Embattled Aceh Punks Garner Worldwide Support
News of the recent detainment and “re-education” of some 60 punks in Banda Aceh has stirred up a hornet’s nest of outrage among local and international punk rock communities, many of whom have responded with campaigns to signal support for their Sumatran brethren.
One Seattle-based metal and punk label, Aborted Society, initiated the “Mixtape for Aceh” project on its Web site on Dec. 14. The project calls on punk music fans to create cassette and CD-R compilations of the loud, aggressive music which the label will then ship to punk fans in Aceh.
According to the label’s Web site, the mixtape — long a staple in the anti-authoritarian, anti-major label punk underground — represents a sincere gesture of friendship and was one of the mediums that was key in spreading punk rock’s influence worldwide.
“We are privileged to live in a society where we are free to express ourselves as we wish, and while the US and other Western states have their fair share of police injustice, this incident is a harsh reminder to how good we really have it,” the site states.
Aborted Society is planning to send out the mixtapes and CD-Rs by early January 2012.
In honor of the 64 Indonesian punks who were forced to submit to having their heads shaved at the hands of the police, a Swede named Tom Holmquist has created an online event calling on punks worldwide to post pictures of themselves in all their leather-clad and dyed-mohawk finery.
The Facebook event, called “Support Indonesian Punks,” had 4,500 people signed up to attend by Friday afternoon.
“Every punk in the world knows how it is to be different,” Holmquist told the Jakarta Globe. “The struggle for the punks in Aceh is a struggle for all punks and we must be united. Punk is an international movement and when we unite, we can change things.
“Also, I want to show the world that they can try to change the punks in Aceh, but they can never bring the movement down. That’s why I want people to dress up this week.”
Aside from encouraging people to send letters of protest to their local Indonesian embassy, Holmquist said that Swedish punks would also be holding a tribute concert in Gothenburg on Saturday.
In Jakarta, a punk-friendly collective called Bendera Hitam (Black Flag) is also having a solidarity event for Aceh punks on Saturday.
While the planning of the event was still underway, Joshua A. Lalamentik, spokesman of Bendera Hitam, said the group was planning to stage a rally at the Aceh representative’s office in Jakarta to demand the release of the detained punks.
“Most of our members are really enthusiastic to do this rally. As far as we know, our friends in Aceh are still detained. We want to free them and we have to act fast,” he said.
Joshua said that the arrest of the punks in Banda Aceh did not make any sense.
“What makes the police think that they have the right to arrest our friends for dressing in a certain way? They didn’t break any law. From what I know, the police are the ones who infringe on human rights,” he said.
“People always perceive punks as a bunch of kids who act like thugs and are always drunk. But punk is a symbol of expression. We might dress in a certain way, but each individual has the freedom of expressing themselves.”