The Price of Silence

Cool dream of United Nations delegates dancing to a song of freedom. Video is 14 years old or so.

Laurence Fisburne delivered the prologue written by Alicia Partnoy, who survived two years of prison in Argentina during that country’s “Dirty War.”

These are not just words tattooed on paper
No prison cell, no border fence, no torture will stop our plea
No stone, no stain will mar the river of our dignity
My child, for you today our voice befriends the winds-

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Not one nation dissented (though a few abstained). The declaration says that every human being deserves dignity, freedom and respect. There are those who say it’s the first blueprint for global rights, establishing fundamental freedoms for every human being.

In 2008 Amnesty International reminded of that declaration with a multi-cultural video. “The world’s leaders owe an apology for failing to deliver on the promise of justice and equality” in the declaration, according to the organization.

Sixteen international musicians collaborated on a music video in a reminder. The video featues artists who personally fled oppressive regimes:
Yungchen Lhamo (Tibet) was born in a Chinese labor camp and left Tibet in 1989 at the age of 22, trekking across the Himalayas with her two-year old son to escape oppression from the Chinese regime.
Alicia Partnoy is a survivor from the secret detention camps where about 30,000 Argentineans “disappeared.”
Emmanuel Jal was born in during war in Sudan in the early 1980s. He was taken from his family home in 1987 when he was six years old, and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan’s bloody civil war as a child soldier. He recorded the day after appearing at the United Nations General Assembly to speak of his experiences as a youth.
Chiwoniso relocated from Zimbabwe to the United States in August of 2008, removing herself and her two children from the political and economic unrest there.
Other artists include Hugh Masekela, Julieta Venegas, , Angelique Kidjo, Aterciopelados, Yerba Buena, Natacha Atlas, Rachid Taha, Kiran Ahluwalia, Natalie Merchant and Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5.

Link TV, Nacional Records, Aterciopelados, music producer Adres Levin (and his organization Music Has No Enemies) and video director Josh Atesh Litle helped create the video.

“The Price of Silence” was released as Barack Obama was prepared to take the office of President of the United State and for the 60th anniversary of the declaration. It was premiered for the New York Society for Ethical Culture in an evening titled “Every Human Has Rights: Hope for Human Rights in an Era of New Leadership.” On stage were Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 through 2002), Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook, biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt, and Samuel Kofi Woods, labor minister of Liberia.

In the video, actors were intercut with footage from the United Nations delegates opening proceedings in September of 2008. Sixty actors performed in front of a green screen to create a digital UN.

Litle saw hip-hop as the protest music of the new generation. Levin was nominated for a Grammy and was co-founder of Music Has No Enemies.

Amnesty International USA requested a meeting with Obama to discuss the human rights agenda of a new administration. In the first 100 days, Amnesty called for a plan and date for the closure of Guantánamo, an executive order to ban torture as defined under international law, and an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the United States in its “war on terror.”


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