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Message on the Wall

Amnesty International collaborates with well-known artist Ullas Hydoor in the city to memorialize the injustice faced by survivors of 1984 Sikh massacre

It’s not every day that you come across someone with spray cans in his hand animatedly paint a wall with a purpose. Recently, Bengaluru-based artist and also architect Ullas Hydoor took over a section of a building wall in the premises of Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Sector 28, Chandigarh.

The artist, who is known for his works in street art, graffiti and public art installations, was in the city on the invitation of Amnesty International India to paint a ‘Wall of Hope’ – a creative effort to memorialize the injustice faced by survivors of 1984 Sikh massacre. 

Message on the Wall, Lifeinchd
Photo By: Sumit Kumar

“It has been a 32 year long wait for justice,” remarked Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Project Head, Justice for 1984 Sikh Massacre Victims Campaign, Amnesty International India.

For the unaware, Amnesty International is a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights with over 7 million members and supporters around the world.

“We are trying to spread awareness about the justice denied to the victims, who have been waiting for over three decades,” informed Wazir as Hydoor began spray painting the wall.

There are many instances in the past where art has been a medium to create awareness and also make a strong statement against injustice in society. This event, explained Wazir, was an attempt to memorialize the struggle that victims of 1984 Sikh massacre have faced.

“They have not given up hope for justice and this wall will be a physical reminder that justice is due. Since November 2014, this campaign has got as many as 6 lakh supporters from Punjab and with elections around the corner we wanted to get a message across to the political parties that promises have to be kept. There are many who have made commitments to the victims and this wall shall be a reminder that those commitments have to be met,” said Wazir who also invited city-based artiste Savita Bhatti to show her support for the campaign.

Message on the Wall, Lifeinchd
Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Hydoor, who has been a supporter of Amnesty International India’s campaigns for over two years now, tells us he was not even born when the 1984 Sikh massacre took place. “I was born in 1988 but when I learnt about the incident and was mature enough to understand, I felt I needed to support the victims, not just as a fellow countryman but as a human being,” said the artist as he created a silhouette of a young Sikh boy and a woman with a dupatta over her head on the wall. Within a few minutes a clearer picture began to emerge. Choosing colours like grey and silver, Hydoor also created a crowd with their hands up in support behind the Sikh images. “As an artist, I don’t think I can pass judgement on an issue but I can create an artwork that can get people to at least think about it. The idea is to get their attention,” said Hydoor as he then proceeded to spray paint the word ‘Hope’.

“Everyone dwells on the past and while that is important, we also need to look at the future. That is why we chose to call it a wall of hope. My work shows people supporting the cause and that’s what I feel should be the case. We can’t give up hope for justice,” remarked Hydoor who worked with Amnesty International India in past for their ‘Ready to Report’ campaign.

“Ready to Report is a campaign to ensure that women who choose to report sexual violence can do so safely and without facing prejudice,” informed the artist who has been working continuously in the field of street art. “It may be a new medium in India but is increasingly finding acceptance. There have been a number of street art projects in the country that have seen success not just as a beautification attempt but as a useful medium to talk about issues in society,” said Hydoor who has been a part of Neighbourhood art festival (Bengaluru), St+Art (Mumbai) and St+Art (Delhi). He also is involved in art direction for films and creative work for some film projects.

What is Art for Amnesty?

Amnesty International believes artists have a unique power to bring people together and to promote change. “More than ever we need creative ways to acknowledge these human stories, to tell the world the truth. Art For Amnesty brings the power, creativity, and passion of people who believe in freedom of expression to projects and campaigns with potential to reach new audiences and inspire creative activism around the world. Even small actions, brought together, have the power to generate great change,” lists its website.

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