Australian advocates demand justice for slain Indonesian trans woman

indonesia president joko widodo human rights watch
Photo: YouTube

Australian LGBTIQ advocates have written to Indonesian authorities to demand justice in the horrific death of a transgender woman in Jakarta.

Last weekend, a mob of men doused the woman, Mira, in petrol and burned her alive. A day later, she died of her wounds in hospital.

Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland (ATSAQ) and national group Just.Equal have written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo (pictured) and the country’s Ambassador Soeryo Legowo.

They’ve called for a thorough investigation into Mira’s death and the perpetrators brought to justice. They also want action against LGBTIQ hate crime and respect of LGBTIQ human rights in Indonesia.

“We stand in solidarity with transgender people across Indonesia at what must be a time of great sorrow and fear,” ATSAQ secretary Krissy Johnson said.

“We urge Australians to write to the Indonesian authorities to ask for a thorough investigation of this horrific crime and tougher action against all anti-LGBTIQ hate crime.”

Just.Equal spokesperson Rodney Croome also called for Indonesia to take a stand against hate crime.

“At a time of crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, governments have a duty to ensure fear and uncertainty do not trigger hatred and violence against traditionally-stigmatised minorities,” he said.

“Indonesia is one of the world’s largest democracies and its leadership against hate crime will echo around the world.”

Croome said the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra can be contacted at, or on +61 02 6250 8600.

Indonesian police won’t bring murder charges against suspects

On April 4, the mob of men surrounded Mira after accusing her of stealing a truck driver’s phone and wallet.

Witnesses alleged the men violently beat her. The group then also poured litres of petrol on the woman, and one set her alight.

North Jakarta police said they had identified six suspects, three of whom are in custody.

However on Wednesday, North Jakarta police told Reuters they wouldn’t bring murder charges against the suspects accused of killing Mira.

Police chief Budhi Herdi Susianto said they believed the suspects who set the fire hadn’t burned her intentionally.

Instead, police may charge the suspects with physical violence, carrying a maximum sentence of 12 years jail.

But Amnesty International spokesperson Usman Hamid said it seemed too early for police to conclude that.

“The police need to take investigative actions that are impartial and independent. They can’t seem like the perpetrators’ lawyers,” Hamid said.

ATSAQ and Just.Equal’s full letter to President Joko Widodo

Dear President Widodo and Ambassador Legowo,

Like many people across Indonesia and around the world, we were appalled to learn that a transgender woman, Mira, was burned alive near her home in North Jakarta, on April 4th.

We welcomed President Widodo’s commitment to human rights during his address to the Australian Parliament on February 10th. We now ask that the Indonesian Government ensures these principles are extended to LGBTIQ Indonesians.

This includes the following measures:

  • Ensure Mira’s death is subject to a thorough police investigation and the perpetrators brought to justice.
  • Make it clear that human rights and the rule of law apply equally to all Indonesians, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or any other distinction.
  • Take action against hate crimes on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation and other grounds
  • Work with human rights, civil society and LGBTIQ groups to foster the tolerance, and value the diversity, Indonesia is traditionally renowned for.

This matters now more than ever. At times of crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic, fear and uncertainty can trigger hatred and violence against stigmatised minorities. Surely all governments have a duty to show that human rights and the rule of law continue to prevail.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest democracies. It has the capacity to exercise significant influence around the globe in regard to the promotion of democratic values.

We urge the Indonesian Government to ensure that the promise of democracy – legal equality, individual freedom and personal safety – is shared by all Indonesians, including LGBTIQ Indonesians.

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