16November2018

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

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!

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To The Editor

It’s about the devastation and destruction of indigenous peoples’ lands and cultures around the world. I’d like to release it as a commemoration of the very recent, tragic events in northern Peru - in which policemen and an unknown number of indigenous people were killed. Many are still missing.

It particularly criticises the failure of people to speak out against this devastation and destruction. I offer it as a part acknowledgment of what has happened, and as a rallying-cry for doing all we can to stop it continuing.

It’s called ‘They came’ and is a re-working of a poem with the same title about the Jewish Holocaust, attributed to Martin Niemoller.

James Pliny