Subject: Tribute to Poncke Princen from Jose Amorim Diaz

Recieved via Tapol <>

Tribute by Jose Amorim Diaz, East Timor Foreign Service, currently studying in London:

In memory of a good Samaritan

On behalf of the East Timorese students, activists and former political prisoners, I would like to pay a special tribute to HJC Princen, one of the Dutch/Indonesian prominent Human Rights activists, who passed away last week in Jakarta, Indonesia.

" It is with immense sadness we learned the news of the death of HJC Princen. We bow our heads to this noble man who has devoted his entire life for the cause of Human Rights, Democracy and Peace."

Like thousands of Timorese students and activists, I lived and studied in Indonesia for some years since 1980's. In the course of those darkest years of our history, we came to know this great but humble human being, full of humor and compassion, who later became a very good friend of the East Timorese People. He was HJC Princen but known popularly among friends as Poncke.

Princen was then the Director of LPHAM (the Indonesian Institute for the Defence of Human Rights), the very first Human Rights organization in Indonesia, which openly and courageously stood up for the rights not only of the oppressed people in Indonesia but also in East Timor.

When the rest of Indonesia was silent and indifferent before the tragedy of East Timor, Princen opened his 'doors and windows' to the persecuted Timorese students, at the risk of his own life. Working only with his right hand, he typed endless letters of appeal to the civilian and military authorities to protect those alleged political prisoners in East Timor and Indonesia. In inspite of his fragile health, a couple of times, he flew and spoke out at the UN Commission of Human Rights in Geneva on behalf of those defenseless people.

His activities, however, drew suspicion and anger from the authorities. His phone was constantly taped. Anonymous calls arrived at his office with insult, intimidation and threat. He was summoned for questioning in the police headquarters. But Princen remained with firmness and determination in his struggle for the voiceless people.

As the political situation worsened day by day in East Timor, hundreds of young people, students and activists fled East Timor and arrived in Java. Many of them sought political asylum in foreign embassies in Jakarta. Those who stayed behind sought refuge among indonesian friends. Several took refuge in the house of Princen for months. "He took care of us, gave us food and shelter", one of the students recalled.

We have all lost a great friend. A friend who gave us courage and inspiration. A friend who taught us moderation, tolerance and dialogue. Above all, a friend who shared our pain and grief.

The East Timorese students, activists, former political prisoners and their families express from the bottom of their heart a profound sentiment of solidarity and comfort to the family of HJC Princen. Poncke's departure left us with sorrow but, we shall rejoice because we are now at freedom and peace. His noble mission has been accomplished.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK. tel +44 020 8771 2904 fax +44 020 8653 0322

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