Dissident author receives literary award


Dissident author receives literary award

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, one of Indonesia's foremost authors, was chosen on July 19 to receive this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award for his work in journalism, literature and creative communications, and in producing exceptional works dealing with the historical awakening and modern experiences of Indonesian society.

The response of the Indonesian government — which in April banned Pramoedya's prison memoirs, Silent Song of a Mute — was somewhat guarded. In reply to questions from reporters on the following day, the coordinating minister of security, Soesilo Soedarman, said only, "That's their [the Ramon Magsaysay foundation's] business" and to "just leave it".

Pramoedya has been quoted as saying that he would try to attend the ceremony on August 31 in Manila, but doubted that he would be able to go due to health problems and the fact that his passport was revoked in 1961. A week later, on July 25, defence minister Edi Sudrajat announced that Pramoedya had been forbidden to travel to Manila, saying that the foundation organisers "understand" Jakarta's decision, "so that it will not lead to a problem".

The 70-year-old Pramoedya will still receive a medallion and a gift of US$50,000. He is the 10th Indonesian to receive the prize.

Pramoedya was incarcerated in the notorious Buru island prison for 10 years after the New Order regime jailed hundreds of thousands of left and progressive "sympathisers" when it seized power in 1965. Pramoedya's many works include Perburuan (The Fugitive), Keluarga Gerilya (Guerilla Family), Gadis Pantai (The Girl from the Coast) and Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind).

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.