Even as we celebrate Indonesia’s successful recent election and its remarkable transformation to democracy, it is fitting that we also mark the anniversary of a tragic moment in Indonesia’s transition. On September 7, 2004, Munir Said Thalib, an anti-corruption activist and founder of Indonesia’s Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, a human rights organization, was poisoned while on a flight from Jakarta, Indonesia to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Munir’s courageous criticism of human rights abuses, and his relentless exposure of corruption and criminal network activities, made him a target of intimidation and violence, including the attempted bombing of his home in 2001.
Several minor figures have been prosecuted in connection with Munir’s murder. However, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement released September 6, “full accountability for all those allegedly involved remains elusive.”
“We support all efforts to bring those who ordered Munir assassinated to account.”
“To the Indonesians who loved him, he was simply known as Munir. He spent his life working to make his country more democratic, more free, and more humane,” said Secretary Kerry. Munir was a voice of conscience and clarity. He inspired a generation of activists, scholars, and public servants who today are transforming Indonesia. So many today, including his widow Suciwati, serve his memory by carrying on his mission.
The United States joins with the Indonesian people to commemorate the legacy of Munir Said Thalib, and we call for the protection of all who work for peace, democracy, and human rights around the world.