A tribute to Alex Flor

7 May 2021
Aelex Flor in 2007

London, 7 May 2021

Yesterday we lost a dear colleague in Berlin, Alex Flor, the co-founder of Watch Indonesia! and its leader until 2019, after a short but serious illness. 

In the early 90s, from our tower in London we looked out with excitement at the birth of a new watchdog in Berlin. A group of Indonesian exiles in Germany, hand-in-hand with a group of German students, mostly returning from volunteering and visits in Indonesia, were forming aptly named Watch Indonesia! Among them was Alex Flor, known by his nickname ‘anak nakal’ at snafu in the early days of the cybernet. Anak nakal is a cheeky kid in Indonesian. 

Similar to TAPOL, their mission is to tell the world, people to people, about the darker side of beautiful Indonesia: the impunity of the generals, rampant corruption, land grabbing and plundering of natural resources, We work in solidarity with the Indonesian victims of growing inequality, political prisoners, marginalised indigenous peoples, minority groups and the communities suffering from environmental destruction. We both focus the periscope on Indonesia whilst at the same time putting pressure on our respective governments for their complicity. 

TAPOL and Watch Indonesia! inspired each other, thriving in our spirit of solidarity. Arm-in-arm we supplied the media in Europe with news from the ground during the kidnapping of international and Indonesian researchers and students in Mapenduma, Papua in 1996. It was the era of fax and analog computers. When social media became more ubiquitous we coordinated global action to call for press freedom and open access to international press to West Papua. Those were only a few examples of our joint efforts, with Alex always in the picture, both behind the scene and at the forefront. 

His departure is too early for the movement which needs more dedicated people like him, the cheeky kid who wouldn’t stop nagging the authorities. All the more now, at a time when Indonesia seems to be going backwards, bringing a déjà vu of Orde Baru, the militaristic draconian regime of Suharto’s Indonesia. 

Alex, we will miss you in this battle. Farewell, anak nakal!