Indonesia: October 14, 1999


Indonesia has refused permission for Australia to use it's F-111 jets for recon flights over East Timor. The F-111 is the most powerful warplane in Australian service and can be equipped to be a powerful recon aircraft. But the Indonesians have to grant permission for Interfet to fly any particular aircraft over East Timor which is, until the Indonesian assembly meets next month, still part of Indonesia. Any aircraft flying over East Timor without this permission have been threatened with attack by Indonesian fighters.  Irian Jayanese (western New Guinea) staged demonstrations in the provincial and national capitols. The government proposes to split Irian Jaya into three smaller provinces and this is not popular with the locals. In East Timor, Interfet says potential anti-independence militia threats are much exaggerated. Of more immediate concern is the shortage of trucks, most were stolen or destroyed by the militias as they fled to West Timor. This lack of trucks makes it much more difficult to care for the many refugees returning. But some 400,000 refugees, about half of East Timor's population, are still unaccounted for.   

October 1; Malaysia has asked the UN to replace most of the Australian troops sent to East Timor with troops from Asian nations, claiming that the Australians are "belligerent". Australia noted that Asian troops had been slow to arrive and were unwilling to confront the pro-Indonesian militias.--Stephen V Cole

October 14; Britain has decided to suspend the sale of nine Hawk-100 combat trainers (capable of light bombing attacks) to Indonesia due to the four-month EU ban on weapons sales to that nation. The EU wants to take time to assess how the East Timor situation will play out.--Stephen V Cole

October 14; The UN peacekeeping mission to East Timor is nothing of the kind, as the troops being sent there have discovered. This is a peace*making* expedition, and the UN troops are intended to crush or expel the pro-Indonesia Aitarak militia, which has set up its business around the border between East and West Timor. This militia is composed of a grab bag of Indonesian patriots and common criminals. The commander, Eurico Guterres, previously controlled prostitution and illegal gambling in East Timor. His troops are used to terrorizing civilians in towns and villages, and could not really be expected to stand up in battle against Western-trained soldiers, and even less so to head for the hills and launch a guerrilla campaign. Appearances may be deceiving, as Eurico's troops could well be just crazy or fanatical enough to stand up to the Australians and other UN troops, inflicting politically unacceptable casualties.--Stephen V Cole

October 13; The commander of the Indonesian national police ordered his police, and the army troops working with them, to resist any attempts by Interfet peacekeepers from entering West Timor. At the same time, general Wiranto, the commander of the army, ordered his troops to disarm anti-independence militias in West Timor. It is not known if these orders are being carried out. Wiranto has told Interfet that he would do all he could to prevent any violence on the border.  There have been an increasing number of contacts on the East/West Timor frontier between Indonesian and Interfet troops. Indonesian army troops, equipped with radios, body armor and night vision goggles, have been seen patrolling just across the border in East Timor. Meanwhile, back in Jakarta, thousands have demonstrated against the governments decision to drop the corruption investigation against the former dictator Suharto. In the Maluku islands, troops killed one man and injured at least fifteen while containing Christian-Moslem riot. 

October 12; Concerned that the loss of East Timor will trigger revolts across Indonesia, police and military forces have launched a brutal crackdown on any form of protest. Seven people were killed in such actions during the last week of September. Student protests against a new security law that would give police even more power have been repressed, with any gathering of students quickly dispersed by police. The restraint of the last few months has apparently gone. Adding to the instability, President Habibie is under heavy pressure to step down due to the scandal of Bank Bali and the loss of East Timor. His government is nearly paralyzed and has largely left the military to make up its own orders as it goes along. General Wiranto, head of the armed forces, is maneuvering picked officers into key positions and may be positioning himself to seize power. Wiranto reportedly views the cave in on East Timor as a betrayal of the military and has vowed not to allow any further loss of territory.--Stephen V Cole

October 12; In Aceh province, three policemen have been killed in the past two days. Aceh independence leaders have called for Indonesia to grant Aceh the same autonomy proposed for East Timor, before East Timor voted for independence. On the Island of Borneo, tribesmen attempted to burn down the local parliament building, resulting on one policeman and seven tribesmen injured. The tribesmen were protesting the lack of one of their number among the five representatives selected to attend the national assembly next month. More evidence of massacres are coming to light in East Timor. Graves are being found, but none with more than a dozen bodies. Witnesses say they saw anti-independence militias dumping many bodies at sea. Indonesian troops began disarming anti-independence militias, with several hundred weapons seized.

October 11; The government decided to drop the corruption investigation against the former dictator Suharto, which will probably cause unrest in the capital..

October 10; An Interfet patrol ran into anti-independence militia on the West Timor border twice, resulting in one dead Indonesian policeman. Indonesia insisted the patrol was in West Timor, but the Australians of the Interfet patrol were using a GPS to keep track of their position and insisted that they were on the correct side of the border. Indonesian soldiers, allowed to leave the army, are using West Timor camps to train at least 700 anti-independence militiamen in guerilla warfare. Interfet is moving 2,000, mostly Australian, troops to the West Timor border to counter any invasions from West Timor. Security in the rest of East Timor is being handed over to the non-Australian contingents of Interfet.

October 9; Four CH-53 helicopters from the US carrier Belleau Wood have landed in East Timor to work with Interfet. Additional US civil affairs and communications troops have also been sent in. The Belleau Wood has 1,800 sailors and marines on board. Indonesian army troops, apparently commandoes, have been seen patrolling along the East Timor border. In the last two days, Moslem-Christian riots in the Maluku islands have left some two dozen dead. 




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