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About Carmel Budiardjo

Carmel Budiardjo 18 June 1925 – 10 July 2021

“It is my fervent wish that future generations uphold the principles of political freedoms, peace and anti-militarism”



She was born as Carmel Brickman in London on 18 June 1925. In 1946 she gained a degree in economics at London University. Carmel went to Indonesia in 1951 after marrying Budiardjo in Prague, where she had been working for the International Union of Students.

Carmel had several jobs in Indonesia. For the first two years, she worked for the national news agency, ANTARA, then worked as a researcher at the International Relations Department of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. In her spare time, she wrote articles on the economy for the Indonesian press and was a member of the left-wing Indonesian Association of Graduates, HSI.

When the military came to power in the wake of the mass killings and mass arrests in 1965, she was sacked from her job at the Ministry and Budiardjo was jailed and released twice between 1965 and 1967.

In September 1968, she was arrested in a new wave of arrests, along with her husband, for whom it was his third arrest. Carmel remained in prison without charge or trial for more than three years. She was released in November 1971 as the result of a legal error over her citizenship which led to the British Government restoring her British nationality. She was released and ordered, as a condition of her release, to leave Indonesia immediately and promise never to return.

For a year or so, Carmel concentrated on efforts to secure the release of Budiardjo, but when it proved fruitless, she, together with a group of friends and members of her family, launched a campaign to publicise Indonesia’s appalling human rights record. At the time, there were still tens of thousands of Indonesians being held as political prisoners, the vast majority of them without charge or trial. Apart from Amnesty International, with whom she had always maintained a very close relationship, there were no organisations anywhere in the world apart from the Netherlands, campaigning on behalf of Indonesian political prisoners. She then co-founded TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign in 1973, which had been an integral part of her life.

She had paid particularly close attention to the tragedy that has befallen the people of East Timor since their country was invaded in December 1975. TAPOL Bulletin warned of the consequences of an Indonesian takeover in several of its issues before the invasion took place, knowing just how ruthless the Indonesian armed forces are. Ever since the invasion, East Timor has been a focus of TAPOL’s attention and campaigning. During the grim early 1980s when direct information from the territory had virtually dried up, the Bulletin was one of the few sources of regular information, keeping the issue alive.

In 1979, TAPOL published one of the first books ever to appear on East Timor, An Act of Genocide: Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor. It exposed the consequences of the Indonesian invasion and annexation.

Under Carmel’s leadership TAPOL broadened its focus to include campaigns against economic aid and arms exports to Indonesia, getting out the information on military and human rights violations in Aceh and contested territory of West Papua. The TAPOL Bulletin was a major source of information about the human rights situation in Indonesia under the New Order.

Carmel Budiardjo died peacefully on 10 July 2021 in London aged 96.