Jakarta – The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has declared September 7 as Human Rights Defenders Protection Day. This date was taken from the day that renowned human rights defender Munir Said Thalib was assassinated 17 years ago in 2004.
Komnas HAM Chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik said that the date was chosen unanimously during a plenary meeting and all members present agreed without any objections.
"The results of a Komnas HAM plenary meeting on September 7, 2021 was to unanimously decide to make September 7 the Indonesian Human Rights Defenders Protection Day", said Damanik at the Komnas HAM offices in Central Jakarta on Tuesday September 7.
Damanik said that Munir represented a human rights defender who was brave and determined in his convictions. In addition to this, Damanik also cited several other aspects which were considered in choosing the date.
"[He was] a crusader who was very firm in his convictions in fighting for human rights from all aspects. Speaking about the right to freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, violence in Papua and Aceh, about [the rights of] workers and others", he said.
Damanik noted that the designation of this day does not do away with the respect they hold for other human rights defenders, saying that Munir was only one of many human rights defenders in Indonesia.
"[Labour activist] Sister Marsinah, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a human rights crusader in Aceh, Papua and all of those who we respect", he said.
In addition to this, Damanik said that one of the results of the plenary meeting was that Komnas HAM would create a Standard Norms Regulation (SNP) for the protection of human rights defenders.
He said that the SNP issued by Komnas HAM must become a guideline for all parties because Komnas HAM is the only state institution which is active in human rights affairs.
"We will issue the SNP has a guideline for all parties, particularly state law enforcement institutions, which will use the SNP issued by Komnas HAM", he said in conclusion.
Munir died of arsenic poisoning onboard a Garuda Indonesia flight on September 7, 2004. Although off-duty pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto was convicted of the murder in 2005 the alleged mastermind behind the assassination, former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy Muchdi Purwoprandjono, was later acquitted of all charges. Also implicated in the murder but never investigated was former BIN chief AM Hendropriyono. Hendropriyono, a close ally of Megawati Sukarnoputri – the chairperson of President Joko Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – was cited in US diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 as being involved in the planning of Munir's murder. In 2014 Hendropriyono was appointed an advisor to newly elected President Widodo.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tanggal Pembunuhan Munir Jadi Hari Perlindungan Pembela HAM".]