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Cablegate: International Women of Courage Award -- Nomination

VZCZCXRO0241
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #2912/01 2890605
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160605Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6697
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1384
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0970
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1885
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 002912

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, G/IWI
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KWMN PHUM KPAO ID
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD -- NOMINATION
OF SUCIWATI MUNIR

REF: STATE 126072

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Mission is pleased to nominate Suciwati
Munir for the Secretary's 2008 Award for International Women
of Courage. A courageous advocate for women's and labor
rights--and the widow of prominent human rights activist
Munir Thalib--Suciwati has elevated her husband's murder case
into a national campaign to transform Indonesia's judicial
system into one that fully respects the rule of law and the
principle of accountability.

3. (SBU) SUMMARY (Con'd): The presentation of the
International Women of Courage Award to Suciwati would place
the spotlight on her exceptional efforts. In the process, it
would underscore strong USG support for Indonesia's dramatic,
transformative move away from autocracy toward democracy and
respect for human rights, and uphold--as President Bush has
stated--the "non-negotiable demand for human dignity"
regionally and internationally. The Ambassador fully
supports this nomination. Political Officer Aryani Manring
is Mission's point of contact. END SUMMARY.

NOMINATION OF SUCIWATI MUNIR

4. (SBU) The formal nomination of Suciwati Munir follows:

Mission is pleased to nominate Suciwati Munir for the
Secretary's Award for International Women of Courage.

SIPDIS
Suciwati (who--like many Indonesians--usually goes by one
name), a well-known labor and human rights activist in her
own right, is the widow of Munir Thalib, one of Indonesia's
leading human rights activists who was poisoned to death in
2004. Suciwati, 39, was born in Malang, East Java, and was
already an experienced labor activist--a difficult profession
in Indonesia where labor union penetration is very low--when
she married Munir, at the time a rising, young human rights
lawyer. As she worked on labor and women's rights issues,
she was Munir's strongest supporter in his battle for human
rights. Soon after her husband's death, Suciwati
pressed--against great odds and initially with few
allies--for an investigative team which produced evidence
alleging that senior Indonesian officials might have
orchestrated the killing.

Since that time, Suciwati has conducted a relentless campaign
to lobby Indonesian authorities to find and convict the
perpetrators. For Suciwati, this fight goes far beyond
seeking justice for her dead husband: it is about
confronting and defeating an endemic judicial culture of
impunity; it is about upholding the principle that every
citizen is accountable under the law, regardless of power or
position; it is about Indonesia's leaders honoring their
promise to respect human rights and uphold democratic rights
for all.

In her long and often lonely battle for justice, Suciwati has
lobbied domestically, regionally and internationally, engaged
civil society, written articles and editorials, appeared on
television, staged protests and rallies, and conducted
letter-writing campaigns. In addition, Suciwati founded and
leads the Solidarity Network of the Families of Victims of
Violence, an organization--with regional Southeast Asian
links--dedicated to families of victims whose cases have yet
to be solved or investigated by the authorities. In all her
activities, she has repeatedly emphasized her messages about
justice and transparency. In waging this campaign, Suciwati
put herself and her two young children at great risk. She
and her family have received numerous death threats warning
her to relinquish her quest, all of which she has ignored,
saying "we have chosen to live as human rights activists. If
you fear, it should always be for other people, not yourself."

In 2005, Suciwati's efforts led the Indonesian government to
form an official fact-finding team to re-examine the Munir
case. Shortly thereafter, authorities arrested and charged
Pollycarpus Priyanto, an off-duty Garuda Airlines employee,
with killing Munir under orders from Indonesian intelligence.
In 2006, Suciwati--and the campaign for human rights in
Indonesia, more generally--faced a terrible setback when an
Indonesian court acquitted Pollycarpus of all charges.
Rather than yield, Suciwati reinvigorated her campaign and
traveled to the U.S. to meet Executive and Legislative Branch

JAKARTA 00002912 002 OF 002


leaders, as well as to other countries, placing an
international and regional spotlight on Indonesia's flawed
effort to find and convict Munir's killers. Her U.S. trip
included a briefing to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus
and meetings with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial Executions. As a result, President Yudhoyono
instructed the police and Attorney General's Office to
re-open the Munir murder investigation. In 2007 hearings,
stunning revelations appeared potentially implicating former
and current Indonesian government officials. At this time,
the Supreme Court is also reconsidering Pollycarpus'
conviction.

Indonesian and regional human rights activists admire
Suciwati for her enormous fortitude in the face of tragedy.
They reserve their highest praise for Suciwati's success in
turning her husband's case into a litmus test of Indonesia's
ability, under President Yudhoyono, to face its past human
rights record and establish a credible, accountable judicial
system. Human rights activists say that Suciwati could have
focused her effort solely on the Munir case; no one would
have faulted her for that. Rather, she turned this case into
something much bigger: a crusade to transform Indonesia
itself. Moreover, Suciwati has demonstrated to Indonesians
the power of one woman to effect change and challenge the
government. As a result, we believe Suciwati richly deserves
the Secretary's Award for International Women of Courage.
This award would send the strongest possible message of
United States support for human rights and rule-of-law in
this Muslim-majority country of over 240 million people.

KEY FACTS

5. (SBU) Key facts about Suciwati Munir follow (due to death
threats against Suciwati, please keep this information
close-hold):

Name: Suciwati Munir
Date of Birth: March 28, 1968
Contact Information: Suciwati Munir,
Perumahan Jaka Mulya, Jalan Pelangi E No. 12, Bekasi Selatan
17146
Telephone: (62) 818 159 146

MISSION POINT OF CONTACT

6. (U) Mission point of contact is:

Aryani Manring
Political Officer
Political Section, phone (62-21) 3435-9707, fax (62-21)
3435-9916, e-mail: ManringAE@state.gov
HUME

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