19 years since Munir's murder, a song by activists, and Jokowi's broken promise

Kompas.com – September 7, 2023
Placard reads 'State still allowing mastermind behind Munir's murder to roam free' – September 7, 2023 (Antara)

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – Commemorating 19 years since the assassination of renowned human rights activists Munir Said Thalib on September 7, 2004, human rights activist Usman Hamid along with Once Mekel and the musical group The Blackstones, have launched a song and music video titled Munir.

Hamid, who is the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said that the song tells the story of Munir who refused to be silenced and declared that he would continue to "exist" and even that support for him would multiply.

"The song has a message, although we're exhausted with all of the violence and lies, the humanitarian struggle cannot be allowed to be abandoned over time", said Hamid in a written release on Thursday September 7.

Hamid sung the song Munir together with prominent musician Once Mekel and the Trisakti University Student Choir (PSMUT).

Through the song, they are inviting the public to remember President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's pledge to resolve the Munir assassination case.

When he met with legal experts and human rights activist at the State Palace on September 22, 2016, the president pledged to fully solve the Munir case.

"For me this song is a meaningful contribution to the struggle for human rights. I am proud to be part of it", said Mekel, who was once the vocalist for the band Dewa.

A number of musicians were involve in the production and recording of the song including Akbar Kelana Halim (bass, guitar, mixing), Dwi Yudha (guitar), Rama Moektio (drums), Kis Winarko (bass) and Estu Pradhana (keyboard).

Hamid said that the song begins with the his recollection of when, along with Munir's family and friends, they went to see Munir's body in the morgue at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, Holland, on September 9, 2004.

In the song, it recalls the bomb explosion in front of the Australian Embassy that sifted the public's attention away from Munir's assassination because it occurred at around the same time.

The Munir song and music video was released on Wednesday September 6 and is available on digital music platforms including Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. The video was put together by Fiqie Anbiya. The illustrations over the song were assisted by Denny Setiawan, Soultan Alif Allende, Diva Suu Kyi Larasati and MartoArt.

Munir's assignation

Munir died on September 7, 2004 on Garuda Indonesia flight GA-974 from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore.

A report in the September 8, 2004 Kompas Daily said that Munir died around two hours before the flight landed at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, Holland, at 8.10 am local time.

The autopsy results showed that there was arsenic in the body of the former chairperson of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

Legal proceedings against the people involved in Munir's assassination have already been carried out. A court sentenced former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to 14 years in prison for the murder.

The courts also sentenced then Garuda Indonesia Executive Director Indra Setiawan to one year in prison for assigning Priyanto to the same flight as Munir.

A number of facts that came out in the court hearings even mentioned the alleged involvement of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the assassination.

However no senior BIN officials have ever been found guilty by the courts. On December 13, 2008, former BIN deputy Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a defendant in the case, was acquitted of all charges.


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 the murder. In 2014 Hendropriyono was appointed an advisor to newly elected President Widodo.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "19 Tahun Misteri Kematian Munir, Lagu dari Para Aktivis, dan Janji Jokowi".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/09/07/09391841/19-tahun-misteri-kematian-munir-lagu-dari-para-aktivis-dan-janji-jokowi