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Remembering Munir Said Thalib: 17 Years After His Mysterious Death.

Today marks 17 years since prominent Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib’s death. Munir was an Indonesian activist. Founder of the Kontras human rights organization and laureate of the 2000 Right Livelihood Award. According to The Jakarta Globe, his last position was executive director of Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL), another Indonesian human rights NGO. In 2001, while he was investigating Kopassus’ role in kidnappings, a bomb package was delivered to his house. Munir was found dead on September 7, 2004, on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. An autopsy by the Netherlands Forensic Institute concluded that Munir was killed by arsenic poisoning.

On Monday, September 6, 2004, at 21:55 WIB, flight number GA-974 took off from Jakarta to the Netherlands. Munir plans to continue his study in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The plane had transited at Changi Airport, Singapore. On the way to Amsterdam, Munir suddenly felt sick to his stomach after drinking a glass of orange juice.

On September 8, 2004, Kompas reported that Munir was suspected of being ill before his last breath at around 08.10 local times, two hours before landing at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. Based on witness statements, after the plane took off from its transit at Changi Airport, Munir had to go to the toilet several times and looked sick. He got help from another passenger who is a doctor. Munir was moved next to the doctor’s bench and received treatment. Shortly after, Munir was pronounced dead at an altitude of 40,000 feet above Romanian soil.

On September 12, 2004, his body was buried in his hometown, Batu, Malang. Quoting Kompas daily, September 13, 2004, the Dutch Forensic Institute (NFI) revealed the autopsy results on Munir’s body. He died from poisoning with arsenic. NFI initially promised that the autopsy results would be known in the next two weeks, but it turned out that the results were given after one month. Munir’s grave was dismantled, and the family agreed to a further autopsy.

Two people have been convicted of Munir’s murder, but there are strong allegations that those responsible for his death at the highest levels have not been brought to justice. The two individuals convicted of Munir’s murder were both employees of Garuda Indonesia. Amnesty believes that it is doubtful that they acted alone.

Pathetically, it’s been 17 years but still no justice.

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