and militia captured five men and took them to the town of Maubara on the road to Dili. One escaped, "but we have no news about the others, they are missing", the village head said. Eventually, in the afternoon, the trucks in the convoy are unloaded when the village head manages to ease the concerns of an aid worker, who believes the militia may come later that night to steal the supplies.

He has already ordered the male refugees of Faulara to guard and defend the village against a possible militia attack.

"We are made into refugees because the militia and army don't want us to register for the referendum, since we are pro- independence," the village head explains. The United Nations Mission for East Timor is facing big problems in registering refugees for the ballot.

This is not only because the location of many refugees is unknown and refugees are still fleeing, but also because "many of us are too weak and too ill to walk for hours to the registration centre", Gohanna says. Nevertheless, aid workers believe that the refugees of Faulara have begun the 7 km walk to the nearest registration centre.

Australia steps up involvement in Timor

Financial Times (London) - August 2, 1999 (abridged)

Gwen Robinson, Sydney -- The Australian government has stepped up its diplomatic involvement in the politically troubled regions of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, following visits by top officials to East Timor and PNG in the past few days.

Alexander Downer, Australian foreign minister, yesterday said he was "more confident" about the security situation in East Timor, in southern Indonesia, after visiting the province at the weekend. Mr Downer's visit, the first to East Timor by an Australian foreign minister, followed Canberra's announcement last week of A$121m (US$79m) in aid for Indonesia to be channelled through the multilateral Consultative Group on Indonesia.

Australia's contribution to the US$5.8bn fund is the third largest, after Japan and the US. Canberra is also among the biggest contributors of personnel and aid to a United Nations police force in East Timor, which is preparing for a UN-sponsored independence ballot at the end of the month.

Last month, Mr Downer voiced concern about deteriorating security in the troubled island province and reports that paramilitary groups were operating with the tacit support of Indonesian military authorities. Hundreds have been injured and scores killed in the months since B.J. Habibie, Indonesian president, announced that the former Portuguese colony, annexed by Indonesia, would be allowed an independence vote.

Mr Downer said yesterday his visit had left him more hopeful on the security outlook. He warned, however, of "serious consequences" if Australian personnel were hurt in the lead-up to the ballot.

Mr Downer denied reports that Canberra had rejected US requests to participate in planning for an international peacekeeping force for East Timor. He said the two countries had worked "very closely" on the issue and had discussed a "wide range of contingencies".

The opposition Labor party, however, said Canberra's obvious reluctance to commit troops to East Timor was a "disgrace".

Australia had run a policy for two decades of "always giving Indonesia what it wanted and never offending it in respect of East Timor", said Laurie Brereton, Labor's foreign affairs spokesman. "Australia has consistently argued against peacekeepers in East Timor ... and behind the scenes, it's been saying to the international community it doesn't believe there should be any peacekeepers until stage three [of the transitional arrangements after the ballot]."

UN declares voter registration a success

Reuters - August 2, 1999

Dili -- The United Nations Monday declared the registration process for East Timor's August 30 ballot on independence a success, saying it had already registered almost all the expected voters.

"We are on target with the numbers," UN spokesman David Wimhurst told reporters in Dili. "Given our initial estimates, and given that we are now three days away from the end of the process, I think we can say that it has been a successful exercise."

He said that preliminary figures showed that 378,302 voters had registered up to Saturday, the 16th day of the 20-day registration period.

The United Nations estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 East Timorese are eligible to vote in the referendum, when they will be asked to choose between independence and increased autonomy within Indonesia.

With registration set to end Wednesday, Wimhurst urged those who had not yet registered to come forward as soon as possible. "We would encourage everybody to register now wherever they are," he said.

Wimhurst said that under a provisional timetable campaigning for the vote would start on August 11 and continue until August 27, followed by a two-day cooling off period before the vote itself.

There have been concerns that the large numbers of East Timorese who have been displaced by violence in the run-up to the vote were having trouble registering to vote.

Wimhurst said that extra registration officers had been moved to a number of areas to help with an expected rush to register by internal refugees.

"In some areas, to deal with the numbers of internally displaced people who are seeking to register, we have reinforced some of the centers with additional personnel so we can handle an anticipated increase in volume."

Excerpt on Timor from Megawati speach

Joyo Indonesian News - August 2, 1999

[The following is an excerpt from the July 29 speach by Megawati Soekarnoputri "The People's Victory in the Election of 1999" on the issue of the East Timor ballot.]

The situation in East Timor, coming in the middle of the present political situation, puts the Indonesian People in a dilemma. Both as a citizen and as the Chairperson of the PDI Perjuangan, I believe that all agreements that have been signed between Indonesia and Portugal regarding the referendum in East Timor are of a binding character and must be honored. This is all the more so in view of the fact that the United Nations is involved as an initiator.

That said, it is necessary to be highly critical of the unilateral policy position on East Timor adopted by the government under Habibie's leadership. Thus the East Timor problem, for us as a sovereign nation and country, presents us with two issues that must be separated as we confront them. Regarding the internal dimension or issue, the most fundamental problem is the undermining of a decision of the MPR by President Habibie. Without diminishing my respect for the implementation of the referendum, whoever is president of this republic does not have the authority to make policy decisions that are not in accordance with the Constitution. The policy decision of Mr. Habibie, which unilaterally overturns MPR decision No. 6, 1978 making East Timor the 27th province of Indonesia, constitutes an exercise of power that is unconstitutional.

If this act is accepted without objection, the concern is that it will become a precendent of improper state behavior that will result in a mistaken conclusion -- that a president may do whatever he or she likes, including making policy decisions that blatantly violate the decisions of the MPR as the symbolic manifestation of the People's Sovereignty.

In raising this objection, in no way do I signal any disrespect for the decision that is going to be made by the peope of East Timor as they determine their own future through the referendum.

Looking at the East Timor issue from the external angle, involving the international community, we must acknowledge the undeniable reality that during the New Order's rule there were massive violations of basic human rights perpetrated in East Timor. Therefore the carrying out of the referendum must be seen as an effort to find a peaceful solution while at the same time constituting an act to restore the basic human rights of the Timorese to determine their own future for themselves.

With reference to the implementation of the referendum in East Timor, there are several views and points that I would like to raise here.

First, the referendum must be carried out under conditions in which peace is guaranteed, without bloodshed resulting from conflicts between groups that are pro- and anti-integration.

Second, that this referendum serve as a genuine means for the People of East Timor to determine their own future. In other words, there should be no efforts from any side to try to influence the choice of the People of East Timor.

Third, that the sovereignty of Indonesia as a unified nation be respected by all interested parties. A referendum within the legal boundaries of the Republic of Indonesia may only be carried out in East Timor and in no other regions. The settling of all other matters in other regions of the Republic of Indonesia constitutes an internal matter that will be handled by the Indonesian People themselves by upholding law and justice as the means to resolution.

Fourth, that all interested parties share in the responsibility to jointly maintain regional stability regarding East Timor after the referendum.

Fifth, that the leaders of the countries supporting a referendum in East Timor honor and accept the agreement between Indonesia and Portugal as well as the consequences that follow. Regarding those who might choose to leave East Timor after the results of the referendum are known, that they be accepted by the countries supporting the referendum should any of these countries become the chosen place for those leaving East Timor to start a new life. As a result of their side losing in the referendum, it is entirely possible that they might not feel secure remaining in East Timor.

Though I would add that personally I hope that it will never come to this.
Presidential succession

US calls for quick selection of president

Agence France Presse - August 3, 1999

Washington -- The United States on Tuesday called for the quick selection of a new Indonesian president following the validation of last month's election results which show the opposition party of Megawati Sukarnoputri beating the ruling party of current President B.J. Habibie.

"It is important that the convening of the new government and the selection of the next president be completed as quickly as practicable," State Department spokesman James Rubin said, urging transparency in the process.

"This will help reduce the impact of continued uncertainty on political stability and enhance the prospects for rapid economic recovery," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Habibie validated the results of the June 7 general election two months after his Golkar party lost in the vote to Megawati's Indonesian Democracy Party-Struggle (PDIP).

Formalization of the results had been bogged down by squabbling small party members of the National Election Commission who refused to ratify them unless the government agreed they all be represented in parliament, regardless of support.

The elections were the first after the fall of former president Suharto who stepped down in May 1998 amid a wave of popular anger at his 32-year iron-fisted rule.

Rubin noted that Indonesia was generally unused to the free selection of its leaders and should therefore be given some leeway in the next steps, but maintained that the quicker a president was appointed by the People's Consultative Assembly the better.

"This is a new situation for Indonesia," he said. "But we do want to [see them] move expeditiously, taking into account the fact that many of [their] institutions are functioning for the first time."

The 500-seat assembly, which includes 38 seats reserved for the military and 200 appointed representatives, is not bound by the poll results in appointing the president but Rubin said Washington expected the choice to reflect the wishes of the voters.

"A credible process will guarantee that the selection of the new president does indeed reflect the will of the people," he said, refusing to speculate on who would be chosen or whom the United States would prefer to see in power.

According to the vote tally released on July 26, Megawati's PDIP took 33.7 percent of the 105 million valid votes counted. Golkar -- which routinely topped the polls in Suharto's 32-year reign and which is backing his successor, Habibie, as president -- trailed with 22 percent.

More than 42,000 to safeguard assembly

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999

Jakarta -- Some 42,300 troops and 11,000 civilian auxiliaries will be deployed to guard the first session of Indonesia's new national assembly in October, reports said Thursday.

The new People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the country's highest lawmaking body, reconstituted by the June 7 elections, will meet on October 1 and then elect a president in November.

"Security personel will comprise 150 companies from the police and 273 from the military," deputy chief of Jakarta police, Brigadier General Sutanto, said according to the state Antara news agency. Sutanto said a total of 118 companies of civilian auxiliaries will also be readied in the capital to support the troops.

Security authorities including armed forces chief General Wiranto have voiced concern demonstrators will return to Jakarta's streets in the run-up to the selection of a new president.

Although the Indonesian Democracy Party-Struggle, headed by Megawati Sukarnoputri, came first in the elections with 33.7 percent of the vote, her ascension to the presidency is not assured.

The 700-seat MPR, which contains 200 appointees as well as elected parliamentarians is not bound by the polls results.

Megawati's main rival for the top post is incumbent President B.J. Habibie, whose Golkar party came second in the June elections.

Megawati cements opposition alliance

Reuters - August 5, 1999

Amy Chew, Jakarta -- Indonesia's two main opposition parties have agreed to join forces in local-level politics, cementing an alliance that opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri hopes will carry her to the presidency in November.

Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), which won general elections in June but has yet to be allocated seats, plans to team up with the Nation Awakening Party (PKB) to elect the heads of local legislatures in the main island of Java.

The PKB came third in the June national polls, Indonesia's first free vote in decades. Second was the ruling Golkar party. No party won an outright majority.

"The heads of local parliaments will be elected through voting. We have agreed to support each other in the election process in many areas in Java," PKB secretary-general Muhaimin Iskandar told Reuters on Thursday.

Muhaimin said the pact would probably see the PDI-P heading local governments in some areas and the PKB in others. Political analysts said the alliance would enhance the popular Megawati's bid to oust incumbent President B.J. Habibie.

Megawati forged an alliance with the PKB and the National Mandate Party shortly before the June elections. Since then, the PKB has reaffirmed its support for Megawati, who needs to forge alliances to form a new government or to ensure a presidential victory. But the National Mandate Party has been non-committal.

PDI-P deputy secretary-general Haryanto Taslam confirmed the alliance on Thursday. "Yes. We have such an agreement," he told Reuters.

In November, the 700-member People's Consultative Assembly, which comprises 500 members of parliament and another 200 appointed officials, will choose a president. Of the 200 extra officials appointed to the assembly, 135 will be appointed from local parliaments.

Muhaimin said there was a good chance some of the officials would be drawn from among the heads of the local legislatures.

PDI-P and PKB captured a majority of the votes in Java, the country's power centre. About 80 percent of the population lives there and it is home to the capital, Jakarta, and the country's second-biggest city, Surabaya.

But forecasts suggest the elected parliamentary MPs from the two parties will not be enough on their own to clinch the presidential poll, making it necessary to woo further support.

The election committees at provincial and regency levels are now calculating the number of seats to be allocated to the poll winners in the local parliaments under a complex formula.

University of Indonesia lecturer Arbi Sanit said the alliance would boost Megawati's chance of becoming president.

"This means that more local parliaments will be controlled by PDI-P and PKB. This will increase the strength of PDI-P and PKB in the MPR (People's Consultative Assembly)," the expert said. "Megawati's chances of being elected president will increase because PKB has always said it will support her."

President B.J. Habibie on Tuesday endorsed the results of the poll, after a delay of almost two months. PDI-P was first with 34 percent of the vote and PKB third with 13 percent. The number of seats won by each party in the national parliament is due to be announced next week.

Military chief to play kingmaker

South China Morning Post - August 2, 1999

Vaudine England, Jakarta -- Comments by armed forces chief and Defence Minister General Wiranto since opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's dramatic political speech suggest he is a vital kingmaker in the months of politicking ahead -- but one whose loyalty remains to the armed forces.

Speculation has reached fever pitch about whether or not Ms Megawati and General Wiranto have discussed a deal -- to become president and vice-president respectively -- but the latest signals suggest such a deal is still some way off.

The day after Ms Megawati proclaimed her readiness to rule Indonesia, and reaffirmed her commitment to a gradual phasing-out of the military's "dual function" in society, General Wiranto publicly defended the military's claimed right to engage in both political and defence affairs.

"It is true that the role of the TNI [Indonesian Defence Forces] is stressed in the field of defence and security, but TNI also has similar duties and obligations to work for the welfare of the nation," the general said.

"Therefore in nation building, national development, or in building the moral ethics of the nation, we should of course be allowed to take part," he said. "As to the nature of the involvement, it should be decided in a wise way, through compromise."

On Saturday, General Wiranto said: "A strong government is not identical with an authoritarian one."

He acknowledged the military had been the focus of intense criticism for supporting former president Suharto and for a long litany of human rights abuses. But he promised in future, the military would do better.

"The military will no longer side with the ruler, or the ruling party," he said. "To ensure democratisation, TNI must participate in safeguarding the reform movement and the national political agenda," he said.

While pledging the TNI "is prepared to listen and accept" a compromise, his comments also included a broadside against the dangers of "liberalism".

More significantly, he failed to promise any fresh accounting for the killings of civilians by troops in Aceh, the shootings and abductions of students last year in Jakarta, and many more abuses.

Ms Megawati's comments, in her first major speech since the June 7 elections, left her open for compromise with the military but also focused on the ongoing violence in Aceh -- the one subject which prompted her to shed tears.

Advocates of national unity above all else, say a political marriage of convenience between Ms Megawati and General Wiranto could help ensure stability in the crucial three months ahead, before a new president is elected by the Peoples' Consultative Assembly [MPR].

But hatred of the military, and deep suspicion about General Wiranto's personal ambitions, ensures any dealing by Ms Megawati with the military carries high political risks.

The armed forces were given 38 seats in the new parliament by election laws enacted in January, and could garner more seats through the forthcoming appointment of regional and functional representatives to the MPR.

"Wiranto and [National Mandate Party leader] Amien Rais are expected to be kingmakers if the two coalitions have somewhat balanced strengths," said military analyst Salim Said, referring to the division of seats in parliament between ruling Golkar party and Ms Megawati's PDI-P.
Political/economic crisis

82 killed, 141 injured in Ambon

Agence France Presse - August 7, 1999

Jakarta -- An Indonesian rights watchdog group has said 82 people were killed, four were missing and 141 injured in recent days of Moslem-Christian violence in riot-torn Ambon, a report said Saturday.

The figures, released by the independent Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS), were much higher than the 33 people killed claimed by the police, the Antara news agency said.

"Our data differ from those given by Indonesian National Police Chief General Rusmanhadi, who mentioned that 33 people died," KONTRAS member Ori Rahman told a press conference here Friday.

Rahman said KONTRAS was more thorough in its count because it obtained information from the field and not from hospitals or police reports.

Violence between members of the Moslem and Christian communities in Ambon erupted again last week following the burning of several houses in the Poka low cost housing area across the bay from Ambon on July 24. More than 150 buildings, mostly private houses and shops, were torched during the ensuing violence.

The outbreak of violence prompted the arrival of troop reinforcements from outside the province of Maluku, and Kontras member Umar Attamimi said the number of victims had increased since the additional security forces were brough in.

"Troops sent to Ambon were those mobilized from certain areas and this could lead them to favor a certain group (in the conflict)," Attamimi said.

Many people, including those involved in the conflicts, have accused the military and the police of taking sides. "They [security forces] must also be consistent in implementing the procedures for shooting because the inconsistency will only exacerbate the confrontations as well as cause more victims among civilians," Attamimi said.

Maluku military authorities have issued a shoot-on-sight order against rioters, especially armed ones and those attempting to set fire to buildings. The shooting order, however, would only be to immobilize suspects and not kill them.

The head of the Maluku police, Colonel Bugis Saman was quoted by the Kompas daily as saying 53 people have been arrested since the violence erupted again last week. He said they were caught while vandalizing, torching or looting buildings or while injuring or killing people.

Ambon, and various other parts of the Maluku province, are still reeling from months of communal violence between Moslems and Christians which left more 300 people killed and a wide trail of destruction.

470,000 sheltering in Ujung Pandang

Jakarta Post - August 5, 1999

Jakarta -- The government says an estimated 470,000 refugees are now sheltering in the South Sulawesi capital of Ujungpandang after fleeing unrest in the troubled provinces of Maluku, East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya.

The secretary-general of the Ministry of Social Services, Moerwanto, was quoted by Antara as saying in Ujungpandang that the government has distributed 400 grams of rice and side dishes, worth Rp 1,500 (21 US cents) each, for every refugee daily for 70 days.

The relief is given "in the hope it would lessen their burden, though of course it's far from enough", he said after delivering the aid in a ceremony on Wednesday.

The government estimate is the highest so far. In May, the number of people fleeing sectarian clashes in Maluku and seeking shelter in South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi cities, as well as in Southeast Maluku regency, was put at 100,000.

An estimated 100,000 Acehnese are now seeking shelter in various towns after fleeing armed conflicts between the military and separatist guerrillas. From East Timor, thousands have also left their villages as tensions rose in the run-up to the self- determination ballot planned for Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that Ambon was calm on Wednesday after a renewed bout of Muslim-Christian violence that forced many Chinese Indonesians to flee.

In the latest outbreak of violence, a man was stabbed to death on Tuesday at the Mardika market in downtown Ambon, sparking an angry reaction in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Galunggung. Security forces moved in and fired warning shots to prevent a fresh riot.

"The situation is almost normal but still vulnerable," Maluku Military Command spokesman Lt. Col. Iwa Budiman said. He said police and soldiers remained on alert and were still deployed in places "susceptible" to violence.

"Large groups of people are only centered at Al Fatah and Maranatha," he said referring to a mosque and church where Muslims and Christians have sought refuge from violence. He said "a number" of ethnic Chinese were fleeing the city on ships and airplanes.

The Media Indonesia daily on Wednesday said at least 1,500 ethnic Chinese were fleeing the unrest. But, reacting to the media report, Budiman said: "It's not that many and they did not leave in one go."

The ethnic Chinese community in Ambon, which had escaped involvement in the Muslim-Christian violence that has simmered since January, were targeted for the first time when fresh violence flared last week. Many of their shops in the predominantly Christian shopping area in the A.Y. Pati neighborhood in downtown Ambon were burned during the violence.

Meanwhile, a report by the investigation team set up by the Maluku provincial chapter of the Justice Party described an attack on July 25 on the hamlets of Kisar, Kampung Pisang and Wailiha in the Batu Gong village, north of Ambon, by residents of neighboring Hutumuri village.

The report alleged that the attackers used firearms, machetes, spears and homemade bombs. They also burned houses and two mosques, and forced the Muslim residents to flee, the report said.

The report said four people were killed in the attack, 14 were severely injured, three others went missing, and three women were sexually harassed. The report also said one woman who was trying to seek refuge in a factory building was gang-raped and wounded severely. She is reportedly now being treated at the Navy hospital of Halong.

"The report was compiled from testimonies of the victims and witnesses to the investigation team of the Justice Party," said Suhfi of the provincial chapter of the party, which also set up a humanitarian team to help victims of the violence, which first erupted on January 19.
Aceh/West Papua

Aceh protesters removed from embassy

Agence France Presse - Agust 6, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta -- Indonesian police early Friday removed nine Acehnese protesters from the grounds of the Netherlands embassy here, where they had been camped for more than 36 hours, one of the protestors said.

"At about 1am a truckload of police officers arrived and a group of them escorted us out of the compound without force," Faisal Putra told AFP. "We did not resist them because we had a pregnant woman among us."

The nine, who dashed into the embassy grounds Wednesday morning when the gates opened to admit an embassy car, had vowed not to budge until their demands for support in their fight for sovereignty were met.

Putra said police were going to load the protesters into the trucks to be taken to Jakarta police headquarters, but they were released when they asked to return to their hotel.

"We asked them to let us go on our own because we wanted to go back to our hotel in central Jakarta where we had stayed before we staged the protest ... and they let us go," he said.

Putra said the Acehnese intended to "relentlessly pursue the Netherlands government" to restore the sovereignty of Aceh by revoking an 1873 Dutch declaration of war against the province, then a free Sultanate.

"We will keep pushing the Dutch government to be responsible for the past actions of their ancestors, even though it was a long time ago," he said.

The group had been invited to meet with Jakarta police chief Major General Nugroho Jayusman later on Friday, Putra said. But he said he did not know why Jayusman had invited them.

Rally for independence in West Papua

Agence France Presse - August 2, 1999

Jakarta -- Some 5,000 people in the remote Indonesian province of Irian Jaya held a peaceful rally Monday to call for an independent Melanesian state, witnesses said.

The protestors, many holding bibles, marched through the town of Timika singing hymns and later headed to the office of the Mimika regent to convey their demands, one witness said by phone.

"Long live the Papua nation" and "Papua is a Melanesian nation," they shouted. "Colonialization must be abolished from the land of Papua," read one of their banners.

"The young generation of Papua wants to be free from intimidation, human rights violations and they want to enjoy their natural resources," a group leader Damaris Onawime said.

Separatist calls have been on the rise in Irian Jaya since the iron-fisted rule of former Indonesian president Suharto ended in May after a series of bloody street protests.

The Free Papua Movement (OPM) has been fighting for an independent Melanesian state, West Papua, since the former Dutch colony of West New Guinea became an Indonesian province in 1963. The United Nations recognized Indonesian sovereignty over Irian Jaya in 1969. Irian Jaya shares a land border with independent Papua New Guinea.

The protestors were later received by Mimika regent Titus Potereyaw and the chief of the local police.

In their petition to the regent, the protestors demanded that Indonesia let go of Irian Jaya by 2000 and allow establishment of "Papua" coordinating posts (bases). They threatened to continue to demonstrate until their demands were fulfilled.

An official at Mimika police station, contacted by AFP, said however that the number of protestors was "only in the hundreds."

Potereyaw said his office would convey the demands to the central government, but added a decision on the establishment of Papua posts should be left up to the Irian Jaya police.

Police have outlawed the presence of the coordinating posts set up by independence supporters in the province.

Amnesty accuses military of Aceh abuses

Jakarta Post - August 5, 1999

Jakarta -- Amnesty International on Wednesday accused the Indonesian Military (TNI) of rampant violence in Aceh and said that deploying more troops in the province would only worsen the situation. The London-based group said "the armed opposition also have a responsibility to halt human rights abuses and to immediately instruct GAM (Free Aceh movement) members to stop unlawful killings of soldiers and civilians".

Amnesty's strongest criticism however, was directed at the military. It said that at least 40 -- possibly as many as 70 -- people were reportedly killed by security forces during counter- insurgency operations in Beutong village, West Aceh, on July 23. The military said the victims were killed in a gunfight, but witnesses said they were massacred.

Jakarta has sent about 1,200 reinforcement troops to Aceh after 41 civilian protesters were killed in North Aceh in May. Some 7,000 more troops will be dispatched to crush the ongoing rebel movement.

Amnesty however said: "in the current climate of impunity, increasing troop numbers, rather than attempting to address the problems in Aceh, will only worsen Aceh's already critical human rights situation."

Amnesty said it had warned in January that human rights violations could escalate if troops were redeployed to Aceh. "Since then dozens of people have been unlawfully killed, including by troops sent to the province in recent months to resolve the violence," Amnesty said.

Violence has been on the rise in the province, claiming more than 200 lives, including troops and police. The violence has also displaced nearly 100,000 people, who are now sheltering in mosques and school buildings.

"The recent escalation in human rights violations in Aceh, including dozens of extrajudicial executions, disappearances and arbitrary arrests flies in the face of the government's commitments to address human rights problems in Indonesia," Amnesty said.

It also said: "President B.J. Habibie's government has so far failed to bring to justice members of security forces who tortured, disappeared or unlawfully killed thousands of Acehnese during counter-insurgency operations in Aceh from 1989 to 1998.

"The government's failure to address human rights violations in the past sends a message to the security forces that they can continue to kill ... without being held to account."

From Banda Aceh Teuku Umar military commander Col. Syarifuddin Tippe, in response to Amnesty International's allegations, said Wednesday, "it is impossible that TNI could be so cruel ... What do you think we are, the enemy of the state?"

Regarding the incident in West Aceh, he reiterated the original report of the military that 31 had died despite findings of new bodies. There was a possibility that the additional victims were killed by the Free Aceh Movement members themselves, Syarifuddin said, citing earlier incidents in which civilians were found dead with severe wounds or were chopped up. "The reason why people fear the GAM more than the military is that they are more sadistic," he said.

On progress of TNI's efforts regarding the Aceh problem, including the assignment of high ranking officers to the province, he said he had no knowledge of results of the assignment of former Jakarta military commander Sjafrie Sjamsuddin in Aceh.

The military has said Sjafrie, similar to Lt.Gen. Fachrul Razi, who is now the secretary general to the Ministry of Defense and Security, had been assigned to Aceh "to seek input" to solutions to the Aceh problem. A spokesman had then denied rumors that Sjafrie had anything to do with recent atrocities in Aceh.

Aceh rebels threaten to destroy gas refinery

Associated Press - August 5, 1999

Banda Aceh -- Separatist rebels in Aceh threatened Thursday to blow up a valuable natural gas refinery if Indonesia didn't withdraw troops from the strife-torn province.

Asnawi Mansur, a spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement, said Indonesia runs the risk of increased violence if it doesn't scale back its military presence in the area. "We're not playing games," he said, adding that rebels would target the Arun natural gas refinery in Lhokseumawe.

Muslim separatists want the oil-rich province, located on the western tip of Sumatra island about 1,750 kilometers northwest of Jakarta, to break away from Indonesia.

Acehnese cities resembled ghost towns Thursday, the second day of a general strike called to protest military atrocities in the turbulent province. Strike organizers want the military to withdraw from Aceh.

A military spokesman, Lt. Eddy Heriadi, said rebels had orchestrated the work stoppage to destabilize the region. "They want to frighten society and prevent people from carrying out their daily activities," Heriadi said.

A small group of Acehnese separatists continued their peaceful protest within the Dutch embassy compound in Jakarta, demanding that Holland -- Indonesia's former colonial ruler -- support the province's independence bid.

General strike enters second day in Aceh

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999

Jakarta -- A general strike to protest military violence entered a second day Thursday in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, leaving cities and towns deserted, residents said.

"It is much like yesterday, but some roadside stalls have opened in small streets to profit from the pressing needs of the people," said Afrizal Cutra, executive secretary of the Forum of Aceh Non-Governmental Organizations.

He said that in the capital, Banda Aceh, government offices were open but only a few officials were on duty while school children could be seen walking on the streets well past school opening time.

The streets of Lhokseumawe, the district town in North Aceh also remained deserted Thursday, said Yakub Hamzah, head of the Iskandar Muda legal aid there.

"Only one or two private vehicles could be seen on the streets. Shops remained closed and even pedicabs are off the streets," Hamzah said.

However, he noted there were many military vehicles and helicopters from the army base in town, and cited unconfirmed reports of clashes between soldiers and rebels in Kemala, Pidie district.

In Sigli, the main district town in Pidie, the city was like a ghost town, a doctor there said. "Our hospital is operating normally although our patients have been reduced to just around 10 percent of the usual," said M.F. Arsyad who heads the Sigli general hospital.

He said there was no public transport, and to ensure hosptial services, some employees had been allowed to stay overnight there, while those living nearby were picked up by ambulance from their homes.

A similar arrangement was in place at the general hospital in Langsa, the district town in East Aceh. "We are operating as usual although there are only a few incoming patients," nurse Susilowati of the emergency ward at the Langsa district hospital said.

Students and human rights groups called the two-day general strike to demand an end to military violence and the withdrawal of anti-riot troops deployed there since the gunning down of 41 civilians in Lhokseumawe in May.

In Jakarta, the Solidarity Forum for Aceh, grouping 27 non- governmental organizations, held a series of events Thursday, including discussions, exhibitions and fund raising sales of paintings to support the general strike in Aceh.

The strike began as national police chief General Rusmanhadi announced a new six-month offensive against Aceh separatists involving more than 6,186 Aceh police officers and auxiliaries and some 5,000 backup troops. The new offensive included an order to shoot-on-sight any suspect civilians carrying arms.

Jakarta has sent about 3,100 anti-riot police and 2,000 troops and auxiliaries to the province as reinforcements, he said, adding that the offensive would end in January.

Most of the violence has been concentrated in Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh, the districts which bore the brunt of a decade of anti-rebel military operations that ended last year. Soldiers and officials were accused of widespread human rights violations during the operations.

Nine Acehnese protestors remained in the Dutch embassy in Jakarta which they entered during a demonstation Wednesday. They have vowed to remain until the embassy gives them a written response to their plea for support for their independence drive.

Aceh rebels face crackdown

Financial Times - August 5, 1999

Sander Thoenes, Jakarta -- Police launched a crack-down on separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh yesterday, just as a general strike there highlighted growing support for secession.

General Rusmanhadi, chief of police, said the new offensive against Acehnese rebels was to last until January, 2000 and involve 6,186 Aceh police officers. He issued a shoot-on-sight order for armed civilians who "bother the public".

The move fuelled fears that Aceh may turn into a much more destabilising problem for the Indonesian authorities than the troubled province of East Timor. "Attitudes are hardening on both sides. There is no middle ground at this point," said one western diplomat.

While secession of East Timor is not seen as a direct threat to Indonesian unity, as the territory was occupied only in 1975, the loss of Aceh could unleash a torrent of separatist calls across Indonesia. Protests and rebel activity have already increased in Irian Jaya and activists have organised in other provinces as well.

The police crackdown coincided with a general strike that paralysed much of Aceh, largely in response to earlier police and military violence against both separatist rebels and unarmed civilians.

The student groups and activists, who organised the two-day strike, called on Jakarta to withdraw troops from Aceh, investigate human rights abuses by the military and hold a referendum on the status of the province, similar to the vote planned for East Timor on August 30.

In Jakarta, nine Acehnese broke into the compound of the Dutch embassy, demanding support for their cause from the Netherlands, the former colonial ruler of Indonesia.

Analysts say the strike, the first such protest across Aceh, highlights widespread resentment against Jakarta. Calls for secession are not limited to students and separatist rebels, who have stepped up attacks on military targets in recent months.

The strikers were responding in part to the killing of more than 50 Acehnese by Indonesian soldiers last week in what activists and some diplomats believe was a summary execution. Amnesty International yesterday described the human rights situation in Aceh as "critical".

Shops in leading Acehnese cities were closed, public transport halted and most people failed to show up for work in response to yesterday's strike call.

No province can break away, says Habibie

Straits Times - August 5, 1999

Jakarta -- Aceh is to Indonesia what Georgia is to the United States -- an integral part of the country. East Timor, by comparison, is like what Puerto Rico is to America, a territory.

President B. J. Habibie drew the comparison when he ruled out any formula similar to that used for East Timor, which would allow Aceh or any other restive province to break away from Indonesia.

"They cannot have it," he said in an interview on Tuesday, where he also warned that any province intending to do so would face the might of the Indonesian military.

"In Timor, it's just like in the United States, Puerto Rico. Aceh is just like, for the United States, Georgia. You cannot separate Georgia -- or New York, or Alaska, or California or Washington -- from the United States of America."

In drawing a comparison, he also made a rare admission that Indonesia's claim to the province is questionable: "East Timor never legitimately belonged to Indonesia. I don't know how we came to that problem -- it's not my deal. But I tried to solve that. I had to solve it."

Since his offer of independence to East Timor early this year, the former Portuguese territory has been wracked by violence, mostly carried out by pro-Indonesian militias that human rights groups and others say receive arms and backing from the Indonesian armed forces.

But the Indonesian leader denied that the armed forces were involved. He said the military was doing all it could to maintain security in the former Portuguese territory, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and annexed a year later.

The government's offer of a choice of independence or autonomy to Timor is believed to have sparked similar demands on the opposite end of the archipelago -- by separatist rebels in the violence-torn province of Aceh.

But Dr Habibie on Tuesday ruled out any similar approach for Aceh or other province -- which he said would face the full brunt of military might if they tried to separate.

In East Timor itself, the United Nations mission there, Unamet, yesterday extended the voter registration period for a landmark referendum on the territory's future to allow more people to sign up for the crucial Aug 30 ballot.

"The registration period has been extended for two days inside East Timor and for four days for registration posts outside East Timor," Unamet spokesman David Wimhurst said from the East Timorese capital of Dili.

"Although more than 400,000 people have registered already, we wanted to make sure everyone had the opportunity to put his name on the list."

The original 20-day registration period is now extended to tomorrow inside East Timor, and to Sunday for East Timorese living outside the territory.

In Jakarta, jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao registered shortly after 2 pm yesterday at the UN information office.

Separately, an observer group registered with Unamet called on the UN to send peace-keeping troops to East Timor ahead of the referendum, citing continuing violence by pro-Indonesian militia.

Protest against proposed division of Papua

Agence France Presse - August 5, 1999 (slightly abridged)

Jakarta -- Thousands of indigenous villagers in the Irian Jaya town of Timika on Thursday protested against Indonesia's plans to carve the remote province into three parts, resident sources said. Police, however, put the number of protesters at about 100.

The protesters, from Kelam Kilama village near Timika and others from the town itself, headed to the town's luxury Sheraton hotel at 3am to air their complaints to visiting MP's, a church source said.

"There were maybe some 3,000 Papuanese who came to demand the return of independence and not the carving up of the province," the source told AFP by phone, referring to island's original name of Papua.

The protesters blocked the main street from the hotel, the planned route of a 13-man team of visiting MPs who had been scheduled to travel to western Irian Jaya's Manokwari town at 7am. They then rallied outside the local regency office.

"The protesters blocked the streets and demanded that they be given a hearing inside the hotel, but were prohibited," the source, who preferred anonymity, said. The MPs left Timika on a privately rented plane after meeting the protesters just outside the hotel.

A duty officer at the local police office, who put the number of protesters at about 100, said they left peacefully at 9am after they meeting Mimika regent Titus Potereyaw. Timika is in the regency of Mimika.

"There were about 100 ethnic villagers protesting, the situation is under control now and they disbanded after they met with the regent," the officer who identified himself only as Lexy said. "The regent spoke with them and they agreed to go on home."

The villagers, wearing in tribal costumes, charged in a written statement that Irianese MP Herman Mote and Deputy Governor John Djopari had failed to represent them.

"West Papuanese strongly reject the carving up of the territory. Independence is a final price," the source quoted the statement as saying. "Stop all forms of intimidation and schemes for West Papua," the release said, using the pro-independence name for Irian Jaya, the Indonesian governed half of the predominantly Christian Melanesian island of Papua, which borders independent Papua-New Guinea.

A priest read prayers before and after the protest and sang hymns with the demonstrators, while some held bibles, the source said. About 5,000 people held a similar protest for independence in Timika on Monday.

Rebel hunt in Aceh launched

Agence France Presse - August 2, 1999 (abridged)

Jakarta -- A total of 7,000 troops will launch an operation to hunt down separatist rebels in Indonesia's troubled Aceh province, the chief of the Aceh police said in a report Monday.

"The [rebel] group will be terminated soon through the Sadar Rencong Operation II which will involve 7,000 members of security forces," Aceh police chief Colonel Bachrumsyah said according to the Media Indonesia daily.

Bachrumsyah said the operation will target some 200 "armed civilians" who have been identified and whose hideouts were known. "We only have to wait for the right time to act. What is certain is that our target is already clear," he said.

But Bachrumsyah said the operation would only be launched after all troop reinforcements had arrived in the province. "Two thousand troops have arrived. When they are all in place, we will immediately put it [the plan] into action," he said.

Police officials in Aceh were not available for confirmation of the report.

Acehnese refugee plight worsening

Jakarta Post - August 2, 1999

Jakarta -- Officials in Banda Aceh have raised concerns over the deteriorating conditions among refugees which have reached some 140,000 people in Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh. Aceh's secretary to the governor, Sofyan Muchtar, told Antara on Saturday, "Their health is getting worse due to inadequate sanitary facilities and lack of clean water."

Last week, estimates of refugees had reached almost 100,000, excluding those at new camps. Refugees citing fears of armed assaults in their villages have been accommodated around mosques and school buildings.

Head of Aceh's Ministry of Health office, Hanif Asmara, said most refugees suffered from high fever and others were exposed to respiratory diseases as well as diarrhea and cholera. "What's worse, many refugees here are also suffering from malnutrition," Hanif told the news agency.

Antara reported the mosque grounds in Meureudu, Pidie, and Kuta Binjai, East Aceh, as among the shelters with the worst conditions. According to last estimates, Pidie alone has 14 shelters housing 60,000 people.

Since a massive exodus began in June, thousands of hectares of cultivated land and cattle have been abandoned. The administration has called on the public to help contribute education material, books, paper and pencils.

According to Aceh's Ministry of Education office, at least 16,005 elementary students have joined the exodus -- 7,390 from Pidie, 2,233 from North Aceh and 6,382 from East Aceh. The news agency also reported that so far, 104 families have fled to South Sumatra, Riau and East Kalimantan.

Meanwhile, two companies of combat troops stationed in Aceh's Teuku Umar regiment command were withdrawn on Friday. Teuku Umar military spokesman First Lt. Supriono, said here on Saturday that the 200 officers were sent back to their barracks aboard a Hercules C-130 plane taking off from the Iskandar Muda airport here.

The troops were assigned two months ago to maintain security in Aceh, particularly in West Aceh and South Aceh regencies, before and after the June 7 general election.

Last week 440 police members arrived in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, and police said that 7,000 soldiers would be added to act against armed groups.

Antara also reported that a member of the National Commission on Human Rights, Syaifuddin Bantasyam, urged on Saturday that a new independent team set up to investigate alleged abuses in Aceh immediately probe the military operation in Beutong Ateuh, West Aceh, which has claimed at least 52 lives.

The operation targeted an alleged separatist leader, Tengku Bantaqiah, and his followers, and survivors and witnesses said the men were gunned down. The military has said it opened fire in self-defense. Bantaqiah, noted leader of a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) was among those killed.

Of the 10 bodies found last week in a ravine, a number of them were buried on Sunday, a journalist with the Serambi Indonesia daily in Banda Aceh said.

"It rained hard and not all could be buried," the journalist said quoting a community leader, Razali. Last week, residents who intended to bury the bodies fled at the sight of passing troops.

In Pidie, a journalist said people were stocking up on supplies in anticipation of a strike on August 4 and 5, which has been called by the Association of Public Transport Owners, Organda, students and non-governmental organizations.

However, a Pelangi inter-city bus company employee and drivers from other firms said that as of Sunday they had not received instructions from their management to join the strike.

Aceh massacre toll hits 71

Reuters - August 1, 1999

Banda Aceh -- Police in violence torn Aceh province have found 15 more bodies dumped in ravines near the site of a recent massacre, bringing the death toll to 71, police sources and residents said on Sunday.

The bodies were found on Saturday in western Aceh's Alur Baru village, about two km from a village where dozens of people were gunned down last Monday.

"Police have removed the bodies from the ravines but they are yet to be buried," said a local resident, asking not to be named. The bodies have not yet been identified.

West Aceh police chief Lieutenant Colonel Her Harif Sumarwan confirmed the latest find but declined to comment further. Residents said most of the bodies had gunshot wounds.

On Friday, residents found 25 bodies dumped in other ravines near a village where 31 people were shot dead on Monday.

The military says the victims died in a gunfight between soldiers, police and separatist rebels but witnesses say they were gunned down after being ordered out of a house.

Residents said on Friday the other 25 bodies were those of people taken away for questioning after Monday's incident.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), was quoted as saying on Sunday that more than 100 people were killed in to the massacre.

"Families of the victims have said that the number of deaths could surpass 100 ... we are pretty sure that the number of victims will grow," the media Indonesia daily quoted Kontras head Munir as saying.

Resource-rich Aceh has a long history of battling central rule and calls for independence have mounted since former President Suharto's iron rule ended in May last year amid country's worst- ever economy and political crisis.
News & issues

Feature on corruption: rotten to the core

South China Morning Post - August 1, 1999

Vaudine England -- Getting a small box of books out of the cargo office at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was how one friend learned about corruption in Indonesia.

As soon as she got out of her taxi near the warehouse, the touts arrived, waving cardboard folders that carried all the documents she required, insisting she pay for their help.

But this foreign friend was stubborn -- and naive. She was determined to pick up what was rightfully hers for no charge whatsoever.

Three hours later, this woman had compiled her own cardboard folder, trudging from one small window to the next in a bewildering array of offices strung out across the manicured lawns. At last she was ready for the final, crucial signature.

This last office was no mere window, she recalls. It was an air-conditioned room, where an official had time to flip through a Playboy magazine. He signed the form, and the woman was smug enough to ask how much the process would have cost, had she played the game. When told about HK$300 she smiled and boasted, "Well, I haven't paid anything!"

Unmoved, the official remarked: "Yes, but you are very tired, aren't you?" He was right. She had her box, but for a one-off payment she could have delegated the entire stressful episode -- and kept a dozen Indonesians happy.

What she did not know then was that the seemingly endless web of payoffs and gratuities is a highly sophisticated, pragmatic system through which several local families could have had more on their table to eat that night. She had preserved her luxury of moral superiority but she had only won a battle to lose the war.

The example is one of a countless number that anyone dealing with Indonesia has experienced. Corruption is the easiest crime to spotlight, yet the hardest virus in a society to kill. It provokes mass generalisations and prejudice. As it seeps into the highest levels of government and business, it produces suburbs of vast mansions adorned with every luxury alongside the hovels of the dispossessed.

Is it just that Indonesians are somehow weak or greedy enough to choose corruption over honesty every time?

The clarion call of the resurgent opposition, "Reformasi!", would suggest otherwise, and the reverberating demands for a fresh start led by a clean and trusted administration have such momentum now as to seem impossible to be denied.

In every political or social forum these days, discussions invariably turn to corruption and the need to eradicate it. President Bacharuddin Habibie must be seen to be tackling high- profile corruption cases to keep even a modicum of faith in his government. Front-runner for the presidency, Megawati Sukarnoputri, sees her first task as that of establishing a society of just law and fair redress.

The rallying cry against KKN -- Korupsi, Kolusi and Nepotisme -- is shared by all the "little people" across the nation who have had their lands and livelihoods stolen, their children denied education, their careers blocked and even their lives threatened -- all for lack of the right monetary obeisance to the right official at the right time.

Indonesians are now holding their highest institutions to account. They want to prosecute former president Suharto, the Attorney-General Andi Ghalib, every crony who ever did business with "the family" (of Mr Suharto), and the managers of banks who loaned themselves money which did not exist.

Private businessmen and politicians now secretly help Teten Masduki of the pioneering group, Indonesian Corruption Watch, to get confidential documents to help expose and prosecute the most blatant examples of robbing the poor to pay the rich. Even the World Bank -- which long turned a blind eye to the state secretariat's siphoning-off of huge sums on every loan -- now speaks of corruption on a daily basis.

There is indeed much to talk about. A list of recent travesties would have to start with the tens of billions of dollars allegedly accumulated by Mr Suharto during his reign, a process no different to daylight robbery.

Mr Suharto's children could send their minders out to search for a "commission" on a new project or deal or simply demand bags full of cash. Lest we forget, foreign diplomats, business people and non-government organisations have all played the game and paid.

Laws to protect the citizenry or allow for redress, where they exist, rarely work. One former high court judge freely admits there is not a single honest judge in the country.

Whenever a case begins, it is the lawyers' job to race into the judge's office to buy him before the other side does, and to pay off local journalists so that the case is reported in a certain way. Officials all the way up the line to the highest judicial offices must be bribed to give citizens access to what, in a free society, would be theirs by right. This is a society where the state oil firm, Pertamina, could blithely lose at least US$10 billion in state funds in the late 1970s and its then boss be rewarded with a chunk of prime real estate and a job running a major charity. Just weeks ago, an independent audit found the firm had managed to lose another US$6.1 billion -- and still no heads have rolled.

The latest, most blatant case appears to be that of Attorney- General Mr Ghalib, whose bank accounts allegedly hold almost US$2 million in unaccounted funds, some of it received from two businessmen his office was investigating. The military police investigating the crime have now closed the case citing a lack of evidence, and Teten Masduki who initiated the case faces attempts to discredit and pressure him.

"Corruption is rampant in Indonesia, particularly among law enforcers, because there is lawlessness in Indonesia and there is no sufficient sanction to instil fear for them not to commit crime," attorney Frans Winarta said.

Every step of the way -- to getting a passport or a driver's licence, securing a title to land one has lived on for decades, or simply getting from one part of town to another -- can involve payments to policemen, secretaries, civil servants and lawyers.

Yet at its pettiest level, corruption is another word for mutual help. With so little opportunity for honest advancement, and surrounded by millions of people all struggling to survive, a drop of a few hundred rupiah here or there can mean being able to eat chicken for dinner or getting the sick child to see a doctor.

There is barely a functioning social security net, so those who are a little richer than others can see these bribes as oil that soothes the hardship of life in a developing country.

But for corruption on the scale with which Indonesia can impress, some other explanation is called for, and the answer to why it persists across all levels of the society highlights just how potent a political message of anti-corruption can be.

Take the case of army corruption. Mr Suharto can again provide the example: when he was in charge of the central Javanese Diponegoro Command, back in the 1950s, all regional commands knew they had to fend for themselves, finding food and material as best they could.

Naturally, deals were made with local traders, and Mr Suharto was no exception. He just happened to find astute partners in a younger Liem Sioe Liong and Bob Hasan, and almost lost his career for stretching the limits of financial practice.

His partners then became his cronies later, central to the edifice of state-sanctioned corruption which became the hallmark of Mr Suharto's New Order rule.

Indonesian intellectual, Mochtar Buchori, says one must go back decades, even centuries, to explain why corruption has become the norm.

He believes that Java -- traditional seat of power in Indonesia -- reacted to foreign incursions and the collapse of its kingdoms by turning in on itself, obsessing on trivialities and decoration.

"From 1755 to 1908, Java had cultural involution," he said. "Only when the 1908 [early nationalist] generation came along, was there a beginning to putting an end to the decadence of Javanese culture."

The clash of feudalism with colonialism was not, to Mr Buchori, the only root of today's corruption. He pinpoints the Japanese occupation during World War II as the start of the rot.

"To live on the basis of theft was still stigmatic in colonial times," he said. "But changes began during the occupation, when we were robbed of everything we had. People began to lose faith, values were turned upside down for the sake of pure survival.

"The problem of corruption is also intimately related to the idea of a work ethos -- the idea that you do your best to earn your way, and that you should not get perks for free."

But any equation between hard work and just reward has long been lost in Indonesia, making any fresh accounting of worth and values very difficult to achieve. History shows that when nationalist soldiers were fighting for their nation in the 1940s and had to feed and clothe themselves for lack of a central government to pay them, stealing from and cheating the people they sought to protect was commonplace.

Once independence was gained, these same men were acclaimed heroes and it was hardly the time in which to start punishing those who had broken the rules.

These same men were then given the large companies and concessions left behind by the Dutch, without training or management skills, so that subsequent travesties should hardly be cause for shock. A culture of complicity, supported by a docile press and a compliant judiciary, set the scene for the rapacity of the New Order.

The philosopher and Catholic priest, Father Franz Magnis- Suseno, believes that corruption was not yet a major issue in the 1950s. "It began in the 1960s and climaxed up until now," he said.

"In the New Order, it was huge, dealing with huge amounts and insatiable appetites. Those who were already immensely rich, still they wanted more.

"Under the New Order government, the whole political culture was steeped in Javanism, so that Javanese political culture provided the ways and legitimation of corruption, and now there is an anti-Java backlash. But Javanism is not the root cause."

The source of corruption, believes Father Magnis-Suseno, is authoritarianism. Any government operating without checks and balances can indeed get away with murder in pursuit of private gain.

"You find big corruption in closed communist societies, you saw it under the Nazi regime -- the common denominator is a closed political system," he said.

Now it is no secret that even to become a civil servant takes the placement of bribes in the right hands. Once behind one of those strangely empty desks in a ministry, the junior bureaucrat's salary is so low that it effectively only covers attendance at the office. It does not, in itself, warrant getting up and doing something. For that, more money is required.

A life relatively free of corruption requires a society in which a judicial system exists independently of government's legislative or parliamentary functions, and which can therefore rule freely against the powers that be when necessary.

It also requires a consensus on what constitutes fairness, on the idea that individuals have rights by virtue of being citizens of the country, without needing to pay to prove it.

Jakarta must act to stop fires spreading

Agence France Presse - August 4, 1999

Jakarta -- The Indonesian government needs to act soon to stop forest fires spiralling out of control in a repeat of the widespread disaster in 1997, the country's leading environmental watchdog WALHI warned Wednesday.

"We can now predict that widespread forest fires will break out again this year and may even be worse than in the past," said Longgena Ginting, coordinator of WALHI's forest advocacy program.

Despite the terrible fires which destroyed some 10 million hectares of forests in 1997 and early 1998, the government had made no moves to stop it happening again, he said.

"There does not seem to be any anticipation or efforts to prevent the fires, no systematic effort is apparent," Ginting said, adding visits to fire-prone areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan had shown no changes in practice or policy.

A study of hotspots in the two islands, obtained from satellite imaging, showed they were spreading fast, with the number in Sumatra rising from 110 on Monday to more than 314 the next day. In Kalimantan the hotspots had spread from 80 to 300 by Tuesday. "From the trend of the past days, we can see that the fires are spreading fast and could spread as badly as two years ago," he said.

The dry season had begun to hit several regions in Kalimantan, and despite a government ban on slash and burn land clearing, the practice continued, with even large plantation firms joining in, he said.

WALHI "demands the unconditional halt to forest conversion ... and demands that the forestry ministry prioritize forest protection rather than monetary economic interests that ignore the sustainability of Indonesia's natural forests."

Government zoning laws at provincial level allocated up to 30 percent of a province's forests for conversion into plantations to boost exports amid the economic crisis, he said.

"One of the main culprits [for the fires] is land conversion ... our data shows that in the past as well as now, the largest fires can be found in large concessions," he said.

A lack of staff or legal sanctions meant the ban on land clearing by fire was unenforced, he said, while large companies were trying to keep down costs by clearing land through the cheapest and fastest method -- fire.

A forestry official in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, contacted by AFP agreed nothing had changed and said he could only step up patrols. "We are restrained by lack of [fire fighting] equipment and funds," the official said.

Officials said smoke from forest and shrub fires on Sumatra and Borneo had already hit hazardous levels affecting air traffic and people's health.

Fires in Sumatra and Borneo covered much of the region with a choking haze for months in 1997 and to a lesser extent in 1998. In 1997 more than 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) of forest and shrubs were destroyed in Kalimantan and Sumatra, according to government figures. But WALHI claims more than 10 million hectares of forests alone were ravaged.

South-east Asia faces new smog crisis

The Guardian (UK) - August 2, 1999

John Aglionby, Medan -- Dozens of uncontrolled forest fires are breaking out every day across western Indonesia, blanketing much of south-east Asia in a polluted haze and raising fears that there could be a repeat of the smog crisis of two years ago.

In 1997 large parts of the region were blanketed by a choking yellow cloud for up to six months. Losses to affected countries ran into billions of pounds as thousands of working days were lost to sickness caused by pollutants and alarmed tourists stayed away.

It is feared that if the weather stays dry -- and no significant rain is forecast for several months in Sumatra, southern Borneo and other affected areas -- then the smog could become as bad as that of two years ago.

The official pollution index hit 100 in Singapore on Friday, one point shy of the "unhealthy" level, as a murky smog hung over the city state all weekend.

Primary schools are already planning to move PE lessons indoors if the haze becomes a health hazard and classroom air conditioners have been fitted with filters to block pollutants.

Malaysia stopped publishing pollution levels in June amid fears that media reports would scare away tourists. One Kuala Lumpur resident said yesterday that the smog in the capital was "no worse than at any time in the last month" but there have been reports of haze in other parts of Malaysia. ,P>In West Kalimantan, the Indonesian half of Borneo, government officials have already issued health warnings and are advising people with respiratory problems to wear face masks.

"The situation is not at crisis level yet but we don't know how many fires are burning because the satellites cannot see through the cloud," one environment agency official said yesterday.

Despite little cloud cover yesterday, much of Sumatra was not visible from the air because of the smoke haze. The most recent satellite data for the area shows a rash of hotspots where fires are burning.

"The hotspots have emerged in the last 10 days and we are seeing more and more every day," one satellite data analyst said yesterday.

Environmentalists blame the gathering gloom on the Indonesian government's lack of decisive action in the wake of the 1997 crisis.

Many landowners and farmers use fires as a swift and economical means of land clearance, regardless of its environmental impact.

In the Indonesian provinces of Riau and Jambi, where large areas have been set aside for plantations, the prevailing winds blow the smoke north to Singapore and Malaysia.

The Indonesian government has taken some steps to stop the fires. Most significantly, it has shifted the onus onto those granted forestry concessions to prove their innocence if fires are detected on their land.

Penalties for anyone convicted of starting fires deliberately have also been stiffened but only a handful of minor concession holders have been prosecuted or had their licenses revoked.

According to Longgena Ginting of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, part of the problem is a culture of cronyism at the ministry of forestry.

"The government has done almost nothing about preventing fires," he said. "Their strategy has focused on catching people once the fires have been set alight. "Basically they don't really seem to care and it will only be a matter of time before we have a repeat of 1997."

Mr Ginting said official apathy could be demonstrated by the fact that Indonesia does not even have a ministry of the environment. "Different ministries are responsible for different aspects of exploiting rather than sustaining our natural resources," he said. "It all adds up to almost no serious environmental protection at all."

Meanwhile in northern Sumatra yesterday, the skies were clear but dozens and dozens of fires could be seen. Some were very small, obviously started by individual farmers, while others were larger and clearly designed to clear land on a large scale. Not one firefighter could be seen trying to stop the fires from spreading.

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