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Jakarta Post

Kerry calls for justice for Munir

  • Margareth S. Aritonang and Bagus BT Saragih

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, September 8, 2014   /  09:29 am
Kerry calls for justice for Munir

Munir remembered: Members of the Solidarity Action Committee for Munir display artwork to commemorate the death of Munir Said Thalib during the Car Free Day in Jakarta on Sunday. Munir, a well-known human rights activist, was allegedly murdered by agents of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) on Sept. 7, 2004 while flying to The Netherlands on a Garuda Airlines flight. The masterminds behind Munir'€™s murder remain at large. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

On the 10th anniversary of the death of prominent human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, the international community has joined calls for the government to bring his '€œreal killers'€ to justice.

Adding their voices to those of human rights campaigners in Indonesia, the United States government and international rights groups have called on the Indonesian government to open a new investigation into Munir'€™s murder case.

'€œTen years ago today someone assassinated him because they feared he just might succeed,'€ US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement commemorating the 10th anniversary of Munir'€™s murder on Sept. 7.

'€œStill today, full accountability for all those allegedly involved remains elusive,'€ Kerry said in a statement published on

Kerry later pledged that the US government would support all efforts to bring to justice those who ordered the assassination of Munir.

He went on to remind the Indonesian government of a promise made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the latter'€™s first year in office in 2004 to resolve the case.

'€œPresident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recognized that the credible resolution of Munir'€™s murder case would be a key test of Indonesian democracy. That is still true today,'€ he said.

A number of national and international human rights groups have issued similar statements, calling on the government to find the people behind the killing.

'€œWith only a month remaining in office, we ask you to use the power in your hands to order a new investigation into Munir'€™s case directed at identifying the mastermind,'€ said Mugiyanto, chairman of the Phillipines-based Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).

Mugiyanto also urged the outgoing President to go public with the findings from an investigation conducted by a fact finding team (TPF) into Munir'€™s murder case.

Munir was found dead on a Garuda Airlines flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Sept. 7, 2004. An autopsy carried out by the Dutch authorities showed that he died as a result of arsenic poisoning.

Although three Garuda Airlines staff have been convicted of the killing, there are credible allegations that those responsible at the highest levels of government have not yet been brought to justice.

Munir was a prominent human rights campaigner who took up the cause of dozens of activists who disappeared during the last months of the Soeharto government in 1998.

He also played a leading role in uncovering evidence of military responsibility for human rights violations in Aceh and Timor Leste.

Munir also drew attention to the role of former chief of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Gen. Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono in a military crackdown on civilian protesters in Talangsari, Lampung, in 1989, which claimed the lives of 45 people.

Hendropriyono was commander of the local military division at the time.

Hendropriyono, who maintains that he is innocent, has declined to cooperate with the National Commision on Human Rights (Komnas HAM)'€™s probe into the Talangsari massacre. He now serves as an adviser to president-elect Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo'€™s transition team.

Another military figure who was frequently targeted by Munir was former BIN deputy and commander of the Army'€™s Special Forces (Kopassus) Muchdi Purwoprandjono, who was accused of being involved in the kidnapping and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1998.

In 2008, Muchdi was acquitted of ordering the killing of Munir. Human rights groups found that the trial did not meet international standards of fairness after key prosecution witnesses retracted their sworn testimonies and failed to testify in court. In February 2010, Komnas HAM also identified flaws in the police investigation, prosecution and trial of Muchdi and recommended a fresh investigation.

US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks allege that Hendropriyono '€œchaired two meetings at which Munir'€™s assassination was planned'€. A witness at those meetings told police that '€œonly the time and method of the murder changed from the plans he heard discussed; the original plan was to kill Munir in his office.'€

Meanwhile, London-based Amnesty International has marked the 10th anniversary of Munir'€™s murder by urging Jokowi to ensure that his plan to resolve past human rights violations includes justice for Munir.

'€œAmnesty International urges Jokowi to initiate a new, independent investigation into the murder of Munir and bring perpetrators at all levels to justice in a manner consistent with international human rights standards,'€ the organization stated.

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