Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), is being investigated for criminal defamation. The Jakarta police investigation was instigated by the same retired State Intelligence Agency official alleged to have orchestrated the murder of Hamid's late colleague, noted human rights lawyer Munir Said Thalib.
Mr. Hamid has been one of the most persistent voices in the effort to hold accountable all those responsible for the fatal poisoning of Munir in September 2004. Retired Major General Muchdi Purwopranjono was acquitted of murder on December 31, 2008, after a trial marred by allegations of witness intimidation and the presence of intimidating groups in the courtroom. Outside the court, Usman Hamid criticized the verdict and, according to media reports, asserted that Muchdi had murdered Munir.
Criminal defamation charges are used by many governments that wish to silence their political opposition. This violation of Usman Hamid's freedom of expression is a 180-degree departure from the course the Indonesian government should be pursuing: vigorous and just prosecution of all those, no matter how powerful, who had a hand in the murder of Munir.
Take action now to urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to end the investigation of Usman Hamid and to reinvigorate investigation and prosecution of Munir's killers.