Indonesian Infoshop

working hard, seeking a network

Something is brewing in a vast archipelago across the ocean and it’s not the typical news that causes us to take to the streets in complete outrage. This is something to celebrate and support. Some folks in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia have decided to form a collective and plan to open the first ever infoshop in the region. Though faced with quite a few obstacles, the collective is still operating and struggling to carry through with their impressive plans.

Late 2002, a group of punks, activists and artists decided to ride a wave of inspiration and create what they’ve read and heard about in activist communities abroad….a community infoshop. Sindikat Bawang Putih was formed. Through consensus in weekly meetings, activities were quickly organized. Books, zines and newsletters were compiled for the library. There was a good response with donations from friends in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, United States and parts of Europe. Next, came a Free Skool which included weekly teach ins on various political theories. The findings in the new shipments of literature were translated and discussed. Other workshops included fire dancing, trash puppets, cooking and comic art. Throughout this time, the collective kept hunting for a permanent space to use for the infoshop. They envisioned a small storefront where the library could be set up with floormats and pillows for reading, Other local groups could rely on a safe and convenient space for their meetings and activities. Local and foreign travellers could stop in, meet the community and participate in upcoming actions, shows or events.

That one pesky obstacle kept postponing this dream…MONEY. It’s hard enough just to get by paying personal expenses and they definately couldn’t receive federal or state fundings. A few hundred dollars could lease out a shop for a year but that’s alot of money in Indonesia. Some foreign communities took interest in donating but wanted the infoshop to establish a permanent address before contributing. The collective found itself in a classic catch 22. Without donations, a failed squat occupation and conflict with a promising parental contribution, the hopes of leasing a space were put on the back burner. The collective starting conjuring up other goals to be productive in this time of transience.

January 5, 2003 Sindikat Bawang Putih put on a free day long film festival. With a donated projector and screen, the use of an outdoor patio of an independent bookstore and the mad dash to compile documentaries from friends across the globe, more than 100 viewers gathered to watch the films about the massive worldwide demos against the WTO and IMF. These films included Global Insight, This Is What Democracy Looks Like and The Battle Of Seattle. Currently, Sindikat Bawang Putih had to change their name to Sayap Ikarus to remain anonymous and deal with a new pressing issue.

The Indonesian presidential elections are just around the corner and Suharto is striving hard to regain power. Almost all political parties running for office are actually owned and operated under Suharto. Keep in mind that Suharto was the World Bank’s prodigy child of a good economy and was the dictator behind the massive anti-”communist” genocide that stretch across the archipelago and massacred the people of East Timor. Now, Suharto’s Orde Baru (New Order) is a strong force on the political agenda and parties are using slogans like, “Since the reformation order failed, it’s time for the new order to return” or “Suharto, Suharto, who owns him? All of us do!” It seems like whoever you vote for, Suharto wins. So, Sayap Icarus is actively trying to educate the public about this election.

This project must be performed anonymously due to a new law called UU Anti-Terorisme which puts the activists at risk for arrest without a warrant or trial. Sayap Ikarus made 10,000 stickers that informed people of the corrupted elections and they go on nightly runs to post them around town. Sindikat Bawang Putih is also currently working with other autonomous groups to create a monthly public free food distribution, the likes of Food Not Bombs. After tabling at various events, the collective has found a network, support and contributions including free rice from a village farmer and a professional chef that apparently makes the best bok choy and taro root dish in town. Sindikat Bawang Putih wants this event to branch out beyond the typical basic anarcho punk/activist crowd and has suceeded in collaborating with the theater community, the art community, book clubs, leftist groups, independent book stores and factory workers. This monthly free food event will also include an open mic so that all communities can conjoin and share their views.

The intregrity of this collective needs recognition and international support. Please spread your ruckus across the ocean to the land of sweatshop exploitation and World Bank induced repression. Form a network with the activists in Indonesia. They are open to collaboration and communication. Check out the website and contact . As oppression spreads across the globe, so must our resistance.