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Govt breaks promise on activist's killing

Lack of justice in murder case raises commitment concerns

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, speaks outside the presidential palace Munir’s widow, Suciwati, speaks outside the presidential palace
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • September 7, 2012
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The government is failing a test it set itself eight years ago by failing to apprehend the killers of a prominent rights activist, says Amnesty International.

Munir Said Thalib was poisoned with arsenic on board an international flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004. The case remains unsolved and is currently closed.

The failure “to bring all those responsible to justice has raised serious concerns about the Indonesian government’s willingness to resolve the case and to combat persistent impunity in the country,” Amnesty said in a statement released today.

Soon after Munir's death, the newly elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said bringing his killers to justice would be “a test of our history.”

However, “the Indonesian authorities – including the president – are failing in that test,” Amnesty’s statement said.

“The lack of full accountability in Munir’s case contributes to an ongoing climate of fear among human rights defenders and many believe they would be better protected if there was true accountability for Munir’s killing,” it added.

Three people, including the pilot of the plane, were convicted for their involvement in the killing. Many believe the masterminds behind the murder are still at large.

The government says there is no new evidence which can be used to reopen the case.

To mark the eighth anniversary of Munir’s death, Amnesty directors in 11 countries and territories including the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Thailand today wrote to Indonesian government representatives in their countries.

The letters called on Indonesia’s police chief and Attorney-General to establish a new independent investigation into Munir’s murder and bring the perpetrators at all levels to justice, in accordance with international human rights standards.

In Jakarta, at least 100 activists, including Munir’s widow, marked the anniversary by staging a protest outside the presidential palace.

In a speech, she poured scorn on President Yudhoyono’s 2004 vow, saying he has demonstrated a complete lack of commitment in resolving the murder.

“The president’s promises are meaningless,” said Suciwati, who is the co-founder of the Victims’ Solidarity Network for Justice group.

The government’s apathy sets a bad precedent not only for this case but also for all other cases of human rights violations that have happened in the past, she said.

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