By Human Rights Supporters Around The World
Oct 5, 2006, 05:55
If any story illustrates just how nasty, corrupt and unjust Indonesia is, it is the story of murdered human rights activist Munir Said Thalib; not just the how, where and why of the actual murder, neigh assassination, but of the judicial farce that followed the state killing of such a brave, noble man. We feel now able to declare Munir’s murder was ordered by the Indonesian state because of the sorry facts; let the Indonesian Government sue us if we are wrong.
Previously we reported how Munir was murdered on a Garuda Airways flight from Jakarta to The Netherlands after a stop at Singapore; see article Munir Said Thalib. Off duty Garuda pilot and widely suspected BIN (Indonesian Intelligence Service) agent Polycarpus Priyanto was convicted of his murder about this time last year. Almost to the day, one year later, the Supreme Court of Indonesia have overturned his murder conviction for a reason so weak it is akin to saying “Polycarpus Priyanto did not murder Munir Said Thalib because we have a letter from Polycarpus’ mother stating that he is a good boy and would not do such a thing!”. Actually the Supreme Court’s ruling is consequentially worse than that, because it exposes more than the “One justice for them (powerful families and military of Indonesia), one justice for everyone else (a chance to get hate revenge and extortion money)”. It also exposes one of the main likely enginered weaknesses in the Indonesian legal system as well in that, unlike civilized countries, legal precedents (rulings of courts in other cases) are ignored in favour of the selective interpretation of each law by each judge and court on the day. That is to say, even when sound legal judgment has been made by a higher court which could and should then be quoted and example taken in lower courts, Indonesia judges can ignore that and do what they like. Which in Indonesia’s case, having one of if not the most corrupt law enforcement systems and judiciaries in the world, is very bad news indeed for any innocent person connected or wealthy enough and who is unfortunately afflicted by someone who is. Not that, you will understand, we are saying the Supreme Court's actions regarding Munir's murder was sound in any sense of the word.
The Indonesian Supreme Court have overturned the murder conviction against Polycarpus Priyanto on the basis “No witnesses saw him plot the murder” according to the Presiding Justice Iskandar Kamil. Now let us think about that for a moment, that ruling, if it were made in any country where legal precedents are made part of law, where rulings in one court can are used to form the basis of both prosecution and defense in other courts (especially where the ruling comes from the upper most court, as this one did), would mean any criminal could have their conviction overturned if the state did not have proof that they planned the crime. So people like Schapelle Corby, serving time in an Indonesian jail for narcotics possession should be released shortly on the basis there was no proof she planned to bring drugs into Bali, right?
Of course this ruling has been expected by many all along, not least because of the selective and highly confident words of Polycarpus Priyanto after his original murder conviction which did not deny he killed Munir so much but that he was not guilty of the specific charges made against him. The ruling also comes as no surprise to the people that understand the Indonesian justice [sic] system; it absolutely shows the judicial system in Indonesia to be a particularly nepotistic and exceptionally evil circus. Of course we can not play judge and jury over the life and liberty of Polycarpus Priyanto, but we can state the obvious and actual facts. So let us just give you all a time line to the murder of Munir Said Thalib so you can assess for yourselves, well informed, of the lucridous nature of this ruling.
1) Munir Said Thalib was an aggressive and very brave human rights activist who made many enemies and received many death threats for crusades such as trying to bring Indonesian military officers to justice for their crimes under the Suharto regime.
2) Munir Said Thalib was actually flying to Amsterdam to take up a place at a University there to study and get a Masters Degree in International Human Rights; this event would have made him a very dangerous person to the Indonesian authorities.
3) The Garuda Airways (owned by a very well connected Indonesian family) flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam performed a scheduled stop at Singapore. Off duty Garuda pilot Polycarpus Priyanto who had never met Munir before and who was joining the flight to Amsterdam at Singapore gave Munir his business class seat. Munir being in business class was deemed important in order to be able to murder him. You see, Munir was to be poisoned by arsenic administered to his orange juice. Only in business and first class do the flight attendants come round and individually take and wait passenger drinks orders. In economy class which Munir was actually in before, drinks service is communal from a trolley, so administering poison to a specific economy class passenger is virtually impossible.
4) When Munir was poisoned, he died slowly and in a lot of pain. His constant pleas for help from the on duty Garuda staff for the plane to make an emergency landing so he could receive hospital treatment were ignored, which together with the fact his spiked drink was served by a member of the crew indicated they were in on the murder.
5) Upon arrival in Amsterdam, Garuda and the Indonesian Government tried to simply have Munir’s body flown back to Indonesia on the basis he had suffered a heart attack and died. Unfortunately for them and a testament to how unintelligent the Indonesian Intelligence Service really are, they missed the fact that both the Netherlands and the EU have laws which require such deaths terminating on their soil to be investigated by way of postmortem. It was this postmortem that showed Munir had died not from a heart attack as claimed by Garuda and the Indonesian Authorities, but by arsenic poisoning. No doubt had it not been for this event, the whole episode would have been swept under the carpet. However the postmortem thereby required investigation and given the evidence and inability for unknown persons to have been involved (as no-one could get into the aircraft from outside while in flight) and trial, which many believed and seems since has been confirmed would be a sham trial.
6) It has transpired Polycarpus Priyanto made a series of phone calls to a Mr. Muchdi of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the days leading up to Munir's fateful last flight. The Indonesian government and police have repeatedly refused to investigate these calls.
7) Polycarpus Priyanto himself claimed he was on the flight because his airline, Garuda, had instructed him to check security on that flight; he even produced a letter from them confirming this. When International pressure and ridicule of the investigation started building, Garuda said the document had been forged by Priyanto. The so called investigation and trial thereafter sought to distance any involvement by other parties (the government) and Priyanto stood trial alone for the murder of Munir. Calls for a full and proper investigation as clearly Priyanto had not acted alone (even the Jakarta District Court which originally convicted Priyanto stated this) were given the old wobble treatment by the Indonesian Government with President Yudhoyono (AKA Mini Suharto) promising Munir’s family a full investigation and to revel the whole truth behind this murder; Yudhoyono still uses this same lip service over a year later and no, there has not been any proper, full investigation as promised of course. The original whitewasher (investigator) Brig. Gen. Surya Dharma Nasution, who was replaced during the first "investigation" according to the Indonesian Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence because "he failed", is to head the new whitewash (investigation). While civil and human rights group Imparsial say they filed a government commissioned report with the president that Brig. Gen. Surya Dharma Nasution was "among officers reluctant to investigate Munir's murder". Critics of the new impending whitewash investigation point out that Brig. Gen. Surya Dharma Nasution is a close associate of Mr. Muchdi (BIN) and therefore highly unlikely to conduct a proper investigation.
8) Polycarpus Priyanto’s conviction for murder and failure to “investigate” the matter further thereby absolved Garuda and BIN of any involvement. Priyanto’s confident manner and carefully made comments after his conviction gave cause for many to believe he would in fact be out of jail soon on a promise for services rendered.
9) In typical whitewash show trial where you throw the people and media some breadcrumbs in order to try and show legitimacy, the Supreme Court while overturning Priyanto’s conviction for murder upheld the lesser conviction against him of falsifying Garuda documents. This means Priyanto's post trial confidence was well founded and that he will soon be out of jail because of time already served; we just hope he has enough money in his bank account to help him through the readjustment.
Of course why Priyanto would want to go on a return (on the same plane) flight to Amsterdam and back using falsified documents and give his business class seat to someone he had never met before meant nothing to the Supreme Court. The fact that Munir was clearly selectively murdered (assassinated) in International airspace means nothing to the Indonesian Government. The fact that President Yudhoyono has failed to instigate a proper full investigation shows there never will be one under his leadership. The fact that President Yudhoyono recently absolved Suharto of any corruption trials clearly indicates Yudhoyono is in the pocket of Suharto. Munir Said Thalib tried and was still trying to bring Suharto and his conies to justice. The university training in human rights was clearly too great a risk for certain people.
It seems to us that Suharto, Yudhoyono, Garuda Airways and BIN are all involved in this murder. Can there be any justice in Indonesia until the people behind Munir’s murder go on trial and face the death penalty themselves? Of course such a trial would need to come from a proper investigation, which means one conducted by International law enforcement agencies and involving judges and a jury (Indonesia currently does not allow trial by jury, hmmmm) from outside Suharto’s circle of deadly influence.
Until this happens who can justify spending and / or investing money in Indonesia, or buying their products? People with self-interest will defend their cheap holidays amongst satisfyingly subservient smiling people and often civil / human rights abusing commercial activities in Indonesia by saying their dollars help the people when they really do not. A recent undercover investigation called “Dispatches” by Chanel 4 TV (UK) in Burma / Myanmar showed just how murderous and thieving that regime is, while western tourists continue to go there and western businesses invest there, despite the abuse, despite the embargoes. Of course Burma is not blessed with so much mineral wealth and such a strategic position as Indonesia, which is why one has to ask does Burma have embargoes for its well documented human rights abuses yet Indonesia does not? After all Indonesia is not that far behind Burma in terms of its human rights abuse, the Indonesian military do actually control the country in reality as the Indonesian democratic system is a farce, just asked the NGO’s that monitor it, which bent process basically renders an Indonesian's vote useless. In the Chanel Four documentary, Burmese human rights leaders (those not murdered) forced into exile in Thailand constantly ask foreigners and their companies to boycott their country because only when the money supply which solely benefits the junta there is turned off can the "opposition" regain control of the country as they were previously elected to do.
Tourists and investors need to understand that Indonesia is given so much more credibility and praise by western governments not because they deserve it, but because Indonesia is economically and politically more important than Burma to their political and supporting corporate drunk on power and money aspirations. The fact foreign governments endorse and major companies join the rape of Indonesia does not mean its present state is beneficial to the people; the reverse is true in fact. But what the Burma documentary in conjunction with the sham trial of the murder of poor, brave Munir shows us is that only good can come from boycotting everything Indonesian until it becomes a nation, not a human rights afflicting club for the wealthy Indonesian elite [sic]. Because Indonesian human rights leaders are denied exile outside Indonesia by "order" of the English speaking western world and are therefore unable to speak freely as Burma's exiles are in Thailand, do not doubt the same message applies. Please, do not let the fact Bush, Blair and Howard selfishly sanctify Indonesia and thus deny sanctuary to Indonesians with conscience, which keeps them suppressed within Indonesia, silence the message. Please, if you have any human decency, please boycott Indonesia for the sake of the world and every day Indonesians.