Subject: CONG: Sen. Leahy on Anniv of Munir's Death

Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On The Second Anniversary Of The Death Of Munir Said Thalib

September 18, 2006

Mr. LEAHY. Today we remember the life and work of Munir Said Thalib, Indonesia's foremost human rights defender, who on September 7, 2004, was fatally poisoned while on an airplane flight to the Netherlands where he planned to continue his legal studies. This despicable crime, in which the Indonesian Intelligence Service has been implicated, had repercussions throughout Asia and around the world and has particularly serious implications for Indonesia.

Munir was an outstanding human rights advocate best known as a founder and director of the highly respected Commission for "Disappeared" Persons and Victims of Violence. He was working as the director of the Jakarta-based human rights group "Imparsial" before his murder. In 2000, Munir received the Right Livelihood Award "for his courage and dedication in fighting for human rights and the civilian control of the military in Indonesia."

Two years after his untimely and tragic death, the Indonesian government has failed to properly investigate and prosecute those responsible. Despite the conviction of an airline pilot for his role in the murder, the police and Attorney General's office continue to ignore the evidence and recommendations of a Presidential Fact-Finding Team that has implicated senior Indonesian intelligence officers and airline officials in the crime. President Yudhoyono has rightly described this matter as a test case for whether Indonesia has changed from its authoritarian past. At this point, it appears that a culture of impunity remains deeply embedded in Indonesian society.

The fiscal year 2007 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that was reported by the Appropriations Committee on July 10, 2006, includes my amendment which requires a report on progress on human rights in Indonesia, including the investigation of the murder of Munir Said Thaib. If the Indonesia Government aspires to be seen as one that respects human rights and the rule of law, which is fundamental to any democracy, it is essential that whoever was responsible for ordering and carrying out this heinous crime be identified and brought to justice. 

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