Savin Hill residents shake off daytime stabbing

Savin Scoop, the most favorite ice cream shop in Savin Hill
Savin Scoop, an ice cream shop near the T stop.

By Engelbertus Wendratama

Several Savin Hill residents dismissed a brazen daylight stabbing near the Savin Hill T station Monday, saying the attack was not a random crime and would not affect the neighborhood’s reputation.

“It was a tragedy, but I think it doesn’t represent a safety issue in the neighborhood,” said Andrea Rossi, who saw the victim when she collapsed in front of Savin Scoop, a local ice cream shop. “She fell on her face and blood on her back. It was shocking. I could not work for the rest of that day.”

The attack took place on Monday afternoon when a 21-year-old mother was stabbed multiple times by a teenage girl assisted by her 19-year-old boyfriend, the victim’s ex-boyfriend. The victim, Angeleek Barros, was taken to the hospital in a serious but stable condition. The 17-year-old attacker, Samia Jones, was arrested shortly after the attack. On Thursday, police arrested Daquan Sparks, the boyfriend, in Quincy.

Ross works part-time at At Home Real Estate and Savin Scoop, adjoining businesses. Her views were shared by others who work in the neighborhood.
Jennifer Merritt, a worker at Kennedy Cleaners, said, “It’s horrible, but it’s not a random crime. Savin Hill, particularly this area, is a nice place. I always consider Savin Hill as one of the safest neighborhoods in Dorchester. My friends from outside Savin Hill also see that.”

Maria Fernanda who works as a janitor at the T station said, “It really saddens me, they attacked the girl in front of her baby boy. But residents here are good people. I think it’s still safe.”

Some residents who use the T station on daily basis, like Kevin McKenzie and James Santiago, said they were not aware of the assault. “I didn’t know about that. But I think it’s a pretty safe area. I read that the crime rate is decreasing,” McKenzie said. Santiago didn’t know about the incident, but he acknowledged that crime is an issue in Dorchester. “Crimes happen here, but mostly I think drug-related,” Santiago said.

According to the BPD, the number of crimes in Dorchester during the last three months has decreased compared to the same period last year. Between January and April this year, there were 550 cases in total, while the record shows there were 617 cases in the same period last year.

The business of dispensing marijuana

By Engelbertus Wendratama

One person who is eagerly anticipating the medical marijuana business in Boston is Jon Napoli. As the owner of Boston Gardener, a store supplying urban gardening needs, Napoli has been teaching classes on how to grow marijuana since January. He hopes when the medical marijuana law is implemented in May, marijuana patients would consider his place as a reliable source to obtain their medicine.

“The law allows some patients and caregivers to grow marijuana by themselves. The class is also for those who want to open marijuana dispensaries,” Napoli said.

As a businessman who plans to apply for a marijuana dispensary license, he said he didn’t know exactly the potential market in Boston, but he’s optimistic about it, given the number of people supporting the marijuana referendum last year.

Napoli is a member of the Coalition for Responsible Patient Care, an advocacy group for medical marijuana industry professionals. “CRPC is helping the DPH formulate the regulations, in such a way that is beneficial for business like mine, for patients, and for the state. They have submitted recommendations to the DPH, based on other states’ experience,” Napoli said.

Napoli said he believes the CRPC would help create better condition for the marijuana business. The state has adopted a non-profit model for marijuana dispensation, which means any profit made must go back to the dispensary, not for the financial benefit of its owners or shareholders as in a for-profit model.

However, it’s still not clear what kind of non-profits the Massachusetts dispensaries would be. IRS classifies non-profits into 15 categories, and each has its own characteristics in terms of its operation and tax system. Leah Harris, membership coordinator at Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said other states don’t relate their dispensaries with the IRS classifications.  “The states laws that require dispensaries to be non-profit don’t require them to have an IRS designation as a non-profit, because the feds are not expected to grant non-profit status,” Harris said.

The DPH is still working on the regulations, and they will hold a public hearing to receive further comment on the proposed regulations April 19.

Regardless the non-profit regulations adopted by the state, Jon Napoli said he believes the best model for dispensary is a for-profit. “I think eventually we will go that way (for-profit). By this, the dispensary will be better regulated and could generate more revenue to the state. But for now, the non-profit is good,” he said. “I think in 2016 we will have a referendum to have for-profit model, like in Colorado, where marijuana is considered in the same class as tobacco and alcohol,” he said.

The same aspiration was voiced by Addison DeMoura, vice president of Steep Hill, a cannabis analysis laboratory whose clients are dispensaries located in California and Colorado. “We can compare the two states’ experiences. Colorado is a better and safer environment for patients, businesses and the public than in California,” DeMoura said. “To the state, it means more revenue too. In this economy, I guess it’s the option people would like to have.”

Regulating marijuana dispensation in Massachusetts

By Engelbertus Wendratama

In a “listening session” on medical marijuana held Feb. 16 at the Roxbury Community Center, David Kelly, a disabled patient and disability activist, asked Massachusetts health officials to leave the marijuana prescription up to the physicians.

“There are different strains of marijuana, each for a particular condition of the patient. Only the doctor knows this, so this should be a doctor-patient area, not the health officials,” Kelly said.

Under the medical marijuana law passed last November, it is the state’s Department of Public Health that is authorized to formulate the marijuana dispensation regulations. The law said the DPH rules should be ready before May.

Lauren Smith, interim DPH commissioner, acknowledged that “this is a broad issue”, and her department needs to hear from the public.

Eric McCoy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and gets marijuana in the black market, said that some patients should be given cultivation rights due to their financial hardship or physical incapacity.

Kelly, McCoy and other patients said they received big benefits from using cannabis, and the rules should not deny their rights to access it.

One major concern, however, is one that is shared by all states: the federal government classifies cannabis as an illegal Class I drug, the strictest classification on par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

This legal contradiction started in 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use. Now 18 states and the Dictrict of Columbia have made it legal, but the federal law remains the same.

In March 2011, the FBI raided 26 medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana. The FBI destroyed the plants and filed charges against the owners.

Chris William, one of the owners, in an interview with a documentary filmmaker Rebecca Cohen said, “We’re operating clearly under the state law, but the FBI told us that the gardens were illegal under federal law and had to be destroyed.”

Three months later, came a clarification regarding the raid. The US Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole wrote, “Distribution and sale of marijuana is a dangerous crime. ….medical marijuana patients will be free from prosecutions, but not the industrial growers.”

Jon Napoli, owner of Boston Gardener in Dudley Square, plans to apply for a dispensary license once the DPH rules are ready. He said, “The federal law obviously needs to change. There are several bills in Congress being considered right now.”

When marijuana becomes legal at the federal level, states will likely to adopt a for-profit model, like Colorado’s model, where marijuana is considered the same as tobacco and alcohol.

Cannabis tourism in Colorado only gives more pressure to the federal government to make marijuana legal, since it has potential to generate significant tax revenue for the state.

According to Marijuana Policy Project’s report, a national market for medical marijuana was worth  $1.7 billion in 2011 and could reach $8.9 billion in 2016. In 2011, California and Colorado markets represented 92% of  the wholesale and retail sales across the country. California is the largest market, while Colorado hosts the fastest growing and most business-friendly market.

Massachusetts is adopting a non-profit model for dispensaries. It sees the dispensary being a caregiver which works on slim margin and where fees are “reasonably” calculated to cover overhead costs and operating expenses.

Stephen Cottens, an attorney from Newton, Mass., said his firm is ready to give legal advice to any related party. He said, “Here in Massachusetts, we can have the most regulated marijuana industry in the country.”

Cottens was one of attorneys coming from both Massachusetts and other states. They all plan to advocate for the patients or entrepreneurs, and a number of them have set up patients or dispensaries coalitions.

Lauren Smith (standing), interim commissioner of the DPH, led the second of three listening sessions on marijuana dispensation in Massachusetts.
Chairperson of Substance Abuse Prevention Team in Weymouth, Dave Morgan, said that the DPH should make a set of strict regulations. He’s one of the opponents of the marijuana referendum back in November.
David Kelly emphasized the importance of giving the prescription rights to the doctors because marijuana is a unique substance. “It’s different from alcohol, heroin and cocaine,” he said.
Jon Napoli (right) and Robert Johnson (center) plan to open marijuana dispensaries in the state. Scott Murphy (left), an Iraq War veteran, asked the DPH to allow the use of marijuana for PTSD patients like him.
Anne Buechs (left) and Tara Doran (middle) are from South Boston Action for Substance Abuse Prevention. They emphasized the importance of strict marijuana rules.
Eric McCoy, suffering from multiple sclerosis, has been using cannabis for 17 years. “It gives me energy, ability to function,” he said.
John Carmichael (speaking), Deputy Chief Police of Walpole Police Department, said, “We don’t necessarily agree with what happens, but we move along. And it will be naïve to think that there’s not gonna be a diversion in the implementation.”
Rob Hunt is an attorney and the chairman of Coalition for Responsible Patient Care. Founded in October 2012, the members of CRPC are marijuana patients and entrepreneurs who want to open dispensaries in Massachusetts.

Changes on the new Mass. marijuana law?

By Engelbertus Wendratama

Sen. Stanley Rosenberg is likely the most quoted state legislator on the medical marijuana issue. As one of the proponents of the Massachusetts medical marijuana initiative, the democratic senator said he believed that the new medical marijuana law is too loose in two aspects, and he’s trying to fix them.

First is the cultivation right granted to some patients, like disabled people, who don’t have access to a dispensary, which cultivates, processes and sells medical marijuana. “I think there’s no need for this, it opens the possibility of access to some marijuana for recreational use, which is not the purpose of the new law,” Rosenberg said.

His second concern is who will have the authority to decide the conditions which would qualify a person for access to the medical plant. According to the new law passed on Nov. 6, the individual doctors have this authority. But Rosenberg disagred with that. “I think the Department of Public Health should have the authority to make the determination, not individual doctors as to what conditions would be appropriate for access,” he said.

Under the ballot question, the  Department of Public Health is responsible for regulating medical marijuana in Massachusetts. “I’m waiting for the new Commissioner at the Department of Public Health to be named before following up,” he said.

Meredith Rosenthal, a member of the state public health council and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “The DPH will make a thorough study of the issue, look to other states as models, and receive input from interested parties before presenting a proposal to the Public Health Council. We have much to learn before we can decide the best path for regulation.”

They have 120 days to issue the specific regulations after the effective date of this law on Jan. 1, 2013.

In this study and talk between the Legislature, state officials and interested parties, there could be arguments from the organizations and people who are in favor and against the law. But they will not go back to discuss, for example, whether marijuana is useful or not, but in how the state regulates the medical use of the plant.

The spokeswoman of two organizations that are opposed to each other agree with Rosenberg. Jennifer Manley of the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, a leader of the coalition supporting the measure, said she is ready to work with him. Heidi Heilman of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance that opposed the measure said, “I agree with him. The law needs specific conditions for the qualifying patients, and only under those conditions, there’s no ‘other conditions.’”

In the meantime, Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo is asking the City Council to order a hearing to address the location of medical marijuana dispensaries. In this hearing, the City Council will discuss specific rules regarding the dispensaries and their locations in the city’s neighborhoods with government bodies such as the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the state Department of Public Health, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Police Department and the Department of Neighborhood Development.

Regarding the dispensaries and other issues, Mass. medical marijuana law is tighter than its counterpart in Colorado and California, two states that have the most marijuana dispensaries in the country.

State Comparison

Regulations Massachusetts Colorado California
Patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship Required Required Not Required
Statewide patient registry system Required Required Not Required
Dispensaries: Oversight, registration and collection of fees Required Required Not Required
Dispensaries: Registration and background check for employees Required Not Required Not Required
Dispensaries: Jail and prison sentences for defrauding system Applied Not Applied Not Applied
Dispensaries: Maximum numbers in the state 35 No Limit (500 in Denver alone) No Limit (1,000 in LA alone)
Dispensaries: Maximum numbers per county 5 No Limit No Limit

The Murder of Munir: A Perfect Crime? (Chapter One)

This is the chapter one of The Murder of Munir: A Perfect Crime?, a narrative journalism on the murder of Munir Said Thalib, an Indonesian activist who was poisoned during a Jakarta-Amsterdam flight in 2004. This book was published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama in Indonesian in 2009.

Most parts of the book were based on my observations, official records ― court records, police interrogations, and the investigation report of the Garuda Indonesia ― and interviews with people who were directly involved in the events. Other sources ― media or people indirectly involved ― were identified in the text. Munir’s case is the most sophisticated murder in the Indonesian history, and the case was not solved until present.


September 6, 2004. Indonesia, mainly Jakarta, was busy with the election—the first direct presidential election since its 1945 independence. It was 14 days before D-day of the second round election when Indonesians would determine whether Megawati Sukarnoputri or Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to become their next national leader.

At night, a married couple were having a conversation in front of a departure gate of the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. They would live in two different countries for the next 13 months after living together for 9 years. The husband, Munir Said Thalib, would pursue a master’s degree in humanitarian law at University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

At 9:30 P.M., a P.A. announcer asked all Garuda Indonesia passengers of GA 974 with Amsterdam destination to board. A group of people rushing, many of them are Dutch citizens, and Munir would also use the service of his nation’s flagship airline.

The plane had a capacity of 418 passengers divided into economy, business, and premium classes. Boeing 747-400 was the largest aircraft operated by Garuda Indonesia.

When entering the cabin door, Munir met Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a Garuda pilot who was called Polly. Polly’s status in this flight was extra crew, the crew who flew as a passenger and would work for other tasks. They met near the entrance to the business class, which was the front door. As an economy class passenger, Munir should have been closer to his seat when entering through the back door. It was not clear why he board through the front one.

Started with a conversation with Polly, Munir ended up in the business class, numbered 3K. This 3K seat belonged to Polly, while Munir’s was 40G.

Polly then went up to the cockpit on the second floor to have a little chat with the cockpit crew on duty. As they were preparing for take off, Polly was invited by purser Brahmanie to sit in the premium class since there were many empty seats available. Purser is a cabin leader responsible for the comfort of all passengers, including the transfer of their seats. The extra crew in his pilot uniform of white shirt and blue pants then took 11B seat.

There are two stories on Munir’s transfer into the business class, which according to Brahmanie and Polly.

In the District Court trial in Central Jakarta, Brahmanie as a witness testified, “When in front of the toilet business, I met with Polly. Then, Polly, holding a green boarding pass, asked in the Javanese, ‘Mbak, nomer 40G nang endi? Mbak, aku ijolan karo kancaku,’ (Miss, where is number 40G? Miss, I switched with my friend.), without mentioning his friend’s name. And I would like to know who was his friend. So, I visited seat 3K, and it was Munir sitting there, I instantly knew his name, he’s famous, then I shook his hand. Polly did not sit on the 40G, but in the premium class on 11B at my suggestion since there were a lot of empty seats.”

However, during an interview, Polly said, “I met Munir at the door of Garuda aircraft, at Jakarta airport. He asked at the door of the business class, ‘Where is seat 40G?’ I said, ‘You are in the economy class, sir, but I don’t know where is the seat.’ The plane can load about 420 people, it’s so big. Then, it’s lined up, there were plenty of other passengers going in, I’ll let go them in first. As a crew. It was part of our service to the passengers. After that, because I was about to step into the business class, I told Munir, “I was sitting in the business class, if you wanted to here, please ask the cabin leader first, if it’s allowed, please be my guest, if not I’m sorry.” That’s all our conversation, no more than that,” said Polly in a conversation at the Cipinang penitentiary, Jakarta.

Before takeoff, in the business class, Yeti Susmiarti presented welcome drink. Passengers were asked to choose among  a glass of champagne, orange juice, or apple juice. Munir chose orange juice. Finished with the drink, Yeti distributed sauna towel and offered newspapers to her passengers. All services were presented by Yeti herself, with the help of Oedi Irianto, a senior steward, who prepared her needs in the pantry.

At 10:02 p.m., the aircraft piloted by Captain Sabur Muhammad Taufik took off. To measure the takeoff and landing times accurately, the aviation industry uses the terms block off and block on. Block off means the time when the blocks for the aircraft wheels are taken off and the aircraft starts to make its way to the runway. Block on refers to the arrival time of the aircraft, that is, when the blocks for the wheels are set on.

About 15 minutes after departure, the flight attendants offered to the passengers several packed hot dishes on trays. Sitting on seat 3K, Munir chose fried noodle. After the dish was served, Yeti returned to offer some drinks; this time, there were more choices than the welcome drinks offered previously. The choices were alcoholic beverages (whiskey, gin, vodka, red wine, white wine and beer), soft drinks, Buavita apple and orange juices, Berry tomato juice, Ultra plain milk, Aqua mineral water, tea and coffee. Just as he did before, Munir chose orange juice.

After flying over Java and Sumatera islands and the seas around them for 1 hour and 38 minutes, GA 974 arrived at Changi Airport, Singapore at 12.40 a.m. local time. Singapore time is one hour earlier than Jakarta time. The cabin crews gave the passengers time to take a walk or do any activities in the airport for 45 minutes.

Because Munir got off the aircraft through business class exit door, he managed to get to Coffee Bean faster than those exiting via the economy class door. After dropping by in the coffee shop, he went back to the aircraft through gate D 42.

In his way back to Garuda, he was greeted by a man.

“You’re Mr. Munir, right?”

“Yes, I am, sir.”

“I’m dr. Tarmizi from Harapan Kita Hospital. What are you planning to do in The Netherlands?”

“I’m going to study, for a year.”



“Gee, Indonesia is surely going to miss you. You’re such an important person,” dr. Tarmizi commented.

“Well … it’s important for me, sir,” Munir replied, smiling.

“You wrote something about Aceh, didn’t you? Now, what about that, can things be settled down there?” asked the doctor, while walking with him.

“Well, it depends to the intention, doc.”

“What do you mean?”

“If the intention is to get things settled down, three months will do.”

Then the West-Sumatera-born doctor picked out his wallet and gave Munir his business card, saying, “If you need me sometime, just contact me.”

Munir took the business card, and they separated. The doctor got into the business class, and Munir headed to the rear door of the aircraft and sat at the economy class 40G seat, as listed in his boarding pass.

Since Polly’s air trip ended in Singapore, Munir went back to his original seat for Singapore-Amsterdam flight.

The total transit time at Changi (from block on to block off times) is 1 hour 13 minutes. It was the time spent for refueling, changing all cockpit and cabin crews, and admitting additional passengers from Singapore. The aircraft took off from Changi at 1.53 a.m. The flight to Schipol was headed by Captain Pantun Matondang, with Madjib Nasution as the purser.

Before the aircraft flew to the air, flight stewardess Tia checked the passengers’ readiness for takeoff. When doing her job, she was called by Munir, who requested for Promag, a medicine for heartburn. The flight attendant, whose full name is Tia Dewi Ambara, asked him to wait a while since the aircraft was taking off and all cabin crews had to be seated at their designated places.

About 15 minutes later, after the aircraft reached the safe altitude, Tia started to distribute blankets and earphones. She continued by doling out the before-sleep meal. At the time she reached seat 40G, the man in grey shirt and black jeans was sleeping.

Tia woke him up and asked, “Have you got your medicine from my fellow crew, sir?”

“No, not yet.”

“We’re sorry. We don’t have any.”

Tia then offered food, which Munir refused. But, the man asked for hot tea. Tia served the tea, poured from the teapot to a cup on the trolley. Munir received it, complete with 1 sachet of sugar.

When Tia continued serving other passengers, Munir passed her by at the alley to the toilet. It was the first time Munir went to the toilet, about 30 minutes after takeoff.

It had been three hours that the big plane flew and now it was in the Indian sky. Munir went to the toilet more often. When walking at the cabin alley, which was dim because only some reading lights were on, he crossed paths with the flight attendant Bondan Hernawa. He complained about having a severe stomachache and diarrhea to Bondan, and asked him to call for dr. Tarmizi who was seated in the business class. Munir gave him the doctor’s card.

Complying with the procedure for such situation, Bondan reported to Madjib Nasution, the purser, who was in the Purser Station.

“Bro, Mr. Munir, one of our passengers, is sick. He’s been defecating and vomiting many times. He’s got a friend, a doctor, sitting in the cabin somewhere, but I don’t know where. Look for him, please,” said Bondan, handing out dr. Tarmizi’s card to him.

Madjib looked for the passenger named dr. Tarmizi in the Passenger Manifest and found that his seat number was 1J. He had not yet got his chance to seek for it when Munir was already in front of the Purser Station. Holding his stomach, Munir said, “I have defecated so many times, and vomited as well. Maybe my heartburn relapses. I shouldn’t have drunk the orange juice on our Jakarta-Singapore flight just now.” Munir continued his way to the toilet.

Madjib and Bondan got themselves to 1J and found that dr. Tarmizi was sleeping at 1K, the seat on the right hand side of his own seat which, since he found empty, he thus sat on. “Doctor, doctor …,” Madjib tried to wake him up. Both Madjib and Bondan repeated several times more with louder voice, but the surgeon was still in his sound sleep.

Madjib once again met with Munir at the alley and asked him to wake dr. Tarmizi up by himself, while Bondan went to the pantry to do his scheduled tasks.

Finally, dr. Tarmizi woke up. Munir explained his condition, which at the time seemed to be very weak, by saying, “I have vomited and defecated six times since flying from Singapore.”

Dr. Tarmizi suggested to Madjib that Munir be moved to seat number 4 since that place was empty and close to him. Munir then sat on seat 4D, and dr. Tarmizi took the seat next to his left side.

“Mr. Munir, what have you been eating these last two days?” asked the doctor, who specializes in cardiovascular thorax surgery.

Munir was silent, maybe because of the pain in his stomach. The question was then responded by Madjib, who said, “Mr. Munir had some orange juice, yet he shouldn’t because of his heartburn.”

Munir stayed quiet, saying nothing.

“This is unlikely to be heartburn,” said the doctor, who then asked Munir, “What did you eat?”

“Just usual.”


“Just usual.”

“One day before yesterday?”

“Just usual.”

The doctor then conducted a first general check-up on Munir, by taking off his patient’s T-shirt. He found that the pulse on Munir’s wrist was weak. The doctor opined that it was an indication of lacking of liquid due to diarrhea and vomiting.

Munir went back to the toilet, followed by the doctor, steward, and stewardess. After vomiting and defecating, he went back to seat 4D, and kept on coughing severely.

Dr. Tarmizi asked a stewardess to get Doctor’s Emergency Kit, which must be available in every aircraft. The box was sealed. After looking at the box’s contents, he believed that the medicines available were scarcely sufficient, especially for the case of Munir. Dr. Tarmizi needed infusion to give to Munir, but there was not any; nor special medicine for heartburn and diarrhea.

The doctor thus took some from his own bag. He gave Munir New Diatabs, a medicine for diarrhea, Zantacts, a remedy for nausea, and Promag, a cure for sore and bloated stomach. Two tablets for the first medicine, and one each for the latter two.

Dr. Tarmizi then asked the stewardess to make a cup of sweet hot tea with a little salt added to it.

Five minutes after drinking the tea, however, Munir went back to the toilet.

Dr. Tarmizi saw him vomiting. The vomit burst with great force, having neither color nor particular odor. Physicians would call it projectile vomiting. When Munir continued to defecate, the doctor waited outside the toilet.

Munir finished after five minutes and opened the door. While leading Munir through the alley, dr. Tarmizi commented to purser Madjib, “Why there’s no infusion kit in this aircraft, which flies for such a long trip?”

Inside the aircraft medicine box there was Primperam, a liquid cure for nausea and vomiting, 5 ml (1 ampoule dose) of which was injected to Munir’s body by dr. Tarmizi. The dose injected on Munir’s left shoulder worked well since Munir fell asleep right after.

His suffering vanished for 2-3 hours.

Munir woke up and went back into the toilet. He was there long enough, about 10 minutes, and the toilet door was not completely shut. Madjib allowed himself to take a peek through the gap and knocked the door, but no response was given by the person inside, who was struggling against great pain.

Madjib opened the door and saw the 38-year-old man was leaning limply on the toilet wall.

Purser Madjib immediately called the doctor, who for the last half an hour knew the most about the passenger’s condition.

Dr. Tarmizi asked Madjib and steward Asep Rohman to carry Munir back to seat 4D.

After seated, Munir was checked by dr. Tarmizi, in the less-lighted cabin which was illuminated only by reading lights. This condition was inevitable since it was the standard flight rule. First the wrist, and then the stomach. When his belly was poked by the doctor, Munir moaned, ‘Aw, it hurts,’ while holding his upper stomach.

Madjib suggested Munir to do Istighfar, and Munir replied by reciting, “Astaghfirullah Haladzim, La Illaha Illa Llah.” His hands kept holding his stomach.

Flight attendant Titik Murwati, who was nearby, initiatively gave Munir some rubbing balm, something which she expected to help relieve her passenger’s pain. With dr. Tarmizi’s approval, Titik applied on Munir’s stomach the balm, which could give warmth to it.

Munir said that he wanted to rest due to fatigue.

Dr. Tarmizi opened the medicine box again and took injection drug Diazepam. This time, assisted by purser Madjib, the doctor injected 5 mg on Munir’s right shoulder.

The time between the two injections Munir received was about 4-5 hours.

After the tranquilizer was injected, Munir still felt the heartburn. Fifteen minutes passed and Munir went back to the toilet, accompanied by the doctor, purser, and stewardess. In the toilet, Munir vomited and defecated.

Back to his seat, Munir said that he wanted to sleep on his back. The purser and his subordinate spread a blanket as a place mat on the floor in front of seats 4D-E and a pillow on it. Munir lied down there, with two more blankets put on to warm him.

Dr. Tarmizi told the cabin crew that Munir be kept an eye on, and that he wanted to have some rest because the next day he had a job (he later explained he was to conduct a heart surgery in a hospital in Swole). He asked to be woken up in case something happened with Munir; then told them to make sure that the doctor from Amsterdam who was going to take care of Munir the next day should bring with him infusions. Afterwards, the doctor went back to seat 1K and slept.

Munir could now have some sleep, but he changed his sleeping position many times, and it was always sideling, never on his back or on his stomach.

Madjib kept on being standby, looking after Munir, until 3 hours before the aircraft arrived at Schipol Airport, when the cabin crews prepared breakfast for the passengers. Madjib walked to dr. Tarmizi’s seat and asked if he should wake Munir up for breakfast. Dr. Tarmizi suggested that Munir should be let asleep. Madjib then did his routine, overseeing things inside the cabin.

About 2 hours before the aircraft landed, at 05:10 GMT or 12:10 PM Jakarta time, when breakfast time and the cabin lights were still on, again Madjib made his way to visit Munir’s ‘rest place’.

In front of seats 4D-E, he saw Munir’s body was in oblique position, facing the seats; there was non-foaming saliva coming out of his mouth, and his hands turned blue. Madjib held Munir’s hands and he felt cold. Madjib, shocked by his finding, rushed to the doctor’s seat.

The doctor held Munir’s wrist with his one hand, and his other hand patted Munir’s back. Repeatedly he called, “Mr. Munir… Mr. Munir…”

Finally, looking at purser Madjib in the eye, dr. Tarmizi said weakly, “Purser, Mr. Munir is dead… How can it be this soon, I wonder? If it’s only because of diarrhea and vomiting, humans can stand for three days.”

Purser Madjib asked Bondan and Asep to help him lift Munir’s stiff body to a better place: the floor in front of seats 4J-K. Munir lied on two sheets of blanket, his eyes were closed by Bondan, his body was covered with a blanket.

Bondan and Asep recited Surah Ya Sin in front of the remains of Munir Said Thalib, forty thousand feet above the land of Rumania.


Latest update about the case:

Kasus Pembunuhan Munir: Kejahatan yang Sempurna?

Ini adalah bab satu dari buku saya Kasus Pembunuhan Pembunuhan Munir: Kejahatan yang Sempurna? Bentuknya jurnalisme naratif, diterbitkan oleh Gramedia Pustaka Utama pada 2009.

Sebagian besar materi buku ini berasal dari catatan resmi (catatan pengadilan, BAP Kepolisian, investigasi Garuda Indonesia), pengamatan penulis,  dan wawancara dengan orang yang terlibat langsung. Setahu saya, ini adalah pembunuhan paling canggih dalam sejarah Indonesia: sangat rumit dan kompleks. 


6 September 2004. Indonesia, terutama Jakarta, ramai oleh pemilihan presiden. Kali pertama pemilihan presiden langsung sejak merdeka. Tepat dua pekan sebelum hari H putaran kedua dengan rakyat bakal menentukan Megawati Soekarnoputri atau Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yang menjadi kepala negara.

Malam hari, sepasang suami istri berbincang di depan pintu keberangkatan internasional Bandara Soekarno-Hatta. Keduanya akan berpisah setahun setelah hidup bersama sembilan tahun. Si suami, Munir Said Thalib, bakal melanjutkan studi S-2 bidang hukum humaniter di Universitas Utrecht, Belanda.

Pukul 21.30 WIB. Melalui pengeras suara, seluruh penumpang pesawat Garuda Indonesia nomor penerbangan GA 974 tujuan Amsterdam dipersilakan oleh petugas bandara untuk naik ke pesawat. Munir juga akan menggunakan jasa maskapai andalan bangsanya itu.

Pesawat itu berkapasitas 418 penumpang yang dibagi ke kelas ekonomi, bisnis, dan premium. Boeing 747-400 adalah pesawat terbesar yang dioperasikan oleh Garuda Indonesia. Anggota keluarga besar Boeing 747 ini memiliki panjang 70 meter, jangkauan sayap 65 meter, lebar ruang kabin 6 meter, dan tinggi 19 meter, dengan kecepatan maksimal 1.093 km per jam.

Saat akan memasuki pintu pesawat, Munir bertemu Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, pilot Garuda yang biasa dipanggil Polly. Status Polly dalam penerbangan ini adalah extra crew, yaitu kru yang terbang sebagai penumpang dan akan bekerja untuk tugas lain. Mereka bertemu di dekat pintu masuk kelas bisnis. Sebagai penumpang kelas ekonomi, Munir sebenarnya akan lebih dekat dengan tempat duduknya bila masuk melalui pintu belakang.

Diawali percakapan dengan Polly, Munir berakhir di tempat duduk kelas bisnis, nomor 3K. Kursi 3K adalah tempat duduk Polly, sementara milik Munir adalah 40G.

Polly selanjutnya naik ke kokpit di lantai dua untuk bersalaman dan mengobrol dengan awak kokpit yang bertugas. Saat pesawat mundur dan siap tinggal landas, Polly dipersilakan oleh purser Brahmanie untuk duduk di kelas premium karena banyak tempat duduk yang kosong di kelompok termahal itu. Purser adalah pimpinan kabin yang bertanggung jawab atas kenyamanan seluruh penumpang, termasuk kepindahan tempat duduk mereka. Lelaki berseragam pilot kemeja putih dan celana biru dongker itu pun duduk di 11B.

Ada dua cerita tentang kepindahan Munir ke kelas bisnis ini, yaitu menurut kisah Brahmanie dan Polly.

Dalam sidang PN (Pengadilan Negeri) Jakarta Pusat, Brahmanie bersaksi, “Saat sedang di depan toilet bisnis, saya berpapasan dengan Saudara Polly. Lalu, Saudara Polly, sambil memegang boarding pass warna hijau, bertanya dalam bahasa Jawa, ‘Mbak, nomer 40G nang endi? Mbak, aku ijolan karo kancaku,’ (Mbak, nomor 40G di mana? Mbak, saya bertukar tempat dengan teman saya.) tanpa menyebutkan nama temannya. Karena nama temannya tidak disebutkan, saya ingin tahu siapa teman Saudara Polly. Lalu, saya datangi nomor 3K, dan ternyata yang duduk di sana Saudara Munir, yang lalu saya salami. Saudara Polly tidak duduk di 40G, tapi di premium class nomor 11B atas anjuran saya karena banyak tempat duduk yang kosong.”

Sementara itu, dalam wawancara Polly bercerita, “Saya ketemu Munir di pintu pesawat Garuda Indonesia, di bandara Jakarta. Dia tanya di pintu bisnis, ‘Tempat duduk ini di mana?’ Saya bilang, ‘Bapak di ekonomi, cuma tempat duduknya yang mana saya tidak hafal.’ Pesawat itu kira-kira muat 420 orang. Kemudian, antre, ada banyak penumpang lain mau masuk, saya persilakan duluan. Saya sebagai kru lebih baik ngalah, toh sama-sama naik pesawat. Memberi kesempatan kepada penumpang itu service, sopan santun kru kepada penumpang. Jadi, bagi kami, penumpang itu nomor satu.

“Setelah itu, karena saya mau masuk ke ruang bisnis, mau melangkah ke dalam pesawat, saya bilang kepada Munir, ‘Saya duduk di bisnis, kalau Bapak mau di sini, ya Bapak tanya dulu pada pimpinan kabin, kalau diizinkan ya silakan, bila tidak ya mohon maaf.’ Bahasa saya seperti itu. Sudah, itu saja,” demikian Polly dalam percakapan dengan saya di Lembaga Pemasyarakatan (LP) Cipinang.

Sebelum pesawat tinggal landas, di kelas bisnis, Yeti Susmiarti menyajikan welcome drink. Penumpang diminta mengambil gelas berisi sampanye, jus jeruk, atau jus apel. Munir memilih jus jeruk. Selesai minuman pembuka, pramugari senior itu membagikan handuk panas, yang biasa digunakan untuk mengelap tangan, lalu memberikan surat kabar kepada penumpang yang ingin membacanya. Semua layanan itu disajikan Yeti sendiri, dengan bantuan Oedi Irianto, pramugara senior, yang menyiapkan segala keperluannya di pantry.

Pukul 22.02 WIB pesawat yang dikendalikan Kapten Pilot Sabur Muhammad Taufik itu tinggal landas. Untuk mengukur waktu tinggal landas dan mendarat secara tepat, industri penerbangan menggunakan istilah block off dan block on. Block off adalah waktu yang menunjukkan saat ganjal roda pesawat di bandara dilepas dan pesawat mulai bergerak untuk terbang. Block on digunakan sebagai penanda waktu kedatangan pesawat di bandara tujuan, yaitu saat ganjal roda pesawat dipasang.

Sekitar 15 menit setelah tinggal landas, pramugari menawarkan beberapa pilihan makanan dalam kemasan yang masih panas di atas nampan. Di kursi 3K, Munir memilih mi goreng. Selesai mi, Yeti kembali memberi tawaran minuman, kali ini lebih banyak pilihan daripada welcome drink. Pilihannya adalah minuman beralkohol (wiski, gin, vodka, red wine, white wine, dan bir), soft drink, jus apel serta jus jeruk Buavita, jus tomat Berry, susu putih Ultra, air mineral Aqua, teh, dan kopi. Munir kembali memilih jus jeruk.

Setelah mengarungi langit pulau Jawa, Sumatera, dan laut di sekitarnya selama 1 jam 38 menit, pesawat GA 974 mendarat di Bandara Changi, Singapura pukul 00.40 waktu setempat. Zona waktu Singapura satu jam lebih awal ketimbang WIB. Awak kabin memberi penumpang waktu untuk jalan-jalan atau kegiatan apa saja di Bandara Changi selama 45 menit.

Di Changi, Munir singgah di Coffee Bean. Karena keluar dari pintu bisnis, Munir lebih cepat mencapai Coffee Bean dibanding jika keluar dari pintu ekonomi. Usai singgah di kedai itu, dia kembali menuju ke pesawat melaui gerbang D 42.

Di perjalanan menuju pintu Garuda, dia disapa oleh seorang laki-laki.

“Anda Pak Munir, ya?”

“Iya, Pak.”

“Saya dr. Tarmizi dari Rumah Sakit Harapan Kita. Pak Munir ngapain ke Belanda?”

“Saya mau belajar, mau nge-charge satu tahun.”

“Di mana?”


“Wah, Indonesia kehilangan, dong. Anda kan orang penting?” komentar dr. Tarmizi.

“Ya… ini perlu untuk saya, Pak,” timpal Munir sambil tersenyum.

“Anda ‘kan pernah nulis tentang Aceh. Bagaimana sih, bisa beres nggak tuh?” tanya dokter lagi, sambil keduanya berjalan.

“Ah, itu bergantung niat, Dok.”


“Kalau niatnya membereskan, tiga bulan juga beres.”

Kemudian, dokter kelahiran Sumatera Barat itu mengeluarkan dompet dan memberi Munir kartu namanya sambil berkata, “Kapan-kapan, bila perlu, silakan menghubungi saya.”

Munir menerima kartu nama dr. Tarmizi Hakim, lalu keduanya berpisah. Si dokter masuk ke kelas bisnis, Munir menuju pintu bagian belakang pesawat dan duduk di kursi 40G kelas ekonomi, seperti tercantum di boarding pass-nya.

Karena Polly hanya sampai Singapura, Munir pun kembali ke tempat duduk aslinya untuk penerbangan Singapura-Amsterdam.

Total waktu transit di Changi (antara block on dan block off) adalah 1 jam 13 menit, jumlah waktu yang digunakan pesawat untuk pengisian bahan bakar, penggantian seluruh awak kokpit dan kabin, serta penambahan penumpang dari Singapura. Pesawat tinggal landas dari Changi pukul 01.53 waktu setempat. Penerbangan menuju Schipol ini dipimpin oleh Kapten Pantun Matondang, dengan purser Madjib Nasution sebagai penanggung jawab pelayanan penumpang.

Sebelum pesawat mengangkasa, pramugari Tia mengecek kesiapan penumpang untuk tinggal landas. Saat melakukan kewajibannya, dia dipanggil oleh Munir yang meminta obat Promag. Pramugari bernama lengkap Tia Dewi Ambara itu meminta Munir menunggu sebentar karena pesawat akan tinggal landas dan seluruh awak kabin harus duduk di tempat masing-masing.

Kira-kira 15 menit kemudian, setelah pesawat di ketinggian aman, Tia mulai membagikan selimut dan earphone, dilanjutkan dengan makanan pengantar tidur. Saat Tia sampai di 40G, lelaki berkaus abu-abu dan bercelana jins hitam itu sedang tidur.

Tia membangunkannya dan bertanya, “Apa Bapak sudah dapat obat dari teman saya?”


“Maaf, kami tidak punya obat.”

Tia lalu menawarkan makanan, yang ditolak oleh Munir. Namun, lelaki ini meminta teh hangat. Tia pun menyajikan teh panas yang dituangkan dari teko ke gelas di atas troli. Munir menerima uluran minuman itu, lengkap dengan gula 1 sachet.

Ketika Tia melanjutkan melayani penumpang lain, Munir melewatinya di gang menuju toilet. Ini kali pertama Munir pergi ke toilet, sekitar 30 menit setelah tinggal landas.

Tiga jam sudah pesawat besar itu terbang dan sedang berada di langit India saat Munir semakin sering pergi ke toilet. Ketika berjalan di gang kabin yang hanya diterangi oleh lampu baca, dia berpapasan dengan pramugara Bondan Hernawa. Dia mengeluhkan sakit perut dan muntaber kepada Bondan, serta memintanya memanggilkan dr. Tarmizi yang duduk di kelas bisnis. Munir juga memberinya kartu nama dokter itu.

Sesuai prosedur untuk situasi semacam ini, Bondan pun melapor kepada purser Madjib Nasution yang berada di Purser Station.

“Bang, ini Pak Munir penumpang kita sakit. Buang-buang air, muntah-muntah. Ini ada kawannya, dokter, tapi saya tidak tahu duduk di mana. Tolong carikan tempat duduknya,” ujar Bondan sambil menyerahkan kartu nama dr. Tarmizi.

Madjib mencari penumpang atas nama dr. Tarmizi Hakim di Passenger Manifest dan menemukannya di kursi nomor 1J. Belum sempat dia beranjak, Munir sudah berada di depan Purser Station. Sambil memegangi perut, Munir berkata, “Saya sudah buang-buang air, pakai muntah juga. Mungkin maag saya kambuh. Seharusnya tadi tidak minum jeruk waktu dari Jakarta-Singapura.” Munir pun melanjutkan perjalanannya ke toilet.

Madjib dan Bondan lalu mendatangi 1J dan mendapati dr. Tarmizi sedang tidur di 1K, kursi sebelah kanannya yang, karena dekat jendela dan dia dapati kosong, lalu dia duduki. “Dokter, dokter…,” Madjib berusaha membangunkan. Keduanya mengulanginya beberapa kali dengan suara lebih keras, tapi tidur dokter bedah itu tetap tak terusik.

Madjib kembali berjumpa Munir di gang dan memintanya membangunkan dr. Tarmizi sendiri, sementara Bondan pergi ke pantry untuk melaksanakan tugas terjadwalnya.

Akhirnya, dr. Tarmizi bangun. Munir menjelaskan kondisi tubuhnya yang saat itu tampak sangat lemah dengan berkata, “Saya sudah muntah dan buang air besar enam kali sejak terbang dari Singapura.”

Dr. Tarmizi mengusulkan kepada Madjib supaya Munir pindah tempat duduk ke nomor 4 karena tempat itu kosong dan dekat dengannya. Munir pun duduk di kursi 4D. Dr. Tarmizi mengambil posisi di samping kirinya.

“Pak Munir makan apa saja dua hari terakhir ini?” tanya dokter spesialis bedah toraks kardiovaskular itu.

Munir hanya diam, mungkin akibat nyeri perutnya. Pertanyaan itu disambut oleh Madjib, “Pak Munir tadi sempat minum air jeruk, padahal Pak Munir tidak kuat minum jeruk karena punya maag.”

Munir tetap diam, tidak berkomentar.

“Kalau maag tidak begini,” kata si dokter, yang lalu bertanya kepada Munir, “Anda makan apa?”

“Biasa saja.”


“Biasa saja.”

“Kemarinnya lagi?”

“Biasa saja.”

Dokter itu melakukan pemeriksaan secara umum dengan membuka baju pasiennya. Dia lalu mendapati nadi di pergelangan tangan Munir lemah. Dokter berpendapat Munir menunjukkan gejala kekurangan cairan akibat muntaber.

Munir kembali lagi ke toilet, diikuti dokter, pramugara, dan pramugari. Setelah muntah dan buang air, dia pulang ke kursi 4D, sambil terus batuk-batuk berat.

Dr. Tarmizi meminta seorang pramugari mengambilkan Doctor’s Emergency Kit yang ada di setiap pesawat terbang. Setelah melihat isinya, dia berpendapat obat di sana sangat minim, terutama untuk kebutuhan Munir. Dr. Tarmizi memerlukan infus, tapi tidak ada. Tidak ada obat khusus untuk sakit perut mulas atau obat muntaber biasa.

Si dokter pun mengambil obat dari tasnya sendiri. Dia memberi Munir obat diare New Diatabs serta obat mual dan perih kembung Zantacts dan Promag. Dua tablet untuk yang pertama dan masing-masing satu tablet untuk dua terakhir.

Dr. Tarmizi lalu meminta seorang pramugari membuatkan teh manis dengan sedikit tambahan garam di dalamnya.

Namun, lima menit setelah meminum teh hangat itu, Munir kembali ke toilet.

Dr. Tarmizi melihatnya muntah. Dalam istilah kedokteran, muntahnya proyektil atau agak menyemprot, dengan warna bening dan tidak mengeluarkan bau tertentu. Saat Munir melanjutkan dengan buang air, si dokter menunggu di luar.

Munir rampung setelah lima menit dan membuka pintu. Dr. Tarmizi lalu membimbing Munir berjalan menyusuri gang sambil berkomentar kepada purser Madjib, “Mengapa infus saja tidak ada padahal perjalanan sejauh ini?”

Di kotak obat pesawat terdapat cairan Primperam, obat antimual dan muntah, yang kemudian disuntikkan dr. Tarmizi ke tubuh Munir sejumlah 5 ml (dosis 1 ampul). Injeksi di bahu kiri ini cukup berpengaruh karena Munir kemudian tidur.

Penderitaannya reda selama 2-3 jam.

Munir bangun dan kembali masuk ke toilet. Dia cukup lama berada di dalamnya, kira-kira 10 menit, dan pintunya pun tidak tertutup dengan sempurna. Madjib memberanikan diri melongok lewat celah yang ada dan mengetuk pintu, tapi tidak ada respons dari orang yang sedang menderita di sana.

Madjib membuka pintu lebih lebar dan melihat laki-laki 38 tahun itu sedang bersandar lemas di dinding toilet.

Purser Madjib langsung memanggil dokter yang selama setengah jam terakhir paling tahu kondisi penumpangnya itu.

Dr. Tarmizi mengajak Madjib dan pramugara Asep Rohman mengangkat Munir kembali ke kursi 4D.

Setelah didudukkan di kursi, Munir menjalani pemeriksaan oleh dr. Tarmizi, dalam gelapnya kabin pesawat yang hanya diterangi lampu baca. Kegelapan ini keadaan yang tak bisa mereka atasi sebab ini aturan penerbangan. Pertama pergelangan tangan, lalu perut. Saat perutnya diketuk oleh si dokter, Munir mengeluh, “Aduh, sakit,” sambil memegang perut bagian atas.

Madjib menyarankannya untuk ber-Istighfar, yang disambut Munir dengan menyebut, “Astaghfirullah Haladzim, La Illaha Illa Llah,” sambil tetap memegangi perut.

Pramugari Titik Murwati yang berada di dekat situ berinisiatif memberi balsem gosok, tindakan yang dia harap bisa membantu meredakan derita penumpangnya. Atas persetujuan dr. Tarmizi, Titik menggosok perut Munir dengan balsem yang bisa memberikan rasa hangat.

Munir berkata dia ingin istirahat karena capek.

Dr. Tarmizi membuka kotak obat lagi dan mengambil obat suntik Diazepam. Kali ini, dokter menyuntikkan 5 mg di bahu kanan, juga dengan bantuan purser Madjib.

Jarak antara kedua suntikan itu sekitar 4-5 jam.

Sesudah suntikan obat penenang itu, Munir masih merasakan mulas di perut. Lima belas menit berlalu dan Munir ke toilet lagi, ditemani dokter, purser, serta pramugari. Di dalamnya, Munir muntah, diikuti buang air.

Kembali ke tempat duduk, Munir berkata dirinya ingin tidur telentang. Purser dan seorang anak buahnya membentangkan sebuah selimut sebagai alas di lantai depan kursi 4D-E dan sebuah bantal di atasnya. Dia pun berbaring di sana, dengan dua selimut lagi diletakkan di atas tubuhnya agar hangat.

Dr. Tarmizi berkata kepada awak kabin itu supaya Munir dijaga, dan bahwa dirinya ingin istirahat karena besok kerja, sambil minta dibangunkan bila terjadi apa-apa dengan Munir. Juga, dia berpesan agar mereka memastikan dokter dari Amsterdam yang besok masuk ke pesawat membawa infus. Setelahnya, si dokter kembali ke kursi di 1K.

Munir kembali bisa tidur, tapi sering berubah posisi, dan posisi itu selalu miring, tidak pernah telentang atau tengkurap.

Madjib terus setia menjaga Munir sampai sekitar 3 jam sebelum pesawat mendarat di Bandara Schipol, saat awak kabin menyiapkan makan pagi penumpang. Madjib berjalan ke tempat duduk dr. Tarmizi dan bertanya apakah perlu dirinya membangunkan Munir untuk sarapan, yang dijawab dengan anjuran untuk membiarkan Munir tetap istirahat. Madjib pun melakukan tugas rutin mengawasi lingkungan pesawat.

Sekitar dua jam sebelum pesawat mendarat, jam 05.10 GMT atau 12.10 WIB, ketika sarapan masih berlangsung dan lampu kabin masih menyala, Madjib kembali melangkahkan kaki mengunjungi “tempat tidur” Munir.

Di depan kursi 4D-E, dia melihat tubuh Munir dalam posisi miring menghadap kursi, mulutnya mengeluarkan air liur tidak berbusa, dan telapak tangannya membiru. Dia memegang tangan Munir dan mendapati rasa dingin. Madjib yang kaget bergegas menuju kursi sang dokter.

Dokter memegang pergelangan tangan Munir, dan tangan satunya menepuk-nepuk punggung. Dia berulang-ulang berujar, “Pak Munir… Pak Munir….“

Akhirnya, memandang purser Madjib, dr. Tarmizi berkata pelan, “Purser, Pak Munir meninggal… Kok secepat ini, ya…. Kalau cuma muntaber, manusia bisa tahan tiga hari.”

Purser Madjib meminta Bondan dan Asep membantunya mengangkat tubuh kaku Munir ke tempat yang lebih baik: lantai depan kursi 4J-K. Munir berbaring di atas dua lembar selimut, kedua matanya dipejamkan oleh Bondan, tubuhnya ditutupi selimut.

Bondan dan Asep membacakan surat Yassin di depan jenazah Munir Said Thalib, empat puluh ribu kaki di atas tanah Rumania.




WikiLeaks dan Matra Baru Jurnalisme Investigasi

(Ini adalah bagian dari kumpulan artikel yang sudah diterbitkan: arsip yang saya cari lalu unggah di sini sebagai dokumentasi. Tulisan ini dimuat di Polysemia edisi Januari 2011. Kala itu, menjelang akhir 2010, WikiLeaks menjadi fenomena global yang mengundang pro-kontra. Kontra tentu saja datang dari pemerintah, utamanya pemerintah AS. Pihak yang paling terbuka mendukung mereka adalah aktivis, jurnalis, dan penggiat kebebasan informasi.)


WikiLeaks meraih popularitas global setelah selama 2010 menerbitkan informasi yang menggemparkan komunitas internasional. Informasi ini antara lain catatan detail operasi militer Amerika Serikat (AS) di Irak dan Afganistan, komunikasi diplomatik rahasia antara Washington dan kedutaan besar AS di berbagai negara, serta sebuah video yang menunjukkan serangan helikopter Apache AS yang membunuh 12 warga sipil—termasuk 2 wartawan Reuters—di Baghdad pada 2007.

Sebelumnya, situs yang hadir pertama kali pada Desember 2006 ini juga telah mengungkap berbagai skandal besar, seperti pelanggaran hak asasi manusia di Cina, politik hitam di Kenya, dan kebijakan AS menyangkut penjara Guantanamo. Oleh karena pengungkapan-pengungkapan itu, WikiLeaks pun menerima 2 penghargaan bergengsi, yaitu Index on Censorship-Economist Freedom of Expression Award (2008) dan Amnesty International New Media Award (2009).

Bagi sebagian kalangan, organisasi dengan nama hukum Sunshine Press ini dianggap sebagai “masa depan jurnalisme investigasi” dan organisasi berita pertama yang tak memiliki negara.

Sebagai media, WikiLeaks benar-benar merdeka. Pendirian dan operasionalnya tidak didanai oleh politikus, kelompok kepentingan, atau perusahaan apa pun. Media ini tidak bertujuan mendapatkan pemasukan iklan. Mereka menyebut diri sebagai organisasi nonprofit yang didanai oleh “aktivis hak asasi manusia, wartawan investigasi, teknologis, dan publik secara umum”. Situsnya menjelaskan bahwa mereka “menerima dokumen politik atau diplomatik yang masuk kategori rahasia, terbatas, atau tersensor, dan tidak menerima gosip, opini, atau materi apa pun yang telah terpublikasi secara umum”. Dalam kata-kata pendirinya, Julian Assange, seorang aktivis dengan latar belakang peretas, “Kami berfokus pada usaha membuat materi dari whistle-blower atau jurnalis di seluruh dunia yang tidak lulus sensor bisa diakses oleh publik.” Mereka secara terbuka mengundang whistle-blower dan jurnalis untuk mengirimkan dokumen rahasia kepada situs, tapi juga sekaligus menjamin kerahasiaan identitas pengirim, bahkan dari pihak ketiga yang ingin meretas situs. Mereka menggunakan teknik-teknik kriptografi canggih dan payung hukum untuk melindungi sumber.

Dalam proses berikutnya, WikiLeaks mempekerjakan sekumpulan orang untuk menyelidiki dokumen yang mereka terima. Ini adalah cara yang disebut para penggiat jurnalisme sebagai “crowdsourcing”, yakni menggunakan banyak orang untuk menyelidiki sesuatu, bukan menggunakan wartawan investigasi tunggal seperti yang terjadi dalam contoh klasik pengungkapan Watergate. Jejaring WikiLeaks  mencakup 800 sukarelawan paruh waktu (sebagian besar wartawan dari berbagai media mainstream) dan 10.000 pendukung di seluruh dunia.

Sifatnya yang tak-bernegara ditegaskan oleh aktivitas situs yang berpindah-pindah server di beberapa negara. Mereka menyebarkan aset supaya tidak terpusat di satu lokasi, melakukan enkripsi semua data, dan memindahkan peralatan telekomunikasi dan pegawai mereka berkeliling dunia, sekaligus mendorong berlakunya hukum yang melindungi kebebasan informasi di berbagai wilayah hukum. Para sukarelawan juga membuat “mirror” dari situs asli di banyak server berbagai negara sehingga aksesibilitasnya tetap terjaga. Assange sendiri tidak memiliki kediaman tetap dan tinggal bersama teman-temannya yang tersebar di banyak negara.

Secara singkat, WikiLeaks bekerja seoptimal mungkin untuk melayani kepentingan whistle-blower (yang ingin memublikasikan informasi politik atau diplomatik rahasia dengan tetap menjaga kerahasiaan identitas, dan karenanya menginginkan media yang berani, aman, sekaligus populer), jurnalis (yang butuh informasi yang menarik, kuat, dan menjanjikan kebenaran baru), dan publik (yang berhak tahu cara kerja para penguasa yang selama ini mereka sembunyikan dan tak pernah bisa ditampilkan oleh media).


Matra Baru: Antara Jurnalisme, Spionase, dan Gerakan Sipil

Dalam sejarahnya, di era 1900-an, jurnalisme investigasi muncul dan berkembang di AS sebagai upaya wartawan untuk “memerangi kejahatan” sehingga disebut sebagai crusading journalism atau jurnalisme jihad. Ia adalah media perlawanan terhadap elite di kalangan pemerintahan dan bisnis yang melakukan tindakan kejahatan dan antisosial. Kerja para jurnalis ini dicirikan oleh sikap yang tidak puas hanya dengan “berita yang dapat dilihat”, tapi menghendaki “penggalian yang mendalam dan berisiko tinggi” terhadap fakta-fakta tersembunyi. Dan pembuktian yang “kredibel” akan fakta tersembunyi ini hanya bisa diperoleh wartawan melalui dua cara: penelusuran (pengamatan langsung oleh wartawan) dan informasi dari orang dalam (dokumen atau kesaksian).

Intisari jurnalisme investigasi awal itu yang sekarang dikibarkan oleh WikiLeaks melalui pengumpulan dan publikasi dokumen yang telah mereka lakukan sejak 2006. Assange menggambarkan dirinya sebagai crusading journalist yang siap mengungkap “kepemimpinan yang korup dan penuh kebohongan dari Bahrain hingga Brazil” dan hanya menarget “organisasi yang menggunakan kerahasiaan untuk menyembunyikan perilaku tidak adil.”

Setelah beroperasi selama 4 tahun, mereka melakukan perubahan strategi dalam mendistribusikan dokumen. Sebelumnya, setelah mengkaji dokumen-dokumen dari sumber, WikiLeaks mengunggah begitu saja dokumen rahasia tersebut di situs dan menyebarkan rilis pers ke berbagai media internasional. Namun, saat akan memublikasikan dokumen Afganistan pada 2010, mereka bermitra dengan 3 media ternama: New York Times, surat kabar Guardian di Inggris, dan majalah Jerman yang terkenal dengan liputan investigasi, Der Spiegel. Perhatian yang diterima WikiLeaks sangat mungkin tidak sebesar sekarang bila mereka tidak melakukan kolaborasi ini.

Mereka meminta tim jurnalis dari ketiga media tersebut untuk meneliti dan menilai  kualitas dokumen tersebut. Selanjutnya, WikiLeaks membatasi distribusi awal dokumen kepada tiga media yang jurnalismenya tepercaya secara universal itu. Ini adalah sebuah bentuk kolaborasi yang belum pernah terjadi dalam dunia media. Publikasi ini pun menciptakan gelombang yang besar dan dalam hitungan menit setelah rilis online, beritanya tampil di situs-situs berita seluruh dunia, blog-blog diskusi, dan Twitter, meskipun beberapa pengamat mengatakan sebenarnya hanya ada sedikit informasi baru yang dimuat dokumen tersebut. Kerjasama dengan tiga media mainstream itu adalah langkah cerdas karena semakin penting dan besar muatan dokumen tersebut, semakin sedikit peluang dokumen itu direportasekan secara memadai bila dipublikasikan secara serempak kepada semua orang. Selain itu, bila WikiLeaks menerbitkan begitu saja semua materi yang didapat, mereka akan dituduh bertindak sembrono dan tak bertanggung jawab. WikiLeaks memang telah memasuki sebuah wilayah baru yang tak satu pun wartawan atau media pernah melakukannya.

Tak berlebihan kemudian bila WikiLeaks dinilai telah “menyelamatkan jurnalisme” karena membuka mata kita bagaimana sumber-sumber resmi (pemerintah dan korporasi) seringkali menyembunyikan kebenaran. Pada dasarnya, jurnalisme bertugas memberitakan kebenaran, dan ini yang sering gagal ia jalankan karena ketidakmampuannya memperoleh sumber berita alternatif yang kredibel sekaligus melindunginya, terutama untuk perkara besar.

Sebagai contoh, media tidak menentang agenda pemerintah AS dan Inggris untuk menggelar perang di Irak pada 2003 karena media begitu percaya pada versi resmi pemerintah (Irak menyimpan senjata pemusnah massal, yang lalu ternyata tidak terbukti) dan tidak berusaha keras untuk menemukan versi alternatif.

Namun, bagi pemerintah dan korporasi yang rahasianya dibongkar, WikiLeaks adalah sebuah ancaman serius.Para pengacara Departemen Pertahanan AS berniat menuntut WikiLeaks atas pelanggaran Undang-Undang Spionase, termasuk terlibat pencurian properti pemerintah. Tentang ini, pendukung WikiLeaks telah menyiapkan pembelaan, yakni apa yang dilakukannya dilindungi oleh Amandemen Pertama dalam Konstitusi AS, yang membela kebebasan pers dalam memperoleh dan menyebarkan informasi demi kepentingan publik.

Beberapa pejabat AS juga berargumen bahwa tindakan WikiLeaks membocorkan informasi rahasia bisa membahayakan nyawa warga sipil atau personel militer yang terlibat dalam aktivitas militer atau spionase. Tapi, hal ini segera mendapat beberapa tantangan. Daniel Ellsberg, seorang mantan analis militer yang pada 1971 mengeluarkan Pentagon Papers yang membeberkan kebohongan dan skandal pemerintah AS pada Perang Vietnam, mengatakan dirinya skeptis bahwa pemerintah AS benar-benar percaya ada nyawa yang terancam akibat tindakan WikiLeaks. Menurutnya, pejabat AS selalu mengeluarkan argumentasi yang sama tiap kali ada kebocoran informasi yang memalukan. Hal itu juga terjadi saat keluarnya Pentagon Papers, dan ternyata argumentasi itu sungguh tidak valid. Selain itu, juru bicara Pentagon menyatakan bahwa hingga 3 bulan setelah pembocoran dokumen, tidak ada seseorang yang terbunuh atau terluka di Afganistan akibat informasi yang disebarkan WikiLeaks.  New York Times sendiri menegaskan bahwa mereka telah memastikan dokumen WikiLeaks tidak memuat informasi identitas yang bisa membahayakan siapa pun.

Satu hal yang disetujui oleh para ahli dan pengamat adalah pembocoran dokumen oleh WikiLeaks akan membuat pekerjaan diplomat dan intelijen AS menjadi lebih berat. Meski pembocoran itu tidak memberikan ancaman langsung bagi nyawa warga AS,  hubungan internasional AS dengan banyak negara akan terganggu dan bisa mengarah pada hubungan antarbangsa yang tidak harmonis. Setidaknya, dokumen diplomatik yang dibocorkan akan membuat pemerintah Pakistan, Yaman, dan pemerintah lain yang berkolaborasi dengan AS dalam perang melawan terorisme menjadi lebih enggan untuk bekerja sama. Dokumen WikiLeaks berpotensi membahayakan kerjasama penting antara pemerintah AS, Inggris, dan beberapa lainnya, yang memayungi masyarakat dunia dari terorisme. Namun, potensi bahaya ini sebenarnya berpulang pada kedewasaan dan kepentingan pemimpin-pemimpin negara tersebut.

WikiLeaks adalah sesuatu yang diimpikan dari para pemrakarsa era informasi. Sama sekali tidak ada informasi monoton yang mewakili kepentingan penguasa dan kampanye tersebulung untuk mendukung kekuatan politik atau bisnis tertentu. Kebebasan informasi benar-benar ada di sana, tidak ada sensor atau pembungkaman oleh kekuatan negara maupun modal. Memang, ancaman dan gangguan datang silih-berganti. Situs WikiLeaks berkali-kali diserang oleh peretas. Dari sektor bisnis, Mastercard, Visa, dan PayPal tidak mau menyalurkan uang dari orang yang memberikan donasi kepadanya. Perusahaan web raksasa, Amazon, juga menghentikan layanan bisnis kepadanya. Rekeningnya di bank Swiss juga telah ditutup. Sejak 2006 hingga 2010, mereka telah menghadapi lebih dari 100 tuntutan hukum yang berupaya membuatnya offline dari internet. Bagaimanapun, WikiLeaks tetap beroperasi hingga sekarang.

Bahkan, mereka telah bergerak lebih jauh dengan melakukan gerakan sipil lintas-negara, yaitu mengampanyekan kebebasan informasi dan pers sekaligus perlindungan hukum bagi wartawan dan narasumber mereka. WikiLeaks menjadi titik temu bagi potensi besar teknologi informasi, jurnalisme (investigasi), dan gerakan sipil yang semuanya ingin mewujudkan perilaku politik yang lebih adil. Pengalaman WikiLeaks “berhubungan” dengan berbagai aturan hukum di banyak negara membuatnya diminta membantu Perdana Menteri Islandia menyusun rancangan bagi Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), yang bertujuan membangun perangkat hukum untuk melindungi wartawan dan narasumber mereka. Dan keterlibatannya dalam IMMI memberi WikiLeaks kredibilitas baru.

Sekarang, Julian Assange sedang ditahan Interpol atas tuduhan kejahatan seksual terhadap 2 perempuan Swedia, tuduhan yang langsung ditolak oleh Assange dan dianggap banyak pihak sebagai rekayasa akibat ketidakmampuan “penguasa” menghentikan aktivitas media ini. Assange dan WikiLeaks dinilai telah menyelamatkan jurnalisme dari kepalsuan, tapi siapa yang akan menyelamatkan Assange?