Community Service Announcement
By Unbelievably Bad Staff
Jody Bartolo, singer for Diggers With Attitude (D.W.A.), has been raising hell and funds on behalf of the people of West Papua, who’ve been the gristle in a political shit sandwich for decades and are being royally fucked by Indonesia.
Jody started Punks for West Papua to bring attention to what’s been happening just north and bit towards the left of Down Under, and his friend Ash Brennan recently made a documentary about the punks’ contributions to the cause (which have been major).
This weekend there’ll be Punks For West Papua benefits happening all over the country, and on Monday night in Sydney there’s a screening of Punks For West Papua – The Documentary at Petersham Bowlo.
UB speaks to Jody about what he does and why he does it.
How did you get involved in fund/awareness raising for the people of West Papua?
There are other shit things going on in the world right now, sure there are. There are so many, in fact, that if you aren’t careful it all becomes a big blur and you are desensitised to all of it. I think that is one of the functions, it’s certainly a consequence of saturation news reels that people are bombarded with constantly. I really think one of the best things you can do for yourself is throw the TV out. It can’t help you. It can only remind you of what you don’t have and to be scared of everyone and everything you don’t know. So when you disconnect from the ‘media grid’ and actually have a chance to process some of the evil shit happening in the world and you notice the hideous plight of the West Papuans, it’s like some perverted rerun of East Timor all over again. And no-one, including Australia, is doing anything to help. We are less than 500 kilometres from West Papua to our northern borders and no-one even knows what’s happening there. So we put on a few shows last year around Australia and raised enough cash to send a delegation to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which is a huge step for the budding nation. And raised a hell of a lot of awareness for their cause, too. Some dickhead even made a documentary about it.
Do you feel as though the punk bands are helping to give a voice to oppressed peoples, who, as far as I know do not have access to media channels, etc.?
Not only punk bands, but all sorts of artists around the world are now cottoning on to the idea and are doing what they can. These gigs are a good way for people without privilege to be able to get these ideas out there and to be able to share the plight of your fellow human beings with others. There’s a good term I remember from growing up in Australia, it’s one many Australians seem to have forgotten though these days unfortunately, and it says, “I’d rather do someone a good turn than a bad one”.
Tell us about the documentary – what the response has been and where people can see it?
Ash Brennan made a brilliant documentary about the Punks for West Papua thing, but he was a genius in that he made it a doco about people and music. That’s what I get from it. And [West Papuan independence leader] Benny Wenda is the same as us and vice versa; the similarities in people really came home to me. Benny Wenda said to me last time he was here that when he first mentioned to people that ‘punks’ wanted to help him and make a contribution to the Free West Papua movement, he said people warned him to have nothing to do with people like us as we are blah blah, add the seventies stereotype of your choice here. But he said he told ’em he saw my heart, and I had a good heart, and that was good enough for him. I say that is great praise coming from a man like that. Anyway, now he says those same people had to eat their hats, and that ‘the bad guys’ are sometimes really the good guys, not politicians in suits, but real people. For a little man, he makes a great deal of sense!
There are fundraising gigs happening this weekend and screenings soon? Fill us in.
This week there are gigs Australia-wide once again, so check Facebook, just type in Punks for West Papua and the name of the city you are in and get along and help out. Every little bit helps. Cheers.
What is our government’s position, as neighbours of Indonesia?
Basically the Australian Government doesn’t have a position on West Papua. They wouldn’t want to upset their Indonesian counterparts, would they? A few slimy green politicians have fronted up to some of the screenings, purportedly to support the film and the movement, but it smacks of just more self-serving politicians to me. One dickhead in a suit, a Greens guy, rocked up to the screening of the documentary Ash was showing at the Uni, AFTER the film was over, to say how great it was and that he listened to Black Flag when he was a kid and ‘thank the punks’ for making it. He couldn’t even be bothered to find out our names. Or his PA couldn’t. It’s good people take notice I suppose, but it’s a bit off-putting when sharks like that become involved. But I suppose in the real world you need arseholes like that to get these things addressed. I don’t know, I’m just a singer in a punk band!
Punks For West Papua gig dates:
Fri, June 24 – Swan Basement, Perth WA w/ Yob Mob, Borc, Rabid Abbott, Rumskull, Grins n Needles, Potato Stars, Incomplete and DJ Alpha T.
Fri, June 24 – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart, Tas w/ Tax Department, Iron Hawk, Squid Fishing and Ultra Martian.
Sat, June 25 – Highway Hotel, Bunbury, WA w/ Dear Leader, Rabid Abbott, Renegade Girl, Stumped, Grins N Needles and Rapscallion.
Sat, June 25 – The Happy Yess, Darwin, NT w/ Clever Monkey, Acid City, Audiograph, Eugene Whitehouse & The Bad Haircuts and Kayoss.
Sat, June 25 – The Brunswick Hotel, Melbourne, Vic (afternoon show), w/ Bastard Squad, Join The Amish, Wolfpack, K-Mart Warriors, Jerkbeast, Sick Machine and Stoned To Death.
Sat, June 25 – Ed Castle, Adelaide, SA w/ Stolen Youth, Thrashboard, Colonised and Rat Catcher.
Sat, June 25 – Beetle Bar, Brisbane, Qld w/ Broken Leg, Monster Fodder, Secondhand Toothbrush, Those Rat Bastards, Göatzilla, Dispunktion and Give It All.
Sat, June 25 – Red Rattler, Sydney, NSW w/ Diggers With Attitude, Inebrious Bastard, Straight To A Tomb, Hostile Objects, Playground Of Hate, Eager 13 and Operation Ibis.
Mon, June 27 – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW. Punks For West Papua: The Documentary will be screened from 7.30pm.
Funds from the sale of Punks For West Papua: The Documentary are being donated to the United Liberation Movement For West Papua. You can purchase a stream here: www.punks4westpapua.com