Carmel Budiardjo

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Carmel Budiardjo
Carmel Budiardjo (1973).jpg
Budiardjo in 1973
Carmel Brickman

(1925-06-18)18 June 1925
London, England
Died10 July 2021(2021-07-10) (aged 96)
London, England
EducationUniversity of London
University of Indonesia
OccupationActivist, lecturer
Known forFounder of Tapol
Suwondo Budiardjo
(m. 1950)
AwardsRight Livelihood Award (1995)

Carmel Budiardjo (née Brickman; 18 June 1925 – 10 July 2021) was an English human rights activist, lecturer, and author. She was the founder of the non-governmental organisation Tapol. Budiardjo was known for campaigning for the awareness of war crimes and human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor. For her activism, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1995.

Early life[edit]

She came from a Jewish family in London, whose anti-fascist beliefs influenced her left-wing politics.[1] She received a bachelor's degree in Economics in 1946 from the University of London, where she became active in the National Union of Students.[2] While working in Prague for the International Union of Students,[3] she met Suwondo 'Bud' Budiardjo, an Indonesian government official whom she married in 1950.[4] The couple moved to Indonesia in 1951, and she became an Indonesian citizen in 1954.[5]

Early career[edit]

Budiardjo worked first as a translator for Antara, the Indonesian news agency, then in economic research for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, later studying at the University of Indonesia's School of Economics and then lecturing at Padjadjaran University in Bandung and Res Publica (now Trisakti) University in Jakarta.[6]


After General Suharto seized power in 1966, her husband was imprisoned, spending 12 years in jail. She was herself arrested,[7] and later imprisoned in 1968 for three years and, after her release in 1971, was deported to England.[6]

Upon returning she founded Tapol to campaign for political prisoners in Indonesia, which took its name from the abbreviation of tahanan politik, or political prisoner in Indonesian. The organisation expanded its activities, and was prominent in getting out information on military activity and human rights violations in East Timor,[8] invaded and occupied by Indonesia in 1975, as well as West Papua[9] and Aceh.[10] The Tapol Bulletin was a major source of information about the human rights situation in Indonesia under the New Order. She was also the author of a number of books on human rights and politics in Indonesia.[11] The organisation remains active, with Budiardjo still playing a very important part in its activities until her death.[12]

In 1995, Budiardjo was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for her work, being nominated by the International Federation for East Timor.[13]


Budiardjo died on 10 July 2021 in London at age 96.[11][14][15] On 6 August 2021 Budiardjo was featured in the BBC Radio 4 obituary programme Last Word.[16]


  • Budiardjo, Carmel and Liem Soei Liong. The War Against East Timor. London: Zed Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86232-228-6.
  • Budiardjo, Carmel. Surviving Indonesia's Gulag: A Western Woman Tells Her Story. London: Cassell, 1996. ISBN 0-304-33562-2.


  1. ^ Rights activist says genocide continues in Indonesia, JWeekly, Saturday, 26 October 1996
  2. ^ The Cultural Cold War in Western Europe, 1945–60, Hans Krabbendam, Giles Scott-Smith, Routledge, 2004, page 117
  3. ^ The International Union of Students, Paul Francis Magnelia, Peninsula Lithograph Company, 1967, page 75
  4. ^ Development Policy and Law Seminar, 1973–1974, Volume 3, Kenneth F. Phillips, Earl Warren Legal Institute, University of California, School of Law, 1974, page i
  5. ^ Surviving Indonesia's Gulag: A Western Woman Tells Her Story Carmel Budiardjo, Cassell, 1996, page 130
  6. ^ a b British woman narrates account of prison torture Archived 21 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Post, 12 September 1999
  7. ^ Sukarno Plot: British Woman Held, Glasgow Herald, 14 December 1965
  8. ^ I'll campaign for Timor until I die, The Independent, 25 October 1998
  9. ^ Human rights campaigner Carmel Budiardjo made an honorary Papuan, Scoop, 12 January 2011
  10. ^ What is the TNI's Aceh agenda?, Inside Indonesia 76: Oct – Dec 2003
  11. ^ a b "Pendiri TAPOL Carmel Budiardjo, yang berperan besar dalam perjuangan kemanusiaan di Indonesia, tutup usia". BBC News Indonesia (in Indonesian). Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Britain's ex-tapol fights on". New Internationalist. October 1982. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Right Livelihood award: 1985 – Carmel Budiardjo". Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Carmel Budiardjo: rights defender who shone a light on Papua". RNZ. 12 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  15. ^ editor, A. P. R. "Papuan and human rights defender Carmel Budiardjo dies at 96 | Asia Pacific Report". Retrieved 13 July 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Last Word, Sir Graham Vick (Pictured), Carmel Budiardjo, Piers Plowright, Dusty Hill".

External links[edit]