FLASHPOINT Human Rights Film Festival
Mumbai : December 8 - 10, 2010 @ Alliance Francaise
New Delhi : January 20 - 22, 2011 @ Alliance Francaise
FLASHPOINT Human Rights Film Festival brings together eight extraordinary films from around the world that deal with human rights issues at macro as well as micro level; from global concerns to indigenous issues. These films urge us to reflect, react, revolutionalize and act as a ‘flashpoint’ to usher in change.
The four day festival to be held in Mumbai between December 8-10, 2010 and in New Delhi between January 20-22, 2011 would include special focused thematic screenings and discussions on Human Rights Day (December 10th).
REBIYA KADEER, Human Rights Activist, Uyghur (nominated thrice for Nobel Peace Prize)
It is with great pleasure that I send you this message of solidarity and welcome as you attend the Flashpoint Human Rights Film Festival in India. Although I am unable to attend the festival myself, I strongly support the festival and its underlying message of giving a voice to the oppressed through film. Films are a powerful medium through which to tell the stories of people whose stories might otherwise never be told; films resonate with audiences in ways that stir emotions and build momentum for change. A recurring theme of the films showcased by the Flashpoint Human Rights Festival is the rights of women and children throughout the world; women’s rights and women’s voices are all too often suppressed. Despite this, women are often the ones who bravely speak out against human rights abuses and protest against oppression.
I am especially pleased that the film Ten Conditions of Love, which highlights the persecution of the Uyghur people, is being shown in India for the first time. As a vibrant democracy, India is playing host to films that may not see the light of day in other countries. Ten Conditions of Love is banned in China, because the Chinese regime has criminalized the Uyghur voice and branded Uyghurs a threat to the state. However, China’s restrictions on the film have extended beyond its own borders; Chinese officials have also attempted to stop the screening of the film in the democratic nations of Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan. What Chinese officials did not realize is that in pressuring democracies not to show the film, this only created more interest among audiences wishing to hear the story of the Uyghur people and why the Chinese government was attempting to stifle our voice.
It means a great deal that Ten Conditions of Love will be shown here in India, where diversity is encouraged and many different voices contribute to society. The struggle of the Uyghur people for freedom and justice in the face of tyranny has many parallels to other films that will be shown at the festival. My heart goes out to the Women in White, who have peacefully protested against political persecution carried out by Fidel Castro in Cuba; the women in Algeria, shown in Song for Amine, who campaign for the rights of the “disappeared”; and the Women in Shroud in Iran who protest peacefully against unthinkable forms of cruelty.
Uyghur women and children are today struggling against the weight of an authoritarian regime in China. My family is symbolic of the many thousands of families throughout East Turkestan who are suffering under China’s communist regime. Just as Chinese officials have imprisoned my sons and persecuted my relatives because of my international human rights advocacy, many mothers, wives and sisters throughout East Turkestan are mourning the imprisonment, torture and even execution of their loved ones for simply speaking out. If you are a Uyghur, you may be jailed simply for practicing your religion according to your beliefs, or for petitioning the authorities for the whereabouts of a family member who has been imprisoned. You may be tortured simply for asking for just compensation for land that has been stolen from you. Speaking out is not tolerated.
Instead of encouraging Uyghur women to participate in society, the Chinese government is preventing Uyghur women from contributing their valuable talents. After I began a movement in the 1990s that supported women in building businesses, helping their families and fighting against drugs and crime, we began to be successful in our efforts, but Chinese authorities soon put a stop to our initiative because we were not organized by the state.
Today, Uyghur mothers fear for their teenaged daughters, who are being forcibly sent thousands of miles away to eastern China to work in terrible conditions, and who may never come back home. They also fear for the future of their children who remain in schools in East Turkestan, as Chinese authorities have stripped away their right to learn in their native language and enforced a policy of Chinese-only instruction.
I ask you, the audience, to watch Ten Conditions of Love, and learn about the plight of the Uyghur people. You can help us to have a voice, and spread the word in Indiaabout our struggle. I hope that after watching this film, you will tell your friends and family about the Uyghurs; work with human rights groups to raise awareness about our issues; and contact your lawmakers to take action. In India, you have the freedom to speak out about the injustices taking place in East Turkestan, Iran,Algeria, and Cuba. After the screen goes dark and the lights come on, please remember us.
ALIM SEYTOFF, Director, Uyghur Human RightsProject, Washington, USA
Thank you very much for including Ms. Kadeer's "10 Conditions of Love" at your film festival. It means a lot to us. It is really great that the people in Indiawill have an opportunity to see the terrible treatment of Uyghurs under China's brutal rule. This will help correct the misconception of some people have that China was somehow fighting Uyghur Muslim insurgents. In fact, the treatment of Uyghurs under the Chinese rule is not any different, if not worse, than the treatment of Indians under the British rule. It is both colonial occupation.