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Human Rights Poem: What do You Wear to Get Arrested?

Updated on February 3, 2016
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I started writing poetry as a child. I write performance poetry, observational, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious human rights issues

In Many Countries Political Dissenters Are Treated With Excessive Force

Political Idealists and Dissenters, doing no more than exercising freedom of speech for their rights, are treated very violently in many countries. What is particularly worrying is that these are not third world countries - they consider themselves to have an advanced and sophisticated level of civilization.

But what does civilization mean? It's not just about art and culture, it's about people's attitude to Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

Above is the picture of Neda Agha-Soltan as she lay dying in Teheran

It comes from an Iranian video which went viral, and, whilst it might be subject to copyright in Iran, author and original uploader are unknown, and my use of the picture constitutes "fair use" to illustrate the subject of this web page

Neda was killed in Iran in 2009 during the student protests about vote rigging, rounded up and shot, even though she was only a bystander and not actually participating. Her death was caught on video by a very brave photographer and this iconic image was shown around the world within hours, although quickly suppressed in her own country. Regrettably, since then state abuse of human rights seems to have escalated right round the world, and there is a list as long as your arm of countries which give scant regard to the security and rights of their own citizens.

This Web Page is a Snapshot in Time, written on 1st February 2011

I wrote it before the Arab Spring

had really taken hold, and

the poem itself 3 years earlier.

I have thought about updating it,

but that would take away from some of the

immediacy in the announcements.........and,

after all, you know what happened next!

My Poem: What Do You Wear To Get Arrested?

A number of lawyers were arrested in Lahore in 2007 when they joined in a protest against illegal vote-rigging during the Indian elections.

This is the picture which set me writing the poem below -

What Do You Wear To Get Arrested?


Remember - Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Burma


Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. Her struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression.

Just a little update -

I know I said this web page was just a snapshot in time as at 1st February 2011, but I can't resist writing about what I saw on television on 27th March 2013:

Aung San Suu Kyi was sitting next to the generals on Burma Armed Forces Day, reviewing the troops who helped to keep her under house arrest for 13 years. Since she is in power by popular vote, the generals have realized how helpful it is to have her on board to improve their relations and liaise with America. But I do wonder what she was thinking, as she looked on, She must have had very mixed feelings.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree - by Sahar Delijani - First Edition - Published June18 2013

I have just seen the BBC News interview of the author, Sahar Delijani, and she is clearly a rising star, praised by many, including Khaled Husseini (author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) with the book rising quickly in popularity. Her grandfather was arrested in Iran during the 1980s and executed, and her family are now exiles in Canada. She writes poetry in Pharsee (the Iranian language), but prose in English, as she left Iran when she was 12.

You will see from the synopsis below that Sahar writes from her own heartbreaking experience, and pours everything into her novel.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree: A Novel
Children of the Jacaranda Tree: A Novel

A story about three generations of a family in revolutionary Iran, and the horror they experience when a loved one is arrested in front of them, then taken away and executed - How it affects them at the time and in their thoughts about their insecure future in a country still riven by dissent and conflicting ideals.

If you care about human rights, you will certainly want to read this book


The Egyptian Military have stated that they will not use force against Egyptian protesters

1st February 2011 - As I write this, today is the demonstration when

Egyptians hope to have a million people marching.

Their communications have been shut down

and there is a curfew from 3.0 pm.

Let us hope there will be no more deaths!



Apart from all the other horrors and killings

nearly 700 Muslim Brotherhood Supporters

have just been sentenced to death

by the ruling military party -

Fine words which meant nothing

When the chips were down

Egyptian Citizens Have Risen Up in Protest

They want Democracy, and they want it now!

For three decades there has been military rule led by President Mubarak. People are angry because his government have failed to deal with unemployment and there has been financial mismanagement. The Western powers have supported him as an ally, in spite of the fact that there has been no proper Rule of Law, and many dissenters have been tortured in Egyptian prisons. The people have no say, and have had to stay quiet for fear of the consequences.

No-one knows what the knock-on effect of this revolution will be round the world but, one thing is clear - things will never be the same again there, and the rest of the Middle East will feel the effects. We all hope for a peaceful transition.

Please stop for a moment and think of the brave young protesters who lost their lives. And in our hearts, thank them for standing up for justice and human rights.

Breaking News 1st February 2011 - Unofficial - President Mubarak Has Resigned 5.0 pm Egyptian Time

-Tens of Thousands turned out for the March in Cairo.

The military is positively supporting the protesters, and marshalling the peaceful protest.

Sadly, the death toll is approximately 300 over the past week.

In Jordan King Abdullah has just sacked his entire Government, due to protests this week.

In Russia 500 anti-government protesters have just been arrested.

UPDATE 19 SEPTEMBER 2015......Well things have moved on considerably since then, haven't they?

Here's a Chilling Thought - How do we Value our Freedoms?

The UK has more surveillance cameras than anywhere else in the world

And yet British democracy has been the envy of the world - we have:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of religion and religious tolerance
  • The Rule of Law
  • Access to the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Racial equality
  • Women's equality
  • Independence of the Judiciary
  • A generous welfare system to eradicate extreme poverty
  • Free schooling
  • Abolition of the death penalty
  • The universal right to vote

So What Went Wrong?


And what about Syria?

I should write about the abuses in Syria too - I haven't forgotten, but that is a subject for another day.

I have, however, written about chemical warfare, and how these poisonous chemicals work:

What is Ricin?

What is Sarin?

Links to more articles about political prisoners - this time as at August 2014, not 2011 when I started this page - History repeats itself alarmingly

Thankfully I haven't yet lost my ability to be shocked

My Guestbook - Please Give Me Your Feedback Here - What did you think about the subject matter or poem?

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    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 14 months ago from Texas

      Beautiful, poem Diana, and what would I wear to get arrested? On a note of humor, I would wear a pen strip suit.

      Blessings to you my friend.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Your poem, insightful, moving, brought me to tears. So many abuses. I remember well when Neda Agha-Soltan died on the street. Like you, I blogged about her death and the complex politics behind it.

      The US, too, has committed grievous human rights violations. Thankfully, many protest here as well, some willing to cross the line and be arrested. Lately, women protesting the police shooting death of a young San Franciscan dressed to the nines before chaining themselves to vehicles and each other on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

      Thank you for writing this article and for your heartfelt poem.

    • profile image

      Alex Lafleur 2 years ago

      I thought your poem gave voice to the suppressed, to the powerless, and the accompanying text was an A+ work

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Thank you. This needed to be written and you are correct that it is very relevant to today.

    • profile image

      Johng636 3 years ago

      I think this is a real great blog post.Much thanks again. bbddcbdceeed

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @David Stone1: Hard to say, isn't it? Depends on who is doing the arresting and their attitude to the person arrested

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      You've given a touching microcosm of a gigantic problem that exists in too many places. Freedom doesn't come (or go) easily.

      You title reminded me that Wavy Gravy, a lifelong peace activist in the U.S., started wearing clown suits because he found police less likely to abuse him during demonstrations. So, maybe your best suit is a strategic defense.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      A poem with poignant meaning - Greed - absolutely greed and power - funny how the one thing that can't be taken with you is the one thing given so much value (I often wonder if it were a common part of society to be able to communicate with the other side (speaking as a believer in 'the soul living on'), if that would change the 'value' of money, or at least cause thoughts to focus on what's really vital to the soul's ultimate existence and peace)

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Susan300: And always carry pen and paper, secreted if possible, and a camera-phone to record what is happening

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      I don't know whether it's got worse, or whether the wool is just beginning to be lifted from our eyes, and really it has been going on throughout history?

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @ecogranny: Sometimes, seeing so many atrocities on the media, I wonder whether we are still living in the Dark Ages.

    • Susan300 profile image

      Susan300 4 years ago

      What do you wear to get arrested?... Layers. Layers and thick socks.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      The poem is telling, insightful, accessible and moving. I thank you for writing it, for letting your heart guide you, and for sharing it here on Squidoo. This marks the second time today I have been surprised by a truly thoughtful piece whose primary purpose does not appear to be selling stuff. I cannot tell you how much hope it gives me to find this here.

    • profile image

      grannysage 4 years ago

      The title drew me in and the subject matter kept me here. We have to be vigilant about protecting our rights. Many people have suffered and died to obtain freedom from tyranny. I fear in the US we have been giving away our rights one by one. Where will we end up?

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Virginia Allain: I fear it is a topic which will not go out of fashion in our life-time

    • profile image

      moonlitta 5 years ago

      I guess we have a long road ahead to grow to society and humanity which does respect human rights.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      This really makes one think. good topic.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I thought the poem was excellent - just the right matter-of-fact tone.

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      Regimes can only exist as long as people shut up - too bad that way too many people keep quiet for too long, way too many allow a few to rule them

    • Niki Goddard profile image

      Niki Goddard 7 years ago

      The poem was very thought provoking and it's brave of you to put such personal work up here for everyone to see - it shows how much you care about this topic.

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 7 years ago

      Very tough subject to write about. It's very sad. The poem is very touching but haunting too.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      A unique point of view with a strong message. Great job!