One of my favourite things about running Tsuno is the customers I get to connect with. I feel so supported with my mission by you all, and often think that I could easily be friends with each and every one of you! I decided recently to feature a Tsuno customer in each monthly newsletter (sign up here!) called Bleed Red, Act Green- highlighting someone in the community and their sustainable actions, big and small.
I would like to introduce you all to Joana Partyka, who not only get's a Tsuno subscription box for herself, but also makes amazing ceramic art, is a political staffer and recently put herself out on a limb for all our futures to protest against the Burrup Hub mega project in Western Australia. Please read on and if you can support Joana and the Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign.
Hi Joana, what is Disrupt Burrup Hub and why did you get involved with the campaign?
In a nutshell, Disrupt Burrup Hub is a direct action campaign working to wind back and ultimately shut down extractive industry on the Burrup Peninsula in northern Western Australia.
As our name suggests, our sights are set on the Burrup Hub: Woodside’s fossil fuel mega-project that takes in a number of interconnected developments – like Scarborough Gas, for instance, which is arguably the most well-known. The entire Burrup Hub development is projected to emit more than four times’ the CO2 of Adani over its lifetime, single-handedly undermining Australia’s ability to meet our international climate obligations. No matter how you look at it, the project doesn’t stack up.
On top of the devastating climate impacts, the Burrup Hub is already destroying sacred ancient First Nations rock art at Murujuga. That’s happening both through the direct removal of rock art to make way for infrastructure, and the erosion of the rock art’s protective patina from acidic industrial emissions. This rock art is around 50,000 years old and has significant cultural and historical value; it holds countless sacred stories and is home to the earliest known depiction of a human face in history.
I got involved in the campaign because I was sick of feeling powerless in the face of climate catastrophe, and sick of the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has over policy in Western Australia. Over the past few years I’ve been involved in a range of different climate campaigns, but I’ve always come away frustrated with the lack of strategic and impactful direct action. When trusted folks I knew from those campaigns approached me to discuss starting up DBH, and communicated a theory of change underpinned by direct action and disruption, I knew I was fully on board.
Could you tell us about what you did recently in support of the Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign?
Disrupt Burrup Hub undertook its first action in January, when I spray-painted the Woodside logo onto the protective perspex that covers Frederick McCubbin’s 1889 painting Down on his luck and then glued myself to the wall next to it at the Art Gallery of WA. I was arrested, charged and ultimately convicted of criminal damage, although the artwork itself was intentionally unharmed.
The action was very intentional in its symbology: through spraying toxic-coloured yellow paint on an artwork’s cover and creating the illusion of damage, we aimed to draw attention to the actual damage Woodside causes by spraying toxic emissions into the atmosphere and over rock art. The fact that the latter is widely tolerated while the former drew widespread and aggressive condemnation from the government, industry and media speaks volumes to the total capture the fossil fuel industry has on WA, and to the deeply embedded racism that governs our culture and systems.
Since my action in January, Disrupt Burrup Hub has undertaken a number of subsequent actions to call attention to this issue. We’ve targeted Woodside headquarters and the WA Parliament, and most recently NSW climate activist Violet Coco acted in solidarity with DBH to target the Perth Police Centre.
What's happened since then?
Hoo boy – where do I begin! After I dealt with the charges from the art gallery action in court – all of which I had largely expected up to that point – my home was then raided by the WA Police’s State Security Investigation Group, which among other things deals with terrorism, bikies and organised gangs. Six burly cops showed up at my door one morning in February with a search warrant citing a suspicion of criminal damage and conspiracy. They subsequently searched my entire apartment, filmed me non-consensually and seized my devices.
A week later, they came back with a court order forcing me to give them my passcodes so they can copy and dump all my personal data to their servers – ostensibly to find ‘evidence’ to support this conspiracy suspicion. I refused and was charged for failing to obey that order, and after pleading not guilty in April I now have a trial set for September. They’ll retain my phone and laptop at least until then!
The truly terrifying thing is that this is not unusual for Western Australia. In 2021 six Extinction Rebellion activists had their homes raided for peacefully writing anti-Woodside messages on the pavement in chalk. And in April, two of my Disrupt Burrup Hub comrades – as well as two journalists who report on climate and industry – also had their homes raided and devices seized.
I have no doubt the motivation behind these overblown tactics and trumped up charges is political in nature and intended to silence and scare us. The implications on our civil liberties and press freedom shouldn’t be understated – it’s deeply concerning, and it impacts all of us.
How can we best support you and the campaign in big or small ways?
Donations are always immensely helpful and appreciated. Disrupt Burrup Hub has incredible pro-bono legal representation but we often amass significant fines in response to our actions, which we pay for with huge thanks to the community’s largesse. We couldn’t do the work we do without that material support.
Sharing our campaign and our actions far and wide, particularly on social media, is also a really powerful way to support our work. The power of activism often rests in its visibility and reach – that is how it will engage the public and yield broader social and political change. So that’s really important.
As for bigger ways to support us, that’s definitely to get directly involved. It’s also the most fun way! That could look like joining our core campaign crew to strategise, plan actions and participate directly in said actions. It could look like offering your skills and/or services – building things needed for actions, for instance. It could look like hooking us up with your uncle who runs the pub in Karratha for a free pint when we get up there. It could look like feeding us intel if you work for Woodside lol jokes no but really.
Ultimately, the message I’d really like to finish on is that the time for assuming ‘the activists’ will take care of activism on everyone’s behalf is over. We are all activists. We all have a part to play. It comes down to all of us. It always has.
Read more about Disrupt Burrup Hub and donate to support their campaign here.
Images supplied by and credited to Disrupt Burrup Hub.