An open conversation on race and racial slurs

This post is an example of how we can have an open dialogue or conversation on race, in which we call out one another and hold one another accountable with regard to racial slurs, while standing together in solidarity to deal with racism as one united people.

LLAG:

Last week, I posted an article about the infamous anti-Asian slur “chink.”

To my surprise, 50% of the folks on this page didn’t even know it was a slur.

“OMG, ‘chink’ is a slur?”
“Wait, are you sure ‘chink’ is racist? I’ve been saying it for years!”
“Oh, please! ‘Chink’ isn’t even that bad!”

Since then, I’ve noticed just how ignorant and racist activists can be towards Asian-Americans — without even realizing it. The subtle xenophobia and back-handed compliments from activists is only getting worse.

I expect it from white supremacists, but I don’t expect this bullshit from activists, especially POC. Shit, I’ve been called everything from “Chinaman” and “chink,” to “yellow bastard” by self-identified “woke POC.”

As an Asian-American activist, the support I receive feels like an exception to the rule. I’m the “cool” Asian who gets it, who deserves respect from non-Asian POC, but the rest of my Asian-Americans don’t deserve equal recognition.

I feel like I’ll never be American enough for non-Asian POC support. And the minute someone disagrees with me, the minute someone finds my arguments or my writing style unsavory, I’m automatically associated with everything racist about Asian culture: the Chinese laundry commercial and Blackface in K-POP. I’m Kim Jong Un, Pearl Harbor, and a Korean Hair Shop, all rolled into one.

Xenophobia’s relationship with anti-Asian racism is rarely talked about in the activist community. No one wants to admit it, but there has always been an attitude of “you Asians came to this country after all of us, so you don’t know what social justice is. Your activism is appropriation.”

The only thing Asian-American activists can do is continue to speak, even if no one wants to listen…

—–

One commenter wrote:

I’m well versed in things that insult people. I have had that racial slur hurled at me by my own family members because of the shape of my eyes and my above average abilities in science, math and art. Because of that, I knew that the c word is an insult. Dehumanizing is the nature of these epithets. The reason, imho, why SJWs seem heavily burdened…is that when we say a sentence we do the work of making sure we don’t step on anyone in order to advance our causes. White supremacists don’t have to do that. They make asinine black and white statements. So, our movements are slow moving and solid.. while white supremacy is dominant but weak. If a SJW was to employ the same tactics as white supremacy…we would defeat out whole purpose. Our growth is slow and painful…conversations like these are VITAL. I don’t subscribe to a ‘privilege in oppression’ as some SJWs do. My oppression is not more valid than yours, but, if you don’t share that I can only feel my own pain and break my own yokes. I appreciate this post because it reminds me that we are a chorusof voices…different tones…different pitches…but our ultimate goal is to harness the energy of all of these voices and create a harmony that breaks the foundation of white supremacy and crumbles the ivory tower to rubble. But, we can’t do that until we loose the shackles in our minds. I understand that I can oppress people. I am careful not to. I will listen and ask questions to banish my ignorance. I hope my fellow SJWs are comitted to doing the same.

Another commenter wrote:

I call disingenuous willfully obtuse bullshit on people not knowing that this is slur. It’s been used in all media and said by well-known people in political power as a targeted insult towards Asian-Americans and Asian in this country. I’m Gen X and my mom is a Baby Boomer and m-fers from those generations and previous ones knew that word was an f-ing slur. So, yeah, I will point blank call anyone a liar to their faces that put on the Scarlett O’Hara act and pretend that they know nothing’ about nothin’. Pretend ignorance of slur doesn’t shield you from catching metaphorical or literal hands.

Another commenter wrote:

There is nothing wrong if you never heard the word chi*k used. I never heard anyone use it too. That is the main reason why I like this site. It allows me to learn about other POC’S plight in america and I love how it intercepts. I really never had any close Asians friends until I met my significant other 2 years ago. I kinda did live in a bubble for most of my life. Obviously, I was always aware about racism. Like I would typically just call my sister or friends about BLM topics or other injustices in America. But this has been the first year I have fully submerged myself to embraced SWJ activist pages.

I stand by LLAG’S post most of the time, but on occasion a topic typically regarding Asian people is posted and I respond and either misunderstood or condemned . In the case of Chin*y eyes I was guilty and took accountability that I used it when I was a teen . Trust me iam not the only person who said it without understanding it was a racial slur and never heard the word chink used especially as a result of my culture, neighborhood, upbringing and exposure to Asian people. I find it problematic that a POC can take accountability on their ignorance and be called a liar, stupid and many other negative comments. Everyone is acting like they never made an ignorant comment against another poc race. Maybe social media is the reason why so many people are aware, but generation x and above for POC did not have these privileges and I find a lot of these comments to be so judgenental, condescending, self righteous which I fear will hurt your message on ending white supremacy. I only share these comments because I deeply care about the work and message you bring to life on this page. I may not have been knowlegable, but iam wise and own up to my mistakes. We all weren’t raised the same, come from all walks if life and neighborhood or exposed to a specific POC or racial slurs

I commented on her comment, saying:

I can relate to this, and it is commendable and courageous of you to be open and honest about your experiences and observations. I believe we all, including myself, have been ignorant in some ways or other. I am a Singaporean Chinese (based on the social identity assigned to me by the society) growing up in Southeast Asia, and have never heard of “chink” or been called a “chink”, so I am also ignorant of this term or its origin and perceived connotation. While I don’t recall using racist terms myself, at least the overt or recognised ones, I was taught by my Indian neighbour to address his elder brother as “ah neh” when I was a young boy more than 30 years ago, which means elder brother in Tamil. Today, I became aware on social media that some Indians find “ah neh” racist and offensive, so I suppose perhaps the meaning of this word has changed or evolved, depending on how people use it and how the recipients receive it, and so on. I think it depends on who says the word, and how it is said, and so on. I am coming to realise that some words such as “ah neh” might have been used as terms of endearment or neutral ways of addressing others in the past, but are now used in a derogatory way by some other people, so it is understandable when those on the receiving end of the intended racial slurs want to vent about it, which invariably may make those who are ignorant of the implications of these terms feel uncomfortable and guilty and condemned, especially if we have used them before without knowing these terms are considered racist. Like you said, those comments that come across judgemental, condescending and self righteous may hurt LLAG’s message on ending white supremacy. Indeed, I think having such open dialogues is helpful, when we own up to our mistakes and give grace to each other instead of judging and condemning like some comments here, as it brings about greater awareness and understanding among one another, so that we can continue to hold ourselves and one another in accountability and stand in solidarity together in our advocacy for racial harmony and equality. May we all continue to stand united in our struggle for a better and more equitable world.

She replied to my comment, saying:

Thank you! I truly don’t take offense to anyone and hold no grudges. Life is too short and I rather empathize/love POC when I disagree with them. In all honesty, I love this page, the message, how much I have learned, grown, the solidarity amongst all POC is so beautiful. I think it is ok to sometime disagree, but why be so critical of other POC, especially when they admit to their transgressions.. Together in numbers we are much stronger and white supremacy wants to divide all poc. The reason why I had the urge to to share with so much conviction is because I believe in the message LLAG is spreading and admire his work dearly even if i might be called stupid, a fraud or dishonest. In many shape and form we all fall short to ignorance, like this case for me, for you the Indian word and for others it might be something else. But one of the best measure to eradicated white supremacy and call out our ignorance is accountability. Thank you for sharing I truly appreciated your sentiment as it aligns with mines.

Someone else commented:

I can only guess that people didn’t know that was a slur because, they are ‘woke’ when it comes to their own oppression and marginalization. Further, some ‘woke’ folks, as it has been said, are transphobic, queer-antagonistic, misogynior, misognistic, and bigotted themselves. It’s like if they don’t experience the oppression themselves then, it’s not a thing. Sound familiar? My being aware of how things systematically affect me, helps me understand how things MIGHT affect other groups of people. However, I have learned that different things affect people in different ways, so I have to listen to their experiences and don’t discount them. It’s what I want, just to be heard. For me, my pain from systematic oppression is not greater than anyone’s, I just feel like I can relate to another’s struggle. However, their struggle is their own, just as mine is my own. Maybe we can get together and walk a little ways a bit. One of the great things about the activist community is that we have used the term POC as a signifier of shared struggle. One of the bad things about using the term ‘POC’ is that there is some erasure. I realized that within the activist community I as an African American POC have privilege because black issues and how they impact the black community are the ones that are the most talked about. Often to the detriment of other POC communities. I try to either talk about those other issues affecting other POC communities or at least bring attention to them. However, I’m also conscious of staying in my line and not talking over people in that group. And just repeat those things that were told to me by members of that group. We, as African Americans, have a duty to help out other marginalized groups and give them space to talk. Activism is NOT a zero sum game. Helping another group with their issue will not set us back at all. Trust, we’ve been at it for at least a good 400 years. I am NOT woke. I’m not claiming that at all. I’m still learning, and getting things, learning how to stay in my lane, learning about nationalism, xenophobia, and how this stuff affects dark skinned Muslims from certain places and learning stuff. I’ve been called out on stuff lately, and instead of fighting against it, I just admitted I was wrong and learned from it. I think we have to help out our fellow people in the activist community, be conscious of how we sometimes erase others identity, give each other space, use our privilege, and listen to each other. Also admit when we are freaking wrong, don’t be afraid of being called out. That’s how we learn. Say thank you, and move on.

Being an activist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re conscious. For example, you may be well versed on women’s rights, but clueless on racial inequality. When your ignorance is called out, don’t get defensive. Learn from it and move on.

How in the world are people using that and not knowing it’s a slur? It even sounds like one! If the word is used to describe a race of people and it’s not used on government surveys, then there is a good chance that it’s a slur. Maybe growing up in the south gave me good exposure to racist crap so I would know not to repeat it. Asians have been here long enough for most Americans to know better. Especially now since you can literally google a list of racial slurs and which group it is used against.

So what I learned growing up some Jamaicans would refer to Chinese people as Ms. Chin or Mr. Chin in the marketplace in Jamaica short for Ms. China. Jamaica has a huge population of Chinese Jamaicans. I don’t think POC realized that the message could be or possibly is construed as racist.

I never heard these term, but most likely heard about the eyes comnents from a the Jamaican community. I like to also say Haitians directly call fair skin haitians grimo or grimelle. It means light skin male or light skin woman. However these words in Creole are not offensive to blacks in Haiti.

 

Advertisements

Immigration and border imperialism

I came across this video on Facebook, and decided to comment as follows:

Isn’t it true that the Europeans were responsible for migrating to America and colonising it at the expense of indigenous American Indians resulting in their genocide and at the expense of the black community who bore the ignominy of slavery? How convenient and supremacist of the European descendants to claim ownership of the land and deny other immigrants the chance to migrate to America using their own discriminatory laws as a pretext to protect their privilege. What makes these white Americans think they are superior or have more rights than others?

Someone responded:

#1. Indigenous means that something occurs in a place originally. That it did not migrate or emigrate from somewhere else. Ex. Corn and potatoes are indigenous to the Americas; rice is not because it originated in Asia.

#2. The term Native American is a misnomer. The peoples known today as Native American came here from Northeast Asia over a land bridge that was where the Bering Straight is today. The land bridge became submerged some 12,000 years ago. The genetic link between ancient Asians and ancient people in America has been proven through the DNA testing of the Clovis baby and the oldest human Asian remains.

#3. The Native Americans of the 1400s and 1500s had no knowledge of the existence of counties or the concept of landownership and borders

There were no states or countries in the Americas at that time. There were cities in Central and South America but not in what became the USA and Canada. Hence, there were no immigration laws. In effect, America belonged to nobody. People inhabited the land but did not own it until Europeans brought that concept with them. In effect, the land was up for grabs.

Until their hunting grounds and way of life was threatened, the Indians felt there was plenty of land for everyone. The Europeans got greedy with their need to own and control everything around them. That’s when the trouble started. The United States did not have immigration laws as we know them until the 19th century.

As our population grew, the US citizens saw the need to regulate the new immigrants. We decided to be like all other countries so adopted immigration laws to control who could come in and for how long. We didn’t want criminals or immoral people. Nor did we want the ill, infirm or indigent. Most countries in the world have changed hands over and over throughout history. Many countries have disputed borders to this day. Still they have immigration laws that are respected by other countries. Why should America not expect the same respect for our immigration laws?

It seems to be a reasonable comment with a sincere question at the end, so I decided to respond in kind, after doing a bit of research and support my opinions with facts.

All immigration laws need to be reformed, if not abolished altogether. Border imperialism only serves to perpetuate greed and tribalism, and cause displacement and oppression for those subject to imperialism. Humanity is ever evolving, and it is time we evolve past tribalism and imaginary borders.

If we were to apply the same standards of immigration laws in America today in the days of Christopher Columbus, he would be the first criminal and “illegal immigrant” to be deported back to Europe, instead of being celebrated as America’s “founder”.

“Columbus’ acts of cruelty were so unspeakable and so legendary – even in his own day – that Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrested Columbus and his two brothers, slapped them into chains, and shipped them off to Spain to answer for their crimes against the Arawaks. But the King and Queen of Spain, their treasury filling up with gold, pardoned Columbus and let him go free.”
http://www.manataka.org/page2777.html

There were no immigration laws before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon America because the native Americans were so kind as to share land and resources with fellow human beings. In fact, Columbus “noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. “They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no,” he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kindhearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.”

The native American Indians were far more evolved than most other peoples, in their very humanity. We would do well to emulate them and learn to share land and resources with one another and treat one another as brothers and sisters, regardless of differences in artificial group identities such as race, nationality and so on.

Another person responded:

Good grief Jimmy Tan- you are talking ancient history. Step into the current crap that’s happening…far worse than ever before. If you don’t like it here or if we are being so unfair to you, you have the option to go to your favorite country! Isn’t that amazing!

To this comment, I replied:

Oh yes, it’s amazing how violence and oppression are increasing due to border imperialism. Privilege blinds us to the pain and sufferings that the displaced and discriminated, predominantly made up of brown and black people, are dealing with. Watch the video above and learn how 492 Tamil refugees, including young children, landed on the shores of Canada in 2010 and were incarcerated for the “crime” of migrating to seek a better life and were labelled as “terrorists”. It is ironic how white privileged people tell others to not come to America “illegally” while they have no qualms invading other nations in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and steal their land and resources and subjugate the indigenous people.

Cycling is political

Cycling in Bukit Batok nature park
© Photographer: Jimmytst | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Cycling is itself political, and it would be futile to separate cycling from politics. The act of cycling itself is a political statement. Whenever we choose to ride a bicycle, we are challenging the status quo of the power structure in the society that favours the rich, powerful and privileged people who predominantly drive cars. We are subverting the classist system that treats cars as status symbols. We are helping to reduce the impacts of environmental degradation caused by pollutive motor vehicles run on fossil fuels. By switching from travelling by motor vehicles to bicycles, we are also easing traffic congestion on the roads. Last but not least, cycling empowers the marginalised and disadvantaged, and restores equality to them.

Then again, I am coming to realise that the moment I become more actively involved in politics, I begin to experience pushback in the form of repression and dissenting voices from some people. For example, last night when I shared a photo of a fellow countryman riding a bicycle in Love Cycling SG Facebook group and commented that he was living by example, the group admin deleted the photo. I decided to post a question in the group to ask the admin why the photo was removed. The admin deleted that post as well without explanation. This gave me the impression that the admin wasn’t interested in dialogues and was unwilling to be held accountable for their actions. I decided to post one final time to call them out for being discriminatory.

I also decided to leave the group with my dignity intact (remembering the importance about being true to myself and not succumb to groupism). I am in the process of working through my thoughts and emotions based on the responses to my post by articulating them in this blog:

If I didn’t challenge the admin like this and let things slide, the discrimination would continue. The fact that photos of ruling party members riding bicycles are allowed but not other party members shows this group is indeed partisan and discriminatory. It smacks of hypocrisy.

This episode underlines a fear-based climate and controlling culture that inhibits free speech and expression of our fundamental human rights. It keeps people repressed, small-minded and immature. I refuse to allow myself to be intimidated or humiliated or talked down at. I am hurt and disgusted by their treatment. I need strong and forceful language to speak my cause. The fact that admin initially refused to respond to my post shows they were not willing to be accountable for their actions. It reminds me of the same way a former prime minister depended on his lawyer to defend him when another politician confronted him directly in the law court.

I chose to leave the group with my dignity intact. If anyone is inspired, it is to encourage them that they too can stand their ground and let their voices be heard for the sake of justice and equality.

So the admin finally replied, saying the photo was linked to SDP Facebook page, and was deemed “political”.

Firstly, why didn’t he clarify earlier? He could have chosen to reply my question in my earlier post instead of removing it without explanation. Why wait until I challenged his action publicly and called out on the apparent discrimination and lack of transparency and accountability?

Secondly, does the link itself denote a infringement of the rules regarding “no political statements”? If so, then I would say it is double standard on the part of the admin because they have allowed photos of politicians from the ruling party to be posted in the past. In any case, the reason the link of SDP Facebook page was shown together with the photo I posted is because the photo doesn’t belong to me, and when I shared it via Facebook, the link was automatically shown. If I were to save the photo in my computer and upload it onto the Facebook group, I would have to acknowledge the source, and SDP Facebook page would still need to be mentioned.

The point I want to make is that the link of SDP Facebook page alone doesn’t necessarily constitute an infringement of the rules, or else the rules would have applied to all other political parties in the past.

In reality, cycling and politics invariably overlap because it is through politics that policies are formed and mindsets are shaped to influence the cycling culture in Singapore, for better or for worse, depending on how we live by example through our cycling activities and conversations, as well as our interactions with pedestrians and motorists.

At this point, I am glad to have removed myself from the group as it might not be worthwhile getting into a debate with them, and this blog can serve as a platform for my voice to be heard. At the very least, I am glad the status quo in that group is being challenged and political awareness about justice and equality is being increased, I believe.

 

A global revolution for environmental conservation, world peace and social justice

Soil erosion, Southfield. Days of dry warm south westerly winds and bare fields provide the ideal conditions for windblown soil erosion. The fine particles of sandy soil become airborne and get into everything. Here by Southfield a plantation of young trees is being sand blasted. (Wikimedia)

I have been musing about how I can reconnect to the despair and outrage at the state of the world I felt when I was a young boy – environmental destruction, societal oppression, religious indoctrination and so on. At the same time, I am also inspired and encouraged by today’s younger generations that bring fresh energy, enthusiasm and vision to champion for a better future through challenging the inhumane and unjust system that serves only the minority of “elites” at the expense of the majority of humanity.

Russell Brand Arthur Premier
Russell Brand (Wikipedia)

Incidentally, I came across an article by Collective Evolution after my musing just now, and I dare say people like Russell Brand, who enthused in a recent interview video about the world revolution, is doing a good job in bringing more awareness and passion to more people about the need for a world revolution and how we all can be part of it in our own ways.

I also recalled having come across the phrase “rage against the machine” some time ago, and I decided to google it just now, and I learnt from Wikipedia that it is the name of an American rap metal band that was formed in the 1990s. I learnt that the band has composed and sung a number of songs to address injustice and oppression imposed by the political and capitalistic systems. I guess the word “machine” in the name “Rage against the machine” is probably used to allude to the propagandistic machine used by the elite to “brainwash” the masses. I was reading about one of their songs called “Wake Up”, and I noted from Wikipedia that the band’s frontman has been actively addressing inequality and speaking about the need for everyone to unite as one.

 At the Big Day Out in Australia 2008, De La Rocha gave a speech discouraging globalism, saying it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. He applauded the crowd for voting out former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, then broke into screams of “Wake Up”.

Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Again...
Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine at Coachella 2007 (Wikipedia)

At the band’s June 8 2010 gig at the O2 in Dublin, Ireland, De La Rocha gave a speech discussing the current economic system and how multinational companies are blaming the middle/working class for the problems that the multinational companies themselves caused. De La Rocha was quoted as saying:

“You know I’ve been getting really frustrated turning on the news recently and listening to all this talk. All this talk about Ireland and all this talk about Portugal and all this talk about Spain and all this talk about Greece. And all they seem to be saying is “Oh the people in Ireland and Spain and Greece and Portugal oh they had it too easy”. And the very companies that run these stations like CNN profited so greatly from the housing bubble and crisis that they created. The very people that created the economic recession are the first to blame to us for the reason that it came about. And I’m sick of them saying this over and over again knowing full well that the reason we have pensions that the reason we have vacations and the reason we have 8 hour work days is precisely because of the kind of actions that our brothers and sisters are taking in Greece right now. People taking to the streets against the wealthy class who have been robbing us all for years. And in the face of all this propaganda I wanna say, we have here to unite here in Europe, we have to unite here in Europe across ethnic lines across religious differences across racial lines and it’s now the lines are clear. It’s us against the wealthy plain and simple. It’s time to wake up. WAKE UP.”

[From “Wake Up (Rage Against the Machine song)]

I have come to see that the main problem is the mindset or the system that creates a social divide among people, or as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, “we are here to awake from the illusion of separateness”. As Charles Eisenstein of the Occupy Love movement in the below video also said, “this shift of consciousness that inspires such things is universal, 99% and 1%, and it’s awakening in different people in different ways”.

Here’s sharing an excerpt of my blog in which I was musing about the case of revolution, which I was re-reading in view of the above video about the love revolution.

“Many look at the twentieth century as a time of great economic and technical advance, but history, while recognizing the technical innovation, will condemn this century as the most vile in man’s history.  The miracle that began in Greece, expanded in Rome, flourished in the Renaissance & Enlightenment and finally found its modern form in the western liberal democracy has been been gutted by a century of materialism, enslavement, slaughter and greed.”

(From “The Infomocracy Dilemma: Revolution or Disengagement?” by Robert Bonomo)

Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In response, I wrote:

“I agree with the gist of the message of the above-mentioned article that the best way to counter or overcome the self-serving regime controlled by mega corporations in the long run is “enlightened disengagement”. While protests and occupy movements have their place in creating awareness, the longer term and more permanent solution is within reach of each of us individuals – by consciously and actively making decisions in our daily life to disengage ourselves from the consumerist culture and propaganda and the like as much as we can, and to participate in collaborative and environment-friendly activities, such as reusing, reducing and recycling materials, buying locally produced organic food, spending within our means, seeking our own spiritual paths, and so on.”

(From “A very condensed case for revolution“)

Yes, to me, awareness is the first step, and then it involves a conscious decision to disengage ourselves from the system or the mindset of the consumerist culture, and at the same time, to participate in activities that contribute to a more humane world and a more sustainable environment, while spreading awareness through our day-to-day living and sharing of useful resources with others.

“Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See”

This article “Something Every Student, Teacher and Person Should See” by Arjun Walia from Collective Evolution resonates with me about creating our own reality and doing the things our heart desires instead of following the crowd in a consumerist culture. Like what the article says, “When you follow your heart, you can access the magic that’s all around us, the non-physical phenomenon that can help us on our quest”.

Alan Watts – What if Money Were No Object? NorthStarNetworker.com

As a dear friend said, “once we have dereligionized and deconsumerized ourselves, there is not much left to live for, other than loving people and making this world a better place”. Yes, being free from religious conditioning and consumerist culture enables us to focus on what really matters in life – loving our neighbors as ourselves through sharing the Earth’s resources which belong to everyone, and making the world a better place through using our gifts and talents. We will also enjoy the true treasures of the world with awe and wonder – the beauty of Nature, music, poetry, art, friendship and so on.

United | Playing for Change (with lyrics)

Here’s sharing this song I find meaningful. I was reflecting that it is good to dwell on the shared vision of our world united and living as one, even as we continue to speak out against injustice and discrimination in this world.

UNITED Lyrics (English) (Choruses and Verses separated)
CHORUSES:
1st
I wanna see the world United and learn to live as one
I wanna see the world United and learn to live as one
I wanna see the world United and learn to live as one
I wanna see the world United and learn to live as one

2nd & 3rd
We have to bring the world together
And learn to live as one
We have to bring the world together
And learn to live as one

4th & 5th
We have to bring the world together
We have to live as one
We have to bring the world together
We shall overcome

6th
We have to live as one

VERSES

Lingala Verse
This is the answer for the people
Who lost their loved ones from war.
This is the answer for the people
Who lost their loved ones from hunger.

Spanish Verse
The moment is what counts
Live smiling until the end
But happy days will come
That nobody can believe

Hebrew Verse
It´s time to say,
We are all one heart
This song is of all of us
So let´s sing it together in one big voice.

Arabic Verse
Lord of peace….give us/bring us/gift us with peace

Remember Guantanamo Bay?

In response to this article, it is sad to know that justice has not been served to liberate the prisoners who do not deserve to be detained indefinitely and are left to suffer torture and hardship in Guantanamo Bay prison since they have not been charged or have been cleared for release. Their lives matter as much as anyone else, whether they come from Middle East or America or anywhere else. I learnt that one thing we can do is to sign a petition for the US government to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and to proceed to close the prison, as mentioned in the website below.

“That is why I am calling on United States Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.

It is probably no surprise that human rights and activist groups like Amnesty International, the Center For Constitutional Rights, and Witness Against Torture have been outspoken critics of Guantanamo. It may surprise you that a former U.S. military prosecutor and many other retired senior U.S. military officers and members of the intelligence community agree with them.

The humane thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo. Please join us in the fight by signing this petition.”

(From “Petition for President Obama to close detention facility at Guantanamo Bay“)

Guantanamo Bay hunger strike sparks national protests

It is good to know at least Americans are taking up the cause of protesting in Times Square and other places in USA to raise awareness on the hunger strikes in Guantanamo, so that more people can urge the government to close the detention centre. Some articles note that the longer the government prolongs this decision, the more outrage may arise over the injustice, which may indirectly spark more potential terrorism in future, whereas releasing the detainees is less risky since they can still be monitored. Besides, 86 of them have been cleared for release, so they have every right to be set free, which is in line with international laws.

“But even if another outrage were to happen, the evil of “Gitmo” has recruited far more people to terrorism than a mere 166. Mr Obama should think about America’s founding principles, take out his pen and end this stain on its history.”

(From “Prison deeply un-American, disgrace, it needs to be closed rapidly, enough to make you gag“)

I have checked out the video update, and like what the representative of the Centre of Constitutional Rights said, while it is good that the US president has said he is for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention centre because it is unjust and unsustainable, she felt that action needed to be carried out as soon as possible, and it was within the president’s power to veto the congress’ reluctance and to appoint people who have the backing and authority to be in charge of closing the detention centre. And yes, the priority is to first set the 86 detainees who have been cleared free to go back to their home countries where their families are waiting for them.

In view of the apparent lack of action from the US government so far, it seems the main way for the freedom of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to materialise is for the rest of us is to continue supporting the cause for the freedom of the prisoners in whatever ways we can. I have googled about this issue earlier today, and it seems there are no major updates on the government’s part so far, except for some supporters’ blogs such as this one.

“According to the ACLU, there are two essential steps the president can take. One is to appoint a senior point person so that the administration’s Guantanamo closure policy is directed by the White House and not by Pentagon bureaucrats. The president can also order the secretary of defense to start certifying for transfer detainees who have been cleared, which is more than half the Guantanamo population.”

(From “Why I am on a hunger strike to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison”)