“Art really saved my life, literally and figuratively. If you were to imagine being in a cell where I could not even stretch my arms out like this, it was a 4 foot by 9 foot cell, sitting there 23 hours of the day and every time I came out I was shackled and chained like some imaginary monster… Under these circumstances, it was really hard to try to keep hope and maintain everything that you need to maintain to actually survive – and art for me did that… Those of us who are fighting against this thing, we have to keep our hands all over it, we have to. Because I’m telling you that if it weren’t for people like the one in this room and around the world who are fighting against this thing, I’m telling you, I wouldn’t be standing here. It was that that gave me hope, that allowed for me to get up every day and maintain hope and try to put my best foot forward even in the face of hopelessness. I still got up… Two years after my imprisonment my mother was killed in a car accident. And, it’s really hard for me, I get emotional even when I think about it actually, yeah… The worst thing that can happen to someone sitting in prison – I know, it’s true in life, really – but especially in prison, you have no control and the worst thing that can happen is for people to come to you and say ‘Listen, you need to make a phone call home’. Because you know when they come and do this, something has happened to somebody at home, it’s got to be serious for them to give you a free phone call. And when people came to my door… I was thinking the whole time ‘What my mother going to tell me when I get down there what happened to somebody else?’ But when I got down there it was my sister telling me what happened to my mother… For the first three day after that, if my eyes was open I was crying. If I wasn’t crying, I was balled up in a tear-soaked sleep, trying to escape that reality…
Three days after I am laying down, couldn’t get out of bed, didn’t want to get out of bed, my mother came to me as clear as I’m standing here now and the only thing she said was ‘Get up’. It was after that, when I’m sitting in this cell… and I’m looking at this picture I wanted to send her, that’s when art found me… And it was through art that I found freedom, sitting in that cell.”
1 “Message by the UN Secretary-General for the 2018 Human Rights Day”, [see: http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/sgmessage.shtml].
2 “70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet”, [see: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.
aspx?NewsID=23983&LangID=E]. 3 “Statement by Special Procedures on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2018”, [see: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23991&LangID=E].
3 Joint Statement of UN Independent Experts, 7th World Congress against the death penalty.
4 UN General Assembly, “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, UN Treaty Series, vol. 999, 1966, p.171.
5 Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 36 on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the Right to Life, CCPR/C/GC/36, United Nations, 30 October 2018
6 UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, United Nations, 1984.
1 He noted that the information available refers only to LGBT people; no data is available on intersex persons.
1 At: http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/delegations/nepal/documents/eu_nepal/eu_guidelines_on_death_penalty_en.pdf.