Gendjer Gendjer Still Banned
It's a dozen years after the fall of Indonesia's New Order, and Filastine was banned from playing Gendjer-Gendjer (our version titled Gendjer2). On January 8th, 2012, the owner of the club "Liquid" in Semarang, Java, demanded to the promoter that we remove the song from the set. The song's innocent lyrics about an edible weed was used as a marching tune for the women's group of the Indonesian communist party. In 1965 General Suharto took over, established the New Order. Their first task was to murder about half a million leftists, including the song's composer the Mohamed Arif. The song was banned for forty years. We didn't perform Gendjer2 that night. It was a decision taken with consideration of the promoter and future artists. Alternative or emerging musicians have almost nowhere to play in this country. It would be arrogant of us to burn the bridge to one of the rare commercial venues (think rock covers, house DJs, VIP drink specials) that will let an indy promoter take one of their slow nights. Also, it creates more of a conversation by openly cutting the song, and explaining that onstage. A useful reminder that Indonesia still hasn't escaped the long shadow of militarist dictatorship, and probably never will until embarking on a process like South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission, passing laws like Spain's Ley de Memoria Histórica, or taking more revolutionary action.