Indonesia: September 25, 1999


Stung by events and criticisms in Timor, the Indonesian Army is trying a new plan in the equally troubled province of Aceh on Sumatra. The special riot police and commando battalions which have been criticized for attacks on civilians are being withdrawn. Army battalions are being restricted to defending fixed industrial facilities and prohibited from tactical operations in populated areas. This will turn over security to the police and the local "territorial" (militia) troops. General Wiranto has also offered an amnesty to all Merdeka insurgents provided that the insurgency ends and has reinstated the military district command for Sumatra (which was merged into another command in 1983) in order to put a two-star general into immediate and unified command of the island.--Stephen V Cole

September 24; Nearly 60,000 troops and police were brought into the capital, Jakarta, as the lame duck legislature prepared to meet and pass laws to deal with such touchy subjects as corruption, the military and the economy. Thousands of Indonesians, mainly students, have rioted against the attempts of the legislature to pass laws suppressing the press and stonewalling corruption investigations. There have been several deaths and dozens of serious injuries resulting from the demonstrations. The new government won't be formed until the end of the year because of the complicated procedures built up over the decades of rule by Suharto. On East Timor, peacekeeping troops have begun to encounter resistance from anti-independence militiamen. Indonesian soldiers, preparing to leave East Timor, have been burning their bases and looting civilians shops. The Indonesian army plans to turn over control of East Timor to Interfet (International Force for East Timor) on September 27. Two battalions of Indonesian infantry will remain in East Timor to assist Interfet. Peacekeepers have begun to aggressively search for any remaining armed pro-Indonesian militiamen.

September 23; Over 10,000 demonstrators, led by students, rioted in Jakarta against government corruption and the lame duck legislature which they fear will try to pass laws to keep existing officials in power. Dozens have been injured and some killed in the demonstrations.

September 22; Falintil, the pro-independence guerillas that have been fighting Indonesian troops for over 25 years, have come down out of their mountain hideouts and begun to fight with departing government troops. Falintil has said that it will not lay down its arms.

September 21; Tension, and some gunfire, between Indonesians and peacekeeping troops has brought forth the demand that all Indonesian troops vacate East Timor immediately. There are also reports that pro-Indonesian militiamen are assembling on the West Timor border with the intention of entering East Timor again and carving out areas for pro-Indonesians to occupy. Meanwhile, the peacekeepers are becoming more aggressive in their patrolling.




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