Our planet is at a critical point in time. We understand more than we ever have about our planet, yet it is under even more of a threat. Today, an increasing number of people find themselves having to defend their homeland, their villages, from corporations or state-run enterprises that seek to destroy them for their own profit, regardless of those affected. These are HRDs (Human Rights Defenders).
Around the world HRDs have lost their lives for protecting a wide range of environmental values and human rights ranging from exposing waste-dumping, illegal deforestation, and land grabs, to opposing the construction of polluting coal plants and mines.
Music for Human Rights Defenders (#music4HRDs) aims to bring the Classical music community together to show their support for HRDs who are fighting around the world and to the families of those who have been murdered.
String players, learn how you can take part.
In Thailand, research by the NGO Protection International documented over 59 cases of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) who have been murdered or abducted in the last 20 years. This makes Thailand one of the worst offenders in terms of violence against HRDs and demands international attention to ensure everyone in Thailand has the right to defend their rights and freedoms without fear of threats or attack.
Across the country, villagers who have simply tried to protect their homes and communities have been abducted or shot dead. Very few charges have ever been laid against the perpetrators of any of these crimes as the influence of the powerful can easily override justice. The effect of these assassinations on a small community’s struggle can be devastating and rampant impunity puts community-based HRDs at high risk of violence and injustice.
This project is a tribute to those Thai Human Rights Defenders who have lost their lives over the last 20 years. Photographer, Luke Duggleby, created the 35-photo essay, For Those Who Died Trying, by driving almost 10,000 km, visiting the families or friends of the victims and requesting a portrait of each person. The portrait of the Human Rights Defender was then taken to and placed at the exact location where they were murdered or disappeared; representing the last time they were ever seen alive.
The silent portraits, looking small and vulnerable in their settings…looking back at the viewer from the scene of their last terrifying moments. – The New York Times
Frank interviews Pranom Somwong, Thai Human Rights Activist, Lawyer affiliated with Protection International (start listening at 28:30)
A MESSAGE FROM THE COMPOSER
Inspired by the stories of these HRDs and Luke’s photos, I composed The Thailand HRDs, a 70-minute, 35-movement string quartet utilizing just the musical pitches/letters found in the names of each victim – implanting their unique musical DNA in every piece. The music is not intended to be purely melancholic but have a tinge of defiance so that these deaths do not mark an end but a continuation of the fight. My goal was to make a powerful artistic statement in bringing awareness to an issue that has received very little attention in the western media.
I hope that all these string quartets performing my composition can shed light on the heroism of these Thai HRDs and HRDs around the world to ensure that their work will not go unnoticed.
– Frank Horvat, composer
ABOUT FRANK HORVAT
One of the most inventive songwriters to come out of the contemporary scene in Canada (WholeNote Magazine), this award-winning composer’s music explores a wide array of themes from love to social justice issues. Musically emotional and intense, Frank Horvat is an accomplished multi-genre composer and pianist who has made the tricky musical leap that allows him to pursue a niche of his own (Edmonton Journal). With a continuously growing discography and composition premieres on four continents, his works have been featured in plays, films, and on TV and radio networks internationally. Discover his latest projects at www.frankhorvat.com.
A BIG THANK YOU to those who have inspired #music4HRDs
An award-winning British freelance documentary and portrait photographer, Luke Duggleby has been based in Bangkok for over a decade. Traveling the globe yet focusing on Asia he undertakes assignments and works on personal projects all over the continent for many of the worlds most respected publications and NGOs. For Those Who Died Trying has been exhibited across Europe and Thailand including the UN Headquarters in Geneva and the European Parliament in Brussels, and was the topic of a TEDx talk he gave in early 2018. His work can be viewed on www.lukeduggleby.com.
An international non-profit organisation that supports human rights defenders at risk worldwide since 2004. Protection International works with local partners in over thirty countries, empowering defenders and demanding from those who have the responsibility to protect them to fulfill this obligation. Building upon a foundation of research, partnership, and fieldwork, Protection International finds durable solutions to protection issues and builds the capacity of defenders to manage their own protection effectively and holistically. Learn more about their work at www.protectioninternational.org.
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, it set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Please meditate on:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Everyone has the right to education
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author.