Gang avoid murder charges after trans woman set ablaze in Indonesia

Indonesian police in North Jakarta have announced there will be no murder charges for six suspects alleged to have burned a transgender woman alive as revenge for theft.

43-year-old Mira was reported to have been beaten, doused in petrol and burned after she was accused of stealing a wallet and phone from a truck driver in Cilincing. Mira passed away from her injuries in hospital on Sunday 5th April.

North Jakarta police chief, Budhi Herdi Susianto, says one of the six suspects had lit a match, but murder charges will not be pursued as the intention was not to burn the woman.

Of six suspects, three have been arrested and could be charged with physical violence, with a maximum sentence of 12 years.

Amnesty International’s Indonesian representative Usman Ham says it appears to be too early for police to reach this conclusion.

“This despicable murder must be investigated urgently. It would not be the first time that LGBTI people in Indonesia have been violently targeted simply for who they are,” Ham said.

“Without prompt action from the authorities to cast light on this horrifying crime and bring perpetrators to justice, transgender people in Indonesia will feel even further neglected and vilified by their government.

“The authorities must also take this appalling murder as a wake-up call and repeal its laws that criminalise specific gender identities.”

Australian Transgender Support Organisation Queensland (ATSOQ), together with national advocacy group just.equal have written to the Indonesian President and Ambassador asking for a full investigation, action against LGBTIQ+ hate crime and respect of LGBTIQ+ human rights.

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

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

just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome says at a time of crisis, governments have a duty to ensure fear and uncertainty do not trigger hatred and violence against traditionally-stigmatised minorities.”

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

The Indonesian LGBTIQ+ community have faced increasing violence and intimidation from authorities over the past few years.

Earlier in 2020, a mayor ordered raids on the LGBTIQ+ community in the Indonesian city of Depok in West Java in response to a rape conviction in the UK.

Mayor Idris Abdul Shomad called for people to report “deviant behaviour”, has ordered police to conduct raids to “uncover LGBT behaviour” and is working with other government agencies to stop the “spread of LGBT”.

Jakarta queer rights advocate Lini Zurlia told The Guardian at the time that the queer community was devastated.

“Since the cast went public, I have personally been harassed online by people saying that Sinaga is ‘part of my circle’ and that I would defend him and I am sure other activists are also experiencing the same,” Zurlia said.

“Focus on Sinaga’s sexual orientation rather than the rape case itself. It’s also affecting individuals in our community because some of them are getting emotionally attacked from their family, as if being gay is to ‘be like Sinaga.’”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Depok’s province of West Java. The only Indonesian province to outlaw homosexuality is Aceh, a conservative region under sharia law.


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