By Peter Symonds, 22 April 2000
Another International Monetary Fund (IMF) team arrives in Jakarta early next week to again put the Indonesian government and the economy under the spotlight. Having delayed the payment of $400 million in loans that were due in April, IMF officials will examine the extent to which ministers and officials have implemented the detailed economic prescriptions set out in a letter of intent signed in January.
By Mike Head, 8 March 2000
Among the most revealing aspects of recent events in East Timor has been the almost complete silence in Australian media and political circles about the two agreements signed by the Australian government last month to secure control over the multi-billion dollar oil and natural gas reserves beneath the Timor Sea.
A symptom of political instability
By Peter Symonds, 17 February 2000
After performing a full political somersault, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid signed a decree on Sunday night “suspending” his Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs General Wiranto from cabinet, pending an investigation by the Attorney General into Wiranto's responsibility for pro-Indonesian militia atrocities in East Timor last year.
By Mike Head, 15 February 2000
In a little reported ceremony, UN and Australian government representatives signed a new Timor Gap Treaty in Dili last Thursday, securing control over the substantial oil and natural gas reserves under the Timor Sea. The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has now officially replaced Indonesia as Australia's partner in exploiting these reserves, valued at between $11 billion and $19 billion.
A strange standoff in Jakarta:
By Peter Symonds, 10 February 2000
The incongruous political standoff over the last 10 days between Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and his Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs General Wiranto continues. Wahid, who is still flitting from capital to capital on a world tour, has repeatedly called for Wiranto to resign from cabinet but has failed to exercise his formal authority to sack the general. Wiranto has publicly refused to stand down but despite open press speculation about a military coup, appears to have taken little action in that direction.
By Peter Symonds, 2 February 2000
General Wiranto, Indonesia's top security minister and former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) chief, indicated yesterday he will defy demands by President Abdurrahman Wahid to resign from cabinet after he was named in a report by the Indonesia's Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP HAM). Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, Wahid said that he would call on Wiranto to resign when he returns to Indonesia on February 17.
By Mike Head, 31 January 2000
The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) announced last Monday that the US dollar would be the official currency of the former Portuguese colony and Indonesian territory. As a result, government transactions must be conducted in dollars for at least the two to three years of UNTAET's expected rule.
By Peter Symonds, 29 January 2000
Next Monday's release of a report by Indonesia's Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP HAM) will rapidly bring to a head the simmering tensions between President Abdurrahman Wahid and the top leadership of the country's Armed Forces (TNI).
By Linda Tenenbaum, 21 January 2000
Four months after the Australian-led military occupation of East Timor, the United Nations is establishing a colonial-style administration in the former Indonesian territory. Already, its callous indifference to the plight of the local population is fuelling growing resentment. While hundreds of millions of dollars have been pledged in aid by the major countries, ordinary East Timorese face an ongoing social disaster.
By Mike Head, 19 January 2000
The United States government has intervened aggressively to bolster the shaky coalition government of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, warning that a military coup would lead to economic disintegration and international isolation.
By Peter Symonds, 10 January 2000
Continued intense fighting between Christian and Muslim groups in the Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku is fueling religious antagonisms in other parts of the archipelago and threatens to open up divisions within the fragile “national unity” government of President Abdurrahman Wahid.
By Peter Symonds, 10 December 1999
Comments by Indonesia's Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono on Tuesday leave little room for doubt that the generals are calling the political shots in the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid. Speaking at a business breakfast in Jakarta, Sudarsono insisted that top officers would not be prosecuted for atrocities carried out in the province of Aceh and repeated an earlier warning that the military would seize control if Wahid did not rule properly.
By Terry Cook, 1 December 1999
Australian companies are already positioning themselves to reap lucrative contracts for reconstruction work in East Timor. For the last two months, Multiplex, one of Australia's leading construction companies, has been busy cultivating relations with the leadership of the National Council for Timor Resistance (CNRT) who will be central in determining where the millions of dollars promised for reconstruction will be spent.
By Peter Symonds, 1 December 1999
Indonesian security forces are preparing for a major confrontation with supporters of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Saturday when large gatherings are expected in the province of Aceh to mark the anniversary of GAM's formation in 1976. On November 8, at least 700,000 people rallied in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh in the north of Sumatra to demand a referendum on independence.
By Linda Tenenbaum, 20 November 1999
Eight weeks have passed since the UN's Australian-led Interfet force occupied East Timor. In that time the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has been established, and its leading personnel selected. Some of them, including UNTAET's chief, Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello have already arrived in Dili.
By Mike Head, 17 November 1999
Recent months have seen considerable promotion of the East Timorese leaders by the international media and various governments, particularly in Europe and Australia. Led by Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, members of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) have been hailed as veteran fighters for independence.
By Mike Head, 12 November 1999
A mass rally last Monday in the Indonesian province of Aceh—where up to one million people demanded a referendum on secession—has exposed rifts within the new Indonesian regime over how to quell the separatist campaign.
By Linda Tenenbaum, 6 November 1999
On October 25 the United Nations Security Council voted to set up an interim administration in East Timor with the purported aim of assisting the tiny territory's transition to “independence. As with the 15-nation “peacekeeping” force (INTERFET), currently deployed under Australian leadership, the real purpose of the mission is to open the half-island up to the major powers. Lucrative investments will be on offer, as well as the exploitation of East Timor's natural resources and significant reserves of cheap labour.
By Peter Symonds, 30 October 1999
The Indonesian cabinet, announced on Tuesday and formally sworn in yesterday, has been generally hailed in the international media as a “break from the past,” ushering in a new period of democracy led by newly-installed President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
By Peter Symonds, 26 October 1999
Only days after his appointment as Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid has sketched out the main lines of his term of office: the promotion of foreign investment and free market reforms; a nationalist appeal for a “stronger Indonesia,” and closer ties with Japan, China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He was speaking in Bali on Sunday at a three-day conference of foreign businessmen, diplomats and academics organised by economic consultants Van Zorge Heffernan & Associates.
By Peter Symonds, 22 October 1999
Another day of sharp political twists and turns in Jakarta on Thursday resulted in Megawati Sukarnoputri being selected by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) as vice-president to serve alongside the newly-elected president Abdurrahman Wahid.
By Peter Symonds, 21 October 1999
Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) voted in the early hours of Wednesday to endorse the results of the UN-organised referendum on East Timor and to rescind the body's 1978 decree declaring the former Portuguese colony to be the country's 27th province.
By Peter Symonds, 21 October 1999
After more than a week of political machinations and backroom dealings between parliamentary factions, Abdurrahman Wahid, head of the Islamic National Awakening Party (PKB) was anointed Indonesian president yesterday by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).
By Peter Symonds, 16 October 1999
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie's speech to the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) on Thursday night may well be his swansong. Outside the parliament building, thousands of student demonstrators, demanding Habibie drop his bid for reelection, clashed with security forces. Inside the MPR, Habibie had to contend with interruptions and interjections from members as he delivered a formal accountability speech defending his 16-month term of office.
By Linda Tenenbaum, 14 October 1999
Less than a month after it began, Australia's military deployment into East Timor has provoked rising political tensions and a profound crisis in foreign policy. The intensifying pressures exploded last week in a public slanging match between current Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his immediate predecessor, the former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating.
By Peter Symonds, 12 October 1999
Australian special forces and navy divers were involved in clandestine operations inside East Timor months before Indonesia gave the go-ahead for the Australian-led Interfet troops to land in the territory, according to an article published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Public meetings to be held in Australia
9 October 1999
The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) has issued an invitation to all those who wish to understand and discuss the driving forces behind recent events in East Timor to attend public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne, in late October and early November. Under the title "Military intervention in East Timor: What are the real motives?" the meetings will explain the economic, political and strategic interests at stake and advance an alternative socialist and internationalist strategy.
By Peter Symonds, 7 October 1999
If voters had hopes that the Indonesian elections in June would result in a break from the military-backed regime then they have been dashed during the initial four days of meetings of the new People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in Jakarta.
By Linda Tenenbaum, 6 October 1999
The Australian-led “peacekeeping” force in East Timor, has struck a deal with Falintil commanders allowing pro-independence guerillas to keep their weapons—but only temporarily, and in specially-designated areas.
By Nick Beams, 6 October 1999
Below we publish a reply by Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site , to a letter to the WSWS defending the role of the UN in East Timor. The letter was written in response to the article “Kosovo and East Timor: a reply to a WSWS reader” published on October 1. For those who wish to read the text of the letter in full, a link is provided at the conclusion of this reply.
By Peter Symonds, 2 October 1999
When the Indonesian elections were held in June, media commentators and political figures both in Jakarta and internationally predicted, or at least held out the hope, that the poll would inaugurate a new period of democracy and economic and political stability.
By Nick Beams, 1 October 1999
Below we publish the reply, prepared by Nick Beams, a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, to a letter sent to the WSWS on the Australian-led UN intervention into East Timor by a reader in New Zealand. For those who wish to read the text of the letter in full, a link is provided at the conclusion of this reply.
By Nick Beams, 1 October 1999
Claims that the Australian-led United Nations military intervention in East Timor is motivated by “humanitarian” concerns are belied by the historical record. The tragedy befalling the East Timorese people is the outcome of intrigues and manoeuvres, stretching back over decades, by the very imperialist powers now proposing to “save” them. As much of this record is not well known, it is worthwhile reviewing it in some detail.
1 October 1999
By Peter Symonds, 28 September 1999
Just over a week after the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (Interfet) began landing in the capital of Dili, the realisation is dawning in Canberra that the operation could become bogged down in a protracted and dirty guerrilla war.
By Peter Symonds, 25 September 1999
Thousands of protesters clashed with police and heavily armed troops in cities across Indonesia on Thursday and Friday, as the outgoing House of Representatives (DPR) pushed through a new law giving extensive powers to the military when a state of emergency is declared nationally or in a province. In a bid to defuse the demonstrations against the Prevention of Trouble Bill, the government yesterday evening postponed the bill's implementation.
By Tony Hyland, 22 September 1999
The Labour government's pretence of an “ethical” foreign policy looks increasingly threadbare as new evidence mounts over its arms sales to Indonesia.
By Nick Beams, 21 September 1999
Delivering his “Address to the Nation” on national television on Sunday night, Australian Prime Minister John Howard opened a new chapter in the history of Australian imperialism.
By Mike Head, 18 September 1999
In events little reported outside Indonesia, security forces this week fired shots and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators protesting in Jakarta and other major cities against a draft bill on state security and the military terror in East Timor.
17 September 1999
I attended the GPO rally in support of the East Timor people and also democracy as a supreme political principle. I read your analysis and found myself disgusted enough to write to you.
By Linda Tenenbaum, 17 September 1999
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Australia's major cities over the past week to express outrage at the Indonesian military-organised carnage in East Timor. Many are deeply suspicious of the Howard government's motives in pushing for an Australian-led UN “peacekeeping” force, mindful of Australia's record of intimate collaboration with the blood-soaked Indonesian regime for the past quarter century.
By Barry Grey, 16 September 1999
Following passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution mandating the deployment of a multinational “peacekeeping” force in East Timor, American and Australian officials have stressed that the Australian-led troops will operate in cooperation with the Indonesian military.
By Mike Head, 15 September 1999
The Australian government decided yesterday to name a decorated Vietnam War veteran to head the Australian and United Nations force to be dispatched to Indonesian-occupied East Timor. His selection highlights the aggressive nature of the operation being prepared under the disguise of humanitarianism.
By Nick Beams, 14 September 1999
Threats by US President Bill Clinton that the Indonesian economy would be “crashed” were the crucial factor in securing the “invitation” by the Habibie government for the establishment of a UN “peacekeeping force” in East Timor.
By Barry Grey, 13 September 1999
Only a few months ago the US government and the American media were engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to portray the war against Serbia as a crusade for human rights. The American and international public were bombarded with daily reports of mass murder, rape and forced expulsions of Albanian Kosovars by Serbian forces, and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was routinely compared to Hitler.
By Mike Head, 11 September 1999
The hypocrisy of the Australian government's claims to be concerned by the fate of the East Timorese people has been exposed by its threat to detain fleeing refugees. Australia's northern coast is only 600 kilometres from Timor, making it feasible for the victims of the Indonesian terror to seek sanctuary, whether by boat or evacuation flights.
By Nick Beams, 10 September 1999
Reports from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, suggest that interim president B.J. Habibie has been virtually stripped of his powers, with effective command passing to Defence Minister and armed forces chief General Wiranto. Regardless of the precise outcome, this week's events show that the military remains the real force in Indonesia, despite the so-called democratic changes of the past 18 months.
Australia prepares military intervention in East Timor
By Nick Beams, 8 September 1999
Moves by the Howard government and the Australian military to lead an armed intervention in East Timor have nothing to do with protecting the interests and welfare of the East Timorese people against the terror campaign unleashed by Indonesian-organised militia forces.
By Nick Beams, 7 September 1999
Mounting pressure is being applied by the major Western powers on the Indonesian government of President B. J. Habibie to invite a United Nations military force to take over administration of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor. The growing demand for UN military intervention comes as Indonesian army backed militia groups step up their terror campaign against the East Timorese population following last Saturday's announcement of a 78.5 percent vote for independence.
After vote for secession
By Mike Head, 4 September 1999
Western powers are bringing forward plans for military intervention in the Indonesian-occupied former Portuguese colony of East Timor following today's release of the results of last Monday's United Nations-supervised ballot on secession.
Clashes continue in Dili as
By Peter Symonds, 28 August 1999
Just days before the UN-supervised referendum was due to take place over the future of East Timor, violent clashes erupted in the capital of Dili between pro-Indonesian militia groups and supporters of the separatist National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT).
By Peter Symonds, 24 August 1999
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have both made public calls over the last week for an independent, public inquiry in Indonesia into a scandal involving $US78 million siphoned off from Bank Bali. Such an inquiry threatens to further undermine President B.J. Habibie and his re-election bid, as several of those most closely involved are connected to the ruling Golkar Party.
Leaked documents show ...
By Mike Head, 12 August 1999
Leaked Australian documents show that White House officials and US military commanders have detailed plans to send 15,000 Marines to the Indonesian province of East Timor, before or after the scheduled August 30 vote on secession, under the pretext of protecting the Timorese people from the Indonesian military.
By Mike Head, 7 August 1999
The Clinton administration in Washington is pushing for a substantial military involvement—including US Marines—in East Timor. The force would be deployed before or after the people of the half island vote in an August 30 UN-run ballot on secession from Indonesia. According to two media reports, the US proposals have led to tensions with the Howard government in Australia.
By Peter Symonds, 5 August 1999
Fresh outbreaks of fighting on the Indonesian islands of Ambon and Batam as well as the activities of the separatist movement in Aceh have been met by the increasingly aggressive use of force by the Indonesian regime and the armed forces.
By Peter Symonds, 31 July 1999
After nearly two months of silence following the June 7 Indonesian national elections, opposition figure Megawati Sukarnoputri staked her claim to government in a nationally televised speech lasting 80 minutes on Thursday. She said she had a mandate from the people to form a new government and called on President B.J. Habibie “not to take strategic and binding decisions without consulting the party which represents the majority of the vote”. Her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) won 33.7 percent of the vote as against just 22 percent for the ruling Golkar Party.
By Mike Head, 29 July 1999
In what witnesses described as a massacre, Indonesian troops shot dead up to 60 people and wounded 10 last Friday in two villages in the western part of Aceh, the oil-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra. It was the worst military killing this year in what has become an escalating campaign to suppress the secessionist Free Aceh movement.
By Peter Symonds, 26 July 1999
A feature article in last week's edition of the US-based BusinessWeek magazine revealed details of a concerted push by the Indonesian military for a major public role in the new government to be formed later in the year, including either the presidency or vice-presidency for the present Defence Minister and Armed Forces Chief General Wiranto.
By Mike Head, 23 July 1999
The United States and the World Bank have both threatened Indonesia with diplomatic and financial retaliation if the Jakarta regime continues to support militia attacks on people in East Timor, in the lead-up to next month's scheduled UN-supervised ballot on autonomy or secession. The threats from Washington underscore the critical economic and strategic interests at issue in the former Portuguese colony and throughout the entire Indonesian archipelago.
Interviews and documents show ...
Part 3: New light on Australia's active involvement
By Mike Head, 21 July 1999
Previously-secret documents at the Australian Archives in Canberra indicate that the Australian government—then led by Liberal Party Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies—and the Australian military, intelligence and diplomatic services were closely involved in the 1965-66 Indonesian coup carried out by General Suharto.
Interviews and documents show ...
Part 2: Washington called for military government
By Mike Head, 20 July 1999
Documents from the US State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) indicate that, having seized power on October 1, 1965, Indonesia's General Suharto and other army generals—acting on the urgings of US leaders—used military and Muslim death squads to massacre of hundreds of thousands of workers, students and peasants.
Interviews and documents show...
Part 1: New evidence on how the October 1 coup was triggered
By Mike Head, 19 July 1999
Damning new evidence has come to light pointing to the extent of the involvement of the United States government, closely supported by the Australian and British administrations, in the military coup staged in Indonesia by General Suharto on October 1, 1965 and the subsequent massacre of up to one million workers, peasants, students and political activists.
By Peter Symonds, 7 July 1999
A series of attacks over the past week on United Nations posts and personnel in East Timor has further undermined the poll due to be held towards the end of August over the future of the territory.
By Mike Head, 28 June 1999
Widespread military-organised violence has caused the United Nations to delay its proposed ballot on East Timorese secession from Indonesia from August 8 to August 21. Tensions between the UN and the Habibie regime in Jakarta have, moreover, thrown the entire balloting process into doubt, with Habibie declaring that he will not allow any further postponement.
By Mike Head, 23 June 1999
According to front-page reports in two Australian newspapers, a former East Timorese militia commander has accused the Indonesian Information Minister, Lieutenant-General Yunus Yosfiah, of personally participating in the murder of five Australian-based newsmen in the leadup to the 1975 invasion of East Timor.
By Peter Symonds, 22 June 1999
The final count in the Indonesian national election is not due until July 8. And the wheeling and dealing between the major parties to determine who will be the next president and form the next government will only be concluded when the vote in the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) is taken in November. But the basic economic policies of the government, whatever its final makeup, have already been determined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of its $45 billion financial aid package to Indonesia.
By Peter Symonds, 12 June 1999
As of Friday morning, official figures in the counting of votes for the Indonesian elections showed a clear vote against the ruling Golkar Party and in favour of opposition parties headed by Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and Amien Rais, which are part of a loose alliance.
7 June 1999
The WSWS received the following information from an Indonesian reader. Eight students were seized during an election rally last Thursday in Bandung, one of the country's largest cities. The details of the incident make clear that the police and armed forces, including their intelligence units, have been active in the course of the Indonesian election campaign. The detentions point to the real character of the military-backed regime just below the veneer of democracy so carefully cultivated during the election campaign. It is also a sharp warning of the type of police treatment that will be meted out after the poll to anti-government protesters.
The thin façade of democracy:
By Peter Symonds, 7 June 1999
Great efforts are being made to portray the elections taking place in Indonesia today as democratic, or if not, at least a step in that direction. Thirteen international delegations are fielding almost 530 election observers. They include a joint team from the US National Democratic Institute and a centre headed by former US president Jimmy Carter. Millions of dollars have been provided by the European Union, the US, Australia and others to stage the poll and assist the army of local monitoring teams organised by bodies like the University Network for a Free and Fair Election (UNIFREL), the Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (KIPP) and the Election Monitoring Committee (SBSI).
Indonesian election campaign:
By Peter Symonds, 4 June 1999
Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's trip to East Timor on Tuesday provided an insight into the political character of her campaign for the country's elections on June 7. Addressing a crowd of about 3,500, she reiterated her position that the island should remain part of Indonesia. “The people of East Timor have to be shoulder to shoulder—one family with us,” she stated.
By Terry Cook, 3 June 1999
The World Socialist Web Site last month published an appeal for support for garment workers at the Japanese-owned PT Impian Busana, in Surabaya, Indonesia, who are fighting the company's attempts to victimise workers who played a prominent role in a strike early in May for improved working conditions and wages.
By Peter Symonds, 28 May 1999
Even before the votes are cast and counted in the Indonesia's national elections, the ruling Golkar party is under considerable pressure with signs of bitter divisions as it faces the prospect of major losses at the polls on June 7.
By Peter Symonds, 27 May 1999
Tensions on East Timor continue to mount ahead of a UN-sponsored vote on the future of the island planned for August 8.
26 May 1999
To the editor:
As the elections draw near
By Peter Symonds, 26 May 1999
An extensive report on the Suharto family's huge wealth in the May 24 issue of the US-based Time magazine has thrown Indonesian President Habibie and the ruling Golkar Party onto the defensive in the midst of the campaign for the country's national elections on June 7.
By Peter Symonds, 22 May 1999
Only a few days after its formation on Monday, the alliance forged between three of the major opposition parties standing in the Indonesian elections on June 7 is showing signs of disarray.
The political tasks facing the working class
By the Editorial Board, 21 May 1999
Also in Indonesian
By Gadis Mardai, 13 May 1999
In the next several days, a team of American police commanders will be sent to Indonesia as a part of a program to train the Indonesian police force in riot-control techniques. Besides instruction in how to deal with crowds of anti-government demonstrators, the US delegation will discuss relations between the police and news organizations and opposition political parties.
Amid continuing militia violence
By Peter Symonds, 13 May 1999
Just days after Indonesia and Portugal signed a UN-brokered agreement for a vote to determine the future of East Timor, the UN has warned that it would call off the "consultation" scheduled for August 8 unless local militias are disarmed. Francesco Vendrell, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said all armed groups would have to lay down their weapons "by early July at least".
By Terry Cook, 13 May 1999
An appeal for support from striking Indonesian garment workers employed by the Japanese-owned Berbek sweater manufacturing company in Sidoarjo, East Java, reveals the sweatshop conditions under which they are forced to work.
By Mike Head, 8 May 1999
A group of 200 pro-independence students in the East Timor capital of Dili reportedly danced, cheered and waved two large independence flags on Thursday after hearing news that Indonesia and Portugal had signed an agreement in New York for the conduct of a UN-sponsored "consultation" on autonomy for the province. Speaking from Jakarta, where he is still under house arrest, Xanana Gusmao, the leader of the Timorese National Resistance Council (CNRT), claimed it was an "historic document".
By Peter Symonds, 6 May 1999
Indonesian troops shot dead as many as 31 people on Monday in the province of Aceh, on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of thousands of villagers gathered near the industrial town of Kreung Geukueh to protest at the heavy-handed actions of the military over the weekend. Some people were shot in the back as they attempted to flee.
By Mike Head, 27 April 1999
Pro-Indonesian militias in East Timor are continuing to kill and threaten independence supporters and stage intimidatory armed rallies, despite Indonesian government-staged "peace" talks on the island and an Indonesian-Portuguese deal in New York to hold a UN-backed "consultation" on autonomy.
By Mike Head, 20 April 1999
Western governments and media columnists have stepped up calls for military intervention in East Timor after pro-Indonesian militias killed at least 20 people and abducted dozens more in two days of violence throughout the provincial capital of Dili last weekend.
By Peter Symonds, 14 April 1999
The death toll on East Timor is rising rapidly as pro-Indonesian militia continue a campaign of rallies and attacks on pro-independence supporters. A climate of fear and intimidation is being established as Indonesian and Portuguese officials prepare for UN-sponsored talks next week over the future status of the island.
By Peter Symonds, 9 April 1999
Pro-Indonesian militia have launched a series of attacks on pro-independence supporters in the Maubara sub-district of East Timor west of the capital of Dili, as preparations continue for negotiations later in the month between Indonesia and Portugal over the fate of the former Portuguese colony.
By Peter Symonds, 6 April 1999
In response to the demands of ethnic leaders in West Kalimantan, Indonesian authorities are preparing to relocate thousands of Madurese settlers caught up in bitter racial clashes in the province. Fighting over the last month has left scores dead and many more homeless.
More than 200 dead and 30,000 homeless
By Peter Symonds, 23 March 1999
Tensions remain high on the Indonesian island of Ambon, after two months of clashes between armed Christian and Muslim gangs that have left at least 200 dead and many more injured, and devastated large sections of Ambon City and other areas.
By a WSWS reader
20 March 1999
The following personal observations were sent to the World Socialist Web Site from a reader in Bandung, Indonesia's third largest city, after Jakarta and Surabaya. With a population of more than two million, Bandung has a substantial working class and student population at the long-established Institute of Technology and other universities. The reports provide an insight into the conditions facing workers and the discussion taking place in the lead-up to national elections scheduled for June 7.
By Keith Morgan, 20 March 1999
Bank workers across Indonesia have begun protest action following the government's closure of 38 banks last Saturday. According to the newspaper Kompas, 17,000 workers found themselves redundant and their entitlements slashed when they turned up for work on Monday. In banks where they have been locked out, workers staged sit-ins and made up placards attacking bank owners for refusing to pay adequate redundancy packages.
Under conditions of social breakdown
By Peter Symonds, 17 March 1999
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced last Thursday that Portuguese and Indonesian representatives had agreed to a "direct" ballot for the people of East Timor to decide on an autonomy plan being drawn up by the Indonesian regime. If the autonomy proposals are rejected, Indonesian President Habibie has stated that Indonesia will withdraw from the former Portuguese colony, which it invaded in 1975 and annexed in 1976.
A conspiracy against the East Timorese
By Peter Symonds, 5 March 1999
The pace of diplomatic manoeuvres over the future of East Timor is accelerating. Over the last week, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has engaged in a frantic round of talks with his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas, as well as President Habibie; East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao, who is under house arrest in Jakarta; and Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, whom he met just outside Lisbon. At the same time, senior Australian Foreign Affairs officials were sent to the US for talks with the UN Secretary General and the Clinton administration.
By Peter Symonds, 4 March 1999
Between 25,000 and 50,000 bank workers in Indonesia are facing retrenchment if the government proceeds with plans for the closure of an estimated 40 banks. The extensive restructuring of the banking system is one of the demands made by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in return for loans and aid packages.
By Peter Symonds, 24 February 1999
Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri used a large rally in Jakarta, called to launch her party, the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Struggle, as an opportunity to strongly oppose the granting of any form of independence to East Timor. About 120,000 supporters, decked out in the party's red colours, filled the capital's Senayan Main Stadium on February 15.
By Mike Head, 20 February 1999
After a year-long saga, the Habibie government in Indonesia has given the US mining company Freeport McMoRan approval to almost double production at the Grassberg copper, silver and copper operation in West Papua (Irian Jaya). With reserves valued at $40 billion, the Freeport project is the largest single gold deposit in the world and the third largest open-cut copper mine.
By Peter Symonds, 19 February 1999
Recent remarks by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie openly accusing the Singapore government of racism have sparked a regional furore and drawn sharp opposition from Malay politicians and newspapers in Singapore, Indonesian human rights groups, politicians and others.
By Keith Morgan, 17 February 1999
Just over a week after the cargo ship Artha Rimba (Health of the Forest) sank on February 6 in the South China Sea, hopes of finding any of the 305 missing passengers is remote. Only 20 people, including the captain, have been rescued, after floating at sea for up to four days. Most of the passengers were workers from West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) lured on board with the promise of jobs in Sumatra.
By Mike Head, 12 February 1999
The Indonesian government's transfer of jailed East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao to a form of house arrest this week is another indication of an unstable and unravelling political situation in Indonesia, as well as intense international manoeuvres over the future of East Timor itself. It also points to the trajectory of Fretilin, the Timorese secessionist movement.
A caricature of democracy:
By Peter Symonds, 4 February 1999
After months of debate and haggling, the Indonesian parliament last week passed a series of amended political laws, which establish the framework for national elections on June 7. The legislation sets out in detail the new composition of the parliamentary bodies, the rules governing the election and the functioning of political parties.
By Mike Head, 3 February 1999
Under economic and political pressure from the Western powers to reach a settlement with the East Timorese leadership, the Habibie regime in Indonesia last week announced an abrupt shift in policy on its 23-year occupation of the former Portuguese colony. Following a cabinet meeting on political and security issues, two key ministers long associated with the annexation of East Timor held a media conference at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta to announce that Indonesia might suddenly pull out of the territory.