Sat, 31 May 2003

Megawati to visit Japan in June

TOKYO: President Megawati Soekarnoputri will make a state visit to Japan from June 22 through June 25, the Japanese foreign ministry said on Friday.

She will meet with Japanese Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the ministry said.

The visit will strengthen the friendly ties between the two nations, the ministry said.

The visit was announced less than two weeks after Indonesia and Aceh separatists met in Tokyo for two-day peace talks, which failed to salvage a peace deal brokered by the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) in December.

Only hours after the talks collapsed, Megawati signed a decree authorizing a military operation and imposed martial law in Aceh province.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday he was "deeply concerned" about what impact the renewed hostilities in Aceh would have on the civilian population there. -- AFP

;JP;ANTARA; ANPAa..r.. Scene-election-voting rights People told to use voting rights JP/4/Scene

People told to use right to vote

PONTIANAK, West Kalimantan: A member of the General Elections Commission (KPU) Chusnul Mar'iyah called on the public on Friday to exercise their right to vote in the 2004 election.

She said that abstaining from voting on election day would not be an effective means of protest because the election results would still be valid.

Voting helps bring about constitutional changes to national leadership, she said.

Chusnul was in Pontianak disseminating information concerning the preparation of the elections.

She said that people's right to vote was important as it would ensure a change of leadership. -- Antara

;JP;ANTARA; ANPAa..r.. Scene-reaction-kontras More groups condemn Kontras attack JP/4/Scene

More groups condemn Kontras attack

JAKARTA: Mass organizations grouped in the Friends of Islam Civil Society condemned a recent attack on the offices of a human rights group in Jakarta.

Group coordinator Rizaldin Kurniawan said on Friday that the attack was a serious threat to law enforcement and to people's criticism of state violence.

The offices of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) was attacked on May 27 by the Pemuda Panca Marga, a nationalistic group of veteran soldiers' relatives.

The attack was believed to have links with Kontras' stance on the ongoing military operation in Aceh.

The Friends of Islam Civil Society consists of some organizations under the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah Muslim groups. They are: the Muhammadiyah Youths, the Lakpesdam NU, Ahimsa, Rahima, Nasyi'atul Aisyiyah, State Islamic University's center for human resource development and the Institute for the Free Flow of Information. -- Antara

;AFP; ANPAi..r.. Palau-Indonesia Three Indonesians aboard outrigger wash up in Palau JP/PALAU

3 Indonesians stranded in Palau

KOROR, Palau: Three Indonesians in a narrow, seven-meter outrigger canoe used to taxi people between islands in Indonesia washed ashore here after 10 days in the open ocean with nothing to eat or drink but a few drifting coconuts, authorities said on Friday.

All three are recovering well at a hospital in Angaur, the southernmost, sparsely populated main island of Palau, where they washed ashore, more than 480 kilometers from their starting point.

The eldest passenger, identified by authorities as 52-year-old Mariones Sasoeng, was dehydrated and had to be given fluids intravenously. A resident had found them wandering on the beach.

"They were in bad shape," said Jonathan Rafael, the husband of the nurse caring for the three castaways.

Only planning to travel between islands, they had no fishing gear, and they failed to get any rain, which they could have caught for drinking.

According to the account relayed through a translator, the canoe's makeshift engine failed while they were traveling from the island of Raenes to the island of Tabang on May 16, typically an hour-long trip.

The 31-year-old boat operator, identified as Kamurahan Sasoeng, attempted to fix the engine but the wind soon pushed them far out to sea. By the time the engine was repaired, no land was in sight.

"They had one liter of gas left," said Joe Giramur, a senior officer with the Palau Bureau of Immigration.

Coming strong from the southwest, the wind carried them to Angaur, threading a nautical needle by finding a dot of land in the ocean.

"They were very lucky," said Benito Thomas, Palau's director of immigration.