An interview with Nattali Rize and Airileke, November 29, 2016 by Kylie Cobb
If the fact that a music video crew had to sneak into the country undercover to capture the spectacular West Papuan culture isn’t enough to rattle your bones, then surely half-a-million civilian deaths, countless rapes and accounts of torture will motivate you to take a stand on 1 December.
For West Papuans, December First marks the first day of independence from Dutch colonisation in 1961. Sadly their liberation was short-lived. Less than a month short, to be precise, before Indonesian paratroopers violently occupied the region and have continued to do so since they were officially given control by the United Nations in 1962.
Nattali Rize, member of Blue King Brown and a prominent and vocal exponent of the West Papuan plight, implored Australians to take action today, “Until the majority of Australians stand up and say something about West Papua, they [the government] aren’t going to touch it,” she says.
“Papua is our neighbour. It’s ridiculous. They are so close to us we have every responsibility to make sure everyone has basic human rights and justice.”
So, what exactly can everyday Australians do? Rize said if you can’t join one of the many gatherings in your city today to raise the Morning Star flag (an act for which one can still be incarcerated in West Papua), to please watch and share the most epic film clip she’s ever seen, ‘Sorong Samarai’ by Airileke and featuring Twin Tribes.
Presented by the politically-motivated record label Rize of the Morning Star, Blue King Brown’s Carlo Santone teamed up with Airileke (pronounced Irie-leck-ee) to produce a stunning, moving music video which cinematically communicates the urgency and plight of a beautiful, yet brutally oppressed people.
“We wanted to positively present the beauty of West Papua and the strength of its culture so the wider community connects emotionally to the situation and begins to take a stronger interest,” says Airileke.
The Melbourne-based Melanesian artist, who made an ARIA-nominated impact with his ‘Weapon of Choice’ album in 2012, said he hoped Australian’s would fight the good fight with them on December 1st.
“If you feel for West Papua, let your voices be heard. Put pressure on your local member, your foreign minister, your Prime Minister to support West Papua,” he says. “The goal is to get West Papua on the UN decolonisation list so that West Papua has a chance for a referendum so they can express their democratic right and choose for themselves.”
In February next year, Airileke brings together rising stars from across the Asia Pacific region for what promises to be a live performance just as spectacular as the film clip. Called Rebel Musik, the show is as inspiring as it is urgent, political, in-your-face music from one of the harshest urban environments on the planet.
“We hope to let people feel the roots and future of West Papua and PNG. We are indigenous people, yes, but we also are producers, DJs, film-makers and MCs,” he tells us.
Featuring “next level” dancers, log drummers, rappers and reggae artists from all parts of the Pacific region uniting as one, Airileke said that although the show “gets political sometimes, it’s also just fresh beats that makes you wanna move your feet.”
As well as the music video, the undercover crew managed to capture some incredible photographs of the people of West Papua
Situated just five kilometres from Queenland’s Cape York Peninsula, one can’t help but agree with Nattali. This is just too close to home and too big an injustice to ignore.
“It’s with information that we have the power to choose who and what we support and that has a really powerful effect on the global movement,” she says.
Just like Blue King Brown intend to inspire with their music and shows, we can also “create a moment where the outside system cannot penetrate with what we call ‘the fuckery’
“Reclaim a power within that no government could ever suppress, or tax, or trample over. They can’t beat it out of us. Every person on this earth has something powerful in them that is very potent. It’s our light.”
Multi-award winning news program, Channel 10’s The Project, will be airing a special report tonight at 6:45pm, digging deeper into the West Papuan plight. To show your support further, share the video, follow Rize of the Morning Star and Airileke on Facebook, and read up on the Free West Papua Campaign.
For more from Nattali Rize and Carlo Santone, Blue King Brown will be performing their impassioned live set at Melbourne festival The Pleasure Garden on December 10, alongside The Cat Empire, The OPIUO Band, Tash Sultana and more – tickets are on sale now.
By Kylie Cobb