Indonesia: After 16 Years, How Long More It Takes to Find the Munir’s Killer?

Commemorating 16 Years of Murder of Human Rights Activist Munir bin Thalib

 Exactly 16 years ago, Munir was murdered. However, to date, there has been no progress in an independent examination of the case. The main culprit behind this murder, who is believed to be a prominent figure, has not yet been brought to justice. This has made the public question the government’s commitment to protecting human rights defenders.

With this inhumane killing and the alleged involvement of people in power, we demand that the state immediately admit that Munir’s murder was a gross human rights violation. The state must address this issue more seriously.

We urge President Joko Widodo, who has made a promise to resolve this case, to take clear and concrete actions. This concrete action can be started by reviewing several criminal cases related to Munir’s murder, including allegations of violations of international human rights standards.

We believe that Munir’s murder cannot be seen as an ordinary criminal case. This murder, which continues to be left unsolved, indicates a growing culture of impunity for attacks and violence against human rights defenders in the country.

The state must also take significant steps to ensure that human rights violations against human rights defenders are processed quickly, effectively, and impartially, and the people responsible are brought to justice.

Today, we convey our Legal Opinion on the case of Munir’s death to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), as part of our official complaint. We hope that Komnas HAM can immediately decide that Munir’s case is a gross human rights violation, and the investigation process is based on the Human Rights Court Law that can be done immediately.

Also, we urge Komnas HAM to immediately issue the Appointment of Munir bin Thalib as Prominent Human Rights Defender and to set a day of commemoration for human rights defenders.



 Munir bin Thalib was a human rights defender who played an essential role in exposing the involvement of security forces in human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, and Timor-Leste. He also formulated recommendations for the government to bring high-ranking officials involved to justice. In September 1999, he was appointed a member of the East Timor Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations (KPP-HAM).

As a leading human rights activist, Munir received many threats as a result of his work. In August 2003, a bomb exploded in his yard in Jakarta. In 2002, the KontraS office where Munir worked, was attacked by a group of unidentified people, who destroyed office equipment and forcibly seized documents related to KontraS’s investigations of human rights violations.

Munir was found dead on a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004. An autopsy carried out by the Dutch authorities indicated that he died from arsenic poisoning.

Three people have been tried due to their connection with Munir’s murder, but those who are strongly suspected of being responsible for Munir’s murder have yet to be prosecuted. These three were Garuda Indonesia employees, and we believe that they could not possibly carry the murder alone.

The former agent of State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Muchdi Purwopranjono, was tried in 2008 but was found not guilty and many activists stated that the trial process was unfair. Besides, the report by the Independent Fact-Finding Team on the Case of Munir’s Death (TPF) in 2005, which was established by the government, was ignored by the government and never published.

In September 2016, President Joko Widodo made a public promise to resolve the Munir case. However, the government has yet to publish the TPF report. It violated Presidential Decree No. 111 of 2004 concerning the Formation of a Fact-Finding Team for Munir’s death, which obligates the government to publish the TPF report.

With this background, it was surprising when President Joko Widodo appointed AM Hendropriyono, the former head of BIN, as the team that prepared his government when he was first elected in 2014. At the time of Munir’s murder, Hendropriyono was the head of BIN, and many human rights groups believe he was involved in the murder.


Jakarta, September 7, 2020

Komite Aksi Solidaritas untuk Munir (KASUM)
Amnesty International Indonesia (AII)
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang & Korban Tindak Kekerasan – KontraS
Human Rights Watch
Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI)
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta – LBH Jakarta
Omah Munir
Serikat Pengajar HAM (SEPAHAM)
Yayasan Perlindungan Insani Indonesia