TAPOL campaigns for human rights, peace and democracy in Indonesia. We are based in the UK and work to raise awareness of human rights issues in Indonesia, including in the contested territory of West Papua. Founded on grassroots campaigning, TAPOL works closely with local organisations in Indonesia to advocate for truth and justice and encourage the international community to take action.
TAPOL was established in 1973 by Carmel Budiardjo, a political prisoner in Indonesia following former President Suharto’s rise to power in 1965. An Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Carmel was released after three years’ imprisonment without trial and returned to the UK. She founded TAPOL (which means 'political prisoner' in Indonesian) to campaign for release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners remaining in Indonesia following the 1965 atrocities, and in support of the relatives of the hundreds of thousands who were killed. While the campaign has since broadened, TAPOL continues to advocate for the victims of one of the twentieth century’s worst massacres and best-kept secrets.
For the past forty years TAPOL has consistently campaigned for justice in Indonesia, including Aceh, East Timor and West Papua. We have spoken out on behalf of human rights defenders under threat, challenged military and police abuses, monitored and opposed UK arms sales to Indonesia, and raised awareness of the disastrous impacts of mega-projects such as the Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine and the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate in West Papua.
TAPOL promotes democracy in Indonesia by monitoring major national elections and supporting local campaigns for the right to free expression and the release of political prisoners. We also support local peacebuilding initiatives through quiet diplomacy at the international level. TAPOL’s news translation service plays a key role in ensuring that the voices of journalists in West Papua, the most politically isolated region of Indonesia, can be heard.
TAPOL’s staff are supported by a team of dedicated long-term volunteers, as well as students and professionals around the world who offer their free time and research, language or communications skills to help with specific projects. TAPOL works with a number of local organisations in West Papua and has a wide network of partners based in Indonesia, the UK and worldwide.