Indonesia

Indonesian police gun down alleged terrorists

By John Roberts, 23 January 2013

Within two days of the latest shootings, President Yudhoyono unveiled plans to further boost the police and military apparatus.

Millions of Indonesian workers join one-day strike

By John Roberts, 18 October 2012

The turnout was driven by pent-up anger over low wages and the “outsourcing” of work to contract workers, now common throughout Asia.

Anti-US protests spread throughout Muslim world

By Alex Lantier, 18 September 2012

Protests that began one week ago at US embassies in Egypt and Libya against an anti-Islamic YouTube video are rapidly spreading throughout the Muslim world.

Close associates of Indonesian president targeted over corruption

By John Roberts, 18 August 2012

Scandals have emerged amid the political manoeuvring for the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014.

Indonesia to join US-Australia military exercises

By Mike Head, 4 July 2012

Following President Yudhoyono’s visit to Darwin this week, Australia will boost its US-backed military arrangements with Indonesia.

Russian plane crashes in Indonesia

By Clara Weiss, 11 May 2012

On Wednesday, a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 on a demonstration flight crashed into the rock face of a volcano near the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Indonesian government retreats from immediate fuel price rise

By John Roberts, 19 April 2012

Plans to cut subsidies provoked widespread opposition and weeks of protests throughout the country.

Indonesian government shaken by corruption scandal

By John Roberts, 15 February 2012

The anti-corruption court has heard evidence that senior officials of the ruling Democrat Party have been involved in pay-offs and bribes.

Indonesian police kill three protesters during anti-mine protest

By Mark Church, 29 December 2011

The protesters were part of the Anti-Mining People’s Front, which opposes mineral exploration in the area being carried out by Australian Arc Exploration.

Indonesian government orders police to break Papuan mine strike

By Mike Head, 3 November 2011

Indonesia’s newly appointed energy and mineral resources minister met on Monday with the US ambassador to Indonesia, Scot Marciel, to discuss the two-month-old Freeport dispute.

Freeport shuts Papuan gold mine in new strike-breaking bid

By Mike Head, 19 October 2011

The indefinite shutdown came a week after para-military police, mobilised by the Indonesian government, opened fire on protesting workers, killing one striker and wounding a dozen more.

Indonesian police open fire on striking miners in Papua

By Mike Head, 13 October 2011

Employed in the largest and most profitable gold and copper mine in the world, the strikers have demanded that their hourly wages, currently as low as $2, rise to a minimum of $17.50.

Sharp tensions in Indonesian Papua following failure of “peace conference”

By John Roberts, 10 September 2011

The lack of agreement between Jakarta and Papuan organisations was quickly underscored by a spate of violence and protest rallies in Jayapura and other towns.

Nike faces allegations of worker abuse in Indonesia

By John Braddock, 8 September 2011

The latest claims refute the longstanding assertions by Nike and other high-end garment and footwear manufacturers that they are improving conditions in their outsourced sweat-shop operations.

Corruption scandal rattles Indonesian government

By John Roberts, 31 August 2011

The latest scandal has further damaged President Yudhoyono’s standing, particularly as it has involved younger Democrats that helped promote his anti-corruption drive.

WikiLeaks cables confirm US knowledge of Indonesian military’s crimes

By Oliver Campbell, 10 January 2011

Leaked US embassy cables demonstrate that Washington was well aware of ongoing human rights abuses in Papua even as it pursued closer ties with the TNI.

Cables show US reversed Indonesian army ban for Obama visit

By John Braddock, 18 December 2010

The resumption of US ties with Kopassus was determined by the Obama administration’s steps to counter Chinese influence in Asia.

Obama trip consolidates strategic ties with Indonesia

By John Roberts, 17 November 2010

Obama’s visit to Indonesia was part of an aggressive US diplomatic campaign aimed at curbing China’s rising influence in Asia.

Indonesian government dismisses evidence of torture in Papua

By John Roberts, 9 November 2010

Captured on video, the Indonesian military’s torture of two Papuans in May highlights the extent of the violence and intimidation that exists throughout Papua.

Indonesia: Inadequate relief endangers disaster victims

By John Roberts, 3 November 2010

There is mounting criticism of the government as relief workers struggle to cope with two disasters involving tens of thousands of people—the October 25 tsunami in the Mentawai islands and the eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java.

Hundreds dead after two Indonesian disasters

By Peter Symonds, 28 October 2010

A tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra and a volcanic eruption in central Java have claimed more than 300 lives this week.

US ends ban on Indonesian Kopassus commandos

By John Braddock, 6 August 2010

The Obama administration is to lift a decade-long ban on US military contact with Indonesia’s notorious Kopassus special forces.

West Papuan protests voice discontent with Indonesian rule

By John Braddock, 20 July 2010

The demonstration was the biggest in the province since the fall of former Indonesian dictator Suharto in 1998.

Report highlights political persecution in Indonesia

By John Braddock, 2 July 2010

Despite efforts to portray Indonesia as “democratic” following the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998, a recent Human Rights Watch report demonstrates the government’s continuing abuse of basic democratic rights.

Indonesian finance minister appointed as World Bank director

By John Braddock, 19 May 2010

Mulyani’s elevation to the World Bank is not just a career change, but is bound up with deepening conflicts within the Indonesian ruling elite.

Indonesian bank bailout exposes split in ruling coalition

By John Braddock, 1 March 2010

Sharp political divisions in Indonesia’s ruling coalition emerged as the representatives of political parties on a parliamentary special committee on the 2008 bailout of Bank Century presented their findings.

Corruption scandal creates major crisis for Indonesian president

By John Braddock, 27 November 2009

Barely a month after his inauguration for a second term, Indonesian President Yudhoyono is embroiled in a scandal involving attempts to discredit the Corruption Eradication Commission.

Another Indonesian ferry disaster claims dozens of lives

By John Roberts, 25 November 2009

In the latest Indonesian ferry disaster, at least 29 people are dead and many missing after an overcrowded boat sank in bad weather off the Riau Islands province.

Indonesian police shoot two refugees trying to reach Australia

By Mike Head, 18 November 2009

The real face of the Rudd government’s hoped-for “Indonesian solution” for asylum seekers began to emerge last week. Indonesian police shot and seriously wounded two men trying to reach Australia aboard an Afghan asylum seekers’ boat.

Australian government’s “Indonesian Solution” in disarray

By Richard Phillips, 2 November 2009

Two weeks after an Australian customs ship rescued 78 Tamil asylum seekers, the unresolved standoff over their future has focussed attention on the Labor government’s inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees.

Indonesian earthquake toll soars

By John Braddock, 20 October 2009

The death toll from the September 30 earthquake in West Sumatra reached 1,115 last week after officials ended the search for 300 missing people and declared them dead.

Political fallout grows over Indonesian bank bailout

By John Braddock, 14 October 2009

A festering scandal in Indonesia over the government bailout of the mid-sized Bank Century late last year is threatening to cast a shadow over the second term of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Thousands feared dead after Indonesian earthquake

By John Roberts, 3 October 2009

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Indonesia on Wednesday, causing enormous destruction in and around the Sumatran city of Padang.

Earthquake devastates Indonesia’s West Java province

By John Roberts, 5 September 2009

At least 64 people were killed, including a number of children, as a result of the earthquake that struck off the coast of West Java on Wednesday.

Indonesian court rejects election challenge

By John Braddock, 21 August 2009

The Indonesian Constitutional Court last week dismissed an application for a presidential election re-vote by the two losing candidates, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Jusuf Kalla.

Indonesian president’s re-election disputed

By John Roberts, 3 August 2009

The official declaration of incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s landslide election victory has been challenged by losing candidates.

Indonesian bombings portend renewed attacks on democratic rights

By John Braddock, 29 July 2009

The July 17 suicide bombings in Jakarta are being exploited to justify inroads into the limited democratic rights gained in Indonesia since the end of the Suharto dictatorship.

Jakarta terrorist bombings seized on to justify Afghan war

By John Roberts, 21 July 2009

The terrorist bombings of the Jakarta JW Marriot and Ritz Carlton hotels last Friday morning in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta were a contemptible and reactionary act.

Indonesian military implicated in Freeport mine murder

By John Braddock, 20 July 2009

An Australian mining project manager was killed earlier this month when he was fired on with military-style weapons in a premeditated attack near the Freeport McMoRan mine in Indonesian-controlled West Papua where he worked.

Yudhoyono ahead as Indonesians vote in presidential elections

By John Roberts, 8 July 2009

Despite considerable alienation from all three candidates and a likely high abstention, most opinion polls predict that the incumbent, former Suharto-era general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will win a clear majority.

Historian says US backed “efficacious terror” in 1965 Indonesian massacre

By John Braddock, 7 July 2009

The US and British governments, supported by Australia, were complicit in the murder of more than half a million alleged communist sympathisers in the wake of the 1965 Indonesian coup.

Coal mine blast in Indonesia kills at least 32

By Carol Divjak, 24 June 2009

A gas explosion at a coal mine in the Sawahlunto district of West Sumatra on June 16 killed at least 32 people. The tragedy is the outcome of the appalling safety standards that prevail in much of the Indonesian mining industry.

Suharto-era figures dominate Indonesian presidential poll

By John Roberts, 3 June 2009

Following Indonesia’s parliamentary election in April, three tickets have emerged for the July 8 presidential poll, with the members of each team drawn from the Suharto-era political establishment.

Lessons of the 1965 Indonesian Coup

Chapter One: The historical background

By Terri Cavanagh, 16 May 2009

In October 1965 the international working class suffered one of its greatest defeats and betrayals in the post-World War II period.

Lessons of the 1965 Indonesian Coup

Chapter Two: Stalinists betray the mass movement

By Terri Cavanagh, 16 May 2009

In December 1957 the whole fabric of imperialist domination over the Indonesian economy was shaken by a massive eruption of the working class and peasantry. Factories, plantations, banks and ships were seized and occupied.

Lessons of the 1965 Indonesian Coup

Chapter Three: 1965—Stalinism’s bloody legacy

By Terri Cavanagh, 16 May 2009

The Indonesian military coup of October 1-2, 1965 was the outcome of a carefully-orchestrated and long-planned operation by the CIA and the US-trained and backed commanders of the Indonesian armed forces.

Lessons of the 1965 Indonesian Coup

Chapter Four: Pabloite accomplices of counter-revolution

By Terri Cavanagh, 16 May 2009

In the months following the bloody CIA-organised military coup of October 1-2, 1965, every known member and supporter of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and all working class parties, and hundreds of thousands of other Indonesian workers and peasants, were massacred or thrown into concentration camps for torture and interrogation.

Lessons of the 1965 Indonesian Coup

Chapter Five: Pabloites cover up Stalinist treachery

By Terri Cavanagh, 16 May 2009

The crisis of working class leadership was never posed so sharply as in Indonesia between 1963 and 1965. The fate of the Indonesian workers and peasants depended entirely on overcoming and defeating the counter-revolutionary line of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) which bound the working class hand and foot to the tottering bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno while the US-backed military prepared for a bloody coup.

Indonesian election favours incumbent president

By John Roberts, 20 April 2009

While the outcome of Indonesia’s parliamentary elections on April 9 is yet to be finalised, the preliminary results have followed predictable lines. Three of the major parties secured half the vote and only nine of the 38 parties contesting the poll will be represented in parliament.

Indonesia’s elections: a stage-managed affair

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 7 April 2009

Indonesia’s 170 million voters are due to vote in national parliamentary elections on April 9. The poll is dominated by many of the same right-wing parties and political figures that operated under the Suharto dictatorship prior to 1998.

Indonesian dam collapse disaster leaves 100 dead

By Patrick O'Connor, 30 March 2009

A dam in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, burst last Friday, destroying hundreds of homes. The official death toll stands at 97; another 102 people are officially listed as missing. The number of missing persons could be higher, however, as many of the area’s residents are believed to be university students temporarily renting rooms.

ASEAN summit: amid talk of cooperation, economic rivalry on the rise

By John Chan, 5 March 2009

The annual summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok last weekend followed what is becoming a familiar pattern at top-level international gatherings. Amid a sharp downturn in all 10 member states, ASEAN leaders pledged themselves to economic cooperation and free trade, even as they resort to protectionist measures.

Mass layoffs predicted as Indonesian economy slows

By a correspondent, 22 January 2009

Millions of Indonesian workers face being laid-off this year because of the impact of the global economic breakdown.

At least 200 drown in latest Indonesian ferry disaster

By Dragan Stankovic, 16 January 2009

An estimated 230 passengers remain unaccounted for after the Teratai Prima, a 10-ten-year-old, 700-tonne ferry capsized in a monsoonal storm on January 11.

Indonesian courts acquit general of killing human rights activist

By John Roberts, 15 January 2009

The recent acquittal of a top general for the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib highlights how the Indonesian military continues to carry out gross abuses of democratic rights with impunity.

Widespread unease, opposition as Indonesian government executes Bali bombers

By Patrick O'Connor, 12 November 2008

News of Indonesia’s execution early last Sunday of three men convicted of the 2002 Bali bombings has been met around the world with widespread expressions of unease, concern, and open opposition, including from many family members of the 202 people killed.

Three men convicted over 2002 Bali bombings set to be executed

By Patrick O’Connor, 5 November 2008

The imposition of the death penalty by the Indonesian government and judicial system is an act of state-sponsored murder that serves to promote backwardness and confusion and to obscure the real political issues involved in the Bali bombings.

Indonesia: Senior intelligence official charged with murder

By Oscar Grenfell, 13 September 2008

The former deputy chief of Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Major-General Muchdi Purwoprandjono, was charged last month with the premeditated murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Indonesian court implicates intelligence agency in murder of human rights activist

By John Roberts, 30 December 2005

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyato, a pilot for the Indonesian state airline Garuda, was found guilty on December 20 of the murder of the internationally respected Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by the Jakarta Central District Court. The court dropped a political bomb shell, however, when it implicated members of the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the murder despite neither the prosecution case nor the accused himself making such a claim.

High inflation follows Indonesian president’s fuel price hike

By John Roberts, 18 November 2005

A surge in prices and interest rates has followed the Indonesian government’s October 1 reduction in the fuel price subsidy. The sharp rise in the costs of essential goods and services constitutes a severe attack on the living standards of the archipelago’s impoverished urban and rural poor.

Fuel price hikes raise political tensions in Indonesia

By John Roberts, 6 October 2005

Widespread but relatively small demonstrations followed the announcement last Friday by the government of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of sharp rises in the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene.

Indonesian air crash points to declining safety standards

By Dragan Stankovic, 16 September 2005

On September 5, a Mandala Airlines’ Boeing 737-200 crashed just after take-off into a crowded residential neighbourhood of the north Sumatran port city of Medan, Indonesia’s third largest city. At least 102 crew and passengers were killed, as well as 47 local residents.

High oil prices undermine Indonesian government

By John Roberts, 12 September 2005

Just a year after former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the Indonesian presidential election, skyrocketting global oil prices are compounding the country’s economic difficulties and placing his administration under serious political strain.

Indonesia signs shaky peace deal with Acehnese separatists

By John Roberts, 20 August 2005

On August 15, the exiled leaders of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed a pact with the Indonesian government in the Finnish capital Helsinki to end their 29-year struggle for independence. The terms were worked out in five negotiating sessions held in Helsinki since January, under the auspices of the Crisis Management Initiative Organisation headed by former Finland President Martii Ahtisaari.

Report implicates Indonesian intelligence in murder of human rights activist

By John Roberts, 25 July 2005

An Indonesian government fact-finding commission handed down its final report late last month on the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib on September 7, 2004. While the report itself has not been released, statements from leading commission members have clearly pointed the finger at senior officials in the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

Jakarta pressures Acehnese rebels over peace deal

By John Roberts, 15 June 2005

Talks in the Finnish capital Helsinki between the Indonesian government and the exiled leadership of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) ended on May 31. The outcome of the meeting, the fourth since the devastating Boxing Day tsunami, has been praised by spokesmen from both sides and the Finnish mediators as a major step forward.

Proposed Indonesian criminal code enshrines Suharto-era repression

By John Roberts, 23 May 2005

A draft for a new Indonesian criminal code (KUHP) is currently on the desk of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Purported to be an update of existing legislation, the new bill revives or reasserts many of the anti-democratic measures that prevailed under the Suharto military-backed dictatorship.

Inconclusive peace talks between Jakarta and Acehnese separatists

By John Roberts, 28 April 2005

Talks in the Finnish capital of Helsinki between Indonesian officials and representatives of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) broke up on April 17 without any agreement on the central issue: the future status of Aceh. Despite claims of progress in the negotiations, the conflict in the war-torn province is continuing.

Jakarta pours troops into Papua amid signs of intensified repression

By John Roberts, 12 April 2005

Even as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono postures as a “democrat”, his government has given the go-ahead for the dispatch of an additional 15,000 troops from the military’s Strategic Reserve Forces (Kostrad) to the province of Papua. Like the huge operation launched in Aceh in mid-2003, the build up of Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) units in Papua is aimed at intimidating the local population and crushing separatist groups.

Indonesian inquiry unearths conspiracy to murder civil rights activist

By John Roberts, 2 April 2005

Despite its limited character, the official investigation into the murder of Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib last year has exposed evidence indicating a high-level conspiracy in what has all the hallmarks of a politically-motivated assassination.

Fuel price rise in Indonesia triggers protests

By John Roberts, 1 April 2005

The Indonesian government’s decision to slash fuel subsidies in early March and raise prices by 29 percent has provoked weeks of street protests and led to stormy scenes in the country’s parliament during the debate over the issue.

Indonesia hit by another devastating earthquake

By Peter Symonds, 30 March 2005

A massive earthquake off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra has left hundreds of people confirmed dead and thousands homeless. News of the quake late on Monday night (local time) and fears of a repetition of the December 26 tsunami triggered a mass exodus from coastal areas in Indian Ocean countries.

Indonesian cleric convicted of conspiracy in Bali bombings

By John Roberts, 18 March 2005

Under considerable international pressure, an Indonesian court convicted Islamic extremist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on March 3 of the charge of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings. Bashir was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, but acquitted of the more serious charges of ordering the bombings in Bali and on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in August 2003.

Washington resumes officer training for the Indonesian military

By John Roberts, 11 March 2005

In a significant step towards the resumption of full military ties with Indonesia, the US State Department announced on February 26 that the Pentagon would restart the training of Indonesian officers under its International Military Education and Training program (IMET). The decision overturns a Congressional ban on Indonesian participation in IMET in place for more than a decade.

Mounting concerns over fate of tsunami victims in Aceh

By John Roberts, 19 February 2005

Poor coordination, disorganised logistics and the militarisation of resettlement camps have created a potentially dangerous situation for the survivors of the December 26 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia’s Sumatran province of Aceh.

Sharp divisions in Jakarta over foreign presence in Aceh

By John Roberts, 26 January 2005

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, divisions have opened up in Indonesian ruling circles over the policy to be pursued in the hard-hit province of Aceh in northern Sumatra. As of yesterday, officials lifted the death toll to a staggering 228,000. At least 500,000 people are homeless, the province’s limited infrastructure has been shattered and the threat of widespread disease remains.

In the wake of tsunami calamity

Indonesian army steps up war in Aceh

By John Roberts, 5 January 2005

There are growing signs that the Indonesian military (TNI) is exploiting the current catastrophe in northern Sumatra to crush the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and establish its unchallenged control over the resource-rich province of Aceh.

Tsunami death toll in Indonesia approaching 100,000

By John Roberts, 31 December 2004

Catastrophic is the only word that comes close to describing the impact of Sunday’s earthquake and tsunami on the impoverished Indonesian regions in northern Sumatra. As of yesterday, the official death toll had risen to more than 50,000. But government officials are warning that the figure will rise to at least 100,000 as relief teams reach more remote areas, particularly on the west coast.

Did the Indonesian military murder human rights activist Munir?

By John Roberts, 1 December 2004

A well-known Indonesian civil rights activist, Munir, died an agonising death on an Air Garuda flight to Amsterdam on September 7. While there were suspicions of foul play from the start, it was only in early November, when a Dutch autopsy showed Munir had died of arsenic poisoning, that his death became a major public issue.

Indonesian cleric faces trial again over Marriot and Bali bombings

By John Roberts, 12 November 2004

Islamic fundamentalist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been brought to trial on new charges of involvement in two terrorist attacks: the bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on August 5, 2003, in which 12 people died, and the Bali bombings on October 12, 2002, which killed 202 people. Bashir is claiming that the charges have been laid because of pressure on the new government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by the United States and Australia.

Yudhoyono’s cabinet mirrors conflicts within Indonesia’s ruling elite

By John Roberts, 1 November 2004

Indonesia’s new 34-member cabinet was sworn in on October 21, the day after the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The announcement of the cabinet’s composition was made by Yudhoyono and his vice-president Jusuf Kalla from Jakarta’s presidential palace just before midnight, some four hours behind schedule. The delay was caused, according to the Indonesian press, by infighting among the country’s political elite over the allocation of the powerful economic portfolios.

Big business spells out economic agenda for new Indonesian president

By John Roberts, 19 October 2004

In the lead up to his inauguration as Indonesian president tomorrow, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has remained tight-lipped about the make-up of his cabinet, and, as throughout the election campaign, any policy details. However, representatives of big business, inside Indonesia and overseas, have made clear that they expect his administration to impose tough new economic measures.

Indonesian editor jailed under repressive libel laws

By John Roberts, 6 October 2004

In a case that has serious implications for democratic rights in Indonesia, the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced Bambang Harymurti, editor of the weekly newsmagazine Tempo, on September 16 to one year’s jail for defaming a well-known business tycoon. The alleged victim was Tomy Winata, who has business interests in banking and real estate and is widely known to be well connected to country’s political elite as well as having friends in the police and military.

Ex-general wins Indonesian presidential election

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 28 September 2004

Retired general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the second round of the Indonesian presidential election in September, defeating incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri in a landslide. While the official result will not be declared until October 5, Yudhoyono, also known as “SYB”, had received 60.9 percent of the more than 109 million votes counted as of last weekend, as against 39.1 percent for Megawati.

The political issues behind the Jakarta bomb blast

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 10 September 2004

The reactionary character of Islamist terrorist groups has once again been demonstrated in Thursday’s huge bomb blast outside the heavily fortified Australian embassy in Jakarta, indiscriminately killing and injuring innocent people.

Indonesian court dismisses Bali bombing charges as unconstitutional

By John Roberts, 3 September 2004

In a decision that provoked sharp criticism from the Australian government, the South Jakarta District Court has dismissed charges against Johni Hendrawan, also known as Idris, over his role in the October 2002 Bali terrorist bombings. The court ruled on August 24 that the retrospective use of draconian anti-terrorism laws enacted after the Bali attack violated the Indonesian constitution.

Documents confirm US colluded in Indonesia’s 1969 incorporation of Papua

By John Roberts, 30 August 2004

Recently declassified documents from the archives of the US State Department have shed a little more light on one of the many grubby chapters of US foreign policy in the Cold War period: how Washington worked with the UN and Indonesia’s Suharto dictatorship to stage a phoney “Act of Free Choice” in West Papua in 1969.

Suharto’s political machine backs Megawati in Indonesian poll

By John Roberts, 26 August 2004

With the second round of the Indonesian presidential elections just a month away, the incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri last week signed a formal coalition agreement with Golkar, the United Development Party (PPP) and several smaller parties.

A modern day slave trade: Indonesian domestic servants in Malaysia

By Carol Divjak, 16 August 2004

The plight of Indonesian maids in Malaysia was graphically highlighted in May when 19-year-old Nirmala Bonat from West Timor was discovered by neighbours in the hallway of her employer’s apartment suffering from severe burns to her chest, back and legs. She told them she had been branded with an iron and scalded with boiling water by her employer Yim Pek Ha.

US whitewashes Indonesian military over Papuan murders

By John Roberts, 5 August 2004

US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in late June that the Justice Department and FBI had indicted Anthonius Wamang over the August 2002 ambush of employees of the giant US-operated Freeport mine in West Papua that resulted in three deaths—two US teachers and an Indonesian colleague.

Former general on top after first round of Indonesian presidential election

By John Roberts, 20 July 2004

With more than three quarters of the vote counted in the first round of the Indonesian presidential elections, no candidate has achieved an absolute majority. A run off on September 20 is now all but certain between the two leading candidates—Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired army general, and the incumbent president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Former generals dominate Indonesia’s presidential election campaign

By John Roberts, 3 July 2004

Campaigning by the five candidates contesting the politically powerful post of president of the Indonesian Republic officially ended on Wednesday. Voting in the country’s first-ever direct presidential election is due to take place on Monday.

Jakarta expels foreign critics: a new attack on democratic rights

By John Roberts, 22 June 2004

Earlier this month the Indonesian government expelled the staff of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based thinktank that has been critical of the repressive activities of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), in Papua and Aceh in particular. This anti-democratic move was aimed not just at the ICG but at intimidating critics as the election campaign for the Indonesian presidency commenced.

Ambon communal violence flares up amid Indonesian presidential poll

By John Roberts, 15 June 2004

Communal violence in Ambon, the capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province (previously known as Molucca), over the past month has sparked fears of a return to fighting between Christian and Muslim militias that claimed up to 6,000 lives before a peace deal in February 2002.

Five right-wing tickets contend for the Indonesian presidency

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 2 June 2004

The campaign for the July 5 Indonesian presidential elections officially began this week with five candidates vying for the country’s most powerful post. The poll is the first-ever direct election for Indonesia’s head of state and is generally presented in the media as a further step towards democratic reform following the collapse of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998. In reality, all five contenders are based on similar right-wing programs and have close connections to the military and bureaucratic apparatus of the Suharto era.

Angry response to international pressure to keep Indonesian cleric in jail

By Peter Symonds, 22 April 2004

Just a fortnight before he was due to be released from jail, Indonesian police last Friday declared Islamic fundamentalist cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to be a “suspect” and thus subject to interrogation over new terrorism charges. Under the country’s anti-democratic laws, Bashir can be detained for up to six months without trial while the police investigation proceeds.

Suharto’s cronies make significant gains in Indonesia’s elections

By John Roberts, 21 April 2004

Only six years after widespread protests forced military strongman Suharto from power, the main beneficiaries of the April 5 vote for Indonesia’s House of Representatives (DPR) are individuals and parties closely associated with the former US-backed dictatorship.

Government indifference to dengue outbreak in Indonesia

By Dragan Stankovic, 19 April 2004

At least 634 people have died so far this year in Indonesia from an outbreak of dengue fever that is the worst in years. As of April 13, the number of cases stood at 54,176, surpassing the total for the whole of 2003 and affecting 30 of the country’s 32 provinces. The number of deaths is twice the figure at the same time last year. In all, 743 people died from the disease in 2003.

Indonesia: Fire in state-owned gold mine claims 13 lives

By Terry Cook, 11 March 2004

On March 8, rescue teams retrieved another body from abandoned mine shafts at the state-owned PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) gold mine at Mount Pongkor in West Java. The latest recovery brings the known death toll to 13, while many miners remain missing. The gold mine is located 45 km west of Bogor, which is just 50 km south of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. The deaths result from a fire on March 3 at Antam’s disused Kubang Kicau mine, where over 90 miners were reported to have been working illegally. The inferno caused thick black smoke that filled shafts some 500 metres above the base of the mountain. It is believed that all 13 men died from smoke inhalation. The presence of one Antam employee among the dead has not yet been explained.

A pretence of democracy for the 2004 Indonesian elections

By John Roberts, 8 March 2004

Indonesia’s 147 million eligible voters will begin voting on April 5 in a series of polls to fill 16,000 positions in local councils, provincial legislatures and the national parliament, as well as the powerful office of president. These are the first elections since 1999 and the first in which all posts, including the presidency, will be directly elected.