Wikileaks – Indonesian intelligence official organised assassination of human rights activist

Article from Human Rights First

Among the handful of bombshells one can find in the cables that went back and forth between the U.S. State Department and embassy staff in Jakarta is this: the U.S. is apparently aware of evidence linking a high level Indonesian security official to the assassination of Munir Said Thalib, one of Indonesia’s most outspoken human rights activists.

Munir was poisoned in 2004 as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam. While a handful of people thought to be responsible for the murder have been charged in his death, the “masterminds” – as the cables refer to them – of the assassination are not in prison.

According to reports about the cables, recently released by Wikileaks, Indonesian police have a witness who claims that, “former [Indonesian Intelligence] chief Hendropriyono chaired two meetings at which Munir’s assassination was planned.” A witness at those meetings told Indonesian police that “only the time and method of the murder changed from the plans he heard discussed; original plans were to kill Munir in his office.”

But as the cables make clear, the witness – like others with first-hand knowledge of the killing – is unwilling to testify in the case because he fears for his safety.

”A breakthrough on who ordered the murder would presumably require someone with inside information to take an extraordinary risk in testifying, and would require protection,” the cables say. “Nonetheless, the police seem to have been given orders to show progress on the case, likely due to international attention.”

Separate cables also detail the backroom discussions that led to the recent resumption of U.S. military assistance to Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces who are alleged to have committed serious human rights violations in Aceh, Papua, East Timor, Jakarta and elsewhere.

The cables lay out an argument for re-engaging with the special ops community despite their rights record, by suggesting that closer military ties would encourage further reform of Indonesia’s military. The cables also report that Indonesian officials threatened to derail President Obama’s November, 2010 visit to Indonesia if the ties to Kopassus were not renewed. (Indonesian officials vehemently deny that this threat was ever made.)

But taken as a complete body of work, the cables make clear that Washington is keen to make more friends than enemies in Jakarta. State Department officials devote the majority of their key strokes to considerations such as:  “U.S. economic interests” in a country that has grown the largest economy in Southeast Asia; “counter-terrorism cooperation” in a country where Islamic extremists have found refuge and carried out attacks; and the relationship between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Chinese, who are also investing heavily in their ties to Indonesia.

All this suggests that activists who want to see accountability for Munir’s death are going to have to continue to pressure officials in Jakarta and Washington for further action on the case. Now that there is public evidence that the Indonesians (and the Americans) are aware of evidence against Hendropriyono, it has become even harder for officials to close the books on this tragic killing.

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia's Ambassador

Groups Urge Obama Administration to Reject Dino Patti Djalal as Indonesia’s Ambassador

Contact: John M. Miller  (ETAN) 718-596-7668
Ed McWilliams (WPAT) 401-568-5845 (until Sept. 21), 575-648-2078 (after)

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) are deeply concerned about the appointment of Dino Patti Djalal as the Indonesia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States. We urge President Obama to reject his credentials and urge Jakarta to send an Ambassador untainted by complicity with human rights violations and with greater credibility.

Ambassador Djalal was a defender of the Suharto dictatorship, and his career involved him in brutal repression. While defending the Indonesian security forces in East Timor (now independent Timor-Leste), he would often attack human rights investigators and organizations. He sought to portray the violence there as civil conflict among East Timorese, rather than resulting from repression of resistance to Indonesia’s illegal and brutal occupation.

The Suharto dictatorship and the Habibie government that followed promoted Djalal as Indonesia’s leading “expert” on East Timor. During that time, Djalal reportedly had close links with the Indonesian army’s intelligence agency.

In 1999, during and after East Timor’s historic UN-organized vote on independence, Djalal was based in East Timor as the spokesperson for the Satgas P3TT (the Indonesian “Task Force for Popular Consultation in East Timor”).  In that capacity he took the lead in the Task Force’s political initiatives.

As Task Force spokesman, Djalal quickly emerged as its leading political heavyweight, taking the lead in leveling false accusations against UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission for East Timor). In his official capacity Djalal also served as flack for the militias created and directed by the Indonesian military to terrorize the East Timorese population in the run-up to August 1999 vote. Those militias and their Indonesian security force allies repeatedly attacked East Timorese civilians, burning villages and assaulting churches in attempt to frighten the population into voting against independence. The militias also sought to intimidate the UN teams sent to prepare for the vote and the international media and humanitarian organizations in the country to monitor the process.

As international alarm over the excesses of the militias and their Indonesian military sponsors grew, Djalal played a key role in seeking to deflect criticism of the militias and the military.

Djalal denied the reality that militias were arming in the run-up to the vote and sought  to obscure militia and military atrocities against civilians in East Timor. He was a dogged critic of international journalists and human right organizations who sought to report these atrocities.

In the wake of East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence, the Indonesian security forces and their militias rampaged throughout country exacting revenge for the people’s rejection of Jakarta’s rule. The militia and military attacks destroyed vital infrastructure and buildings. They targeted UN facilities and personnel, as well as international journalists, diplomats and other observers. Djalal was key in Jakarta’s unsuccessful efforts to deny the  reality of the which cost the lives of approximately 1,500 East Timorese, displaced two-thirds of its population, and destroyed 75 percent of East Timor’s infrastructure.

In diplomatic assignments in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada, Djalal focused on defending the role of the unreformed and abusive Indonesian military, including targeting of its foreign critics. More recently he has served as Presidential spokesperson.

Ambassador Djalal’s past as an apologist for the worst behavior of the Indonesian military and its minions augers poorly for international efforts, especially in the United States, to press for  justice and accountability for past human rights crimes and genuine reform of Indonesia’s security forces. As the situation in West Papua becomes increasingly tense, will Djalal serve as Indonesia’s Washington-based apologist for continued repression?

In the interest of promoting strengthened U.S.-Indonesian relations based on respect for human rights, ETAN and WPAT believe that the U.S. government should not accept Djalal’s credentials as Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States.

West Papua political prisoner Filep Karma warns of the danger that new US-Indonesia ties present in secret interview for Al-Jazeera

From Al-Jazeera

Around 200 people raised the Morning Star flag in Indonesia’s Papua province in December 2004, in a symbolic move to mark the Papuan independence campaign that has been pursued since 1962.

Filep Karma was arrested at that ceremony and jailed 15 years for flying the outlawed Papua flag.

And he warns, in a secretly recorded interview with Al Jazeera, that the decision to renew military co-operation between the US and Indonesia could have dangerous consequences for the Papuan people.

Watch the interview here

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