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Failure to speak

This poem is particularly intended to criticize the failure of people to speak out against the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world over the last 500 years. I offer it as an acknowledgment of what has happened in the past, and as a call to thought and action for doing what we can to stop it from happening in the future. It is released now to commemorate the recent, tragic violence in northern Peru where policemen and an unknown number of indigenous people were killed following protests against the government.

‘They came’

First they came for the tribes’ land,

said it was empty and stole it,

but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,

and our laws encouraged it.

Then they came for what was under the tribes’ land,

said it was rich and dug it up,

but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,

and our economy needed it.

Then they came for the tribes’ culture,

said it was primitive and destroyed it,

but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,

and our own culture confirmed it.

Finally, they came for the tribes themselves,

said they weren’t real people and killed them,

but still we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,

and our science proved it.

There was no need to come for us

because we were on their side.

No longer!

Now we will speak up!

– James Pliny

London, United Kingdom