KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Starting yesterday, Amnesty International Malaysia is hosting a weekend festival commemorating Human Rights Day tomorrow with events such as poetry, music performances, art installations, photography exhibitions, and workshops.
Dubbed “We Make Our World: Our Rights are Connected, Our Lives are Intertwined”, its executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv said the watchdog hopes that the younger generation can better grasp the gravity of human rights violations in Malaysia and take active steps towards positive change.
“We hope to attract a lot of people, especially youth to the weekend’s event and let them participate in the booths, workshops for kids in the morning and listen to the various panel discussions on immigration rights, death penalty, police violence and various types of activism.
“We also have poetry reading, social media personalities present and art, lots of art and pictures that will depict the things we’re trying to show in a powerful manner. We also hope many will participate in signing petitions for ceasefire in Gaza and other causes which millions have already done,” she told Malay Mail.
Also commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the festival is held in the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) from 10am to 11pm until Sunday.
Visitors look at a photo exhibition at the festival, held in the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall from 10am to 11pm until Sunday. — Picture courtesy of Amnesty International Malaysia
“Come join us in envisioning a world we can collectively create—where human rights are enjoyed by all— while recollecting how 75 years ago, we were once able to envision a global promise for justice that affirms the worth of all human beings,” she said in a press release earlier this week.
The main focus of the festival would be three exhibitions, all of them debuting for the first time in Malaysia.
Visitors can explore the powerful photo exhibitions Hope and Sorrow, which narrates the poignant stories of families affected by the mandatory death penalty in Singapore. This initiative aims to shed light on the secondary victims of the death penalty — the families whose loved ones face execution.
Three local artists would also debut their work on the theme of “state violence and custodial deaths”, made during a workshop called Drawing Rights organised by Amnesty International Malaysia under the mentorship of artist Rupa Subramaniam.
“The artworks and photographs showcased at the festival challenge us to think deeply about the various manifestations and structures of state violence. By confronting these thought-provoking pieces that illustrate how rights violations impact the lives of individuals and communities that are targeted, we are driven to reflect on what needs to be changed in order for human rights to become truly accessible to all,” said Katrina.
The artworks and photographs showcased at the festival challenge people to think deeply about the various manifestations and structures of state violence, said Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv. — Picture courtesy of Amnesty International Malaysia
Besides the exhibitions, two discussion panels will also be held. Tonight’s topic on “Name the Violence: Analysing Police Brutality and Its Impact on Individuals and Communities” will bring together prominent activists like Melissa Akhir from the Kemban Kolektif, Wong Yan Ke from Suaram, S Thilaga from Justice for Sisters, and Firdaus Husni from Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights.
Tomorrow, another panel on activism between different generations will see Katrina joined by renowned names such as Nalini Elumalai from Article 19, Chee Yoke Ling from Third World Network, feminist technology activist Jac SM Kee, and student activist Sarah Irdina.
The festival will run concurrently with its annual global Write For Rights campaign which brings together millions of people across the globe to take collective action demanding justice and an end to human rights violations.
This year, the campaign focuses on four activists, including young Rohingya refugee Maung Sawyeddollah, who wants to become a lawyer and is seeking reparations from Meta — the parent of social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — for its alleged role in hate crimes in Myanmar.
“I also hope the public will participate and follow us on all our socials and help spread the word,” Katrina told Malay Mail.
“We have many challenges we still face in Malaysia among them restrictions on freedom of expression, civic space impeded, no peaceful assembly, no access to crucial info and censorship of media, which we hope we can make the relevant authorities answer for with our petitions drive.”