Tempo Founder Goenawan Mohamad Reminisces Tedjabayu Sudjojono

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Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • Tedjabayu Sudjojono (pictured right) spending an evening chat with his wife Tuti Pujiarti at a cafe the pair owns in South Tangerang./Rivan Awal Lingga

    Tedjabayu Sudjojono (pictured right) spending an evening chat with his wife Tuti Pujiarti at a cafe the pair owns in South Tangerang./Rivan Awal Lingga

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian poet and founder and editor of Tempo Magazine, Goenawan Mohamad, responded to the passing of writer and friend Tedjabayu Sudjojono by stating that "Tedjo is an example for the pro-democracy movement."  

    Tedjabayu Sudjojono is one of many survivors of Pulau Buru - an island designated for 1965 political prisoners during Indonesia’s darkest periods in history - and author of the recently released biography 'Mutiara di Padang Ilalang' (The Pearl on The Prairie) passed away at the age of 78 years old on Thursday, February 25, at 11:45 Western Indonesia Times (WIB).

    His passing was announced by his younger sister, Rhino Sudjojono, through Facebook. "As of today, February 25, 2021, at around 11:45 WIB, my eldest brother Tedjabayu Sudjojono has left us at the age of 78 years old at the RS Pertamina hospital."

    Moreover, in Tempo's interview with Goenawan Mohamad on Thursday, February 25, 2021, he believed that Tedjabayu had suspectedly passed due to being exposed to Covid-19.

    According to Goenawan, who is also often known by his acronym GM, Tedjabayu had just released his memoir/biography to eternalize his experience as a political prisoner during the New Order Era, which Goenawan described as a first-hand document about Tedjabayu himself, and in general, his fellow prisoners who shared the same fate at the Pulau Buru island. 

    The book astonished Goenawan as he maintains that Tedjabayu’s book does not represent a story filled with hatred and also focuses on the otherwise. 

    Writer Goenawan Mohamad as a speaker in a public discussion entitled "Rejecting the Decay of Philosophy" in the Cikini area, Jakarta, February 13, 2019. TEMPO / M Taufan Rengganis

    Tedjabayu is also known as his parents, S. Soedjojono and Mia Bustam were artists who were influential figures with ‘left ideologies’ of the era, especially Soedjojono who was a known painter. 

    "We knew Tedjabayu in a pro democracy movement against the New Order's dictatorship. The organization accommodating our movement was the ISAI [Institusi Studi Arus Informasi] that was based in Utan Kayu Street," said Goenawan Mohamad. 

    ISAI's activities mainly focused on fighting against censorship and disinformation that were enforced - and were a trademark - of the New Order. 

    "Mas Tedjabayu was a member of the Utan Kayu who was most prepared to work ‘underground.’ He introduced the encryption system in internet communication which prevents intelligence personnel from finding out. He was a Blok M Team member who worked in  secret for a plethora of ‘dark publishers," Goenawan recalls. 

    Despite growing up with a leftist view and tradition, Tedjabayu was not an ideologist who would easily show off revolutionary jargon and would even be critical of the PKI and its leaders. "He fits with progressive mindset that is moved by ethical actions: empathy for those who are silenced and slandered. He is a true citizen of our movement." Goenawan Mohamad recalled. 

    MITRA TARIGAN