Human Rights

People get Faces

By Hildur Guðnadóttir

In December 2015 we followed series of events in Iceland that touched most of us. Albanian children with terminal illnesses were deported from Iceland along with their families who had been denied residence permits.
We’ve been following the terror in Syria for 5 years now. We’ve seen children’s bodies been washed ashore after they’ve tried along with their families to escape tragic horrors of war. We see how thousands of refugees held in so-called refugee camps in Greece. People who have risked their lives to escape a war are confined to totally inhumane circumstances. It would be closer to the truth to say that they are being held prisoner.
This situation has been going on for such a long time and so many people suffer that most of us probably experience ourselves as powerless against it. We feel that this is happening so far away from us and surely someone else will come to their rescue.
When it happens in our own garden that terminally ill children are sent away to a place where they will most likely not get the medical assistance that is critical for their survival we can’t restrain ourselves anymore. We strongly object. We stand together and don’t give in until those children have been brought back to safe haven.
It was distressing to watch the series of events unfold in Iceland last December. How people divided into two separate oppositions, for or against. From the countless accounts and articles I read in relation to those events two particularly struck me.
The Minister of Interior was quoted saying:
“I have always found this becoming so extremely difficult once these people get faces.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about what exactly it was that became so difficult. Who “these people” were. Where the border of our compassion lies. When is it that peoples faces become uncomfortable.
The other thing that touched me was a cartoon made by Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir. There she said (to the sick Albanian child) “sorry, my little friend”. This stayed with me. I wanted so much to say sorry to all “these people” that we find so difficult to put a face on. Sorry that we stand by passively. Sorry that we tried all of you in such a horribly way.
I am fully aware of that I can’t change the world by myself. But I can make music and ask the listener to consider the border of his or her compassion and take a stand. If you decide to take a stand with humanity without borders I ask you to act accordingly and take measures in support of the thousands of refugees that have been forced to flee their homes. It can take the form of financial support (big or small), petition signatures, food or clothes donations or just by sharing this message so that more people will take action. Whatever. Just don’t do nothing. This war has now been going on for 5 years and a resolution is not in sight. There is so much we can do to help “these people”. They are not that far away.
I recorded this piece of music in last December and by the irony of fate now, about 3 months later, all kinds of different faces are surfacing. The faces of people that have hidden their business affairs in all sorts of havens. One of those faces is the face of The Minister of Interior, the same one who spoke those words that inspired this music.
I want to make it very clear that this piece of music is not intended in any way as a personal criticism towards her, her work nor her financial affairs. I am sure that her intentions are good. It was just her comment that made me think.
But I can second her when I observe the farcical chaos and complete lack of repentance that has been exposed since the revelation of the Panama Papers and “those people” got faces: I also find “this” extremely difficult.
That is why I sincerely hope that we can continue to stand together and get to a safe haven free from the governance and the politics of our current government.

With hope

Categories: Human Rights

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