(10 October, 1953 – 15 February, 2004)
Messages & Remembrances
The following are some of the messages CIE received when Mansour passed away. At the end of this document there is a lengthy bio-sketch of Mansour – his work and his life that contains
much information about his contributions to society.
I feel very heavy to pass the sad news that Mansour Fakih left us this early Sunday Morning (West Indonesian Time) just after midnight, so it was Satruday noon EST. He had a second stroke on Friday February 5. Tati, INSIST Office Manager, sent me a email that day Mansour felt he had a mild stroke. FYI: he had a major stroke in 1998. Thought he would check it up at the hospital. He even drove there. But on the road, his son decided to take over the driving as he showed signs of not being well. He could still walk in to the emergency room. And help himself to the bathroom. Coming from the bathroom and he decided to lie down on hospital bed. That was the moment he experienced seizures. He fell to comma soon after that and was put in life support.
Besides directing INSIST, Mansour was also a prominent member of the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights. He also worked with ITD to run a very successful Indonesian Moslem Leaders program for Religious Tolerance and Understanding. He was survived by his wife Nena and his two sons. The eldest is planning to apply for a Master program from UMASS.
Rest in Peace my friend. We will miss you deeply.
With great sadness we pass along news that Mansour Fakih (Ed.D. 1995) succumbed to a massive stroke on February 15, 2004 in Indonesia. Mansour played an extraordinary leadership role in the world of Indonesian NGOs. His passing leaves a vacuum that will be hard to fill. His legacy stands as an example to all who are concerned with social justice and humanity. His passing silences an important voice of moderation in modern Islamic Indonesia.
We have been told that condolences to his family can be sent to Nena in care of INSIST, Sekip Blimbingsari CT-IV/38 Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Anyone having additional information or memories of Mansour they would like to share with the CIE family, please send them to CIE.
David R. Evans
Thank you for sharing this very sad news with us. As one who overlapped with Mansour for several years at Hills South, I find myself recalling his great kindness and that special twinkle in his eyes that revealed a wonderful enthusiasm for whatever he did. I can only imagine how Nena and their children are taking this. I wish we could all huddle together
with them to offer some modicum of comfort.
My warm regards to all of you. May we have courage as we age and grow
frail, and may keep up the good fight as long as we can.
Thanks for the note. I'm very sad and shocked. We've lost a bright light in our world. No doubt he went out at 100 miles an hour as he always was. Such a gifted person - I still have his comprehensives on my shelf as one of my prized training resources. And his warmth and unwavering advocacy for the most vulnerable – we have lost much.
Mansour was a great friend and an extraordinary individual. I was always impressed with his creativity, energy and thoughtfulness. He always cared about family, friends and the community at large. I will never forget the passionate and deep discussions he used to have about hegemony and social justice. He made a difference in society and his legacy in social justice and the movement of NGO sector in Indonesia will last for a long time.
I have so many happy memories of Mansour. I remember his company so vividly at all CIE events - the Tuesday meetings, class discussions, picnics, Christmas parties and his unforgetable smile and laughter. As foreign students at CIE, we have had many good long chats about the similarity between Nepal and Indonesia in terms of religion, customs, traditions. I will miss him a lot. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children and family.
May his soul rest in peace.
Mansour would be turning over in his grave to be called a “voice of moderation.” He had his own distinct, and very radical voice.
Mary Jo Connelly
Dear Elias and everyone at ITD, all of us at Legacy International send our thoughts and prayers. I was fortunate to meet Mansour and watch him deliver some of your program for pesantren leaders in October. He was a very committed man with a big heart. Our condolences.
The Board and Staff of the IMD were shocked to learn that Dr. Mansour Fakih has passed away on Sunday, February 15th, 2004.
Dr. Fakih was one of the founders and mainstays of INSIST, an Indonesian NGO based in Yogyakarta, that collaborates with IMD in the implemention of a new and innovative programme concept that aims to facilitate the advancement of the democratization process in a number of selected regions within Indonesia.
On February 4th, Dr. Fakih was present at a so-called „national panel review‟, organized by
INSIST in Yogyakarta to discuss and review the preparations of the programme with a group of Indonesian resource persons. Not surprisingly, Dr Fakih, made passionate, informed and enthusiastic contributions to this meeting.
Nothing suggested that only one and a half days later he would suffer a severe stroke that resulted in his untimely death. Our thoughts are with his family, and with his friends and colleagues at INSIST.
At IMD we share their grief and we will miss him dearly in the cooperation with our Indonesian partners. We are grateful for having cooperated with him and will cherish his memory and work for a democratic and just world.
Tribute to Mansour Fakih (source unknown)
“Mansour Fakih: A Book That Will Always Be Open - obituary for a friend”
Date and place of birth: Bojonegoro, East Java, 10 October 1953.
Language: Javanese, Indonesian, English, Arabic (passive)
Marital status: Married, two sons Formal Education
Bachelors in Religion (S.Ag.), Theology Department, Ushuluddin
Faculty, IAIN (a State Institute of the Muslim Religion) Jakarta (graduated 1978). Master of Education (M.Ed.), Centre for International Education, University of Massachusetts (graduated 1990).
Doctor of Education (D.Ed), Centre for International Education, University of Massachusetts (graduated 1994)
Various trainings and workshops, primarily about training and education methodologies, research, and policy analysis, by various national and international organizations, both domestic and foreign, since the early 1980s.
1979-1982, field staff and researcher at the Institute for Research, Education, and Social and Economic Development (LP3ES), Jakarta.
1983-1984, primary facilitator and researcher at the Institute for the Study of Development, Jakarta, and independent consultant at Pan Asia Research, Jakarta.
1985-1987, program coordinator at the Network for Pesantren and Community Development (P3M), Jakarta.
1993-1996, Country Representative OXFAM-UK/I in Indonesia; member of
the Managing Board of the Indonesian Consumer Association Foundation
1997-2002, senior consultant at Resources Management and Development
Consultants (REMDEC) Jakarta; director, Institute for Social Transformation
2002-2004, member and Head of the Education and Information
Distribution Division, National Commission for Human Rights (KOMNAS
(Complete list available on final page, pp.20-21).
Concept: Don Marut, Saleh Abdullah, Toto Rahardjo, Wilarsa Budiharga,
Roem Topatimasang & Writer: Puthut EA & Computography: Beta Pettawaranie &
Photographs: Beta Pettawaranie, Craig Thorburn, Vegy Elmas & Publishing: INSIST Press
"It‟s hard for me to accept the teaching that life always gives the best fate to each person. As far
as I know, life always takes our best friends and comrades, one by one! But life always teaches me to put my faith in the fact that he will replace our best friends who have gone with new young people who have the attitude and high dedication needed
to work for humanitary." (Bethesda, 8/02/2004, midday)
Pieter Elmas, a social movement activist in Southeast Maluku, had just returned home from taking his children to school. Not knowing why, he suddenly fell asleep and began to dream. In the dream, he was lying in the same room as Mansour Fakih, who was trying to convince him that he had been healed from his sickness. Piet didn‟t believe it. But Mansour showed him his
back and said, "Look, my back is covered in hives. That‟s a sign that the sickness has already left
my body." Piet saw that there were many hives on Mansour‟s back. Before he had a chance to
think more about it, a woman suddenly came and closed the door of their bedroom. Quickly, Pieter chased the woman out with a broom. But the woman fought back, wanting to stay. Piet woke up from the disturbing dream, and quickly contacted a friend in Ambon: "I don‟t want to
hear anything, I need to go right now to Jogja to visit Mansour!" One day earlier, Pieter had received a text message from a close friend who lived in Jogja, telling him that Mansour Fakih had been admitted to the hospital in a coma. But, Southeast Maluku and Jogjakarta are not close, and of course Pieter had other work that had to be finished. He planned to go to Jogjakarta two or three days later. But, after his dream, he realized he could not postpone his departure any longer. For the Kei people in Southeast Maluku, a dream like Piet had is a disturbingly serious sign. When he got to Jogjakarta, Piet had no more patience and wanted to see Mansour immediately. At Bethesda Hospital, many people he knew had gathered, but Piet didn‟t care. He wanted to see
Mansour right away, before his dream became reality. He was shocked into silence by the knowledge that Mansour had been in a coma for three days. Mansour Fakih, a social movement activist who has long been known for his consistence, simplicity, spirit, and generosity of heart, was now lying on a hospital bed, his body full of tubes. The doctor explained that arteries in his head had burst. Piet could not hold back his tears any longer. His thoughts were full of memories of his good friend who had held to the huge goal of helping humanity. In front of the horizontal body of his friend, Piet bowed his head and prayed.
The name of Mansour Fakih is not a new one for social movement activists in Indonesia, and even internationally. Most recently, he was entrusted with the position of being a member of the National Commission for Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM). Mansour then was chosen as a member of the "Helsinki Process," an international forum coordinated by the Foreign Ministery
of Finland, several Southern nations, and various international NGOs to work for a solution to the problems of globalization. In the Helsinki Process, only two people represented Asia. One of them was Mansour Fakih from Indonesia. Unlike most of the intellectuals of Indonesia, Mansour did not grow in a quiet laboratory in a tall ivory tower. He grew through the dialectic of theory and practice. His two degrees (master and doctor) from the University of Massachusets, United States, did not make his attitude arrogant or his head busy with intellectual amusements and honors. He saw the degree and position as a tool to struggle for what he believed in. The intellectual path of Mansour Fakih began when he was a student at IAIN (a State Institute of the Muslim Religion) Jakarta, in the Ushuluddin (Philosophy) Faculty, in the early 1970s. During that period, IAIN Jakarta was fertile ground for various thoughts about Muslim renewal, particularly theological rationalism as developed by the rector at the time, Harun Nasution. As a student of Professor Nasution, Mansour was engaged with the ideas circulating among the students his age, including Helmi Ali Yafie, Hadimulyo, Azyumardi Azra, and Komaruddin Hidayat. The intellectual atmosphere at IAIN Jakarta at that time was increasingly being shaped by the thoughts of young Muslim intellectuals a few years older than Mansour, led by Nurcholis Madjid and Achmad Wahib. While the majority of Mansour‟s friends were carrying these ideas
into the political arena, as the student movement blossomed towards the end of the 1970s, Mansour focused his activities more on the education processes of younger students. It was here that he met with several younger students, including Saleh Abdullah, whose names cannot be separated from almost any part of the story of Mansour‟s activities and life.
Mansour began to seriously think about Muslim rationalism. He concluded that many religious people in Indonesia follow a mistaken theology. Religion had become dogmatic. An understanding of Islam that simply received religion and revelation "as is," he felt, led to rigidity of thought, particularly in facing the problems of everyday life. Mansour felt that there had come to be no correlation between religious teachings and the problems that people face. Religion had become only revelation and tight regulations located far away in the heavens. Religion had even become a tool for powerful forces engaging
in quiet oppression. In this phase, Mansour became a strong believer in the ideas of Mu‟tazilah,
a rational theological stream that had become a major phenomenon in Muslim history.
After graduating from IAIN, Mansour worked at the Institute for Research, Education, and Social and Economic Development (LP3ES) as a member of the field staff and a researcher. At that time, his thoughts were constantly disturbed by the reality he saw in the field. At that time, he worked with a group of handicraft producers in Sukabumi Udik, South Jakarta. There, he saw that the artisans worked hard and diligently, their goods sold well, but they remained poor. This deeply disturbed him, nagging at his thoughts until he made himself busy asking and discussing with senior members of LP3ES, including Tawang Alun, Dawam Rahardjo, Aswab Mahasin, and Ismid Hadad. Particularly from Dawam Rahardjo, Mansour became acquainted with the idea of structuralism in political economic analysis as an analytical tool for examining the problems of the people. He became increasingly convinced of the validity of this structural approach when he became involved in community education work through his activities at the Institute for the Study of Development (LSP), which was established by senior activists at the time, including Adi Sasono, Soetjipto Wirosardjono, Sritua Arief, and Dawam Rahardjo. At LSP, Mansour increasingly worked with another senior activist with whom he had also worked with at LP3ES, Utomo Dananjaya (better known as Mas Tom).
One day, LP3ES and LSP wanted to renew and develop methodologies of education and training. They chose the "Jayagiri Group," a non-formal education group headquartered at the Center for Community Education and Training in Jayagiri, Lembang, and Bandung. In that group were two
activists from Volunteers in Asia (VIA), Russ Dilts and Craig Thurborn, two people whose stories also became inextricably intertwined with Mansour‟s in the coming days. The Jayagiri
Group worked together with the Directorate of Non-School Education, part of the Department of Education and Culture, to develop a participatory training methodology that would incorporate the critical theory approach of Jurgen Habermas of the Frankfort School and social-structural analysis theories, as well as the psychological and social action theories of Kurt Lewin.
Stocked with these intellectual tools, Mansour began traveling in the world of community education. In this intellectual and political-practical journey, he met various groups and individuals active in popular education and advocacy. Among these were Toto Rahardjo, Erwin Panjaitan, Simon Hate, Ahmad Mahmudi, and Roem Topatimasang, all of whom had long been active at the grassroots doing community organizing. Toto and Simon particularly had long been working on organizing through popular theater. They introduced Mansour to artists and cultural figures who had graduated from the Gontor pesantren (Muslim boarding school), notably Emha Ainun Nadjib. Emha and Mansour had many discussions about Muslim theology. Through conversations with these people, Mansour grew more directly familiar with Paolo Freire‟s
critical education methodology. Mansour began to be connectedwith a group of Catholic intellectuals who often used Freirean educational techniques, such as Romo (Father) Ruedi Hoffman from PUSKAT and Romo Mangunwijaya from Pastoran Salam in Jogjakarta.
It can be said that this meeting between structural social analysis and critical education methodology bonded with Mansour‟s thoughts about critical theology of Islam in a fusion that
has lasted until the present day. The opportunity to realize these ideas in a more integrated and systematic way through real programs came when LP3ES and LSP formed the Network for Pesantren and Community Development (P3M). Here, Mansour spoke with various young progressive Muslim intellectuals from the "traditional Islam"
community, including Abdurrahman Wahid, Masdar Farid Mas‟udi, MM. Billah, Mufid
Busyairi, and Muslim Abdurrahman, as well as old friends from his days at IAIN, LP3ES, and LSP, such as Helmi Ali, Mochtar Abbas, and Sugeng Setiadi. Some of the leading pesantren in Java became an arena for them to practice these ideas. The most striking example is the "grassroots activist school" called the Institute for Community Development (IPM) at the Pabelan pesantren in Magelang, Central Java. This school attracted much attention at the time because, first, the pesantren - which had received international awards including the Aga Khan Architectural Memorial Award and the
Kalpataru National Environmental Award - fostered an intellectual atmosphere that was open, intense, and inclusive. People like Romo Mangunwijaya and Arief Budiman spoke there frequently. Second, the leader of the pesantren at that time, Kyai (Muslim religious leader) Hamam Dja‟far - who became famous as a partner of Romo Mangunwijaya in defending the
people of Kedung Ombo - was known as an ulama (Muslim religious leader) with an open way of thinking. He gave Mansour and his friends the freedom to implement their model of critical education at his pesantren. All of this was made possible by the three leaders who coordinated IPM (Mochtar Abbas, Sugeng Setiadi, and Roem Topatimasang), old friends of Mansour‟s.
Through this "Pabelan Group," Mansour got to know Mochtar Abbas, a mathematics student at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) who left his studies to live in the rural area around the Pabelan pesantren. Mochtar became an important, interesting phenomenon in the Indonesian NGO movement of the time. However, not many knew that Mochtar in fact was a serious student of philosophy, of religious and interfaith theology, particularly of the teachings of the philosopher Krishnamnurti. Mansour gained another friend for serious discussions of philosophy and theology, something that was a primary goal for both of them.
Mansour‟s relationship to his activist friends continued in various social and political activities,
until Mansour left for the United States in the late 1980s to continue his studies. Before departing, he reached an unwritten agreement with his friends that he would work to "theorize" their praxis. This was a synergetic agreement between
"unschooled people" who taught directly based on experience and life and a friend who was entering into intellectual circles to gain the legitimacy of an academic degree from formal education.
Mansour did not abuse their trust. In 1990, he received a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts with his thesis Participatory Research on Economic Development: A Source Book for Practicioners. Based on his intellectual ability, his alma mater in Amherst gave him the opportunity to pursue a doctorate.
Among the social movement activist community in Indonesia, the name Roem Topatimasang is constantly associated with Mansour Fakih. The two of them were considered "constant partners." Their friendship began when Adi Sasono, Dawam Rahardjo, and Utomo Dananjaya planned to develop a team of expert "training facilitators and popular educators" at LSP. Mansour proposed the inclusion of several former activists and leaders from the student movement of 1978 who had just been released from jail as political prisoners. Among these werea pair from Bandung, S. Indro Tjahjono (formerly of the Student Board of ITB) and Roem Topatimasang (former head of the Student Board of IKIP Bandung). While Indro was increasingly involved in political discussions and the Development Study Society (MSP) at that time, Roem was focusing his activities on training programs and education at the grassroots level.
Roem became a new partner of Utomo and Mansour as they did educational programs and trainings throughout Indonesia. Utomo and Mansour were the primary facilitators, while Roem was charged with designing the modules, manuals, and training and educaiton media. One day, at a training for the leaders of the Alliance of Indonesian Batik Cooperatives (GKBI) in Cirebon in 1983, Roem was traveling with Utomo and Mansour as the curriculum, process, and media designer. On the second day, Utomo and Mansour were worn out and woke up late. They panicked and hurried to the training room. To their surprise, the training was continuing smoothly - Roem had taken over,
and they found that he had a unique, lively, interesting style. Utomo and Mansour "baptized" Roem as a member of their team.
Mansour and Roem were an ideal pair for facilitating training and educational processes. Mansour had the theory and academic background, and Roem had empirical experience as an activist in the student political movement and as a grassroots organizer. On any given topic, Mansour tended to begin with theory, then relate it to real problems. Roem, on the other hand, always started with the real situation and empirical experience, and then moved towards theory.
Roem was known for his organizing work in various areas of Indonesia and (since the 1990s) in several other Southeast Asian nations (Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Timor Lorosa‟e). He was active in community organizing in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan,
Sulwaesi, Maluku, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara, working on various issues and problems faced by the people in each area. Roem eventually "forced" Mansour to accept the scholarship to continue his education. At that time, Mansour was of very mixed feelings about the scholarship, because he felt that the academic world was not his home. He almost refused the offer. A similar thing happened when he was offered the position of Country Representative (CR) of OXFAM-UK/I in
Indonesia. After much thought, and a lot of argument with Roem, he accepted the position. His old friends, primarily Toto Rahardjo and Erwin Panjuaitan, also supported Roem.
Pieter met Mansour when he came home to Indonesia for his doctoral dissertation research. They met at a training in Baturaden, Purwokerto, Central Java, in 1989. The training was a reflection forum for NGO activists, coordinated by Roem Topatimasang, Toto Rahardjo, and Erwin Panjaitan, supported by Simon Hate, Mochtar Abbas, Saleh
Abdullah, and S. Indro Tjahjono. The forum was held because they saw that things were amiss in the work of the NGOs that were sprouting up like mushrooms in Indonesia at that time. They were uncomfortable seeing that there was actually no meaningful social change coming out of the work of these many NGOs. They invited Mansour (who was then on vacation) to help facilitate the reflection, particularly from the perspective of theories and critiques of development. With Mansour, the forum succeeded in deconstructing the way that Indonesian NGOs‟ work was following the developmentalism promoted by the government of the time.
The second time Pieter met Mansour was in 1992, when Roem Topatimasang recommended that Mansour do additional research in Southeast Maluku. At that time, Mansour met a young man who was facilitating the community organizing work in the area. Don Marut was at that time the Program Officer for OXFAM-UK/I for Maluku, and had chosen Maluku as his work area, also based on Roem‟s recommendation. It was in
Southeast Maluku that Mansour and Don found a living laboratory where they could enrich their experience in following the call to work for humanity.
At that time, something amazing was happening on the island of Yamdena, in the Tanimbar islands. The indigenous peoples there were facing the cruelty of the safety apparatus and the state. They were opposing the permits being given for use of forest resources (HPH) in their traditional land. They were angry. Their lives were being
disrupted by a system in the name of "state policy" and "the common interest." Working with and assisted by Roem and Don, Pieter facilitated the community in opposing these brutal policies. They armed themselves with all of the forms of advocacy that were
possible at the time: mass action, blockades, general opinion campaigns, and lobbying at the national and international level. As part of this campaigning and lobbying, Mansour took on a role for himself and went to see two of his old friends, Saleh Abdullah and S. Indro Tjahjono, who were then leading the Secretariat for Cooperation in Preserving the Forests of Indonesia (SKEPHI) and the Indonesian Front for the Defense of Human Rights (INFIGHT) in Jakarta. Here, Mansour met for the first time with Hira Jhamtani, an environmental activist who quickly found that she had the same views as Mansour
about the global aspects of environmental problems, and the connection to transformation processes and social changes. The five of them (Mansour, Indro, Hira, Saleh, and Don) began to seriously develop a "global analysis" of environmental issues, indigenous peoples‟ rights, and
human rights in general. At that time, they together formulated an analytical framework that they called "the politics of -transformation," a framework that was considered "too different" or "too radical" even by NGO activists.
Carrying in his head the experience of all of these friends, Mansour began to design an analytical framework in the form of his doctoral dissertation. Helped by a special team of his friends (Sugeng Setiadi, MM.Billah, Helmi Ali, Mufid Busyairi, Mochtar Abbas, Ahmad Mahmudi, Saleh Abdullah, S. Indro Tjahjono, and Roem Topatimasang), he began to organize reflective and recollective meetings in various groups. These meetings were also a part of the research process described in his doctoral dissertation, The Role of Non Governmental Organizations in
Social Transformation: A Participatory Inquiry in Indonesia. With this dissertation, he received a Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1994.
While in the United States (1988-1994), Mansour‟s thoughts were enriched by the ideas of
Antonio Gramsci and the perspectives and theories of the feminist movement. One of his professors was Arturo Escobar, a well-known anthropologist from Latin America who "enriched" Dependence Theory - which was most often used to explain poverty and underdevelopment in Latin America - with elements and analysis from cultural and social movement theory. Dependence Theory was at the time heavily colored by classical Marxian analysis and was too structural and deterministic. At the same time, an
older student at Amherst, William Smith, was finishing his doctoral dissertation on the theory and practice of Paolo Freire‟s pedagogy of liberation. Smith can be considered a direct student of
Freire, as he was involved for several years in Freire‟s field work in Latin America. This doctoral
dissertation is still considered one of the most complete and best interpretations of Freire‟s
thoughts and work. Mansour was lucky to have the
opportunity to discuss with Smith and also with Freire himself. Mansour himself began to deeply examine the history of social change in Latin American nations.
Amidst the intense work of writing his dissertation, this serious fan of The Burning Season and Apocalypse Now, this fan of Pink Floyd and George Santana, this lover of the romances of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, was entrusted with the position of Country Representative OXFAM-UK/I in Indonesia. Mansour truly made the most of this opportunity to support the appearance of "new social change movements" located in
various areas and dealing with various strategic issues in Indonesia. Mansour continued his intensive discussions with S. Indro Tjahjono and Hira Jhamtani, who shared his disapproval of the many manifestations of neoliberalism. And, with his solid grasp of the ideas of the feminist movement, Mansour also used the resources of OXFAM-UK/I to
introduce gender analysis and gender-based approaches more holistically and intensely, particularly among NGO activists in Indonesia. It can be said that this was his most phenomenal work, introducing and developing gender analysis as a tool for social
analysis in a systematic and holistic way, including at the level of programmatic implementation and practical methodology. Women and gender activists in Indonesia have a true debt to him in this respect. Before Mansour‟s work, many activists understood the theory and analysis of
gender only in a partial, fragmented, or only theoretical way.
The doctoral degree that Mansour brought home from the United States did not distract him from his life work. He was still loyal to the work of popular education that he did with his friends. In 1994, he joined with friends (Roem Topatimasang, Zumrotin K. Susilo, Wardah Hafidz, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, Fauzi Abdullah, Mahendro, August Rumansara, Roy Tjiong, Sugeng Setiadi, and Wilarsa Budiharga) to establish the Resources Management and Development Consultants (REMDEC) in Jakarta, which provided facilitation and capacity-building consultancy services for NGOs and community organizations. Through trainings and consultations by REMDEC, Mansour continued his direct connection with social movement organizations and community
organizers throughout Indonesia. At REMDEC, Mansour, along with Wilarsa Budiharga, Sylvia Tiwon, and Ayi Bunyamin, established a division for analysis and development called "Praxis."
By 1997, the Suharto regime was reacting fiercely to increasing dissent. Mansour invited his old friends to form an organization that was more "flexible" than REMDEC, which was legally registered as a business, a limited partnership. As usual, this idea was born from long discussions
with his "constant partner," Roem Topatimasang, who at that point was ready to find a new home
after living and working in Maluku for some five years. The two of them invited several old
friends (Rizal Malik, Sri Kusyuniati, Sita Aripurnami, Fauzi Abdullah, and Wilarsa Budiharga)
to establish the Institute for Social
Transformation (INSIST) in Jogjakarta. After INSIST was officially instituted, other friends
joined, including Toto Rahardjo, Saleh Abdullah, Amir Sutoko, Simon Hate, Noer Fauzi, and
Yando Zakaria. Various intellectuals also became involved in INSIST‟s activities, including
P.M. Laksono, Francis Wahono, and Ivan A. Hadar. The youth who Mansour had met in
Southesat Maluku and who had become Mansour‟s work partner at
OXFAM-UK/I Indonesia, Don Marut, joined in 2003. After finishing his Master‟s at Cambridge
University, England, Don had taken a position as the Executive Secretary of the Southeast Asia
Committee for Advocacy (SEACA) located in Bangkok, Thailand, while finishing a second
Master‟s at Chulalongkorn University. When his contract in Bangkok was finished, Mansour successfully urged Don to come to Jogjakarta and
become the Executive Director of INSIST.
In practice, INSIST has developed as an open organization for many social movement activists
and intellectuals from throughout Indonesia. Mansour himself likes to refer to INSIST as "the
school for Indonesian social movement activists." Many well-known activists from various parts
of Indonesia have made INSIST their place to "rest and reflect," including Budi Setianto and
Yusuf Sawai (Papua), Nus Ukru and George
Corputty (Maluku), Hedar Laudjeng and Haris Palinduri (Sulawesi), Ahmad Harbandi (South
Kalimantan), John Bala (Flores), Made Suarnatha and Yoga Atmaja (Bali), Nani Zulminarni
(Jakarta), Henri Saragih and Ahmad Sofyan (North Sumatra), and even Nuno Rodriguez, Abel
Santos, and Ego Lemos from Timor Lorosa‟e. Dozens of young activists have also been born
from the INVOLVEMENT (Indonesian Volunteers for Social Movements) program, which
works in various areas in Indonesia and Timor Lorosa‟e. Writers, literary figures, and young
cultural figures who have mastered the discourses and ideas of social transformation have been
fostered by INSIST through the Yogyakarta Cultural Academy (AKY). With Roem
Topatimasang, Anu Lounela, and Eko Prasetyo, Mansour a Permanent Editorial Board Member
of the INSIST Journal, Wacana, which has now become a major journal of thought in Indonesia,
a journal that
becomes a place for the struggle over discourses of social transformation, not just serving as a
vessel for intellectual games.
From the story of these people, we can see what is really in INSIST‟s "head,": a community of
people with a range of expertise and backgrounds, gathering without attention to ethnicity, race,
religion, seniority, and who graduated from where or has what degree. Most of them are people
who were not well known beforehand. They generally
are, in the favored phrase of AKY, "ordinary people" from "ordinary communities." Emha Ainun
Nadjib and his friends from the Pak Kanjeng Community and the Dinasti theater group, in late
2003, gave INSIST a "birthday present" with a performance of musicalization of poetry entitled
"Testimony of Ordinary People." This idea of "ordinary
people" is also part of Mansour‟s own background.
Born in Bojonegoro, East Java, on October 10 1953, into an ordinary family, Mansour married
Nena Lam‟anah, a classmate from IAIN Jakarta. They were blessed with two sons, Farabi Fakih (22) and Fariz Fakih (19).
When Mansour was in elementary school in his village, he had an experience that permanently