Vol. 10, No. 2
Two friends of East Timor and ETAN have recently passed away: Dan Fietkiewicz and Munir. Both men will be missed, and our condolences go to their families, friends and colleagues. Below are brief remembrances.
Dan Fietkiewicz, 52, a long-time member of ETANís New York chapter, died peacefully in his sleep in October at his home in New Jersey.
A professional English-Indonesian interpreter, Dan escorted many Indonesian and East Timorese people during government-sponsored tours of the United States. He interpreted at all levels, including between several U.S. presidents and Suharto.
Despite his access to that rarified world, Danís concern for ordinary people living in Indonesia and East Timor and for advancing human rights and democracy was always evident. Whenever he accompanied visitors to the U.S., he made sure to connect them with ETAN and other activists, in addition to leading them though the State Department itinerary.
Dan visited East Timor only once. He was part of the Peace Brigades International exploratory team to East Timor in April 1999.
In addition to their long-term interest in Indonesia, Dan and his wife Brenda advocated for a range of progressive causes locally and nationally.
Brenda has suggested that contributions in Danís memory be made to ETAN.
Indonesian human rights activist Munir was murdered by arsenic poisoning on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands in September. The 38-year old Munir was a fearless advocate for human rights in Indonesia, and often exposed human rights violations committed by the Indonesian armed forces. He faced many threats for these activities.
During the closing months of the Suharto dictatorship, Munir was instrumental in confronting the disappearances of dozens of Indonesian pro-democracy leaders, many of whom were recovered thanks to his efforts.
Following on his years of personal support for East Timorese struggling for independence, Munir played a leading role in the official Indonesia Human Rights Commissionís (Komnas HAM) investigation into human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. The commissionís report squarely placed the blame for those crimes on the highest levels of the Indonesian security forces and called for the prosecution of a number of ranking military officers.
Munir founded the Commission for Missing Persons and the Victims of Violence (Kontras), and, in 2002, he co-founded the Indonesian Human Rights Watch, or Imparsial. Munirís life was often threatened, and organized groups of thugs invaded his office a number of times.
For more about Munir:
The Munir history test: Unfinished business of justice (July 9, 2009)
No Justice Ten Years After Munirís Assassination (September 05, 2014)
(links updated January 2015)