Daily Archives: July 25, 2011

Strange Birds in Paradise Album / DVD launch (Melbourne, Australia) Northcote Social Club. Sunday August 14.

STRANGE BIRDS IN PARADISE

A West Papuan Soundtrack.

ALBUM LAUNCH. NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB

SUNDAY 14 AUGUST 2011

Buy Tickets Here

“Music can rise above tyranny”

“Art is a weapon and culture is life, as long as they can sing they will prevail.”

Film-maker Charlie Hill-Smith on the plight of the West Papuans

in their fight for independence from Indonesia

 “The music of West Papua is unique and intoxicating in and of itself; having it on our radars is a true privilege. And Bridie’s always interesting western-meets-world interweaving commands rapt attention regardless, but in the context here that is all important… For the recording of Strange Birds, five West Papuan singers and musicians joined Bridie in Melbourne, and it’s difficult not to listen to their haunting renditions of these outlawed songs without wondering what the consequences might be for them. Try to imagine, if you possibly can, The Drones making a record overseas and then never being able to return to their native country under penalty of death because of it. As outlandish as that sounds, this is probably the fate that awaits the performers here, and, naturally enough the record takes on a complete new dimension because of it. Bridie has been quoted as saying that this record “stands alone as an album of cultural and political significance”. In any other situation, this might sound immodest. Here, though, it has the ring of absolute, undisputable truth. Will there be a more important record made this year? I highly doubt it.”

(Tony McMahon, Inpress)

On Sunday August 14 from 1-5pm, the soundtrack and DVD to the powerful and award winning political feature documentary Strange Birds in Paradise will be launched at The Northcote Social Club.

The afternoon of music will include performances from Vika and Linda Bull, The Black Orchid String Band (featuring Leah, Petra and Rosa Rumwaropen), David Bridie, Phil Wales, Black Cab, El Witeri (The Red Eyes), with appearances by MC’s Lehmo and Greg Fleet. These and other acts yet to be announced  join a distinguished line up of Melanesian performers, showing their support for the freedom movement in West Papua – an issue that garners less international attention than that given to the fate of Indonesian livestock.

While the Indonesian army continues to dominate the indigenous inhabitants of West Papua, the making of this album saw five West Papuan musicians and singers gather in Melbourne to record the outlawed folk songs of West Papuan freedom fighter and musician Arnold Ap with Australian musician and film composer David Bridie.

In Strange Birds in Paradise, David Bridie interweaves his original score with the songs of Ap, carried by the remarkable voices of West Papuan performers Hein Arumisore, Jacob Rumbiak and Gillius Kogoya, and features musical collaborations with Airi Ingram and Phil Wales. These artists will also come together for the launch, joined onstage by West Papuan musicians Ronny Kareni, Frederick Yawandare, Adrianus Birif, Anselmus Pisakai and led by West Papuan leader Jacob Rumbiak.

The launch will celebrate and recognise of the work of Arnold Ap, as well as political hero Kelly Kwalik – both assassinated for bringing controversial folk songs to the people of West Papua and the world. The day will shed light on the rich musical history intrinsic to West Papuan culture, simultaneously raising awareness of the struggle faced by West Papuans, our closest neighbours, and the atrocities occurring daily in a political climate of greed, corruption and genocide.

Of the CD, Bridie says “Not just a soundtrack, Strange Birds in Paradise stands alone as an album of cultural and political significance, putting West Papua’s extraordinary music talent firmly on the contemporary music map, in the Pacific region and beyond. There are a lot of political refugees from West Papua living in Australia, and this launch is for them as much as it is for those residing in West Papua.”

Strange Birds in Paradise is an album which engages with the unique music of West Papua and champions a community who will fight to keep their cultural traditions alive in the face of extreme political oppression and widespread genocide.

Watch video from Strange Birds in Paradise soundtrack here

 

What: Strange Birds in Paradise Album Launch (alongside official DVD release)

When: August 14, 1-5pm

Where: Northcote Social Club, Victoria

Tickets: $18 Presale / $22 on Door / (Concession available at door only – $15)

www.wantokmusik.org / www.strangebirds.com.au

 

Purchase on ITunes

Sorry: Indon Army Backs Down Over Threats

via NewMatilda.com

By Alex Rayfield

The chief of the Indonesian Army in West Papua has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a public apology to the Kingmi Papua Church over a leaked letter first published in New Matilda, reports Alex Rayfield

In an extraordinary media statement dated Monday 18 July the chief of the Army in Indonesian occupied West Papua, Major-General Erfi Triassunu, issued a very public apology to the leadership and congregation of the Kingmi Papua Church.

In the statement, a copy of which has been obtained by New Matilda, the general writes, “if I caused any offence to the Kingmi Papua Church I am sorry”.

Reverend Benny Giay, the moderator of the embattled Kingmi Papua Church, and a subject of the general’s initial ire, said that “this is perhaps the first time in West Papuan history that an Indonesian Army Chief has apologised to the West Papuan church”.

A copy of the original letter was also obtained by New Matilda who published an exclusive story on 7 July. The article was then republished in Open Democracy, written about in daily newspaper Bintang Papua and discussed extensively in blogs, Facebook and email lists inside and outside West Papua.

In the original letter (marked “secret” and dated 30 April 2011) Triassunu repeats claims made by representatives of Kingmi Indonesia, an Indonesian-wide church, that Kingmi Papua is a separatist organisation. In his letter, the general weighed into a conflict that he himself notes is an internal church matter.

The most disturbing phrase in the original letter is a veiled threat by the chief of the Army to take “assertive action” if the conflict between Kingmi Indonesia and Kingmi Papua is not resolved. What is implied here is that the Kingmi Papua Church must cease all efforts to establish an autonomous church in West Papua or risk violent retaliation from the state. It is these kinds of statements that can encourage Indonesian nationalist militias to take the law into their own hands, says Benny Giay.

However, in the three-page apology to Kingmi Papua Church, the general claims that the military command in Papua has never stated that Kingmi Papua is a separatist organisation. He also clarifies the meaning of the phrase “assertive action”, insisting that he did not mean to imply “repressive action” but rather wanted to encourage the civil authorities in Papua to resolve the internal church conflict “on the basis of peace and mercy”.

If true, it marks a seismic policy shift for the Indonesian Army in West Papua — news that will certainly be welcome to Giay. Kingmi Papua’s pastors have been killed at the hands of the Indonesian Military since they first occupied West Papua in 1963. Papuan Church leaders and their congregations across Papua are regularly harassed and intimidated by Indonesian security forces. Public beatings and torture by the security forces is also systemic in Papua, meted out on the basis of race and often conducted in public view, reports ANU based academic Br. Budi Hernawan.

While welcoming the apology, Giay urges the civilian and military authorities in Indonesia to go further. In an open letter to the Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono dated 16 July, Giay asks the President to guarantee Kingmi Papua’s right to exist. An apology from the chief of the Army in Papua after all, is no guarantee of religious freedom.

Giay maintains that the real cause of the conflict, whether between Kingmi Indonesia and Kingmi Papua or the Indonesian government and the Kingmi Church, is political and fundamentally connected to the history of Papua. To break the impasse Giay repeats the call for “dialogue” and an end to “stigmatising” the Papuan people for wanting to address the root causes of state violence in Papua.

Recognition of the right of the Church in Papua to speak out on behalf of the oppressed and to take nonviolent action in protection of their congregations is an acid test for freedom of speech in West Papua.

To date the Indonesian Government has failed that test.

While the general seeks to reassure Papuans that the Army wants to resolve problems on the basis of “peace” and “mercy”, their approach has been inconsistent at best. Papuans are still not allowed to raise the Morning Star flag or sing their national anthem “Hai Tanahku Papua“. Filep Karma, who has been sentenced to 15 years for nonviolent action remains in jail along with scores of other Papuan political prisoners. A press conference by the West Papua National Committee earlier this month concerning current military operations in Puncak Jaya had to be cancelled because of police and military intimidation of the both the organisers and invited journalists.

The Indonesian constitution ostensibly guarantees the right to free speech but it looks a lot like that freedom does not reach West Papua. Until that changes any claim that Indonesia is a democracy rings hollow.

For now, however, Benny Giay and Kingmi Papua are claiming the apology as a “small victory”.

Whether that victory can be defended and extended remains to be seen.