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European declaration provides boost for Munir murder probe

Sumber: THEJAKARTAPOST.COM | Tgl terbit: Sabtu, 22 Maret 2008

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) cannot be separated from Munir Said bin Thalib, its co-founder who was murdered aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam in September 2004, say commission executives.

Though the rights group was formally established March 20, 1998, the voices of its founders have been heard since 1996 on the eve of the country's financial crisis, which eventually led to the collapse of the authoritarian Soeharto regime.

"It started out as an independent center for public complaints during the unrest. And then we started getting a lot of calls about missing persons, which lead to founding a team dedicated to finding these missing people," Kontras coordinator and Munir's successor, Usman Hamid, said.

Funded by various donors from outside and inside the country, Kontras has, since 1998, played a significant role in the investigation of human rights violations during, and after, the Soeharto period.

Apart from the 1998 Trisakti and Semanggi I cases and the 1999 Semanggi II case, Kontras has investigated human rights violations in East Timor and Aceh, and is currently investigating violations in Lampung.

For Kontras, Munir will be remembered as a leading human rights advocator and his death represents a systemic resistance to human rights in Indonesia.

Usman said the government had no reason not to arrest the culprits behind Munir's murder, especially after the European Union Parliament called for a thorough investigation of the murder.

Usman told reporters Monday the European Union Parliament had issued a written declaration dated March 13 urging the Indonesian government to resolve Munir's murder.

"This shows that there is a global awareness of human rights violations occurring here in our country," Usman said at a press conference at the South Jakarta office of the International NGO on Indonesian Development.

The declaration, signed by 412 members of the European Union Parliament, "calls on the Indonesian authorities to take all necessary actions to ensure those responsible for the murder at all levels are brought to trial and justice is delivered as quickly as possible".

According to Usman, around 52 percent of EU's 795-member parliament agreed to show their support to ensure human rights are respected in Indonesia.

"It's part of their constitution to support the defense of human rights in partnering countries," Usman said.

"We don't see this as a threat or pressure from the European Union, but rather a show of support for the Indonesian government, allowing them to be more confident when capturing the masterminds behind Munir's murder," he said.

Munir died of arsenic poisoning during a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, which included a stopover in Singapore.

On Jan. 25, 2008, the Supreme Court sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Prijanto, a Garuda pilot and additional crew member on the flight, to 20 years in prison for the murder, overturning an earlier ruling by the High Court, which sentenced him to two years.

Kontras has consistently insisted that Pollycarpus is only a pawn in a larger conspiracy involving the State Intelligence Agency.

Usman said the EU declaration should prove useful for the police and the Attorney General's Office.

"The declaration was well received by the police. I have talked to them about this declaration and they said it should further legitimize their position in capturing the real criminals," Usman said.

Usman said the strength of the declaration in Indonesia was dependent on how the government responded, which includes forwarding the declaration to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the speakers of the House of Representatives and the People's Consultative Assembly.

"Hopefully this declaration will soon reach SBY, House Speaker Agung Laksono and Assembly Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid," he said.

"Then we'll have more support from the government to resolve this case." (anw)



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