Munir street in The Hague a reminder of murder of Indonesian

Munir street in The Hague a reminder of murder of Indonesian
Human Rights Activist Munir (left) and his wife Suciwati (right).

The Dutch government's decision to name a street after the late human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib could serve as a reminder that the Indonesian government has done little to bring closure to his murder.

The street, located in The Hague, Netherlands, will open next Tuesday, 11 years after Munir died from arsenic poisoning during a flight to Amsterdam.

The street is located in a complex that also has streets named after other prominent human rights campaigners, namely US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, South African president Nelson Mandela, slain Chilean president Salvador Allende and Mother Theresa.

The Hague will also install a plaque that reads, "Munirpad: Munir Said Thalib 1965-2004, Indonesische voorvechter van de bescherming de rechten van de mens" (Munir street: Munir Said Thalib 1965-2004, human rights activist).

Suciwati, Munir's widow, who is scheduled to attend a ceremony to inaugurate the street, said on Saturday it was ironic that a foreign government could pay respect to her late husband while in his home country, the government failed to find a breakthrough in his murder case.

"There are human right violators everywhere and Munir's murderers remain free. It's ironic when another country gives an award while his country gives space for the actual perpetrators [to roam free]. The last person who got jailed [for allegedly murdering Munir] was in fact given parole," she told a press conference at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) office in Central Jakarta.

Suciwati was referring to Pollycarpus Budihari Prijanto, the convicted murderer of Munir, who was granted parole by the Law and Human Rights Ministry in November 2014 after being imprisoned for six years.

Pollycarpus, who has close relations with the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), was supposed to serve 14 years.

Pollycarpus' release is currently being challenged by human rights watchdog Imparsial at the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN), with Suciwati scheduled to give testimony later this month.

"We have found many irregularities in the granting of the parole. Pollycarpus is said to have regretted and admitted [to being responsible for the murder], while in another news report, he was reported to have denied [the accusation] and claimed innocence," Suciwati said.

Imparsial director Poengky Indarti said on Saturday that the government's decision to release Pollycarpus was a huge blow to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's commitment to resolving past human rights abuse cases.

"But, instead, Jokowi freed a minor actor [in the murder]. This is suspicious […] besides releasing Pollycarpus; Jokowi also gave room [to the suspected actors behind the murder]. For example, Gen. (ret) Hendropriyono, who was BIN chief at the time of the murder, was appointed as an advisor to Jokowi's [now-defunct] transition team," Poengky said.

With the absence of progress in the past 11 years in the investigation to find the mastermind behind Munir's murder, the street in The Hague should serve as a strong reminder that the world demands justice in the case, said Yati Andriyani, the deputy coordinator of the advocacy department of KontraS.

"This street is like a ghost. As long as the case is not resolved, then the Indonesian government will keep being haunted by the truth," she said on Saturday. "But the street could also influence Jokowi's administration to resolve the case."

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