Human Rights Poems


(One reader for the three bits in italics, and another for the bits in plain text, readers facing each other)



Under a blazing sun, the tanks advanced in formation.

Pennons flapping in the hot breeze, as they raced through the valley.

Slogans of hate were painted on the tanks’ sides and on each man’s heart.

Suddenly, a roar came out of the distant hills

And caused the warriors to blush in fear.


That deafening noise was the echoes of crying,

That had come from the families of those who had lost loved ones

To the brave shells of the tanks.


And then, a salty rain fell and soaked through the steel of the turrets.


That bitter rain was the tears

Of those who had been killed by the tanks’ servile bullets.


When morning came, all that was left was twelve piles of rust, which were being blown away by a fierce wind.


That wind was the dying screams

of those whose limbs had been torn apart by the

well-greased tracks of the tanks.






Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta

Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta

Sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta

[Hands held in Anjali (As if in prayer) while reciting this. Means, “May all beings be happy”]


The General is annoyed that his breakfast has been rushed

He has important work to do, the protests must be crushed


Before the statue in the temple, he bows his body old and bent,

Amongst the floral offerings, but not awakened by their scent


“May All Beings Be Happy”, he chants the Buddha’s words each day,

Yet never stops to think, “Is killing Monks the Buddha’s way?”


A lotus that can never flower, and not the only one,

Is stuck amongst the weeds to blacken in the sun


No longer the scent of incense, just the stink of decay

That blows through the streets, to welcome the day


No one left to protest, no students left to cheer

Just hordes of angry soldiers who give out pain and fear


No broken Monks are left to fill our T.V. screens

No more cries of protest, just empty silent screams


The General’s busy on the phone, Business deals to do

The wide world is his Market, especially India, and China too


No one left to protest, for no one in Burma is free

No one left to protest, except for you and me









In the Park, screams and crying,

As children play, under the steady gaze of the watchers who see and hear everything!

The watchers are waiting. Waiting for the right moment to pounce



Shadows cast shadows, in a world of black and grey

I would give you my smile, if I had one, to wrap up tight and take away

All the gifts I can give are, like me, past their best:

Doubts and worries, fears and pain, and memories, and the rest

You think you know me? Know my heart? Know my mind?

Think again.


Shadows cast shadows,

I give to you dark gifts from the night

When you have been changed by my gifts,

Pass them on. Pass them on!

Shadows cast shadows

My father’s friend came to see me. They told me it was, “a long time ago”.

He came in the night.


Took my smile and my youth

Took my heart and my mind

Took my hope and my love,

All that I had

The coins he paid me with were anger and hate


I am a shadow



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