“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”(Margaret Mead)
Last Summer, a small group of thoughtful, committed Sikh youth from the DC Metropolitan area came together to form “Lahir” (movement) – a conference organized and run by high school and college students to promote human rights awareness.
There were three themes to the event. Educate, Inspire, and Act. The “Educate” segment consisted of a series of short presentations outlining the history of post-1984 human rights violations in Punjab, based on published documentation from Ensaaf
. These presentations interspersed with videos of the victim’s families told the story of grave violations that occurred between 1984-1995 during the counter-insurgency movement – including torture, disappearances, and illegal cremations. The “Inspire” segment consisted of poetry, spoken word, and musical performances along the same theme. In the final portion, titled “Act”, participants broke out in to discussion groups and brainstormed ideas on how the Punjab case can be raised to a mainstream audience and reviewing what other communities have done to highlight their cause. Overall, the conference was a resounding success and launched several new initiatives.
This Summer, the Lahir team has re-assembled and Sikh youth activists and artists from all over the country will again descend upon the Nation’s Capital for Lahir 2009! This year’s format is an all-out ‘Open Mic’ with musical performances, displayed art, poetry, and spoken word. Trailers
have been circulating around the internet, providing a glimpse
of what to expect.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, I feel the message and tone of our protest of 1984 has evolved little in 25 years, and as a result has yielded little return. The struggle for justice has been minimized to angry slogans and accusatory speeches…much of which has turned off so many of my generation, to a point where any time “1984″ is brought up, the inevitable “rolling of the eyes” follows.
A small yet growing group of Sikh youth has emerged…with amazing creative talent and a passion for truth and justice. They have molded the stories of pain, suffering, inspiration, and courage of our last 25 years of history and crafted it into a beautiful mosaic of music, art, poetry, and film. Lahir 2009 will put such passion on display. It will surely be a memorable event…don’t miss out!
Details are as follows:
Saturday, July 18th 2009 – Doors Open @ 6PM!
University of Maryland, Shady Grove Center
9630 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, MD 20850