nettimes_digestive_system on Sun, 24 Oct 1999 14:43:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> East Timor Digest (news; Indonesian Presidential elections; Xanana returns; E.Timor according to Chomsky)

Selected news items from STRATFOR.COM

1513 GMT, 991023 Indonesia/East Timor – Investigators discovered 11 bodies
in a well in Liquisa, East Timor, Interfet spokesman Col. Mark Kelly
announced Oct. 23. He also said that Interfet has requested additional
human rights investigators.

1442 GMT, 991023 Indonesia/East Timor – East Timor independence leader Jose
Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao said Oct. 23 that he did not aspire to be
president of East Timor. He also called for reconciliation and the offer of
amnesty to the pro-Indonesia militias.

1430 GMT, 991022 Indonesia – Some 15,000 students rallied for independence
Oct. 22 in Indonesia’s Sulawesi province, home of former Indonesian
President B.J. Habibie. His loss of the presidential election Oct. 20
helped trigger the protest.

1429 GMT, 991022 Indonesia/ASEAN – Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid
wants to "step up cooperation" and expressed willingness to meet with ASEAN
leaders during the annual regional summit in Manila next month, said the
Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia.

1408 GMT, 991022 Indonesia – Sectarian violence in Indonesia’s Maluku
islands Oct. 22 left eight dead and eight injured. Security forces shot
most of the victims.

1832 GMT, 991021 Indonesia/East Timor – The leader of the pro-independence
military group Falintil said Oct. 21 that he hopes Japan’s Self-Defense
Forces (SDF) will join Interfet forces in East Timor to help protect local
residents. He suggested Japan is historically responsible for East Timor
because of its occupation of the territory during World War II.

1631 GMT, 991021 Indonesia/East Timor – INTERFET Col. Mark Kelly said Oct.
21 several groups of armed militiamen are still infiltrating East Timor
amid reports of a possible militia invasion of Oekussi, the East Timor
enclave in West Timor. Kelly said INTERFET launched "Operation Strand,"
which will attempt to end militia presence along the East Timor/West Timor

1421 GMT, 991021 Indonesia – Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly
(MPR) elected Megawati Sukarnoputri vice president Oct. 21 after fellow
candidates Gen. Wiranto and Akbar Tanjung withdrew.

1401 GMT, 991021 Indonesia – Violent protests continued for a second day
Oct. 21 and left at least two dead after Megawati Sukarnoputri lost the
Indonesian presidential elections.

1429 GMT, 991020 Australia/Indonesia – East Timorese leaders, including
Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao, met Oct. 20 following the Indonesian
legislature’s decision to support East Timorese independence. Ramos Horta
said Australia must remain in charge of security during the transition to
independence. Gusmao praised former President B.J. Habibie for recognizing
East Timor’s right to self-determination.

1413 GMT, 991020 Indonesia – Indonesia’s national assembly elected
Abdurrahman Wahid as its fourth president Oct. 20. Wahid beat out Megawati
Sukarnoputri to serve the next five years as president. Former President
B.J. Habibie had dropped out of the race.

1407 GMT, 991020 Indonesia – International praise poured in Oct. 20 after
Indonesia’s National Assembly revoked a 1978 decree incorporating East
Timor into Indonesia.

2213 GMT, 991019 Indonesia – A commission of the People’s Consultative
Assembly agreed Oct. 18 to amend the constitution in order to limit
presidential power. Under the proposed amendments, a president could only
serve two consecutive five-year terms and the legislative power of the
president would be revoked.

1439 GMT, 991019 Indonesia/Portugal – The People’s Consultative Assembly
(MPR) began debate Oct. 19 over acceptance of the Aug. 30 vote for
independence in East Timor. A legislative committee for the MPR vote
dropped several points that would delay the decision, including: Portugal
remove East Timor from its constitution and international peacekeepers
guarantee the safety of all people in East Timor.

1431 GMT, 991019 Indonesia – INTERFET personnel uncovered a mass grave
containing more than 20 bodies in the town of Liquica, west of Dili. The
cause and time of death have yet to be determined.

1409 GMT, 991019 Indonesia – Thousands of Indonesians rallied in the
streets Oct. 19 for their candidates one day ahead of presidential
elections and two days ahead of vice-president elections. Many called for
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to drop out of the race, and others
carried signs reading, "She is not my president," referring to Megawati

2220 GMT, 991018 Indonesia/Australia – Indonesia and Australia agreed on an
accord that will give Interfet peacekeepers immunity from prosecution for
actions during their time of duty.

1819 GMT, 991018 Indonesia – Indonesian Defense Force Commander Gen.
Wiranto announced Oct. 18 that he was declining to run as vice president
with current President B.J. Habibie. Wiranto said he would be up for a
political position if the people really needed him.

1617 GMT, 991018 Indonesia – A national assembly committee set up in
Indonesia to discuss East Timor’s future agreed Oct. 18 to propose a
plenary commission to invalidate the 1978 decree that formalized Indonesia’
s annexation of East Timor.

0001 GMT, 991018 Indonesia/United Nations – Pro-Independence East Timorese
leaders will ask for a role in the U.N. interim government that will be set
up in East Timor once the Indonesian assembly approves the Aug. 30
referendum. Preliminary talks on the creation of the interim government
began on Oct. 16 between Indonesian officials and the United Nations.

2330 GMT, 991017 Indonesia – Indonesian President B.J.Habibie apologized
for any misdeeds while in power, and signaled that he was not expecting to
be re-elected as president when the People’s Consultative Assembly votes
for the new leader on Oct. 20. Habibie said that no matter who was elected,
reform must go on in Indonesia.

1532 GMT, 991016 Indonesia/INTERFET – Pro-Indonesia militiamen and troops
from the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) clashed Oct. 16,
leaving three militiamen dead. The battle erupted after militiamen ambushed
an INTERFET observation patrol.

1503 GMT, 991016 Indonesia – Sectarian groups in Ambon, Indonesia fought
Oct. 15, killing one policeman and possibly as many as nine people. The
police officer was shot while trying to mediate between the two groups, the
Antara state news agency reported.

1502 GMT, 991016 Indonesia – Indonesia’s military has been placed on "full
alert" as Irian Jaya enters its third day Oct. 16 of massive protests over
the government’s decision to split the province.

2214 GMT, 991015 Indonesia/Australia – Australian Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove,
the commander of INTERFET forces, rescinded a statement he made admitting
that Eurico Guterres led a group of independence militiamen secretly into
East Timor and staged a rally. Cosgrove called the militiamen "lucky" and
warned that they should not attempt to enter East Timor again. Cosgrove
also declared a one-kilometer exclusion zone on the border to help prevent
clashes between INTERFET and Indonesian troops.

1810 GMT, 991015 Indonesia – The Asian Development Bank (ASD) announced
Oct. 14 that it is canceling $120 million in loans to Indonesia due to the
Bank Bali scandal. An ASD spokesman said, "There is no real government to
talk to" in Indonesia, and added the mission led by the IMF to look into
the scandal was having great difficulties.

1430 GMT, 991015 Indonesia/ASEAN – East Timor will not accept ASEAN calls
to enter the economic organization said East Timor’s chief spokesman Jose
Ramos Horta Oct. 15. He also said East Timor would not accept command under
any ASEAN led peacekeeping force.

2035 GMT, 991014 Indonesia – Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove, commander of
Interfet forces in East Timor, said Oct. 14 that he supports the idea of
making the border between West and East Timor a demilitarized buffer zone
if Indonesia also endorses the plan. Cosgrove admitted that an Indonesian
policeman might have been killed in an Oct. 10 clash between Interfet and
Indonesian security personnel. He previously said the man was only injured.

1807 GMT, 991014 Indonesia – The youngest son of former Indonesian
President Suharto was acquitted by the South Jakarta District Court on Oct.
14 of charges that he was involved in a multimillion-dollar corruption
case. He was indicted on charges of conspiring to swindle the state out of
$11 million.

1430 GMT, 991014 Indonesia – More than 1,000 students in Jakarta protested
Oct. 14 President B.J. Habibie’s reelection bid. Meanwhile, approximately
1,500 people protested in Jayapura against the government’s action of
splitting the province of Irian Jaya. Police and soldiers were on hand in
both places, but no confrontations occurred.

1418 GMT, 991014 Australia/Indonesia – Australian Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer denied Oct. 14 reports that Indonesia had suspended the
Timor Gap oil treaty.

1800 GMT, 991013 Indonesia/Australia – Indonesian-Australian relations are
"worsening," prompting the Indonesian government to freeze Timor Gap
relations, Indonesian Antara news agency reported Oct. 12. A joint military
operation named "New Horizon" and the Timor Gap treaty were suspended

1610 GMT, 991013 Indonesia – Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly
(MPR) should settle the Aceh situation, said 30 members of the MPR Oct. 13.
The group called on Indonesia to grant Aceh autonomy, retaining authority
only in foreign affairs, external defense, monetary and fiscal policies.

1439 GMT, 991013 Indonesia/World Bank – The World Bank will continue
holding loans from Indonesia until a full audit on the Bank Bali scandal is
released, announced World Bank country director Mark Baird Oct. 13.

1430 GMT, 991013 Indonesia – A clash broke out in Ambon Oct. 13 when
Christians attacked a Muslim neighborhood. Troops dispersed the mob, shot
one man dead and injured at least 31 others. Antara news agency said
bullets wounds constituted 30 of the injuries.

2212 GMT, 991012 Indonesia – The Indonesia People’s Consultative Assembly
(MPR) is planning to issue a special decree pertaining to the handling of
corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN) cases. MPR chairman Amien Rais
said the decree would be broad ranging and could hopefully "overcome the
KKN cases."

1810 GMT, 991012 Indonesia – Approximately 300 Dayak tribesmen clashed with
Indonesian security forces in Borneo Oct. 12. According to the Jakarta
Post, seven tribesmen and one police officer were injured. The tribesmen
were angered by the provincial parliament’s choice of representatives to
the People’s Consultative Assembly.

1616 GMT, 991012 Indonesia – Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said
Oct. 12 that Indonesia will submit a formal complaint to the United Nations
saying the international peacekeeping forces in East Timor violated
Indonesia’s sovereignty by shooting across its border. Relations between
Indonesia and Australia have sunk to their lowest level ever, he said.

1413 GMT, 991012 Malaysia/Indonesia – Indonesia may become "Australia’s
Vietnam", said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir in his column for the
Mainichi Daily News Oct. 11. He said western countries are using East Timor
as a tool to brake up Asia, East Timorese were reconciled to integration
with Indonesia and the situation has been handled very poorly.

[[ moderator's note: what is Mahathir talking about? Vietnam was
Australia's Vietnam, the country willingly sent conscripts to help out its
big brother, the USA (as did South Korea) ]].


Wahid Election Maintains Indonesia's Elite
21 October 1999

The Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) elected Abdurrahman
Wahid president Oct. 20 over Megawati Sukarnoputri by a vote of 373 to 313.
After Megawati’s loss sparked clashes between her supporters and security
forces in Jakarta, she and Wahid joined together to call for peace and
stability. Megawati also urged people "to accept the results of the

Wahid has been on a steady path to the presidency since December 1998, when
he called for a national reconciliation to bring together the elite, "both
those sitting in the government or those outside." He wanted to avoid a
social revolution, which he believed would strike Indonesia in the absence
of reconciliation. Wahid portrayed Indonesia as a country that would
fracture without a strong central leader like former President Suharto – no
matter how disliked he was – and without cooperation from all of the elite.

The elite included not only the old Golkar regimes, but military,
religious, social and political leaders as well. After witnessing the
violence that led to Suharto’s resignation, Wahid said that further social
unrest would lead to the downfall of not only the Golkar party apparatus,
but also the military and eventually the social and religious
organizations. This, in turn, would lead to the disintegration of the

The entire presidential race has evolved with two things in mind: the
preservation of Indonesia and the preservation of the elite. Instead of
following this script, Megawati claimed that her legitimacy came from the
masses in the streets. While Wahid, a long-time associate of Megawati,
tried to support her candidacy, her reliance on popular unrest as a
political tool led him to decide to oppose her election.

Despite concern over her methods, Megawati’s appeal to international
investors and to the throngs of supporters spurred Wahid and other
political leaders to try to convince Megawati to play by Indonesian rules.
In a final effort to bring Megawati in line, Wahid traveled with her to her
father’s grave Oct. 8, less than two weeks before the elections. Meanwhile,
the MPR was working to curtail the powers of the presidency, shifting more
control to the parliament. In doing so, the MPR laid the groundwork for
avoiding future confrontation over presidential elections, since the
position has become largely ceremonial.

Wahid’s election was the result of compromises over how power would be
shared among factions of Indonesia’s elite. Each of the factions, except
the military, now has a major role in the government: Muslim leader Amien
Rais of the National Mandate Party is head of the MPR; Akbar Tanjung,
chairman of the Golkar Party, is speaker of the lower house, or DPR; and
finally, Megawati’s Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) retains the
largest voting bloc in the DPR.

Now that the power has been divvied up, the priority of the new government
will be the restoration and maintenance of stability and economic recovery.
Of course, underlying any actions taken toward this end will be the end of
preserving Indonesia’s elite.


Viva! Gusmao's triumphant return
Date: 23/10/99

By DAVID LAGUE, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The wrenching sob came from about 15 rows back in the sweating, silent
crowd. They had packed in to hear East Timorese resistance leader Xanana
Gusmao's first words yesterday on his return to his native island after
seven years in an Indonesian jail. From that first cry, the grief and pain
of a quarter of a century under Indonesian rule was instantly conducted
from body to body and tears flowed on thousands of faces. Men and woman
cried openly. Mr Gusmao's voice broke and he also cried. Dressed in the
camouflage uniform of a Falintil resistance fighter, Mr Gusmao stood at a
podium on the steps of the former colonial government house with the ruins
of Dili behind him and claimed victory in a long and bitter struggle.

"Viva East Timor," he shouted with his hands clenched above his head in

"Viva the East Timorese people. Viva Falintil."

"Viva," the crowd yelled.

"We are the winners," he told them. "We will be independent for ever."

However, on the balcony above Mr Gusmao's head was a reminder that East
Timor's struggle is not over. Australian Special Air Service troops with
sniper rifles scanned the crowd and the burnt-out shells of surrounding
buildings with binoculars while other troopers with submachine-guns formed
a personal bodyguard for the man who is expected to become the first leader
of the world's newest country. After 17 years leading a guerilla struggle
against Indonesia's occupation forces, Mr Gusmao was captured in 1992 and
imprisoned in Jakarta.

He was released in August but was unable to return to his homeland earlier
as Indonesian-backed militia unleashed a wave of terror and destruction
following overwhelming support for independence at the UN-organised ballot
on August 30. However, the withdrawal of the bulk of Jakarta's forces and
the presence of Interfet, the multinational peacekeeping force in East
Timor, cleared the way for his arrival.

The Australian commander of Interfet, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, watched
from the sidelines yesterday as the widely respected Mr Gusmao took the
first step on the road to self-government. His speech called for his
countrymen to rebuild their shattered land and forgive their Indonesian

"Even though we are suffering and we live in a terrible situation, we must
build a new East Timorese people and a new country," he said.

"We have shown that we are brave over 24 years. We must make a plan for

In front of the podium, an Indonesian-trained agricultural scientist, Mr
Marcel Gusmao, had been waiting for half an hour in the scorching sun to
see the leader who shares his name, although they are not related.

"We are happy today," hesaid shyly. "I think in three years we can have our
independence." A month after Interfet was deployed to East Timor,
Indonesian troops are expected to make a final withdrawal soon. A UN
transitional authority is expected to take over until elections can be

General Cosgrove welcomed Mr Gusmao's return and said his "wise and mature"
leadership in co-operation with other East Timorese leaders would be needed
in managing the transition to independence.

"We must all acknowledge this as a joyous day for East Timor," he said. "I
think he transcends the military or the political. "I think he is a

Under tight security, Interfet flew Mr Gusmao to East Timor from Darwin on
Thursday evening. He has already held talks with General Cosgrove, at which
the Interfet leader renewed his call for the Falintil guerilla fighters to

Earlier yesterday, the first shipload of East Timorese refugees returned to
Dili from West Timor. The UNHCR director for Asia-Pacific, Mr Franc¸ois
Founat, said there were believed to be about 250,000 East Timorese still in
West Timor and another 400,000 still displaced in East Timor.

Mr Antonio de Jesus Soares, 38, and 46 members of his extended family, were
among the first ashore from the chartered ship after spending about six
weeks in West Timor.

Unlike most of those returning, Mr Soares still has a job - with the aid
agency CARE.

"I am one of the lucky ones," he said. "I can rebuild my house."

Story Picture: "We are the winners" ... Xanana Gusmao's address in Dili

This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or
mirroring is prohibited.


Subject: ZNet Commentary / Oct 23 / East Timor / Noam Chomsky

East Timor Is Not Yesterday's Story
By Noam Chomsky

According to recent reports, the UN mission in East Timor has been able to
account for just over 150,000 people out of an estimated population of
850,000. It reports that 260,000 "are now languishing in squalid refugee
camps in West Timor under the effective control of the militias after
fleeing or being forcibly removed from their homes," and that another
100,000 have been relocated to other parts of Indonesia. The rest are
presumed to be hiding in the mountains. The Australian commander expressed
the natural concern that displaced people lack food and medical supplies.
Touring camps in East and West Timor, US Assistant Secretary of State
Koh reported that the refugees are "starving and terrorized," and that
disappearances "without explanation" are a daily occurrence.

To appreciate the scale of this disaster, one has to bear in mind the
virtual demolition of the physical basis for survival by the departing
Indonesian army and its paramilitary associates ("militias"), and the reign
of terror to which the territory has been subjected for a quarter-century,
including the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people when the Carter
Administration was providing the required diplomatic and military support.

How have its successors reacted during the current "noble phase" of foreign
policy, with its "saintly glow," to quote some of the awed rhetoric of
respected commentators in the national press through the 1990s? One way was
to increase the support for the killers -- for "our kind of guy," as
Suharto was described by the Clinton Administration before he fell from
grace by losing control and failing to implement harsh IMF orders with
sufficient ardor. After the 1991 Dili massacre, Congress restricted arms
sales and banned US training of the Indonesian military, but Clinton found
devious ways to evade the ban. Congress expressed its "outrage,"
that "it was and is the intent of Congress to prohibit US military training
for Indonesia," as readers of the Far Eastern Economic Review and dissident
publications here could learn. But to no avail.

Inquiries about Clinton's programs received the routine response from the
State Department: US military training "serves a very positive function in
terms of exposing foreign militaries to US values." These values were
exhibited as military aid to Indonesia flowed and government-licensed sales
of armaments increased five-fold from fiscal 1997 to last year. A month ago
(Sept. 19), the London Observer international news service and the London
Guardian Weekly published a story headlined "US Trained Butchers of East
Timor." The report, by two respected correspondents, described Clinton's
"Iron Balance" program, which trained Indonesian military in violation of
congressional bans as late as 1998. Included were Kopassus units, the
murderous forces that organized and directed the "militias" and
directly in their atrocities, as Washington was well aware -- just as it
knew that these long-time beneficiaries of US training were "legendary for
their cruelty" and in East Timor "became the pioneer and exemplar for every
kind of atrocity" (Ben Anderson, one of the world's leading Indonesia

Clinton's "Iron Balance" program provided these forces with more training
counterinsurgency and "psychological operations," expertise that they put
use effectively at once. As they and their minions were burning down the
capital city of Dili in September, murdering and rampaging, the Pentagon
announced that "A US-Indonesian training exercise focused on humanitarian
and disaster relief activities concluded Aug. 25," five days before the
referendum that elicited the sharp escalation in crimes -- precisely as the
political leadership in Washington expected, at least if they were reading
their own intelligence reports.

All of this found its way to the memory hole that contains the past record
of the crucial US support for the atrocities, granted the same (null)
coverage as many other events of the past year; for example, the unanimous
Senate vote on June 30th calling on the Clinton administration to link
Indonesian military actions in East Timor to "any loan or financial
assistance to Indonesia," as readers could learn from the Irish Times.

For much of 1999, Western intellectuals have been engaged in one of
history's most audacious displays of self-adulation over their magnificent
performance in Kosovo. Among the many facets of this grand achievement
dispatched to the proper place was the fact that the huge flow of
refugees expelled after the bombing could receive little care, thanks to
Washington's defunding of the responsible UN agency. Its staff was reduced
15% in 1998, and another 20% in January 1999; and it now endures the
denunciations of the (also saintly) Tony Blair for its "problematic
performance" in the wake of the atrocities that were the anticipated
consequence of US/UK bombing. While the mutual admiration society was
performing as required, atrocities mounted in East Timor. Even prior to the
August referendum, some 3-5000 had been killed according to credible Church
sources, about twice the number killed prior to the bombing in Kosovo (with
more than twice the population), according to NATO. As atrocities
skyrocketed in September, Clinton watched silently, until compelled by
domestic and international (mostly Australian) pressure to make at least
some gestures. These were enough for the Indonesian Generals to reverse
course at once, an indication of the latent power that has always been in
reserve. A rational person can readily draw some conclusions about criminal

At last report, the US has provided no funds for the Australian-led UN
intervention force (in contrast, Japan, long a fervent supporter of
Indonesia, offered $100 million). But that is perhaps not surprising, in
light of its refusal to pay any of the costs of the UN civilian operations
even in Kosovo. Washington has also asked the UN to reduce the scale of
subsequent operations, because it might be called upon to pay some of the
costs. Hundreds of thousands of missing people may be starving in the
mountains, but the Air Force that excels in pinpoint destruction of
targets apparently lacks the capacity to airdrop food -- and no call has
been heard for even such an elementary humanitarian measure. Hundreds of
thousands more are facing a grim fate within Indonesia. A word from
Washington would suffice to end their torment, but there is no word, and no

In Kosovo, preparation for war crimes trials has been underway since May,
expedited at US-UK initiative, including unprecedented access to
intelligence information. In East Timor, investigations are being discussed
at leisure, with Indonesian participation and a tight deadline (Dec. 31).
is "an absolute joke, a complete whitewash," according to UN officials
quoted in the British press. A spokesperson for Amnesty International added
that the inquiry as planned "will cause East Timorese even more trauma than
they have suffered already. It would be really insulting at this stage."
Indonesian Generals "do not seem to be quaking in their boots," the
Australian press reports. One reason is that "some of the most damning
evidence is likely to be... material plucked from the air waves by
sophisticated US and Australian electronic intercept equipment," and the
Generals feel confident that their old friends will not let them down -- if
only because the chain of responsibility might be hard to snap at just the
right point.

There is also little effort to unearth evidence of atrocities in East
In striking contrast, Kosovo has been swarming with police and medical
forensic teams from the US and other countries in the hope of discovering
large-scale atrocities that can be transmuted into justification for the
NATO bombing of which they were the anticipated consequence -- as Milosevic
had planned all along, it is now claimed, though NATO Commander General
Wesley Clark reported a month after the bombing that the alleged plans
never been shared with me" and that the NATO operation "was not designed
the political leadership] as a means of blocking Serb ethnic cleansing....
There was never any intent to do that. That was not the idea."

Commenting on Washington's refusal to lift a finger to help the victims of
its crimes, the veteran Australian diplomat Richard Butler observed that
has been made very clear to me by senior American analysts that the facts
the alliance essentially are that: the US will respond proportionally,
defined largely in terms of its own interests and threat assessment..." The
remarks were not offered in criticism of Washington; rather, of his fellow
Australians, who do not comprehend the facts of life: that others are to
shoulder the burdens, and face the costs -- which for Australia, may not be
slight. It will hardly come as a great shock if a few years hence US
corporations are cheerfully picking up the pieces in an Indonesia that
resents Australian actions, but has few complaints about the overlord.

The chorus of self-adulation has subsided a bit, though not much. Far more
important than these shameful performances is the failure to act -- at
and decisively -- to save the remnants of one of the most terrible
of this awful century.


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