Leading Indonesian human rights defender Carmel Budiardjo passed away

Prominent Indonesian human rights defender, Carmel Budiardjo, passed away peacefully on 10 July 2021. She was the founder of London-based NGO TAPOL, which has campaigned to release political prisoners in Indonesia since 1973. Tapol is the abbreviation for 'tahanan politik' in Bahasa Indonesia, which means 'political prisoners'. Carmel Budiardjo was imprisoned for three years in Indonesia during the persecution of communists under former President Suharto. Later she helped to establish several environmental groups, such as the NGO ‘Down to Earth’ in 1988 and the ‘London Mining Network’ in 2007. In 1995, Carmel Budiardjo received the Right Livelihood Award after being nominated by the International Federation for East Timor.

Since its establishment, Tapol has built strong ties with human rights defenders across the Indonesian Archipelago and has broadened its scope on human rights issues in Indonesia over the past decades. Carmel Budiardjo remained a critical driving force in Tapol’s campaigning activities and organisational development throughout this period. Today, Tapol is a member of the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and a strong advocate for the human rights situation in the isolated region of West Papua, where most violations continue to take place without reaching international attention in the public or the media.

On 28 December 2010, the United Papuan People’s Forum for Democracy gave the title “Putri Sulung Bangsa Papua” to Carmel Budiardjo (see photo, source: Suara Papua), meaning Papua’s eldest daughter as a symbol of acknowledgement and appreciation for life work on the human rights situation in West Papua.