Arief Budiman: The departure of a movement activist

Arief Budiman. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Arief Budiman has left us. He died at the age of 79, on Thursday 23 April, at the Ken Saras Hospital, Semarang Regency, leaving a wife, Leila Chairani, and two children, Adrian Mitra Budiman and Susanti Kusumasari Budiman. He was interred in the Salatiga Bancaan Public Cemetery. 

Born as Soe Hok Djien on January 3, 1941, Arief was known as a movement figure with his younger brother, the late Soe Hok Gie. 

After Gie’s death, Arief continued the struggle. He became the figure behind the White Group (Golput) movement in the 1971 Election, during the New Order regime. It was a protest movement, urging voters to cast a blank ballot at election that: the “election” was considered fake because everything had already been decided by the military behind the scenes at the time. 

Arief also became a protester who opposed the development of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in 1972. 

Arief had studied education in the Collège d’Europe, Brugge, Belgium in 1964. He completed his studies at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Indonesia in 1968 and then continued his studies in Paris in 1972. 

Arief held a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, the United States in 1980, after defending a dissertation entitled The Path of Democracy to Socialism: The Experience of Chile under Allende. 

Returning from Harvard, Arief taught at SWCU (Satya Wacana Christian University) in Salatiga, from 1985 to 1995. When SWCU was ensnared in a prolonged crisis after the election of a chancellor who was considered unfair, Arief went on a teaching strike until he was fired, eventually moving to Australia to accept an offer to become a professor at Melbourne University. 

Arief also had an artistic soul. He was the editor of the magazine Horizon (1966-1972). From 1972, he stayed a member of the magazine’s Advisory Board. He was a member of the Jakarta Arts Council as well (1968-1971). From 1968-1971 he served on the Film Censorship Board. 

In August 2006 the Achmad Bakrie Award, an annual event sponsored by the Bakrie family, was bestowed on him, along with the Freedom Institute for social research. His speech after receiving the award was quite shocking. 

“I accept this award as an insult. I am a leftist who rejects the paradigm of modernization and development, but instead I get an award from the right.” 

Arief has always critically questioned the problems of development, poverty, injustice and human rights. His criticism continued despite the collapse of the New Order regime. 

Arief is also remembered to have exerted a major influence on the education of democracy for students. He became a kind of knot for various activist movements spread across various cities. (rp)