|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MAY 11, 2005
|CONTACT: Human Rights First
Kristin Flood, (212)845-5298
Human Rights First calls on Indonesian Government to Solve Activist's Murder
New Threats Raise Fears for Slain Activist's Family
NEW YORK -- May 11 -- The Indonesian government must ensure progress in a murder investigation marked by continued threats and obstacles, Human Rights First said today. On May 4 the wife of the poisoned human rights activist Munir received threats warning that she would be kidnapped and blinded if she continued to "pry into Munir's death."
Munir, one of Indonesia's leading human rights defenders, died early on September 7, 2004, while flying to Amsterdam to continue his studies. An autopsy later revealed a massive dose of arsenic in his system, most likely ingested in his in-flight meal.
In the outrage following Munir's death, President Yudhoyono authorized a fact-finding team to work in conjunction with the official police investigation. On the morning of Wednesday, May 11, the fact-finding team will meet with the President, the national police chief, and the head of the State Intelligence Agency. One suspect is rumored to have links to the intelligence body, which has not cooperated fully with the team.
"President Yudhoyono has stated that the Munir investigation is a test case of how much Indonesia has changed," said Neil Hicks, director of International Programs. "Will the investigation be marked by threats and obstruction, or will the government demonstrate the political will needed to identify the perpetrators, no matter who they are?"
In an earlier statement, Human Rights First called for the state airline Garuda to cooperate fully with the investigation. Three Garuda employees have now been named as suspects, and the fact-finding team has turned its attention to the State Intelligence Agency.
"First the airline dragged its feet on cooperating with the fact-finding team, and now three employees have been named as suspects," said Hicks. "The State Intelligence Agency must now step up and fulfill the president's promise and its own pledge to cooperate fully."
On Monday, May 9, after nearly a month of delays the team was finally able to meet with a former senior intelligence official named Nurhadi Djazuli. However, the meeting was unable to move beyond preliminaries and further such interviews may be required.
The two handwritten letters were postmarked April 27, several weeks after Suciwati traveled to Geneva to help focus attention on her husband's case at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The activist's wife met with the police on May 9, and the police promised to investigate the threats, which were not the first she has received. In November 2004, Suciwati received a package containing a decaying, mutilated chicken carcass in the mail with a note "Be careful!!!!! Do not connect the [Indonesian Army] to the death of Munir. Do you want to end up like this?!"
More on Human Rights Defenders <http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hr_defenders.htm>