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Never Surrender, Never Give In!

In recent days, punks in Aceh, Indonesia, who were attending a benefit gig to raise money for orphans, were arrested en masse, humiliated, and put into 10-day religious fundamentalist ‘re-education’ programmes. Their crime? Being punks.

The Aceh state government implements a form of sharia law. Having a weird haircut, wearing black clothes, and hanging out with people of the opposite sex, apparently breaks that law. Never mind the fact that these kids, who generally don’t have much of their own to start with, were raising cash for those with even less. Or that, on the whole, punks tend to respect human dignity, embrace equality and show compassion to the wider world around them. No, the only thing that matters to these religious nuts is blind obedience to their own fucked-up ‘morality’.

In response, punks from around the world (including yours truly) are getting their shit together and doing whatever we can to show solidarity with our Indonesian brothers and sisters.

First off, protest. Most countries will have an Indonesian embassy or consulate that can be contacted. Check out this list for yours. Send them a polite email or letter protesting against the actions of the Aceh authorities. Here’s the one I sent if you need a starting point:

Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to you to express my concern at this report on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16176410

I find this action by the police in Aceh to be totally unacceptable, an affront to human rights that paints your country in a very poor light. I would suggest that the problem is not with the young people, it is with the intolerant people that they have to live among.

I was once a young punk, complete with the haircut and fashion. I am now a 46-year-old adult and would still call myself a punk, even if I no longer look like one (it’s not just about the clothes and hairstyles). As a punk, I have been to university and I am now a youth worker supporting homeless young people. I still love punk rock and go to many punk rock concerts, and I have met punks from all over the world (including from Indonesia). The young punks I meet are, without exception, kind and compassionate people. They are involved in human rights campaigns, many of them are vegetarians, they stand up against fascism and racism and believe in equality and dignity for all. Surely these are values that we all desire to see encouraged in our young people?

I would ask you to use whatever influence you have to persuade your government to intervene in the situation in Aceh, and ensure that the police service allows these young people to enjoy their punk culture and grow into happy and compassionate adults. Instead of imprisoning and humiliating them, I would suggest that people just take some time to talk to them.

Yours faithfully

People are also starting to organise protests at Indonesian embassies / consulates, such as this one planned for the UK next week. Keep an eye on the social networks, or organise one yourself and get spreading the word.

Depending on where you are, other options could be available. The important thing is to make sure that the Indonesian authorities know that we’re watching them while we watch each other’s backs.

Secondly, put a solidarity mixtape / CD-R together and pass it on to the folks at Aborted Society Records. They’re collecting as many as they can, ready to be packed up and shipped out. At some point early in the New Year, they should be off on their journey to punks who could do with a bit of moral support right now.

Making mixtapes for each other is something of a punk tradition, one that I’m proud to have maintained (albeit with more modern media), and I’m putting a vinyl selection together as I type. Once it’s done, I’ll post it up here too.

For an absolutely brilliant insight into the positivity some of these misfits generate, with not much more than a bunch of ukeleles, watch this:
Marjinal Punks doc

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