Indonesia on trial; unfortunately in an Indonesian court.
By Bali BS News
Oct 30, 2005, 05:19
On September 7th 2004, Indonesian human rights and anti-corruption activist Munir Said Thalib was murdered on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, via Singapore; he had been murdered with arsenic put into his in-flight orange juice. The fact Munir was the only victim shows that he was specifically targeted and also very much incriminates a multitude of on-duty airline staff in this disgusting event. A Garuda pilot who joined the flight in Singapore, Polycarpus Priyanto, who is suspected of being a member of BIN (Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency) stands accused of Munir’s murder. Priyanto’s reason for joining the flight at Singapore was that he had been to Singapore to inspect faulty landing gear on one of the airline’s planes, which he had an official company letter to substantiate; this letter was subsequently described as falsified, to cover up the event by investigators.
The trial is making prime time Indonesian TV right now; a court ruling and possible sentencing are due soon. The thing for Indonesia and the world though goes beyond the trial of Polycarpus Priyanto; Indonesia’s government, intelligence services, police and judiciary are all on trial, in the people’s eyes. Will this, as many suspect it will, be yet another white wash with only the operatives who administered the poisoning being convicted? After all, what other reason does an airline pilot who had never met Munir before have for murdering him with the help of on duty flight attendants and under the shadow of an airline, his employer’s cover-up? It is quite apparent that a lot of people in high places must have colluded over this nasty act, including the airline themselves; giving credence to the common belief that all of Garuda’s employees are family & friends of the owners, who in turn are lackeys of Suharto.
Will they even be convicted? What sentences will they get? How long will they actually serve in a country notorious for handing down peanut sentences to important people? Will they be sentenced yet never spend a day in prison because some phony doctor says they need treatment which means they can not be in prison at the same time? Who else will go down with them? Will this trial bring down the Intelligence officers and colluding politicians, police and judiciary who seem so clearly involved in such a brazen murder in International airspace which shows zero respect for anyone or anything outside their own nasty little world? Will this at last show Indonesia’s willingness and ability to get rid of it’s mafia in office and uniform? Or will it be the same old, same old story?
Be of no doubt, it is not just Polycarpus Priyanto who is on trial right now, it is the Indonesian Government. There will be no court room verdict on the authorities, but do not mistake for one moment there will be in every living room with a TV throughout Indonesia and wherever in the world people give a damn about others. It is not just about Munir’s murder, it is the extent to which it was authorized, how far up the ladder it goes, and the fact that his family have subsequently been sent dead chickens with warnings not to connect his murder with the Indonesian Intelligence Service and / or the Indonesian authorities. So not once ounce of decency is involved, not even with his grieving family, even after "they" got rid of the threat called "Munir".
Munir Said Thalib was going to Amsterdam to take up a scholarship to study international law at Utrecht University. Munir had brought many cases of human rights abuse during the Suharto era to the media’s attention. He was given an appointment with the state-sponsored Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Abuses in East Timor. This commission exposed abuses by Indonesian military-sponsored militias in East Timor during the country’s moves for independence. However, in what most people see as a true travesty of justice, state prosecutors ignored the committee’s recommendations, refusing to convict any of the military or police personnel named by the commission as having committed human rights crimes. Military officers who included the nation's present president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's former boss, General Wiranto. Hmmmmmmm.
Had Munir got to Amsterdam and completed his studies, he would have been a powerful threat to the corrupt, human rights abusing officials and officers in Indonesia. Munir would have been a champion amongst champions for a brighter future in Indonesia, for Indonesians to see an end to the mafia authorities who rape, plunder and suppress their own people, and foreigners. His safe arrival in Amsterdam would have been an indication that the current Indonesian government was earnest in their words of fighting corruption and human rights abuse. But Munir was murdered, and how. The fact there can be no other logical explanation for the murder than it was the work of the Indonesian authorities and the fact that Indonesia did not sign up to the International Convention on Human Rights as it said it would recently indicates the trial will be a white wash. Any bets anyone?
Imagine if you will the callous nature of Munir’s murder which shows the likely involvement of the airline as well as its staff. Munir was flying economy class to Amsterdam, but at the stop in Singapore he was bumped up to business class. Can you imagine how happy Munir must have been that he was going to university and now was honored with a free upgrade by his nation's International carrier? Trouble is, the likely reason he was upgraded to business class was solely because economy class passengers are served drinks from a trolley; business class get individual treatment. While he thought he was being somehow honored, Munir was just being set up for murder.
Then, after the arsenic had been added to Munir’s orange juice and he had drunk it, the murderer and flight attendants likely involved watched as Munir suffered terribly before eventually dying. Over hours Munir vomited and suffered intense pain as the poison likely did the Indonesian authority’s nasty work. Knowing he was dying of arsenic poisoning, the staff pretended to assist Munir and comfort him, likely holding him in his dying moments, all the while being responsible for his suffering. Willing him to die while feigning humanity, refusing his increasingly desparate requests for medical attention yet not diverting the plane to the nearest airport for medical treatment, as any decent airline crew would likely have done, for obvious reasons.
Not just were the murderers’ acts callous to extreme, and may we say a true testament to our repeated appraisal of Indonesian middle class business people, and why it is best to avoid them, as they will smile and hold you as a fellow human while actually being the person who is trying to kill you. But it also shows just how inept and stupid the Indonesian Intelligence Service is, accepting they were responsible of course. You see, the airline staff and alleged murdering intelligence officer tried to pass Munir’s death off as a heart attack, but were not intelligent enough to realize the Dutch authorities would order an inquest and autopsy. Indonesia may be number one in the world league for callous acts of inhumanity, but are clearly bottom of the world table when it comes to ability, as it seems all Indonesia’s armed forces and law enforcement [sic] agencies are guilty (see also other report: Indonesian Military / Navy Murders).
May Munir Said Thalib’s death not be in vain. May potential foreign visitors and investors pay tribute to his courage and devotion to making Indonesia a better place by so bravely fighting corruption and the human rights abuses this cancer creates. If any potential foreign investor in or visitor to Bali / Indonesia is reading this and has any respect for human life and the fact others do not enjoy their level of civil liberties and human rights, please do not ingratiate evil Indonesian officialdom; stay away from Indonesia until they get their nasty corrupt house in order. It seems clear Munir's murder is the main reason for Garuda's recent decline, and deservedly so. After all, who wants to fly with what seems likely to be the world's murdering airline.