Jakarta, Indonesia, 28 September 2022 — The Munir Human Rights Museum (Museum HAM Munir), a museum established and inspired by the lives and work of Indonesian human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, is joining the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) and its Asia and the Pacific Network. By joining ICSC, the Museum will now become part of a global network of over 300 members in 65 countries working together to remember the past and spark action on contemporary human rights challenges.
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience is the only global network of “Sites of Conscience” – historic sites, museums and memory initiatives dedicated to remembering past struggles and addressing their contemporary legacies. ICSC activates the power of places of memory to engage the public with a deeper understanding of the past and inspire action to shape a just future. ICSC supports its members, including the newly listed Munir Human Rights Museum, in many ways, including providing direct funding for civic engagement programs; introducing members to a global network of similarly minded sites; helping them establish best practices and new partnerships; organizing leadership and program development opportunities; offering dialogue training; and conducting strategic advocacy for individual members and the Sites of Conscience movement as a whole.
Silvia Fernández, ICSC’s Global Networks Program Director stated in her address to the media in Indonesia: “The work of Munir Human Rights Museum in Indonesia is very important — Sites of Conscience like this begin by facing all aspects of our shared history: stories of great cruelty, great courage, or everyday life, much like the life of Munir Said Thalib and all his activism represents and connecting it to contemporary human rights and social justice issues. With the Museum now being part of this global network of similar initiatives, we can activate the memory of Munir Said and open up public dialogue on related issues we face today, his legacy, and what we can do about them in Indonesia and the region.”
Echoing similar sentiment, Andi Achdian of Human Rights Museum Foundation board added, “Our gratitude to friends from ICSC and the networks, for helping us to lay the foundation for widening the promotion of rights and justice for all, not only in Indonesia, but also in every part of the world. The Munir Human Rights Museum is always keen to engage with the younger generation to better understand the past, the violent past that Indonesia must endure.”
The two other members of ICSC and the Asia-Pacific Sites of Conscience Network present shared their hopes of working together with the Munir Human Rights Museum: Centro Nacional Chega! (CNC) in Dili, Timor-Leste, in which Munir’s activism intersected greatly with the independence history of the country as well as the newest member, Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo, Japan.
Hugo Fernandes, the director of CNC warmly welcomed Museum HAM Munir to the ICSC network. “Munir holds a special place in Timorese’s hearts, he had advocated for the release of Timorese students in Indonesia at the time of occupation. The legacy of Munir lives on, to preserve and ensure we learned from the past. The site can become a place for both countries to learn and remember, turning dark memory into lessons.”
Mina Watanabe, the director of Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace which joined ICSC in 2019 highlighted the same spirit both sites are having. “We have been working for the comfort women issues for the past 17 years, we vow not to repeat the same crimes again by acknowledging what happened. It’s through collaboration with many similar-natured organisations and people we can together protect and respect human rights.”
ICSC recognises that the power of sites of memory is not inherent; it must be harnessed as a deliberate tactic in the service of human rights and citizen engagement. This conscious effort to connect past to present and memory to action, such as what Munir represents for human rights in Indonesia, is the hallmark of the Sites of Conscience movement. ICSC believes that by transforming places of memory into places of civic action, we can help build lasting cultures of peace and universal human rights.
The Munir Human Rights Museum was originally established with the name Omah Munir (House of Munir) Human Rights Museum by the Omah Munir Human Rights Foundation in 2013 in the city of Batu, East Java, where Munir was born and raised. The Omah Munir Human Rights Museum was housed in the former residence of Munir in Batu.
The establishment of the Museum is to promote human rights education for Indonesians, especially the youths to nurture peace-loving citizens that respect human rights and uphold the principles of tolerance and equality. The Munir Human Rights Museum will implement human rights education and civic engagement programs, develop public exhibits on emerging issues in society, release publication of teaching modules and books, training, discussions and arts activities — all in an effort to strive to be the centre for human rights education in Southeast Asia.
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