Cycling to raise awareness about West Papua

Jeremy Bally will be in Hope June 6 for a presentation at Christ Church parish hall

Jeremy Bally from Bowen Island has embarked on a 12,000-kilometre international cycling and performance tour which aims to raise awareness of the ongoing human rights and environmental abuse in the underreported region of West Papua.

Bally will be riding a bicycle loaded with everything from a projector to a ukulele through six countries over six months, touring a multimedia performance and engaging with citizens the world over about this story. This is Bally’s second tour, having rode 7,500 kilometres from Victoria to St. John’s, Newfoundland last year while telling a story built around his own time spent in West Papua.

“It’s home to the bird of paradise, the second largest jungle remaining in the world, and our planet’s most bio-diverse marine zone” said Bally. “As many as 500,000 indigenous West Papuans have died as a result of the military presence and lack of development in their homeland throughout. That number is impossible to confirm, though, as media organizations have never really been allowed access without close government supervision.”

The performance brings the voices of Papuans to the international stage through a projected animation which brings to life nine recorded conversations with exiles, refugees and activists from West Papua. Bally narrates this film live on stage using original spoken word poetry and ukulele based hip-hop.

“I love riding my bicycle. I love telling stories. I feel like just because something is important doesn’t mean people will care,” said Bally. “I’m using this artistic approach because it’s a more open way to engage people. I want the audience to come because they’re expecting a great show. I want them to leave knowing how to make the world a more peaceful place”.

On June 6, Bally will be performing a story about West Papua at 7 p.m. at Christ Church Parish Hall in Hope. There is no charge for the event but donations will be accepted to raise funds for Pacific Peoples‘ Partnership, Canada’s only non-governmental organization currently working with grassroots organizations in West Papua, as well as advocate for the release of the roughly 40 political prisoners in West Papua, all of whom have been imprisoned for peaceful dissent.

“This is not your dry ‘just the facts ma’am’ kind of event,” said Rev. Gail Newell, of Christ Church Anglican Parish.

“Jeremy puts on a great multimedia show. He loves telling stories in an engaging way. It is inspiring for all ages, especially young people who wonder if one person can make a difference. Jeremy shows that they can.”