Dr George Aditjondro


Dr George Aditjondro (centre), with his son, Enrico
and Professor Benedict Anderson (Cornell University)

George Junus Aditjondro

George Junus Aditjondro was born in Pekalongan, Central Java, Indonesia in 1946. He workd as a journalist in Semarang, Central Java, and Jakarta. In 1979, he joined a Jakarta-based rural development institute, where he worked for two years. After a year at Cornell University’s Rural Sociology Department, he returned to Indonesia and engaged in community development work in Irian Jaya (now often referred to as West Papua) for five years. The organization concerned, Yayasan Pengembangan Masyarakat Desa Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Rural Community Development Foundation), became the subject of his doctoral dissertation when he returned to Cornell University.

Aditjondro was a vital figure in East Timor’s independence campaign. An outspoken critic of the Suharto dictatorship, Aditjondro repeatedly aligned himself with oppressed groups and individuals throughout the Indonesian archipelago. His scholarly research at Satya Wacana University in Salatiga, Java, demonstrated that the government-sponsored transmigration program in East Timor was an attempt to change the territory’s demographic balance. He also drew international attention to the government’s family planning program in East Timor. Given the extensive range of techniques to control women’s fertility as opposed to men’s, he suggested that it be renamed a “female fertility control program.” Indeed, East Timor led all the other provinces of Indonesia in permanent fertility control medications such as the Depo Provera drug. He openly contradicted the government’s claims about the number of East Timorese who had died under Indonesian rule, as well as the official narrative of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. Along with his friend and university colleague, Dr Arief Budiman, he provided vital support to East Timorese students when they climbed over the fence of the US embassy during the APEC summit in November 1994.

The Suharto regime targeted him after he spoke in August 1994 at the Islamic University of Indonesia on the subject of Indonesia’s presidential succession. Aditjondro joked that the power structure in Indonesia could be summed up as “Ha Ha Ha Ha” (Harto (Suharto), Habibie, Harmoko (Minister of Information) and Hasan (Bob Hasan, the timber tycoon)). “Ha Ha Ha Ha” became a popular slogan among students in Yogyakarta. The authorities summoned him in for questioning, citing an alleged breach of Article 207 of the Criminal Code (insulting the authorities of the state of Indonesia). He dodged the summons, received on 28 December 1994, by invoking a creative legal objection: he claimed that the “Twelve Days of Christmas” from 25 December till 6 January were sacred to him, and that he could not “recognize” the summons. He received a new summons in 1995 while teaching in Australia. He responded by applying for permanent residence in Australia, and took up a post at Murdoch University's Asia Research Centre. He was later employed at the University of Newcastle, lecturing on the sociology of corruption. He became an expert on the Suharto family’s wealth, drawing international attention to the kleptocratic nature of the regime.

Aditjondro was always critical of Australian scholars of Indonesia who stayed silent about the regime’s repression in order to protect their careers. He described their research as “visa-driven scholarship.” He returned to Indonesia after the fall of Suharto. When he stepped off the plane in Jakarta, a group of East Timorese surrounded him and lifted him into the air. Years later, he was honoured for his contributions by the government of East Timor.

- Dr Clinton Fernandes, UNSW Canberra

George Junus Aditjondro

George Junus Aditjondro lahir di Pekalongan, Jawa Tengah, pada 1946. Dia pernah bekerja sebagai wartawan di Semarang dan Jakarta. Pada 1979, dia bergabung dengan sebuah organisasi pemberdayaan masyarakat pedesaan di Jakarta, selama dua tahun. Sesudah setahun belajar di Departemen Sosiologi Pedesaan di Cornell University, dia bekerja di sebuah organisasi pengembangan masyarakat di Jayapura, Irian Jaya, selama lima tahun. Pekerjaan di Yayasan Pengembangan Masyarakat Desa Irian Jaya (YPMD Irja) tersebut jadi subyek disertasi doktoranya saat kembali ke Cornell University.

Aditjondro adalah figur penting dalam kampanye kemerdekaan Timor Timur. Seorang pengecam keras terhadap kedikatatoran Suharto, Aditjondro menjalin dirinya dengan kelompok dan individu yang ditindas di seluruh kepulauan Indonesia. Penelitian akademisnya di Universitas Satya Wacana di Salatiga, Jawa, menunjukkan bahwa program transmigrasi yang disponsori pemerintah di Timor Timur ialah upaya mengubah keseimbangan demografi di kawasan itu. Dia juga memancing perhatian internasional atas program keluarga berencana pemerintah di Timor Timur. Lewat beragam teknik luas untuk mengendalikan kelahiran, dia berpendapat hal itu disebut “program kontrol kelahiran perempuan.” Itu memang dipakai di Timor Timur, yang memimpin semua provinsi lain di Indonesia dengan menggunakan obat seperti Depo Provera untuk mengendalikan kelahiran permanen. Dia secara terbuka menyangkal klaim pemerintah tentang jumlah rakyat Timor Timur yang meninggal di bawah pendudukan Indonesia, serta menentang sejarah resmi pembantaian Santa Cruz 1991. Bersama dengan kawan dan kolega kampusnya, Dr Arief Budiman, dia memberikan dukungan vital bagi para mahasiswa Timor Timur saat memanjat pagar kedutaan besar AS sewaktu KTT APEC pada November 1994.

Rezim Suharto memburunya setelah dia berpidato pada Agustus 1994 di Universitas Islam Indonesia, Yogyakarta, tentang suksesi presiden Indonesia. Aditjondro menyampaikan lelucon bahwa stuktur kekuasaan di Indonesia boleh dibilang “Ha Ha Ha Ha” (Harto (Suharto), Habibie, Harmoko (Menteri Penerangan) dan Hasan (Bob Hasan, pengusaha kayu)). “Ha Ha Ha Ha” menjadi slogan populer di antara para mahasiswa di Yogyakarta. Pemerintah memanggilnya untuk diminta keterangan, menyatakan tuduhan pelanggaran Pasal 207 dari Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana (menghina penguasa negara Indonesia). Dia mengelak perintah panggilan itu, yang diterima pada 28 Desember 1994, dengan mengajukan keberatan hukum secara kreatif: dia mengklaim “Duabelas Hari Natal” dari 25 Desember hingga 6 Januari merupakan hari kudus baginya, dan dia bisa tak “mengakui” surat perintah pemanggilan itu. Dia menerima panggilan baru pada 1995 saat mengajar di Australia. Dia menanggapi dengan mengajukan izin tinggal permanen di Australia, dan mengambil tempat tugas di Murdoch University Asia Research Centre. Dia kemudian bekerja di University of Newcastle, mengajar sosiologi korupsi. Dia menjadi pakar soal kekayaan keluarga Suharto, menarik perhatian internasional soal sifat kleptokrasi rezim tersebut.

Aditjondro senantiasa mengkritik para sarjana Australia tentang Indonesia yang bungkam soal represi rezim demi melindungi karier mereka. Dia menggambarkan penelitian mereka sebagai “beasiswa visa-jalan.” Dia kembali ke Indonesia setelah Suharto jatuh. Saat turun dari pesawat di Jakarta, sekelompok orang Leste mengelilinginya dan mengangkatnya ke udara. Bertahun-tahun kemudian, dia menerima penghargaan atas kontribusinya oleh pemerintah Timor Leste.

- Dr Clinton Fernandes, UNSW Canberra