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Andi Arief, disappeared in the mist of crisis

Java Post - April 19, 1998

"You only live once and must take a stand". This was Andi Arief's motto, an activist who was reported to have "disappeared" several months ago. In his daily life, as a political science graduate from the Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Central Java, he always took a stand. He didn't just speak at forums, or discussions, he never stopped organising demonstrations, most of all for people who have been marginalised [by society].

Andi believed – as he wrote in his faculty graduation booklet [in which each graduating student makes a contribution] – millions of people are suffering in this country, workers are being exploited, the farmers plots of land are getting smaller and smaller and the urban and rural poor [are suffering]. "They have been forgotten by history" he said.

He also said that only a small section [of Indonesian society such as students], had benefited from history. "We can gather freely, understand each other, love each other. We can learn a lot about reality, we can learn how to make a contribute to the world", Andi explained.

It is not surprising that he frequently criticised his friends who had no concerned about what was happening and were only engrossed in their studies. But in reality their studies could not be separated from the suffering of the marginalised people.

Andi was born in Lampung, South Sumatra, on November 20, 1970. He believed that if history has benefited a person, they must repay this at some time. "History demands that we share with and defend the marginalised people", he sad. Because of this he hated arrogance and conceit.

Known as a activists with Student Solidarity for Indonesian Democracy (SMID), he disliked arrogance and conceit, this was reflected in his daily life. "Toward older people, Andi always showed respect and was well mannered", said a journalist who knew him well.

At university, Andi was known as good speaker and orator at demonstrations. "He was very smart and insightful" said Aried, a university fried. Although he was a person who was always critical.

That Andi was known as being insightful, cannot be separated from his hobby; reading and discussion. At his lodgings while he was at university, in the Klebengan Kampung, he had a mini library. All kinds of books were in his collection, biographies of political figures, Alfin Toffler's Third Wave and John Naisbit's Mega Trend.

Such was his political skills, that his opponents on campus addressed him as "Andi Chokin" [Chokin, a derogatory slang word for a person of Chinese descent, who they claimed he resembled]. He often missed closes. When he was doing his field studies, he received a warning because he left the area without permission to join in a campus demonstration.

He proved however, that an activist is also able to successfully finish their studies. Most of the time he received As or Bs and only occasionally received Cs. In one course, which was held by a lecturer who was known to give low marks, Andi go an A. Meanwhile, most of the other students got a C or D.

It is not surprising that had to repeat a state indoctrination course. He considered that as the worst part of his studies. After studying for five years, Andi graduated with a grade above three [equivalent to B+]. His thesis, under the guidance of Dr Afan Gaffar got an A.

Translator's note: Because of the style and language used in the original article, some sections of the text could not be translated literally and different wording was chosen in order to make the writer's intent clear.

[Translated by James Balowski]