Subject: Tempo: Indonesia's Human Rights Cases Still Dark

Also Two years on, Munir murder case is cast in shadows

Indonesia's Human Rights Cases Still Dark

Monday, 15 January, 2007 | 13:59 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) supports the investigation and research by the United Nations' special envoy who will visit Indonesia.

These efforts are expected to bring fresh hope as regards the solutions to alleged human rights violation cases.

"The parties involved in human rights case solutions in Indonesia are still unknown," said Usman Hamid, Kontras Coordinator, when contacted on Friday (12/1).

According to him, it is now time for Indonesia's human rights situation to be evaluated independently by foreign parties.

From a document received by Tempo, a UN special envoy for torture, Manfred Nowak, plans to visit Indonesia in November this year.

During his visit, he will meet with all government officials and will also visit prisons in several conflict areas including Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Maluku, Papua and Sulawesi, including Poso.

The UN special envoy will also assess some prisoners and the intelligence authorities' interrogation rooms.

The special envoy will be accompanied by a person from the Human Rights High Commission, a forensic doctor, two interpreters and a UN guard.

During the research, the envoy will not be always accompanied by government officials.

This, according to the document, is in order to give the envoy room to carry out his or her duties.

Usman said the UN special envoy's research will clearly influence human rights in Indonesia.

He went on to say that as Indonesia has been a member of the UN Human Rights Council since 2006, it needs to fulfill its commitment.

"This is for our own good," said Usman.

However, Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesperson Rear Admiral Muhamad Sunarto said he has not yet received any information about the planned visit of the special envoy.

According to him, before the matter reaches TNI, it would be discussed by the Foreign Affairs Department and the Defense Department.

Sunarto said that the TNI would not allow it to happen just like that.

"We'll see their intention first and consider it according to the procedures," he said.



The Jakarta Post Thursday, January 04, 2007

Two years on, Munir murder case is cast in shadows

M. Taufiqurrahman , The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Solving a murder case is rarely easy, especially when it allegedly involves one of the country's most powerful, yet secretive institutions: the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

Regardless of BIN, it should not have been all that difficult for the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to find the mastermind of the murder of rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib. There was so much support, and also pressure from the international community as well as the local public, a public grown wary of past skeletons in the closet.

Although the Munir case has not yet gained the stature of, say, the imprisonment of Myanmarese pro-democracy leader Aung San Su Kyi, it has nevertheless gained attention outside the country.

Western leaders have voiced concern over the slow pace of the investigation into Munir's death.

Departing for Amsterdam to pursue postgraduate studies, Munir was poisoned with arsenic on a Garuda flight in 2004.

European Commission chairman Manuel Baroso questioned Yudhoyono about Munir's murder while the two were attending an Asia-Europe meeting.

A U.S. Congress member was reported to have sent a letter to the Indonesian government to push for an accelerated investigation into the murder.

In early November, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, wrote to Yudhoyono about the possibility of him being granted access to the investigation of Munir's death through technical assistance, such as DNA testing.

After a meeting with Munir's widow, Suciwati, in mid-October, Alston said he would press Jakarta to step up the investigation.

Among her travels abroad to campaign for justice, Suciwati herself traveled to the U.S. to drum up support from international human rights bodies and Congress.

At home, after months of feet-dragging, the House of Representatives in early December ordered the President to form a brand new investigative team. It argued that an investigation by the revived team would come up with little, judging from experience.

The House also called on the government to seek international support in the investigation into Munir's death if necessary.

Yet the case remains unsolved.

Worse, a severe blow was dealt by the Supreme Court when it quashed the murder conviction of Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the sole suspect in the murder who was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Central Jakarta District Court, one year earlier.

With the ruling, no one or no single institution has been held accountable for Munir's death.

Yudhoyono himself has from the early stages of the investigation stated that he wanted the mastermind to be caught. But it seems that efforts to unravel the mystery have come up against a brick wall.

Even the replacement of the BIN chief, which analysts have said was motivated by Yudhoyono's efforts to speed up the investigation into the case, has produced little result.

It could have been bureaucratic inertia but some suggested the probe stalled because Yudhoyono would have to deal with some of his former seniors in the military.

Whatever the constraints, what is at stake is the President's human rights record, which he might want to watch out for ahead of the 2009 elections.

The Munir case makes him an easy target for his rivals -- the solving of the assassination was expected to be a landmark effort in ending the culture of impunity in the country.

With many human rights violations still in the dark, including those handled by Munir and his colleagues in the independent Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), many were hoping for clues to unsolved cases, once the death of the leading fighter against impunity himself was solved.

Parents are still waiting for answers on their children's disappearances and deaths; the wife of the missing poet Wiji Thukul, for one, has been trying to locate her husband's whereabouts since 1998; and survivors of violence, without any guarantee of protection, seal their lips.

All this and much more happened way before Yudhoyono was elected president in 2004. But because few have been brought to account for these rights violations, a larger stake than the incumbent's fate in 2009 is Indonesia's future of humanity, the core issue championed by Munir.


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