Protesters commemorate Munir’s birthday, call for justice

Java Post – December 9, 2007
Munir's wife Suciwati speaks at Munir solidarity action in front of Supreme Court (Antara)
Munir's wife Suciwati speaks at Munir solidarity action in front of Supreme Court (Antara)

Jakarta – Memories of murdered human rights activist Munir are still strong in the mind of many activists. Thus it was on December 8, when a commemoration was held to coincide with his birthday. Hundreds of activists from various community organisations took to the streets to demand justice for Munir.

Aside from demonstrating in front of the Supreme Court, protesters also went to the State Palace, the defence department building and the Jakarta city hall. As they marched through Jakarta, they also called for justice and for the law to be upheld for the victims of other human rights violations.

“If he had not died of poisoning in September 2004, Cak [elder brother] Munir should have still been among us after returning home from studying in the Netherlands,” said Sumarsih, mother of the late Bernardinus Realino Norma Irmawan (Wawan), an Atma Jaya University student who was shot dead during the Semanggi I tragedy in November 1998. Up until his death, Munir also campaigned for this case.

To this day, the curtain of secrecy surrounding Munir’s murder has yet to be fully lifted. Only two people have been named as suspects, former Garuda Indonesia Airlines executive director Indra Setiawan and former chief pilot Rohainil Aini. Both are still being tried by the Central Jakarta District Court. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto meanwhile, the only person convicted for the murder was released by the Supreme Court.

Protesting in front of the Supreme Court, the demonstrators called for justice and for the institution headed by supreme justice Bagir Manan to act fairly. It is still not clear if the Supreme Court will issue a new verdict on Priyanto although the rumor is that it will be issued this month. The judicial review submitted to the Supreme Court includes new evidence implicating Priyanto, including the testimony of Budi Santoso who is a member of the National Intelligence Agency.

According to the coordinator of the Committee for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, Usman Hamid, who also took part in the protest action, the commemoration of Munir’s birthday should also be used to generate momentum to end all forms of violence. (naz/dwi)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]