Statements of AFAD
Articles on the Proceedings on the AFAD Leadership Training
Jan. 27 - 31, 2003, Philippines
AFAD Second Congress Resolutions
AFAD Second Congress
August 26-30, 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand
AFAD’s Mid-Year Report
Again, The KONTRAS – IKOHI Office Was Attacked
“ If they are dead, tell us”!
My sons, where are they?
Dear AFAD members and
I just arrived from Jakarta, Indonesia to represent AFAD in the funeral of
our Chairperson, Munir, which was held in his home province in Malang
yesterday morning at 9:00 a.m., September 12, 2004. His remains arrived from
the Netherlands on Saturday at about 5:00 p.m. The arrival of Munir's
remains coincided with the September 11 anniversary and with Indonesia's
unstable political situation after the September 9 bombing of the Embassy of
Australia in Jakarta causing the death of 9 persons and injuries to more
than a hundred.
Munir's wife, accompanied by Usman Hamid, KontraS Coordinator, arrived from
The Netherlands wherein a huge number of people waited to condole her. I
personally condoled her on behalf of all AFAD members and friends who sent
us words of sympathy. She especially thanked AFAD for my presence. After
which, more than a hundred representatives from the Indonesian NGO community
exclusively took a plane from Jakarta to Malang on Saturday night to pay
their last respects to a man whom the Indonesians describe as the voice of
Many others from Jakarta and from other provinces earlier on that day took
buses to attend the funeral. Munir's remains were first brought to his
university in Malang where he studied. Speeches from the university
authorities were made in memory of him, who was a product of the university
and who dedicated his life for the poor people of Indonesia and the rest of
humanity. After which, he was brought to his parents' house where a huge
crowd from his hometown was collectively praying while waiting for Munir's
remains. Prayers for the dead were said the whole night in preparation for
the following day's (yesterday's) funeral.
The funeral rites started at exactly 9:00 a.m. It was led by Mr. Usman Hamid.
Series of prayers and speeches from representatives of organizations who
knew him were solemnly said. A huge crowd, estimated to have reached more
than two thousand people, were mourning and weeping while praying in the
Muslim tradition for the eternal repose of Munir's spirit.
After more than an hour, Munir's remains were brought to a mosque were
hundreds of people pray while the others walked to the cemetery. About an
hour after, Munir's remains arrived at the cemetery where he was laid in his
final resting place. The people were grief-stricken, unable to believe that
their vocal defender, passed away at a young age of 38. Munir was born on
December 8, 1965 and died on September 7, 2004. The cause of his death is
still officially unknown, since results of the autopsy were not yet
available as of the date of the funeral. But he reportedly died in a Garuda
flight on the way to Amsterdam two hours before arriving at Schipol airport.
After which, people from KontraS and IKOHI accompanied me to Suciwati and
her children wherein I gave the compilation of messages we have received
from our contacts from different countries.
The act of solidarity was very much appreciated especially in this hour of
profound sorrow. Their children, a boy (6 years old) and a girl (2 years
old) were innocently playing in their room wherein we talked to them and
took pictures of them. As I and KontraS/IKOHI members were travelling on our
way back to Jakarta, a candle lighting ceremony was done in honor of Munir
and the victims of the September 9 bombing. 1,000 candles were lit to pay
tribute to Munir and the victims of the recent bombing.
To note, prior to the arrival of Munir's remains, there were memorial
activities for three series of nights in Jakarta and other parts of the
country to give tribute to the man who spent his 38 years of life in service
to the poor and in championing human rights. Munir had lived and died in
service to humanity.
In his short life, he touched the hearts of many. He left with us beautiful
memories which we will always remember with fondness. His examples shall
forever inspire us in this continuing journey towards truth, justice, peace,
freedom. Munir was such a very good man - gentle, humble, soft-spoken, yet
very courageous and committed human rights defender.
The memory of him will forever linger in our minds and hearts. Munir is
alive in the hearts of the Indonesian people. Munir is alive in the hearts
of the innumerable people he touched, not only in Indonesia, but also in
many other parts of the world who have directly or indirectly benefited from
his genuine human rights advocacy. We will surely miss Munir. But let us
turn our grief into courage in this long and difficulty struggle for a world
without disappeared persons and for human rights for all.
To quote from one of Munir's speeches, which was also written below his huge
picture, Munir said: "HUMAN RIGHTS, IN THE SENSE OF HUMAN SOLIDARITY, HAVE
CREATED A NEW UNIVERSAL AND EQUAL LANGUAGE GOING BEYOND RACIAL, GENDER OR
ETHNIC BOUNDARIES. THAT IS WHY WE CONSIDER THESE AS A DIALOGUE FOR PEOPLE OF
ALL SOCIO-CULTURAL GROUPS AND ALL IDEOLOGIES." The challenge is for us to
continue, with more vigor and determination, the human rights work which
Munir left behind. In unity amidst diversity, let us overcome!
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO