US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Jul 2004 to Oct 2004
: U.S. Embassy in Jakarta criticizes Indonesian police for detaining without charge several U.S. executives of the P.T. Newmount mining company over allegations of dumping hazardous waste into Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi. While expressing support for Indonesia’s judicial system, the embassy warned that arbitrary arrests could further harm the investment climate in the country.
: Presidential run-off elections in Indonesia. The official results to be announced on Oct. 5.
: Vietnam denounces U.S. State Department list naming it a “country of particular concern” with respect to religious freedom. Burma was also cited for religious persecution.
: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz publishes Op-Ed in The New York Times condemning the Indonesian government’s prosecution of Bambang Harymurti, chief editor of Tempo, the country’s leading news magazine. Bambang had written an article speculating that an open-air market fire had been arson to benefit a well-connected entrepreneur who planned a large commercial development on the location. Wolfowitz sees the prosecution as a strike against freedom of the press.
: Suicide truck bomber kills 10 people and injures 180 when his vehicle detonates adjacent to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the third major suicide bomb incident in Indonesia after Bali 2002 and the Jakarta Marriott in 2003.
: U.S. Embassy officials in Manila illustrate new fingerprint scanning technology being required of foreign visitors to the United States. The embassy stressed it would not be harder to visit the U.S., and the new technology would stop the use of stolen and counterfeit visas.
: U.S. issues new warnings to its citizens to avoid Western hotels in Jakarta following fresh concerns that terrorists are targeting locations frequented by Westerners. Indonesian police said they were unaware of any new threats.
: Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is released from jail after serving six years for corruption and sodomy convictions, widely believed to have been political revenge at the behest of then Prime Minister Mahathir. The U.S. Embassy stated it is “gratifying to see that justice has now been served.” The Malaysian high court called the evidence used to convict Anwar “unreliable.”
: The USS John Stennis nuclear-powered carrier and accompanying battle group begin a rare four-day visit to Malaysia. Commander Rear Adm. Patrick Walsh avers America’s commitment to regional security and support for Malaysia, “a loyal and faithful partner and friend.”
: Singapore rejects U.S. government human rights report alleging it tolerates illicit trade in prostitutes and some foreign maids. The U.S. report accused Singapore of having no action plan to battle this trafficking, an allegation Singapore denies by pointing to stringent immigration controls.
: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launches a month-long counternarcotics training program for the Philippine National Police and Army, emphasizing identifying and preserving evidence.
: U.S. pledges $168 million in aid over five years to Indonesia, much of it to reform school curriculum in hopes of combating Islamist extremism. Of the total, $236 million is earmarked for other human services and $75 million to food assistance.
: More than 1,500 unregistered Hmong refugees in a Thai camp attempt to join others who have been cleared for immigration to the U.S. They were detained by the Thai military because they missed the 2003 registration deadline. U.S. and Thai authorities are reportedly working to resolve the unregistered refugees’ plight.
: Secretary Powell renews order declaring the Philippine Communist Party a terrorist organization even though Philippine President Arroyo plans to hold peace talks with communist guerrillas this month.
: Manila and Washington reaffirm alliance against global terrorism after disagreeing about the Philippines’ early withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
: Arrests in Pakistan of a top al-Qaeda computer specialist reveals electronic mail to sleeper cells in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the U.S. among other countries.
: U.S. State Department expresses “dismay” and “profound disappointment” over the decision by an Indonesian appeals court to overturn the conviction of three Indonesian army officers and a policeman convicted of the massacre of hundreds of East Timorese during the 1999 independence referendum.
: North Korea accuses Vietnam and the United States of “conspiring” to help several hundred North Koreans to defect via Vietnam to South Korea.
: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge attends Singapore National Day celebration at the Washington, D.C. Embassy, praising Singapore for sharing its homeland defense expertise with the United States.
: U.S. Pacific Command J-5 Maj. Gen. Karl Eikenberry meets Indonesia’s military chief Gen. Sutarto in Jakarta for discussions about improving military ties.
: U.S. missionary Gracia Burnham identifies six of her Abu Sayyaf kidnappers in a Manila court. She and her husband, who was killed in their rescue by Philippine forces, were held with 19 others for more than a year after being seized in 2002.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce congratulates President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Indonesia’s successful first round of presidential elections and expresses surprise at criticism of foreign election monitors for allegedly interfering.
: Indonesian prosecutors drop charges against jailed cleric Abu Bakar Bashir for the 2002 Bali bombing after the Constitutional Court rules that an counterterror law passed after the Bali bombing cannot be applied retroactively. Bashir remains in jail, however, and will be charged with leading the regional terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah.
: Joint Philippines-U.S. counterterrorism exercise begins in North Cotabato province, an MILF stronghold. The exercise is confined to the grounds of a Philippine military camp.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Riccordione returns to Washington for ”consultations” following the Philippines’ withdrawal of its 51 peacekeepers from Iraq.
: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore signed an agreement for joint patrols in the Malacca Strait to combat piracy.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi meets President Bush in Washington to discuss Muslim issues.
: Philippines completes withdrawal of 51 military and police peacekeepers from Iraq as Arab militants release a Philippine hostage. The U.S. and other governments with forces in Iraq say the decision will encourage further hostage taking.
: Indonesia and Cambodia are among a group of countries that will share in a $50 million aid plan announced by President Bush to combat human trafficking.
: Philippines announces it has withdrawn some of its peacekeepers from Iraq despite the Bush administration’s opposition. The full contingent of Philippine forces was scheduled to go home in August.
: Philippine President Arroyo promises to withdraw 51 peacekeepers from Iraq “as soon as possible” to halt the execution of a captured Filipino. The U.S. government urges the Philippines not to comply with terrorists.
: Indonesia serves as venue for former U.S. Army Sergeant and alleged deserter Charles Jenkins to reunite with his Japanese wife who had been kidnapped by the DPRK in the 1970s. Indonesia was chosen because Jakarta has no extradition treaty with the U.S. Secretary Powell said the U.S. would not protest because the meeting was “a humanitarian issue.”
: Philippines bars citizens from traveling to Iraq after kidnappers threatened to kill a Philippine hostage. The Philippines has 51 soldiers and police officers in Iraq and about 4,000 contract workers with the U.S. military.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Riccardione calls for a tougher campaign against Jemaah Islamiyah in Mindanao and announces the U.S. is withdrawing $30 million offer to aid Mindanao development because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is not cooperating in the peace process.
: U.S. Congress agrees to finance the purchase of 20 of the 50 military helicopters to be acquired by the Philippines in the next 18 months for the fight against insurgents and terrorists, says Philippine Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita.
: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits Indonesia as an election observer, declares the round of the presidential election a success for democracy with “no real challenge to secular governments.”
: Secretary Powell at an ARF meeting in Jakarta expresses regret over the difficulty foreigners have obtaining visas for the U.S. and promises that “a more normal set of standards” will be restored.
: ARF agrees to create a small permanent Secretariat for the first time, a plan long backed by the United States.