US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jan 2003 to Mar 2003

:   Peaceful march by 100,000 Indonesians to U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to protest Iraq war.

:   UN Human Rights Envoy Pinheiro accuses Burmese military junta of making “absurd” excuses to detain more than 1,200 political opponents and called for all prisoners to be released immediately.

:   Malaysian PM Mahathir condemns U.S. and Britain for invasion of Iraq, in a speech to the Malaysia Parliament.

: UN Human Rights Envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro announces departure from Burma two days early after finding a hidden microphone while meeting political prisoners at the Insien jail.

: 7,000 demonstrators protest the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in Malaysia and burn British and U.S. flags and effigies of the two countries’ leaders in Kota Baharu city, the capital of Kelantan state.

:   Philippine prosecutors file graft charges against former Vice President Salvador Laurel, who served in 1986-1992 under former President Corazon Aquino.

:   U.S. government suspends official travel to Vietnam and advises U.S. citizens to put off non-emergency travel to Vietnam because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

: President Megawati announces Indonesia’s opposition to the U.S.-led attack on Iraq and calls for an urgent UN meeting.

: Malaysia’s Deputy PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi calls the U.S.-led attack on Iraq “a black mark in history” and further states “the world now seeing might is right,” during a national address.

: Indonesia Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announces that Indonesia calls on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on Iraq, and on the international community to continue work toward a peaceful solution.

:   The UN and Cambodia reach agreement in Phnom Penh, to establish a special court to try those most responsible for the Khmer Rouge genocide in which an estimated 1.7 million people died in the 1970s.  The agreement must now be approved by the United Nations General Assembly and by the Cambodian legislature.

: President Macapagal-Arroyo announces postponement of planned April 2-5 visit to the U.S., because of the Iraq war.

: Indonesian Brig. Gen. Noer Muis is sentenced to five years in prison for failing to prevent massacres of 1,000 civilians during East Timor’s vote for independence in 1999.

:   A group of 100,000 participate in a peaceful demonstration in Surabaya, organized by the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), against military action in Iraq.

: Indonesia’s Parliament passes antiterror law issued by President Megawati after the Bali bombings. The regulations allow police to use intelligence data as the basis for arrests.

: President Macapagal-Arroyo announces, despite the terrorist bombing, there will be no combat role for U.S. troops in the southern Philippines.

: A bomb explodes near a crowded shelter outside an airport in the southern Philippines, killing 21  (including one American) and injures 144 (including three Americans). A second bomb explodes outside a nearby health center in Tagum, killing one and injuring three.

: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meets with Philippines Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, announces that no U.S. combat troops will be sent to the Philippines to help fight Muslim rebels.

:   Philippine President Macapagal-Arroyo orders military to defeat the Abu Sayyaf within 90 days, while chief of the armed forces announces that commanders who fail to perform will be replaced.

:   The UN charges former Indonesian armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, six other military officers, and the former Indonesian governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares, with crimes against humanity for violence surrounding East Timor’s 1999 vote for independence. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment under East Timorese law.

: Philippines presidential spokesman announces that U.S. troops coming to the island of Jolo to help local forces fight Muslim rebels will be barred from engaging in offensive combat operations.

:   The U.S. announces that 350 Special Operations forces, supported by additional troops offshore, will be sent to the Philippines to conduct joint operations with Filipino combat patrols fighting Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines.

: The Philippines asks Malaysia for help in restarting peace talks with the MILF despite clashes in Mindanao.

:   President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo orders Philippine troops to suspend fighting with Muslim rebels after seven militants and one soldier were killed in renewed clashes on the southern island of Mindanao.  Clashes erupted after the army sent 3,000 soldiers into the area to confront about 1,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters.

:   Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is awarded $1 million Al Neuharth Free Spirit of the Year prize for her advocacy of democracy in Burma by the U.S.-based Freedom Forum Foundation.

: Malaysian PM Mahathir announces there will be no early general election before his retirement in October.

:   Indonesia Lt. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng announces arrest of Mas Slamet Kastari, leader of the Singapore branch of JI, and Noor Din, a citizen of Malaysia.

: U.S. Commerce Department finds Vietnam guilty of dumping catfish on the U.S. market. Vietnamese imports could face tariffs if ruling is upheld by U.S. government.

: U.S. Senate votes 61-36 to defeat an amendment barring funding for Indonesians in the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET), thereby making Indonesian military officers eligible for IMET.

: Indonesian police recommend prosecutors charge Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, with treason (for plotting to assassinate President Megawati Sukarnoputri) and for a series of bomb attacks on Christmas Eve in 2000.

: Indonesia protests new measures by the U.S. immigration authorities.

: U.S. adopts new measures requiring visiting male citizens from Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bangladesh to register with U.S. immigration authorities and provide fingerprints.

:   Indonesian police arrest two Bali bombing suspects, bringing the number of people detained to approximately 17.

:   Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs announces discovery of close ties between Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and other islamic militant groups in Southeast Asia.  A Ministry White Paper indicates JI militants were trained at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) base in the Philippines.

: Indonesian police present first case to prosecutors against Bali bombing suspect known as Amrozi.

: Burma’s junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe arrives in China for six-day visit.

: Seven members of Indonesian Army Special Forces unit, Kopassus, go on trial for the murder of Papuan independence leader Theys Eluay in November 2001.

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