Penulis: Dwiki H
We used to have a human rights activist who fought for advocacy for the victims of kidnapping and violence during the New Order. This figure was named Munir Said Thalib. Munir, so he is often addressed, a simple man. He is a character, a true warrior, a human rights defender of Indonesia. The man born in Malang, December 8, 1965, was an extreme Muslim activist who later turned into a person who upheld tolerance, respect for humanity, non-violence and fought tirelessly against the practices of authoritarian as well as militaristic. He was an activist who was very active in fighting for the rights of the oppressed. During his life he was always committed to defend anyone whose rights are wrong.
While in the midst of fighting for human rights, there was a time many parties feel disturbed, causing him to go through several terrors and threats, including death threats.
Meeting His Death
The death threat finally became apparent on September 7, 2004 while he was en route to Amsterdam to continue his studies there. He boarded Garuda Indonesia GA-947 which took off from Singapore. Three hours after take-off, the cabin crew reported to pilot Pantun Matondang that a passenger named Munir sitting on seat number 40-G was ill. Munir went back to the toilet. The pilot asked the cabin crew to continue monitoring his condition. Munir was moved to sit next to a passenger who happened to be a doctor who also tried to help him at that time. The flight to Amsterdam took 12 hours. But two hours before landing on 7 September 2004, at 8:10 am Amsterdam time at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam, when examined, Munir has died.
On November 12, 2004, the Dutch police (Dutch Forensic Institute) issued that they found traces of arsenic compounds after autopsy. This was also confirmed by the Indonesian police. It was not yet known who has poisoned Munir then, although some suspect that certain elements do want to get rid of him.
Handling the Case
On December 20, 2005 Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the murder of Munir. The judge stated that Pollycarpus, a Garuda pilot on leave, put arsenic in Munir’s food, because he wanted to silence Munir, who had been actively criticizing the government. On June 19, 2008 a military General Muchdi Prawiro Pranjono, who also happened to be close to Prabowo Subianto and the Vice Chairman of Gerindra Party, was arrested with strong suspicion that he was the mastermind of Munir’s murder. Various strong evidence and testimony led to him. However, on December 31, 2008, Muchdi was acquitted. The verdict is highly controversial and the case is being reviewed, and 3 judges who convicted him free of charge are now being questioned.
A rapid process since the arrest was announced on June 19, 2008. Muchdi’s freedom was considered odd, because several facts in the trial reinforced his role in Munir’s death. Here is the gaffe:
- Muchdi is considered to have a motive of hurt to Munir. His career stalled after the disclosure of the case of kidnapping activists in 1997-1998.
- Before and after Munir were killed, there were at least more than 40 telephone communications happened between Muhdi and Pollycarpus. Even on the day Munir was murdered there were fifteen phone calls to Pollycarpus.
- From a list of contacts on Muhdi’s computers seized from his office, the team of investigators found Polly’s name.
Unfortunately, the judges’ verdicts did not lead to Muchdi’s involvement.
The President’s Move
13 years has passed by, however Munir’s case has not yet reached a bright spot. In 2016, the Public Information Commission (KIP) won Munir’s widow Suciwati and KontraS’s lawsuit requesting that the Ministry of State Secretariat (Kemensetneg) open a Fact Finding Team (TPF) document of Munir’s murder to the public.
The TPF document on Munir’s murder had been handed over to the then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on July 23, 2005. However, it has now gone missing. President Joko Widodo had instructed the Attorney General to find the missing document and examine it to resolve Munir’s murder case. A year later KIP’s decision for Kemensetneg was annulled and stated that said document is lost and is not a responsibility of Kemensetneg to find.
Munir’s widow Suciwati questioned Kemensetneg’s statement, she personally believes that the document had been submitted by the TPF to the government at the Palace in 2005. She also assumes there is a cover-up so that the document in 2005 was not opened. She will still ask the government to announce the TPF document.
Reflecting from this case 13 years ago, we can also look at the latest case as similar, such as Novel Baswedan’s case. How the government’s reaction to it may show that cases like these get only a small attention. In order for judicial cases like this to be resolved quickly, should there be more attention from the government such as the protection of the witnesses required to testify.
It’s been 3 years since Jokowi was elected as President of Indonesia in 2014. As a President, what he needs to do is to fulfill his promises because back then while he was campaigning to run, he promised to resolve the old and unresolved cases like Munir’s and other cases regarding to Human Rights. But up until now many parties think Jokowi hasn’t given his full attention to his promise. Given a statement by Indonesian International Amnesty director saying that Munir’s case could also be fully disclosed if the Attorney General’s Office and the Police re-opened the case seriously after the Supreme Court (MA)’s verdict stating that Kemensetneg was not obliged to find the TPF Munir document.
During his 3 years of governing the nation, he has done remarkable accomplishments. In his early years he managed to strengthen and maintain the nation’s economic stability. Now he needs to set his priority for the unresolved cases just like he promised.