Mr. Joko Widodo President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16,
Tel: +62 21 3458 595
Fax: +62 21 3484 4759
Dear President Widodo:
On 7 September 2004, the Intelligence Agency (BIN) killed prominent Indonesian human rights defender, Mr. Munir Said Thalib, onboard a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. He was poisoned by arsenic that was put in his orange juice welcome drink.
Yesterday, 7 September 2015 marks 11 years of this assassination. And, it marks 11 long years during which Munir's family, Mrs. Suciwati and their two children, have remained in the dark and failed to obtain justice and closure. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based regional human rights organization, expresses concern about the stagnation of Munir's case.
The AHRC notes that since former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) established a fact-finding team (TPF), which resulted in the prosecution of a Garuda pilot, Mr. Polycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the effort to dismantle the case has grown. The government has failed to ensure punishment for the mastermind behind the assassination; the South Jakarta District Court notably released former Deputy V of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Muchdi Purwopranjono (known as Muchdi PR).
Mr. President, under your administration as well, there has been no progress in the Munir case. No significant effort has been made by the police to continue the investigation processes, whereas the Indonesian police should have followed up on the TPF's report. On the contrary, the police are reluctant to re-establish a special team for Munir's case. Additionally, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Mr. Yasona Laoly, has issued "a controversial parole" for Polycarpus. As a result, Polycarpus, who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison, is being released after 7 years.
Mr. President, we are aware of the close relationship you share with Mr. Hendro Priyono, a former head of the intelligence agency and the alleged mastermind of Munir's murder. The TPF has named named Hendro as someone involved in the murder. A few months ago, we learned that you have entered into an agreement with Hendro to develop a national car project in cooperation with the Malaysian government. We also tracked how Hendro maintained very strong influence in your presidential campaign, and subsequently when you set up your Cabinet. We worry that this relationship has worsened and will worsen prospects of a fair investigation and trial.
The circumstances give cause for concern. They merit public clarification and commitment from you with respect to fair trial and equality before the law. The document called "Nawacita" has mention of your commitment, and also has a breakdown into a National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN 2014-2019), which states that the government will ensure protection of its citizens. The RPJMN also clearly states that human rights cases are one of priorities of your administration.
It follows from your earlier expressed commitment that Munir's case must be investigated properly; the alleged perpetrators and the mastermind must be tried in court under the fair trial standard. And, the TPF's result must be announced publicly to ensure transparence.
Mr. President, the AHRC believes that you have enough power to order your subordinates, such as the national chief police (Kapolri) and the Attorney General, to cooperate and show their commitment to the rule of law. This can help break the wall of impunity and announce to your country and the world that under your administration, the rule of law and human rights will be supported and protected.
We also recall the Human Rights Committee (HRC) session on Indonesia in August 2013, wherein a strong recommendation was issued on the Munir case. In paragraph 8, the HRC stated "the State party should effectively prosecute cases involving past human rights violations, such as the murder of prominent human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, on 7 September 2004, and provide adequate redress to victims or members of their families."
As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Indonesian government must follow up on the HRC recommendation. Your government will have to confront what previous President SBY stated – that the Munir case is a test of our history.
The AHRC, therefore, calls for the government under your watch to continue the investigation processes. As President, we urge you to establish a new independent fact-finding team, like the one established by previous President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to follow up on the recommendations of the previous team and to complete the investigations.
Mr. President you need to display your commitment, as professed in the Nawacita and RPJMN 2014-2019, wherein law and human rights are listed as government priorities. Should not any fair interpretation of this commitment also embrace Munir's case? Mr. President, we encourage you to see the Human Rights Committee's recommendation on Munir's case as an opportunity to prioritize this case and provide the necessary political and budgetary support to eradicate any obstacle faced by the national investigator.
We look forward to your leadership.
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong