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Fighting for Justice

29 Aug

It is only 20 years since we witnessed the beginning of the end of Apartheid in South Africa. It heralded a new era of emancipation for the black community who had for so long been disenfranchised as ‘non-citizens’ under a system of racial discrimination and became victims of repression and state-sponsored violence. We know of the courage and sacrifice of icons such as Nelson Mandela but little do we know of the unspoken resistance of the masses who gave birth to this freedom, those who tirelessly struggled for justice amidst great risk to their lives. We think of Steve Biko, through his writings and activism, and the protestors who lost their lives in the Sharpeville Massacre. All gave some but some truly gave all.

The end of Apartheid was a small yet significant victory for our common humanity, of which we are all inextricably linked, and for justice in particular. Continue reading

MIA’s “Born Free”: A Powerful Statement

8 Jun

British music phenom MIA’s recent video, “Born Free”, has been labeled everything from ‘shocking’ to ‘controversial’, ‘politically charged’ to ‘thought-provoking’.

The nearly nine-minute-long clip serves as a catalyst for exposing the terrors of war. It’s undeniably powerful, a lurid parable on the systematic ethnic cleansing that goes on all over the world (in many shapes and forms). It’s an unflinching exploration of this reality, as exacted upon red-headed, fair-skinned citizens of a fictional state.

Though boldly explicit, MIA has brought into the open what has been almost a taboo subject. “Born Free” is a direct assault against racial profiling, genocide and state oppression which still sadly exist – in the 21st century! It’s also a not-so-subtle allegory of the conditions faced by ethnic Tamils today in Sri Lanka.

YouTube removed the clip due to its graphic content on the day it was released, triggering an avalanche of publicity. Isn’t this a video the world needs to see? “Born Free” compels viewers to question their own apathy, essentially asking:

What if this happened to you?

Continue reading

Voice for the Voiceless

19 May

I recently came across these rather poignant verses of Iris Chang, an American-Chinese journalist who wrote one of history’s only accounts of the forgotten atrocities of World War II – The Nanjing Massacre (1937). 

  

 “I’ll give voice to the voiceless 

 Silenced for too long 

Crying out for justice 

Trust me with your pain 

I’ll take it as my own 

I’ll fight to get the truth told 

My weapon is my word.” 

  

In a period of six weeks following the capture of the city of Nanjing (the former capital of the Republic of China), between 20- 80,000 women were raped and hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by the Imperial Japanese Army. Continue reading