Created in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) set forth the basic rights of every human being, yet 60 years later in places the world over, violence, poverty and oppression hold sway.
To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR, and to remind the world that violations of Human Rights are unacceptable anywhere, at any time, Link TV has produced a video, "The Price of Silence" for Amnesty International.
Set in the United Nations, the artists appear on the stage of the General Assembly, flanked by huge screens whose images reflect the lyrics, or project performances from foreign locations. Starting with just Stephen Marley, the performance grows until a full band occupies the stage, singing and rapping, and the delegates are out of their chairs, cheering and dancing.
"The Price of Silence" is a true labor of love, the result of generous donations of time and talent on both sides of the camera. The song is based on "Cancion Protesta" which was donated by Aterciopelados and Nacional Records, produced by Andres Levin through Music Has No Enemies, and performed by an all star cast of international artists who have added their own lyrics. All of them are human rights activists and several are refugees. The video was directed by Joshua Atesh Litle, and although everyone looks like they are performing at the U.N., in fact all the artists and delegates were composited in through the visual effects wizardry of The Syndicate in L.A., Phoenix Editorial | Designs in San Francisco, and a team of NY-based artists.
Listen: These are not just words tattooed on paper No prison cell, no border fence, no torture well will stop our plea No stone, no stain will mar the river of our dignity My child, for you today our voice befriends the winds- Listen….
Verse (Stephen Marley & Natalie Merchant) This is for the orphan children And for all the refugees The disappeared, the bombing victims Don’t get ratings on TV
Verse (Spanish: Julieta Venegas & Andrea Ecehverri) Contra los arma-guerras Contra las discriminaciones Contral los violadores Contra la malas vibras
Chorus We are all in this together Brothers and sister, we can do better! Raise your voices to the sky The Price of Silence is much too high
Yungchen Lhamo (Sings part of a Tibetan prayer for peace)
Verse (Angelique Kidjo) We say no to the war makers Going on a killing spree We say no to all dictators Speaking their hypocrisy
Chorus (Spanish: Julieta, Andrea, Cucu Duamantes and Perdro Martinez) Todos los seres humanos nacemos libres, nacemos hermanos no hablenmos mas- es tiempo de armar un mejor mundo de amor e egualdad
Pedro and Cucu sing first Yoruban Chant
"To OBATALA, who with his white mantel walks the world in search of peace and love"
Chiwoniso overlaps in Shona: Raise your fist with strength Raise your leg and dance Raise your voice and speak Those are things of strength
Rachid Taha & Kiran Ahulwalia (Bridge to rap section, sung in Arabic & Urdu)
Rachid: This song speaks of freedom This song speaks of love This song speaks of peace (2X)
Kiran: Leave hatred behind
Emmanuel Jal (Rap): Does the human right law apply for the Blacks? Imagine if there was a genocide in Spain or somewhere in Bahrain? I see too many papers getting signed and nothing getting done Young children in the battlefields firing guns I, Emmanuel Jal, war child born in war-torn Sudan Lost my childhood, was it really God's plan? Yani di Gany Yani di Gany (who is to blame, Who is to blame) I blame the Man My heart goes for little Mohammed Who lost both his mom and dad In a bomb blast in Baghdad
Stephen Marley (Rap) No more words and pretty phrases, No more speeches and delay While you talk the world is waiting Gotta act on what you say!
Hugh Masekela (Rap) If you’re not jealous of your freedom You’re going to find yourself in serfdom If you’re not jealous of your liberty You’re going to find yourself in slavery, Fight for your rights!
Chali 2na (Rap) Jump up Raise ya fist up Against injustice Display resistance We use music To make a difference If you don’t agree then Keep your distance. Dedicated to disaster victims Poor people of vast descriptions The faces you won't see televised Rid the world of the killin' and the genocide
Spanish Verse (Andrea Echeverri & Julieta Venegas) A favor de los derechos A favor de la dignidad A favor de los humanos A favor de la verdad Chorus We are all in this together Brothers and sister, we can do better! Raise your voices to the sky The Price of Silence is much too high
ROLL CALL (Various artists)
A world of peace A world of freedom With no disease and no starvation
A world of peace A world of freedom free from fear and discrimination
A world of peace A world of freedom with time for love and education
A world of peace A world of freedom where justice rules in every nation!
Cucu and Pedro and delegates sing 2nd Yoruba chant asking the Orisha Chango for peace.
"Let CHANGO, with all his power bring peace to the wars in the world"
Artist Biographies and Links
The video opens with a prologue written by Alicia Partnoy, a poet and human rights activist who spent two years imprisoned during Argentina’s Dirty War. Laurence Fishburne delivers the message.
Alicia Partnoy is a survivor from the secret detention camps where about 30,000 Argentineans "disappeared." She is the author of The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival, and of the poetry collections Little Low Flying/Volando bajito, and Revenge of the Apple/Venganza de la manzana. Partnoy is an associate professor at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Loyola Marymount University, and presides over Proyecto VOS-Voices of Survivors, an organization that brings survivors of state-sponsored violence to lecture at U.S. universities. Her work has been published in more than twenty anthologies, and in journals in the U.S.A and abroad.
Aterciopelados (Colombia). Aterciopelados is one of Latin America’s most popular rock bands. A collaboration between Colombian musicians Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago, the band won the 2007 Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Album (“Oye”) and in 2001 was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the top 10 contemporary global bands along with U2 and the Rolling Stones. Their songs speak to issues such as human rights, materialism, feminism, and other social matters. The band often performs using “escopeterras”- guitars fashioned out of former machine guns – a gift from peace activist César López in support of the band’s efforts to take guns off the streets of Colombia.
Emmanuel Jal (Sudan). An acclaimed and politically active hip-hop artist, Emmanuel Jal was born in war-torn Sudan in the early 1980s. He was taken from his family home in 1987 when he was six years old, and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan’s bloody civil war. Jal has performed at events such as Bob Geldof’s “Live 8″ UK concert, Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in Hyde Park. An acclaimed documentary film, Warchild was recently made about his life.
Kiran Ahluwalia (India). Born in India and raised in Canada, Kiran Ahluwalia is an acclaimed singer and songwriter who has successfully promoted Indian and Eastern culture and values in a Western context. The 2005 recipient of Canada’s JUNO Award for “Best World Music Album”, Ahluwalia has been actively involved in promoting the protection of women’s rights as through her involvement with the Guira Foundation in India which fights to prevent trafficking of women and girls. She continues to promote cultural and ethnic tolerance and understanding through her work.
Natacha Atlas (Belgian/Arabic). Singer-songwriter Natacha Atlas is known both for her exciting fusions of Arabic melisma with electronica and her lyrics promoting peace and ethnic and religious tolerance. Born in Belgium to a father of Moroccan, Egyptian, Jewish, and Palestinian descent and a British mother converted to Islam, Atlas always knew “that it [was] important to be tolerant”. In 2001, Atlas was appointed by Mary Robinson as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Conference Against Racism.
Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe). A devoted advocate for human rights and social justice, Chiwoniso was raised both in Zimbabwe and the U.S. in a musical family (both parents were musicians) and is a charismatic singer and virtuoso mbira player. The outspoken popular music star recently relocated from Zimbabwe to the United States in August 2008, removing herself and her two children from the political and economic unrest there.
Laurence Fishburne (United States). Laurence Fishburne is an award-winning actor, playwright and producer known for his incredible talent as an artist as well as his dedication to humanitarian causes. Fishburne has performed to much acclaim in TV, theatre and blockbuster film productions, but recognition for his humanitarian work has been equally as strong. Fishburne is a UNICEF ambassador, and in 2007 he was honored with the Harvard Foundation's Artist of the Year award at the annual Cultural Rhythms show, in recognition of his prowess as an entertainer and his humanitarian pursuits.
Angelique Kidjo (Benin). One of world music's best known divas and a tireless activist for human rights, Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy award-winning, Benin-born singer who has collaborated with artists such as Dave Matthews, Josh Groban, Alicia Keys and Carlos Santana among many others. Political conflicts in her native Benin led Kidjo to relocate to Paris around 1982 and she currently resides with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Kidjo has lent her voice and time to numerous social causes including women’s rights, Control Arms with Amnesty International and Oxfam, and UNICEF where she is a Goodwill Ambassador.
Yungchen Lhamo (Tibet) was born in a Chinese labor camp and left Tibet in 1989 at the age of 22, trekking across the Himalayas with her two-year old son to escape oppression from the Chinese regime. During her journey she made a pilgrimage to Dharamsala, to receive the blessings of the Dalai Lama and was inspired to share her culture and educate people about Tibet through her music. Lhamo has collaborated with artists such as Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow and Natalie Merchant, bringing her traditions to new audiences.
Stephen Marley (Jamaica). The second son of the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, Stephen Marley has produced five Grammy award-winning albums and has recently taken center stage as an enticing vocalist who makes music with heart and message. Marley continues his father’s tradition of producing music that communicates the importance of combating political oppression and expresses the realities of poverty and legal injustice in today’s society.
Visit Stephen Marley's official site Hugh Masekela (South Africa). This legendary musician, composer and singer has used his music to help fight Apartheid and advocate for human rights for decades. Following the March 21, 1960, Sharpeville Massacre - where 69 peacefully protesting Africans were shot dead - Masekela left the country beginning a long exile. He had hits in the United States with the pop jazz tunes "Up, Up and Away" and the number one smash "Grazin' in the Grass" (1968), which sold four million copies. In 1987, his hit single "Bring Him Back Home" became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela. He now resides in South Africa.
Visit Hugh Masekela's official site Natalie Merchant (United States). Natalie Merchant is one of the most prominent and socially conscious progressive/folk music artists in recent times. First as lead singer and songwriter of 10,000 Maniacs and then as an acclaimed solo artist, Natalie Merchant has achieved international renown for the literary quality of her songs and her unique, contralto voice. Her album “Motherland” was released in 2001 shortly after the events of 9/11 and addresses issues of global conflict and oppression. Merchant has also actively lent her support to many important social causes including the fight against AIDS, the freedom of Tibet and the struggle with homelessness across the United States.
Visit Natalie Merchant's official site Rachid Taha (France/Algeria). Born in Oran, Algeria, Taha is based in Paris. He generally sings in Arabic and his music is influenced by many different styles such as rock, techno and raï. Taha has recorded several successful albums of his own and collaborated with musicians such as Robert Plant, Patti Smith and Brian Eno. He also famously covered The Clash song “Rock the Casbah” (in Arabic, as "Rock El Casbah"). Taha has always stood up to defend democracy, tolerance and altruism against racism and discrimination.
Visit Rachid Taha's official site Julieta Venegas (Mexico). Born and raised in Tijuana, Julieta Venegas is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who has garnered several Latin Grammy awards for work and recognition for her social activism. Venegas’ unique sound combines accordion, native Mexican rhythms, pop and R&B. Originally trained in cello and violincello, Vengas, has collaborated with iconic Mexican rock bands such as Café Tacuba. Venegas is known for speaking out on politicial injustice lending her time and talents to many Mexican humanitarian causes including demanding equal rights for people living along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Visit Julieta Venegas's official site Yerba Buena (Cuba/USA). The Latin fusion band, Yerba Buena, was founded by producer and guitarist Andres Levin and features dynamic vocalists Cucu Diamantes and Pedro Martinez, Cuban refugees residing in the United States. Yerba Buena’s Latin Grammy award-winning sounds are described by The New York Times as “one of New York’s best dance bands, mixing up the Latin boogaloo of the '60s, Cuban religious music, American soul and Fela-like Afrobeat.” Yerba Buena has performed for many charitable organizations supporting the U.S. Latino and Latin American community. In addition, Levin has worked on a number of benefit albums including the Red Hot series and recently launched Music Has No Enemies to produce music content for social causes.
Chali 2Na (United States) is best known for his work with the highly respected alternative hip hop band Jurassic 5, and the activist Salsa band, Ozomatli. He is also known for his collaborations with other MCs. He is a devout Muslim and his work reflects a deep commitment to family, particularly as reflected in the raising of children. He also featured in the award-winning documentary This is the Life.
Tamer Pinarbasi (Turkey/USA) provides the brilliant kanun work on the "Price of Silence." A member of the New York Gypsy All-Stars Band, Mr. Pinarbasi has become one of the world's great kanun virtuosos. He attended the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory of Turkish Music, where he developed his own technique for playing the instrument, which allows him to use all his fingers while playing. Visit Tamer Pinarbasi's official MySpace page