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A Statement on the Failure Justice in Indonesia
as President Yudhoyoho receives a landslide victory
for a new term…
Once again, the sky fell down on Indonesia’s human rights front as Maj. Gen. (ret) Muchdi Purwopranjono, a former deputy chief of the National Intelligence Agency (or BIN), who was charged in connection with the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, now walks as a free man. Indonesia's Supreme Court has just recently upheld a lower court decision to acquit Muchdi of all charges.
Munir, a leading human rights defender in Indonesia, was murdered while travelling from Jakarta to Amsterdam on 7 September 2004. His families and friends believed that Munir was killed because he unveiled the kidnapping of 13 rights activists by Special Forces in 1997-1998 when former dictator, President Suharto was still in power. The courts found Garuda pilot Pollycarpus and former Garuda president Indra Setiawan guilty, sentencing them to imprisonment for 20 years and 12 months, respectively.
The acquittal of Gen. Muchdi struck a severe blow not only to Indonesia’s judicial system but also to its democratic institutions in general. It is not only an affront to justice but also a major setback to the struggle for human rights. It attests to the pervasiveness of the climate of impunity and the failure of the rule of law to work effectively and impartially; free from all forms of pressure and coercion even if it involves high-ranking military official.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's commitment to fulfill his promises during the 2004 presidential elections to uncover the truth behind Munir’s murder and to take decisive steps on the results of the investigation carried out by the government-sanctioned fact-finding team (TPF) has failed. Despite this, President Yudhoyono still won a landslide victory during the recently conducted presidential elections. At no other time than now that newly reelected President Yudhoyono, who won a landslide victory during the recently conducted presidential elections, give justice to the people’s trust and confidence by once and for all and showing to the whole world its sincerity to resolve this most heinous of crimes against an internationally-awarded human rights defender in the person of Munir. Moreover, in terms of international obligations, until now, the Indonesian government has yet to sign and ratify the UN Convention to Protect All Persons from Enforced Disappearance that it vowed to support. To note, the issue of enforced disappearances was one of the core issues that Munir lived and died for.
The court ruling on the murder trial of one of the country’s outstanding human rights defenders doesn’t put all the hard work in the struggle for human rights in Indonesia in vain. It however only regenerates the unwavering commitment of human rights advocates and families of the disappeared in Asia to continue the quest for justice. Munir will always be our guiding star in the continuing fight against impunity in Indonesia and in other countries in the world. Our resounding call will keep on until justice is rightly served.
JUSTICE FOR MUNIR and for other victims of human rights violations and enforced disappearances in Indonesia!
||MARY AILEEN BACALSO