April 29, 2009:
The recent national elections saw the Islamic parties lose half their support, although they still hold about twenty percent of the seats in parliament. Five years ago, the Islamic parties got so many votes because their promise of "clean government" was believed. But that has since been shown to be a lie, with many Islamic politicians caught in corrupt acts. Many of the Islamic parties still want to turn Indonesia into a religious dictatorship. This disturbs many Moslems, but it especially bothers the 15 percent of the population that is not Moslem. Most of these are Christian, and while the government has been effective in reducing the Islamic violence, the Islamic radicals are still there, and still hating.
In Papua, tribal separatists demonstrated against the elections, and continued their attacks on government officials and police. The violence isn't just ethnic, it's also practical. The government encourages migration of Moslem Malays from the more crowded islands to the west, to the sparsely populated forests and hills of Papua. The largely Christian (and non-Malay Melanesians) don't like it.
In East Timor, a recent study estimated that some 20,000 young men were part of over a hundred tribe and clan based gangs. The high unemployment, and concentration of so much of the population in urban areas, makes it easy for these gangs to form. The gangs generate a lot of crime, both against other gangs, and ordinary citizens. The government is corrupt, with the politicians stealing much of the foreign aid, and now the growing funds from oil and gas fields as well. Eight years ago, about a third of the 1.1 million population was living below the poverty level. Now half the population is, and there is no economic progress. East Timor is turning into an economic basket case, kept alive by foreign charity.
April 26, 2009: In Papua, three bombs were found near a police station, and disabled before they could go off.
April 20, 2009: An Islamic terrorist, wanted for murdering a Christian teacher, was arrested in South Sulawesi.
April 9, 2009: For the third time since the dictatorship was overthrown in 1998, national elections were held. While there was some violence, the elections generally came off without incident.
April 4, 2009: In Aceh, a former rebel turned politician was murdered by unidentified gunmen. Many separatist rebels entered politics after the peace deal two years ago. But not all the rebels agreed with this, and, so far this year, at least five former rebel leaders have been killed.