String Quartets Take a Stand for Human Rights Defenders

Social media campaign #music4HRDs spreads around the globe as quartets video themselves performing a piece dedicated to a HRD who has been murdered or abducted

16/11/2018 - Brussels, BE: In conjunction with today’s release of the string quartet album For Those Who Died Trying and leading up to the United Nation’s World Human Rights Day (Dec 10), we announce #music4HRDs, the first social media awareness initiative that unifies music and the work of human rights defenders. #music4HRDs brings the classical music community together to show their support for HRDs who are fighting through injustices and violence perpetrated against them, as they are trying to protect important environmental, land and human rights. The Mivos Quartet (NYC), Cong Quartet (Hong Kong), Bennewitz Quartet (Prague), and Nordic String Quartet (Copenhagen) are a short list of global quartets lending their musicality to this initiative.

“As performers of contemporary works, it is important to us to utilize the power of music to shed light on meaningful issues affecting the world today.” - MIVOS Quartet

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. Very few charges have ever been laid against the perpetrators of any of these crimes.

Protection International, an international human rights NGO, previously commissioned photographer Luke Duggleby and composer Frank Horvat to create art around 35 stories of 37 murdered or missing HRDs in Thailand. In the last 20 years, more than 59 Thai environmental activists and human rights defenders have been killed or abducted. This makes Thailand one of the worst offenders in terms of violence against HRDs. “We wanted this project to expose the situation of human rights defenders in Thailand and support their legitimate quest for justice.” said Liliana De Marco Coenen, Executive Director of Protection International.

As the world begins celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights defenders and the 70th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights on December 10th, #music4HRDs reminds us that there is still so much to do. It is vital, for the victims and their families, that their fight and their deaths are not forgotten and left unrecognized. Recognising those who died trying as HRDs and a better administration of justice are critical steps to end these killings. #music4HRDs is helping shed light on this, making it harder for the perpetrators to remain under the radar and continue this cycle of violence. Enforced disappearance is a reality around the world.

“Collaborating with artists like Luke and Frank, and now these great string quartets, has been moving for us and we believe the public will be inspired by these videos. We hope to see more artists following their path and join human rights defenders in their struggles.” concluded De Marco.


UPDATES - #music4HRDs

The latest information and videos from the string quartets can be found at #music4HRDs or www.music4HRDs.com

ABOUT THE MUSIC

Canadian composer, Frank Horvat (www.frankhorvat.com), composed the 70-minute, 35-movement piece, The Thailand HRDs, based on each photo in Luke Duggleby’s photo essay, For Those Who Died Trying. Each movement presents one photo in a 2-minute classical string-quartet composition utilizing just the musical pitches/letters found in the names of each victim – implanting their unique musical DNA in every piece. “This music is not intended to be purely melancholic but have a tinge of defiance so the memory of these heroes lives on and will hopefully spur listeners to find their inner activist and fight for what they feel is important in this world,” explains Frank Horvat, the composer.

The piece was premiered this August, in Toronto, by the world-renowned Mivos Quartet from New York City. It releases on November 16 on the album, For Those Who Died Trying, on the ATMA Classique label.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ESSAY

Thai-based photographer Luke Duggleby (www.lukeduggleby.com) created the photo essay For Those Who Died Trying, which looks to remember those who died defending human rights and protecting the environment by placing a portrait of the victim at the exact location, when possible, where they were murdered or went missing. “It is vital, for the victims and the families, that their fight and their death should not be forgotten and left unrecognized,” commented Luke Duggleby, the photographer.

This photo exhibition was launched in Bangkok in 2017 with the support of the Canadian Embassy in Thailand. Other exhibitions took place in Geneva; Brussels and Mechelen in Belgium; Pamplona, Spain; the Netherlands; Toronto, Canada; and in Paris this October at the HRD World Summit. “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

In order to celebrate Human Rights Day, the Thai National Human Rights Commission is honouring Luke Duggleby and the women’s department of the grass-roots organisation, The Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT), of which, four members (two women and two men), were included in the photo essay, at a ceremony in Bangkok on December 11th.

ABOUT PROTECTION INTERNATIONAL

International non-profit organization that provides protection strategies and tools for security management to human rights defenders who are at risk. www.protectioninternational.org

To schedule interviews or for more information please contact: Lisa Horvat <lisa [at] frankhorvat.com> (1-416-434-7870) and/or  Claudia Lotzwig <clotzwig [at] protectioninternational.org>.

Open and download the press release.