Human Rights First media release
(November 8, 2005)
East Timor & Indonesia ACTION Network ALERT
Support Justice for Murdered Indonesian Activist
Contact Your Representative to Sign Congressional Letter Today
In September 2004, Indonesia’s foremost human rights defender, Munir,
was poisoned while on a flight to the Netherlands. His murder sent shock
waves throughout Indonesia. Munir’s family and other activists pushed
hard for a credible investigation, despite threats and intimidation.
However, Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency (BIN), which is
composed of many “retired” military personnel, has stymied progress in
holding accountable those responsible for the assassination, up to the
Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are now
circulating a letter to Indonesia’s president urging that the report of
a fact-finding team he appointed be released publicly and that the
recommendations of the team be considered, especially the creation of a
new body to robustly explore any connection between government officials
and Munir’s murder.
What YOU can do:
Contact your Representative today, preferably by phone. Urge her/him
- Sign the Dear Colleague letter that Representatives McDermott
and Kirk are circulating, calling for justice for the murder of
renowned Indonesian human rights lawyer Munir.
A copy of the Congressional letter is pasted below.
It provides additional details surrounding Munir’s murder and an
explanation of attempts thus far to achieve justice.
Write or call today. Ask to speak to the foreign affairs legislative
assistant. The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121 (ask for
the office of your Representative), or check www.congress.org for
contact information. Offices should contact Sean Hughes in Rep.
McDermott's office or Jeannette Windon in Rep. Kirk's office by
Wednesday, October 26 to sign the letter.
Every call makes a difference.
Please keep us posted of the results of your calls by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signers to date (October 25)
Crowley, Burton, Wexler, Payne, McNulty, Baldwin, Grijalva, Chris Smith,
Tancredo, Faleomavaega, Maloney, Schwartz, Sherrod Brown, Lantos, Adam
Smith, Lynch, Oberstar, Hinchey, Doggett, John Lewis, Blumenauer, Lowey,
Lane Evans, Mark Udall, Kucinich, Waxman, Lee, Jim Moran, Berman,
McGovern, Jackson Jr, Roybal-Allard, Rohrabacher, Langevin, Rothman,
Stark, Sanchez (Linda), Kennedy (Patrick), Meeks, Kilpatrick, Andrews
(Rob), Rangel, Strickland, Watson, Shays, Serrano, Clay, Leach, Wolf,
Markey, Holmes Norton, McCollum
Help Bring Justice To Munir's Family Join Us in
Signing a Letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
We receive many requests for action on individual cases. However, the
murder of one of Indonesia's top human rights lawyers, Munir, carries
broad implications for a nation and its struggle towards
democratization. If allowed to go unpunished, the high-profile
assassination of such a prominent figure will send two dangerous
messages to the Indonesian people: no-one is safe, and some people are
above the law.
On September 7, 2004, while on a flight to the Netherlands to
continue his legal studies, Munir became violently ill and, two hours
before arrival, he passed away. When Dutch authorities released an
autopsy report that November, it revealed four times the lethal dose of
arsenic in his system.
Munir's family and other members of the human rights community pushed
hard for an investigation, despite threats and intimidation. President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took the important step of creating an official
fact-finding team to work in conjunction with the police investigation.
Its members included human rights figures as well as a police general
and a top prosecutor. According to reports, they uncovered evidence
suggesting complicity by senior officials at the state airline Garuda.
The report also apparently contains evidence that a Garuda employee
named Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, now on trial for his role in the
murder, had extensive contact with a senior official of the State
Intelligence Agency in the weeks before and after the murder.
Unfortunately, the investigation made little headway after that
point. Senior intelligence officials refused to meet with the
fact-finding team or hand over documents. The head of the State
Intelligence Agency at the time of Munir's murder even filed a complaint
against two members of the official fact-finding team for criminal
defamation. Police have summoned the prominent human rights activists,
who head two organizations that Munir founded.
The team submitted its findings to President Yudhoyono on June 23,
2005. Despite a provision in the President's own decree, the government
has not made the report public. When the trial of Pollycarpus began in
August, the prosecution's indictment made no reference to the
fact-finding team, its report, or the intelligence agency.
If prosecutors will not even mention the name of the intelligence
agency in court, despite significant evidence in the fact-finding team's
report suggesting the agency's knowledge or involvement, there is a real
danger that those responsible for planning and ordering Munir's death
will never be held accountable. Even the case against Pollycarpus may be
jeopardized by the failure to present all relevant evidence in court.
President Yudhoyono himself has described this matter as a test case
for how much Indonesia has changed from its authoritarian past. Please
join us in urging President Yudhoyono to take the following steps to
help ensure that Indonesia passes this test:
1) As a crucial first step, the Indonesian Government should publicly
release the report of the fact-finding team so its findings and
conclusions can be debated openly.
2) The recommendations of the team should be considered. One key
recommendation that members have publicly called for is the creation of
a new body with a robust mandate to explore evidence of a connection
between government officials and the death of Munir.
If you would like to sign the attached letter (on the reverse side of
this page) please contact Sean Hughes in Rep. McDermott's office
(5-3106) or Jeannette Windon in Rep. Kirk's office (5-4835). Thank you
for your consideration,
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Jakarta 10110 Indonesia
Dear President Yudhoyono,
We have watched with admiration as Indonesia held three successful
national elections last year and then carried out unprecedented local
elections in 2005. As Indonesia's first directly-elected president, you
have a strong mandate to act on behalf of the Indonesian people.
As members of the United States Congress who are concerned about
human rights around the world, we are concerned about the murder and
subsequent investigation of the renowned Indonesian human rights lawyer,
Munir Said Thalib. We were pleased when you created a fact-finding team
last December to investigate the murder of Munir, and your spokesman
stated, "The President will do whatever it takes to solve this case."
Now, soon after the anniversary of Munir's death, your action is needed.
Presidential Decree No. 111 of 2004 states that "It is the government
that will subsequently announce the results of the team's investigation
to the public." As a first step, we urge you to release the report of
the fact-finding team.
We are following the ongoing trial of Garuda employee, Pollycarpus
Budihari Priyanto with interest and concern. We are surprised and
troubled that the police and prosecution seem to have ignored the
findings of the fact-finding team.
We urge the Indonesian government to consider acting on the
fact-finding team's recommendations. For example, we understand the
reports suggests that the government should create a new commission with
a strong mandate to explore the evidence wherever it may lead, including
enforcement of full cooperation of all state agencies, including the
State Intelligence Agency (BIN).
Munir devoted his life to finding the truth, and in the end he gave
his life for that cause. Now his own death is the subject of an
unprecedented fact-finding report. We strongly urge your government to
fulfill Indonesia's promise as an open and democratic society by
publicly releasing the report and acting on its recommendations.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. We look
forward to your response.