Indonesien: Ade Rostina Sitompul

I just want to see a civil society that works in Indonesia, where people are aware of their rights and are capable of defending themselves whenever their rights are violated.

— Ade Rostina Sitompul

Ade Rostina Sitompul (born 1938) has defended Indonesians who are victims of state-inflicted violence, from political prisoners and their families in 1965 to East Timorese in the late 1990s. She has advocated the cause of prisoners’ rights through various NGOs she co-founded. In 2002, after a critical review of her own work over the last three decades, she concluded that she may not have succeeded in assisting political prisoners and their families by making them dependent, and therefore decided to change her methods. Ade now focuses on empowering people to stand up for their rights.

Since 1965, in the aftermath of a massacre that wiped out a million Indonesians and resulted in hundreds of thousands of political prisoners being sent to jail or forced into exile without trial, Ade Rostina Sitompul has been helping victims of state violence. During the 32-year Suharto dictatorship, she faced threats from the authorities for her sustained advocacy against state violence – including the injustice towards political prisoners and their families in the late 1960s, the 1991 Sta Cruz massacre and other violent incidents in East Timor, the violent response to the 1998 riots that finally brought Suharto down and cases of land conflict. Ade co-founded various organizations such as Kontras (which dealt with the missing political activists during the Suharto regime), Yayasan HAK (the legal consultation in East Timor), Suara Ibu Peduli (an organization that helps urban women improve their welfare), the Trauma Center for children in post-referendum East Timor and Suara Hak Azasi Manusia (Voice of Human Rights) which trains and equips the marginalized to be aware of their civil rights and thus be able to defend themselves in the face of violations by the state or others. In 2002, after critically reviewing her work over more than three decades in the field, Ade decided to change her methods significantly. She explains, "I was criticized that I tended to take center stage, and many people I represented were not truly aware of the real causes of the repression they were subject to. Now, I just want to stay on the periphery, help them through training and education, and let them deal with the authorities in the course of defending their own rights." In 2005, she was at hand helping the victims of the December 26, 2004 tsunami in Aceh.

Suara Hak Azasi Manusia