|Finally, two reports by two very brave and insightful journalists give us a little glimpse of how ordinary people become extraordinary in difficult circumstances.
Vivian Fernandes (Brazil) writes of her visit into the jungles of Colombia to meet with guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN). ‘Where the transnational companies operate’, Lucia – a member of the ELN tells Vivian – ‘is where the State is’. The State is the bulldozer and security guard of the monopoly firms. It does not focus on the facilitation of housing and education, health and culture for the people.
Niren Tolsi (South Africa) writes of his visit to Sri Lanka, where the insurgency has been killed off and hope lives only in the margins. Expectations are low here. Thousands of people, including children, are still missing after the horrific end to the Civil War. The Office of Missing Persons is silent. Where are our children buried, people ask? ‘Something more than nothing’, says a human rights worker.
It is a bright, cold day today. I am reading one of Korea’s great poets, Shin Kyong-nim. He reminds me of how important it is to write and speak and agitate for something better. Even in the worst days of the military dictatorship in South Korea, he wrote with feeling about the need for organisation and change. In 1973, Shin Kyong-nim published a book called Nong-mu (Farmers’ Dance). In it was this poem, The Way to Go, translated by Brother Anthony (An Sonjae):
We gathered, carrying rusty spades and picks.
In the bright moonlit grove behind the straw sack storehouse,
first we repented and swore anew,
joined shoulder to shoulder; at last we knew which way to go.
We threw away our rusty spades and picks.
Along the graveled path leading to the town
we gathered with only our empty fists and fiery breath.
We gathered with nothing but shouts and songs.
Our image this week (see below) is of Marielle Franco (1979-2018), who was killed nine months ago this week. Marielle – as she is now known – was a black woman, a socialist, a LGBTQ militant and a mother. She was born and raised in the Complex da Maré, a major favela (informal settlement) in Rio de Janeiro. After a friend was tragically shot to death in the crossfire between the police and drug traffickers, Marielle entered the world of politics. She wanted to put an end to this kind of violence. Elected as a councillor in Rio, she served as the president of the Women’s Commission. Her voice – her proud, loud voice – against violence in her home and in homes that resembled her own, such as the home of the members of AbM in South Africa, was what somebody silenced. We honour her courage and her strength and ask again, who killed Marielle? Will the killers of Marielle and Gauri Lankesh (India), Suad al-Ali (Iraq) and Hrant Dink (Turkey) and so many others be made to relinquish their chairs of authority?
PS: please find our previous newsletters and dossiers, working documents and notebooks at our website in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish (with some material in Turkish!).