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TAPOL, which means « political prisoner » in Indonesian, is a leading English language authority on the human rights situation in Indonesia and East Timor. It produces the TAPOL Bulletin, available online as well as occasional reports and briefing papers.

TAPOL’s initial purpose was to campaign for the release of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, mostly jailed without trial, who had been held as communist suspects after an anti-communist crackdown in 1965. But it soon broadened its campaign to include students arrested in 1974 and 1978. In August 1975, TAPOL warned that an Indonesian invasion of East Timor would bring bloodshed and terror. The invasion, which brought both, occurred four months later.

TAPOL has campaigned against economic aid and arms exports to Indonesia, as well as human rights abuses such as press censorship. During the 1980’s the TAPOL Bulletin published many detailed interviews with West Papuan resistance leaders, East Timorese victims of abuse and Indonesian human rights activists. It also started making representations on a variety of issues to UN human rights bodies. Apart from the Bulletin and Occasional Reports, TAPOL has published books including :

  • An Act of Genocide : Indonesia’s Invasion of East Timor (1979)
  • West Papua : the obliteration of a people (1983)
  • Indonesia : Muslims on Trial (1984)

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