Last September was a fairly tumultuous month here in Jakarta.
For a start, but in no particular chronological order, SBY was elected President in the first direct election by the people. There was also the bombing of the Australian Embassy, the deportation of Sidney Jones, the southeast Asia director of the International Crisis Group (ICG), and the murder of Munir, “one of the country’s boldest and most consistent defenders of human rights“.
In fact, it was a year ago today that Munir was assassinated, by arsenic poisoning, on a flight to Holland. What was immediately clear, and remains clear, was that the sinister forces of Suharto’s ‘New Order’ were behind this tragic loss. Whoever was voted for, the government remained the same.
There is a trial taking place at the moment of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto for the murder. He has been described as “suspiciously friendly” by Munir’s widow, Suciwati.
But it is clear that he did not work alone.
The persons more dangerous than the man who “pulled the trigger” are the ones who ordered and planned the assassination.
Murder mysteries can be difficult to investigate. We understand that about homicide investigations, especially those that are politically motivated. But what is most upsetting is the way many institutions have showed an utter disrespect for the investigation, despite a direct presidential decree instructing all state institutions to fully cooperate with the investigators.
To this day, there remains limited followup on the government-sanctioned fact finding team’s report, which revealed a highly suspicious link between Pollycarpus and the state intelligence agency (BIN).
Yes, SBY has spoken quite clearly.yet his instructions seem to have been ignored, with impunity, as stated by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“Munir’s murder represents a return to the bad old days in Indonesia when independent activists faced the risk of personal injury or even death,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “Solving this case and bringing the killers and their sponsors to justice is a big test for President Yudhoyono’s government and its commitment to the rule of law.”
Human Rights Watch called on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to set up a high-level committee to audit the performance of the police investigation into Munir’s killing and establish why key recommendations and findings of the Presidential Fact-Finding Team have apparently been ignored. The Indonesian police and attorney general’s office continue to ignore evidence and recommendations submitted to them by a Presidential Fact Finding Team, which has implicated senior intelligence officers in involvement in the murder.
Further, “The Indonesian authorities must aggressively investigate threats against those seeking justice in Munir’s case to ensure that witnesses can come forward,” said Adams.
Human Rights Watch called on state prosecutors to drop a criminal defamation investigation against two prominent human rights activists who are members of the fact-finding team. General Hendropriyono, the former head of Indonesia’s State Intelligence Body (Badan Intelijen Negara, or BIN), filed charges against Usman Hamid of Kontras (Indonesia’s Commission for the Missing and Disappeared) and Rachland Nashidik of Imparsial. Both Kontras and Imparsial are human rights group with which Munir was associated.
“Criminal law should never be used against peaceful expression,” said Adams. “The cases against Usman Hamid and Rachland Nashidik are thinly veiled attempts to shut down the investigation into Munir?s murder.”
Intimidation? Such as is continuing in Papua where boys and girls are shot, knifed, kicked and beaten by gun butts, iron bars, wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses and chairs. Some are forced to chew and swallow condoms.
Eyewitnesses describe gang rapes in police stations, vehicles, barracks and other locations. Children are also routinely detained with adults in sordid police lockups and denied medical care.
Oh dear. If Munir were alive, he would certainly be taking the situation in Papua on board.
Someone who can and might, however, is the recently returned Sydney Jones. After more than a year of living in “exile” in Singapore, following her deportation from Indonesia by the administration of president Megawati Soekarnoputri, she has made a “stealthy” return to Indonesia and, indeed, been welcomed personally by SBY.
This suggests that his heart is in the right place, but his hands are still tied by the powers-that-continue-to-be.
He must demonstrate his authority. Everybody is aware that the State Intelligence Body bears some if not all the responsibility for Munir’s death. It says so in the report of the Presidential Fact Finding Team, a report that has yet to be released three month’s after the team’s mandate ended.
The world is watching you SBY. Release the report and damn the consequences. It is what your electorate wants and would be a fine legacy for Munir and all who continue to struggle for a life free from intimidation.