Carmel Budiardjo
( 1995 , Royaume-Uni )

...for holding the Indonesian government accountable for its actions and upholding the universality of fundamental human rights.

We in TAPOL concentrate in particular on analysing Indonesian government policy and the shift in emphasis within the regime. This is where our regular monitoring of the Indonesian press is of great importance...


British citizen married to an Indonesian government official, Carmel Budiardjo has paid a high personal price for opposing the Suharto government. First imprisoned without a trial, she then left the country and went into exile, founding in London TAPOL, an Indonesian human rights campaign. TAPOL has advocated for the release of political prisoners and also for those students arrested in 1974 and 1978; among the organisation’s activities there is the struggle against economic aid and arms exports to Indonesia, as well as human rights abuses such as press censorship.

Contact

TAPOL
111 Northwood Road
Thornton Heath
Surrey CR7 8HW
UK

http://www.tapol.org/

Biography

Carmel Budiardjo is a British citizen who gained a degree in economics from London University in 1946 and went to Indonesia in 1951, after marrying an Indonesian government official. Her husband was imprisoned for ‘political offences’ after President Suharto seized power in the 1960s and spent 12 years in prison without trial. She herself suffered three years in detention, without trial or charge, before being forced to leave the country in 1971.

In 1973, Carmel Budiardjo was at the centre of a group of activists in London who founded the Indonesian human rights campaign, TAPOL. She has now been running TAPOL for 25 years, with a small staff but with a wide network of volunteer supporters and readers of the TAPOL Bulletin, which has been published every two months without interruption throughout that time.

TAPOL’s initial purpose was to campaign for the release of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, mostly jailed without trial, who had been held as communist suspects after an anti-communist crackdown in 1965 (the word ‘tapol’ is a contraction of two Indonesian words meaning ‘political prisoner’). But it soon broadened its campaign to include students arrested in 1974 and 1978. In August 1975, TAPOL warned that an Indonesian invasion of East Timor would bring bloodshed and terror. The invasion, which brought both, occurred four months later.

Under Carmel Budiardjo’s leadership, TAPOL has campaign …

Carmel Budiardjo is a British citizen who gained a degree in economics from London University in 1946 and went to Indonesia in 1951, after marrying an Indonesian government official. Her husband was imprisoned for ‘political offences’ after President Suharto seized power in the 1960s and spent 12 years in prison without trial. She herself suffered three years in detention, without trial or charge, before being forced to leave the country in 1971.

In 1973, Carmel Budiardjo was at the centre of a group of activists in London who founded the Indonesian human rights campaign, TAPOL. She has now been running TAPOL for 25 years, with a small staff but with a wide network of volunteer supporters and readers of the TAPOL Bulletin, which has been published every two months without interruption throughout that time.

TAPOL’s initial purpose was to campaign for the release of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, mostly jailed without trial, who had been held as communist suspects after an anti-communist crackdown in 1965 (the word ‘tapol’ is a contraction of two Indonesian words meaning ‘political prisoner’). But it soon broadened its campaign to include students arrested in 1974 and 1978. In August 1975, TAPOL warned that an Indonesian invasion of East Timor would bring bloodshed and terror. The invasion, which brought both, occurred four months later.

Under Carmel Budiardjo’s leadership, TAPOL has campaigned against economic aid and arms exports to Indonesia, as well as human rights abuses such as press censorship. During the 1980s the TAPOL Bulletin published many detailed interviews with West Papuan resistance leaders, East Timorese victims of abuse and Indonesian human rights activists. It also started making representations on a variety of issues to UN human rights bodies. Apart from the Bulletin and ‘Occasional Reports’, TAPOL has published books including An Act of Genocide: Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor (1979), West Papua: the obliteration of a people (1983), and Indonesia: Muslims on Trial (1984).

1995 was a symbolically important year for those working on Indonesian human rights issues, being the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence, the 30th anniversary of Suharto’s seizure of power and the 20th anniversary of the invasion of East Timor. The International Federation for East Timor (IFET), based in Japan, strongly endorsed Budiardjo’s nomination for the Right Livelihood Award.

Since the beginning of the new century, Carmel Budjardjo has become very much involved in campaigning against human rights violations in Aceh and for a peaceful solution to the conflict. For West Papua she is supporting the exercise of the right to self-determination and exposing the fraudulent Act of Free choice in West Papua in 1969.

 
 

FAQ about Carmel Budiardjo

Questions asked in 2005

1. What did it take to make a person a political prisoner in Suharto’s Indonesia?

Being member of an organisation that was allegedly affiliated to the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party).
Prisoners were said to be “directly or indirectly involved in the G 305” – about which they knew nothing! With a few dozen exceptions, no one was ever charged with anything. (G305 = 1 Oct 1965, murder of 6 generals, which Suharto said was a coup attempt by the PKI)

2. What did the British Government do to help you while you were in detention?

Nothing at all, until my British nationality was restored to me. Thereafter the British embassy helped to arrange for my release from prison and my immediate departure from Indonesia. An embassy official took part in a brief ceremony at which I signed a letter expressing gratitude to the Indonesian government, confirming that I would leave the country and never return there. I would not have been released if I had refused to sign that letter. An embassy official then drove me to the airport.

3. Despite the end of the dictatorship, Indonesian human rights lawyer and RLA laureate Munir was assassinated last year. What is the state of democracy in Indonesia today?

The trappings of democracy are there (a well organised presidential election, etc), but the army still retains a powerful position and is in virtual control of conflict areas such as Aceh and West Papua, where military operations occur frequently. The army has retained its territorial structure with commands existing alongside regional and local administration everywhere.

4. Are you now able to visit Indonesia and meet the ex-tapols? (the word ‘tapol’ is a contraction of two Indonesian words meaning ‘political prisoner’)

Yes, my name was taken off the black list in 1999. I visited Indonesia this year (2005) and met many groups of ex-tapols. They are still suffering discrimination so we must now campaign hard for their complete rehabilitation.

5. Doesn’t your support for human rights activists in West Papua and Aceh promote the possibility of the fragmentation of Indonesia?

The West Papua people certainly want their independence, but at present they are demanding that West Papua became a Land of Peace. That means that the army should withdraw.
In Aceh the human rights situation is very bad, but the terrible effects of the tsunami have had the effect of paving the way for talks between GAM (Free Aceh Movement) and the government. But it is important that civil society representatives are involved in the talks.

6. What effect has the RLA had on your work?

It has helped me to put my own work into a much broader context.

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