Sunday, October 29, 2006

Save the Date! Write-a-thon December 9!

Just a quick note to encourage our Loyal Readers and Friends to save the date, December 9, for our annual International Human Rights Day letter-writing marathon. Amnesty International activists around the world will be writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, torture victims, and other Amnesty campaigns. They will also be sending holiday postcards to prisoners of conscience, to encourage them and keep their spirits up. We'll be doing our part at Cafe Culture in Pasadena from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM hosting a continuous writing session. Please plan to visit us there for a cup of coffee, conversation, and to write a letter or postcard to defend human rights.

Location: Cafe' Culture
1359 North Altadena Drive
(626) 398-8654
(just north of the intersection of Altadena Drive & Washington Boulevard)

If you can't join us, you can download your very own Write-a-thon by visiting Amnesty's Write-a-thon site. You can download actions for kids too! Drop us a line if you work up a stack and we will include you in our letter count!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Catch A Fire

Last weekend I attended a preview screening of Catch a Fire, the new thriller about real-life South African freedom fighter Patrick Chumasso. Director Phillip Noyce and Patrick Chumasso were present for Q&A after the film and a great dialogue about the past, present and future of South Africa ensued. I was ready to give the film a big thumbs up anyway, but now I find that Amnesty has its own little promo page for everyone to take in, including a curriculum guide, trailer, reports on South Africa and other goodies. And please don't overlook the curriculum guide if you aren't a teacher! World music buff that I am, I especially enjoyed all the links in the lesson plan on protest music. Go see the film!

Prisoner of Conscience Shi Tao

Amnesty International USA's Western Region has recently adopted Chinese prisoner of conscience Shi Tao as its "Special Focus" case, so its a good time to review with a few links. AI provides an online action and additional background on the writer's ten year sentence for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities" when he emailed a US-based website, sharing the details of an internal government directive barring media reports that could fuel unrest during the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen. Yahoo! provided information to the government for his prosecution. Human Rights in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Guardian also have profiles of Shi Tao that include links to the poet and journalist's writings. More on Amnesty's campaign against internet censorhip in China here.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pasadena Event: Eric Reeves on Darfur and the Ghosts of Rwanda

This Sunday, October 29, Eric Reeves, Sudan researcher will be speaking at All Saints Church (132 N. Euclid) in the Forum at 10:15 AM.
Darfur and the Ghosts of Rwanda
with activist professor Eric Reeves,
introduced by Bradley Whitford

What are the consequences of continued inaction and diffidence on the part of the international community before the first great genocide of the 21st century? This Sunday Eric Reeves brings his strong critique of those who argue, in effect, for the status quo in Darfur. Over eight years ago, this professor of literature at Smith College in Massachusetts became so agitated about the brutal war in Sudan that he took a leave from his job to go to work on the issue. Reeves has spent the ensuing years working full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both nationally and internationally. He has testified a number of times before Congress, has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan, and frequently provides analysis and commentary to a wide range of news organizations, including the BBC, Radio France Internationale, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post.

Don't miss this opportunity! Check out Reeves' informative blog :: Sudan Research, Analysis, and Advocacy

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Naomi Hirahara at Pacific Asia Museum

Naomi Hirahara, author of (Summer of the Big Bachi) will be speaking at Pasadena's Pacific Asia Museum on Thursday, November 2 at 7 PM. She will be joined by Sujata Massey, author of Girl in a Box, in which Japanese American sleuth Rei Shimura must use all her resourcefulness and unorthodox methods to unmask a killer. Naomi Hirahara's newest novel, Snakeskin Shamisen, finds Mas Arai, one of mystery fiction's most unique heroes, caught up in a dark tale that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A.

Book signing and light refreshments included. Reservations recommended, 626.449.2742, ext. 20. Authors on Asia programs are included in museum admission, $7, $5 and are free for museum members.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Rights Readers Blog Anniversary

Last Tuesday was the one year anniversary of this blog! I decided to defer to World Poverty Day and then some of our local events before making this announcement. But now I've lit a candle to commemorate the occasion. Thanks to all who have encouraged this little experiment throughout the year!

(I borrowed this lovely candle from AIUSA Group 4 - Seattle's site - I recomend a a visit.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Caltech Event: Maquiladora Workers & Activists

Our friends from Caltech's Social Activism Speaker Series are sponsoring a presentation this Friday. We'll have a table at the event - stop by and say hi!

Witness for Peace Southwest Mexico/Border Speaker Tour
Maquiladora Workers & Activists
Friday, October 20, 2006
7:30pm, Baxter Lecture Hall, Caltech
This event is free and open to the public.
More info at Social Activism Speaker Series (SASS) web page.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Shadow Company Screening October 22

Shadow Company Trailer

Amnesty International Group 22 - Pasadena/Caltech is pleased to host a screening of Shadow Company, this Sunday, October 22 at 4:30 PM at the Caltech Y Lounge (1350 San Pasqual Street, Pasadena - map - follow two curving walls forming a gate to a path-- our building is just beyond). The screening is free and there will be refreshments! Discussion and action opportunities will follow film. Please join us!

Film Description:
No one can forget the horrifying images: photos of Iraqis kept at Abu Ghraib prison naked, bleeding, humiliated, and some dead. Since the first reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib became public in 2004, subsequent military investigations have found that contractors and employees of private companies contracted by the U.S. government were involved, along with US soldiers, in the torture and abuse of the detainees.

What you may not know is that the use of these private military contractors (PMCs) in the "war on terror" is expanding, as they fulfill even sensitive military functions, like interrogation and translation services, in addition to logistical support and security services in conflict zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

"Shadow Company," by Nick Bicanic and Jason Bourque, is a documentary film that explores the history of mercenaries, the PMC industry and regulation of it - with exclusive interviews with security contractors, journalists, historians and owners of contracting companies. With tens of thousands of armed contractors in Iraq alone, it is clear that the rules of war have changed - and it is up to everyone to learn how these rules have changed and why.
Amnesty action on military contractors here.

Global Campaign to End Poverty

It's World Poverty Day, so we are providing this pointer to Global Campaign to End Poverty. Amnesty is a partner in this campaign-- see this page for a discussion of Poverty and human rights. And here's an action on forced evictions of the impoverished in Zimbabwe. How appropriate the 2006 Nobel Prize feels for today's theme! Here's Amnesty's press release congratulating Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank on receiving the award. Here's a little video introduction to Grameen's work:

More at the Grameen Foundation website.

Monday, October 16, 2006

For February: The Inheritance of Loss

For February we have selected Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss:
Kiran Desai's first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published to unanimous acclaim in over twenty-two countries. Now Desai takes us to the northeastern Himalayas where a rising insurgency challenges the old way of life. In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered old judge who wants to retire in peace when his orphaned granddaughter Sai arrives on his doorstep. The judge's chatty cook watches over her, but his thoughts are mostly with his son, Biju, hopscotching from one New York restaurant job to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS, forced to consider his country's place in the world. When a Nepalese insurgency in the mountains threatens Sai's new-sprung romance with her handsome Nepali tutor and causes their lives to descend into chaos, they, too, are forced to confront their colliding interests. The nation fights itself. The cook witnesses the hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge must revisit his past, his own role in this grasping world of conflicting desires-every moment holding out the possibility for hope or betrayal. A novel of depth and emotion, Desai's second, long-awaited novel fulfills the grand promise established by her first.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Arts and Culture from the Axis of Evil

NPR ran a profile the other day on poetry and prose from Iran, Iraq and North Korea, now in a new collection, Literature from the Axis of Evil. The page features a short story from North Korea and samples from a similarly themed musical collection, Lullabies from the Axis of Evil.
SoundRoots has an Evil sample playlist which might appeal if you find lullabies to tame. If your taste runs more visual, NPR also explores Guy DeLisle's Pyongyang, a graphic novel/memoir of his stay in North Korea. You can download a pdf excerpt of the comic at the site. That one has been on my to-be-considered list for a while. Just waiting for the paperback!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Reflecting on Beasts of No Nation

Guest Post!!! I'm going to leave the last word on child soldiers before our non-virtual discussion on Sunday to one of our Esteemed Readers (Stevi). What might happen to Agu after the novel ends? Here's a possible answer:
Reading Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala once again, reminds me of Ibrahim and Garbo. Even though the students where I taught brought more than 60 first languages with them, few of our students came from Africa.

Ibrahim was 19 when he arrived at our school from Sudan. He was tall, light skinned and soft spoken. Many USA students confuse the African continent with a single country and so one day, Ibrahim agreed to talk with our world history class about his country. On the large map tacked to the wall, he showed Sudan on the eastern side of Africa and told about what it looked like and his family there. Then quietly he mentioned war. The simple words slipped through his lips, “I was a soldier for five years.” My gaze traveled from Ibrahim’s face to those of my other students, and I could see the gleam of excitement like Agu had felt after watching war movies but before he experienced war on the ground.

A hand flew up and the question burst forth, “Did you ever kill anyone?” Tension filled our room. Ibrahim’s soft face clouded up, his jaw set and pain filled his eyes. I told him that was not a question he needed to answer. Now I don’t remember how we moved from his story back to our history text.

Shortly after this, I received a withdrawal notice for Ibrahim. When I asked the counselor what had happened, she told me Ibrahim didn’t believe high school was the place for him. He didn’t like being around all of the kids, and he wanted to work for money. He’d had to leave that teeming teenage environment.

Garbo arrived from Liberia during that country’s second civil war. He was 14, still growing, muscular, also soft spoken, and dark as a night without moon or stars. He joined his father who had left Liberia, his wife, two sons and at least one daughter when Garbo was less than a year old. Garbo had not seen him since then. In the States, Garbo’s father had acquired a new woman, an African-American, and had another son. He had come to the USA to go to college.

Because Liberia is an English speaking nation, Garbo was not put in an ESL class despite the reality that listening to him speak English was like listening to a foreign language, and I was never sure how much he understood. As Agu explains what he sees, feels and experiences in the novel, I could see Garbo talking with me. At least twice he stayed after school to talk for 45 minutes to an hour. Fortunately, I had just read an extended article about Liberia and her civil wars. As he recounted what he’d seen, soldiers, violence, cannibalism, his injured finger smashed under a rock, I could put the pieces together and wonder if in fact he had witnessed all of this, or like me, simply knew about it.

The social part of high school was hard for him. His dark skin caused the African-American kids to taunt him and call him “black shit.” When he came to me for help, I went to our African-American dean and asked her to intervene with preventative measures. She didn’t until Garbo finally lashed out and got into a fistfight in the locker room in gym. Another time when the kids would not stop harassing him, he just stopped, looked at them, and quietly said, “In my country, I would just kill you.” He finally made friends with the Latino boys he played soccer with, and it was a Latino family that took him in when his father and the son his father had with the African-American woman moved to Texas and did not want to take him along.

On his final day of high school right before graduation, he came to my room to thank me. As he hugged me, his body shook with sobs and tears of joy washed down his face. I think he was going to the junior college and would play soccer for them. A few years later, he stopped by school to give me a stuffed toy for my granddaughter and a photo of his son, a boy he had with an African-American woman without benefit of marriage. As I looked at the photo, I wondered about what will happen to this child of an African-American and an African. Will he be free of the dangers of war, or will he be lured into gang life and the war of the streets?

When I think of them, I send love and healing to Ibrahim and Garbo wherever they may be.

Child Soldiers Invade Congress!

Apparently, over 700 activists, many of them former child soldiers, held a Lobby Day for Northern Uganda earlier this week. You can listen to an NPR feature here, or read an article about one of the child soldier lobbyists here. I hope there were at least a few Congresspersons not out campaigning who got to listen to these stories.

I'll just take this opportunity to mention that there is a short video to accompany the report on children in the Democratic Republic of Congo which I blogged about previously.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Afrobeat and Beasts of No Nation

Time for your Beasts of No Nation soundtrack! Well, it turns out there really is one. The epigraph for the novel is a quote from Fela Kuti, the founding father of Afrobeat-- "This uprising will bring out the beast in us"-- and the title of the book also corresponds to a 1989 Fela Kuti recording: Beasts of No Nation, so a little exploration is in order. No samples at link above, though there's a bit at the end of this BBC Radio profile of Fela, but you can find lyrics for the song here.

A profile of Fela from National Geographic World Music describes the musician's contributions to African music as well as his political activism,
Singing neither in Yoruba nor the King's English, Fela delivered his musical jeremiads in pidgin English, so as to reach as wide an audience as possible. And he was loved for it by the masses, who made him a star. But his broadsides against the corruption and of General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government made him some enemies in very high places, and he suffered repeated harassment, including a full scale attack on his Lagos compound (which he called "The Kalakuta Republic") in 1977. Over 1,000 soldiers set fire to the premises and beat anyone they could lay their hands on, including Fela's 82-year-old mother, who was thrown from a window and later died from her injuries. Fela himself suffered fractures in his skull, arm and leg. In his lifetime Fela would undergo 356 court appearances and three separate imprisonments, including a 1985-87 sentence on trumped-up currency charges that made him a poster boy for Amnesty International.
To round out our Beasts soundtrack, Fela's son Femi Kuti, also a musician/activist, is a contributor toth Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project. You can view a video promotion for the project here. And you might want to check out Ceasefire from Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier from Sudan, now a spokesperson for the Campaign to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Finally there is Uganda musician Samite's Embalasasa-- NPR profile and samples here. This is the one most appealing to me musically, perhaps because the focus of the album is music as a "weapon of healing" for child soldiers.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pamuk wins Nobel

We would have been more excited about this a year ago when we were right in the middle of reading Orhan Pamuk's Snow, but we're happy he won the prize this year.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Report on Child Soldiers in DRC

Just in time for our discussion of Beasts of No Nation, Amnesty has released a report today: Democratic Republic of Congo: Children at war, creating hope for the future. The report contains more child testimony about their experiences as soldiers and their reintegration into society,
John is 15 years’ old. He was demobilised in May 2006 after spending five years with the mayi-mayi.

"One day when I was 10 years old, fighters came to our school, stole everything inside and ordered us to go with them, saying that there would be no more learning for us. Now, I have been demobilised and I am with my family. It is good to be home, but I have nothing to do. I would like to study or work, but I have no money, there is no training and there is no work. I feel sad, because I feel unhelpful to my family. I am at home but I am worthless. During the day, I try not to think of my life as a fighter, because it makes me cry, but sometimes I think maybe I should go back to the armed groups…"
The recommendations in the report are strong on enforcing the right to education.

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Booker Prize

We came close to choosing Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss for January.  Now the book has won the Booker Prize.  I'd say the book will be up for reconsideration soon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

World Day Against the Death Penalty

Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. (I always thought that March 1 was Abolition Day, but the more excuses to take action on this issue the better.) Check out the sponsoring groups at the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty website. Then be sure to take action on five cases highlighting different aspects of the death penalty: child offenders, discrimination of foreign nationals, unfair trials, mental illness, and innocence.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Blood Diamond

From the Los Angeles Times comes word of a new film, Blood Diamond (link opens with soundtrack) starring Leo DiCaprio that's making diamond execs mighty uncomfortable. The film is set during Sierra Leone's civil war and depicts both the issue of "conflict diamonds" used to finance the war and the devastation to the country including the exploitation of children as soldiers-- a topic we have been exploring in our reading this month. The film's website already has a link to Amnesty's conflict diamond action page, as well as to Global Witness' campaign site. The entire article is worth a read, but we note that Artists for Amnesty is gearing up for the film's launch,
...Bonnie Abaunza, Los Angeles-based director of Amnesty International's celebrity outreach program, points out, the media is covering so-called "conflict diamonds" more now than when Sierra Leone's bloody civil wars were actually taking place. "It's amazing that all this attention is on conflict diamonds when no one has even seen the film yet," she said. Amnesty International is steadily recruiting celebrities in an effort to use the film to focus attention on human rights questions that still surround the diamond industry. For example, Abaunza said, she recently screened "Blood Diamond" for hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, who works with De Beers on his line of diamond jewelry.

As early as last fall, De Beers head Jonathan Oppenheimer expressed concern that the film might hurt Christmas and Valentine's Day sales. He asked the filmmakers to add a disclaimer stating that the events in the film are fictional and in the past and that, thanks to the Kimberley Process, which the industry put in place to document where diamonds come from, conflict diamonds end up on the market only very rarely. The filmmakers declined to add it

In September, the diamond industry began its multimillion-dollar campaign to "educate consumers" about the Kimberley Process. But to some observers, the very scale of the costly campaign has raised suspicion. "The multimillion-dollar PR campaigns, full-page ads in major newspapers, outreaches to consumers and journalists with their new website.... Oddly, none of this is working in their favor. Everyone is asking, 'Why are they doing this? What do they fear?' " Abaunza said.

The Kimberley Process, which the diamond industry insists has reduced blood diamonds to 1% of stones sold, has been criticized by Amnesty International and Global Witness for being ineffective and corrupted. Amy O'Meara of Amnesty International's Business and Human Rights Program described it as fundamentally flawed. "There is no effective way to track the stones from point of origin to point of sale," she said. "They need an auditable tracking system. The diamond industry is asking us to take them at their word. That's not good enough. There is so much money at stake and so many hands in the pot. It's easy for the system to be corrupted."
And a little heads up about events coming our way,
The issues surrounding conflict diamonds will get strong support from the film's stars at the Dec. 12 premiere, which may involve Amnesty International and Global Witness. "We're still in the process of working out details," a company spokesperson said. "But it's safe to say that they will be involved in some way." Amnesty and Global Witness will also co-host an event in Los Angeles on Nov. 14, where they expect representatives from the Diamond Council as well. And AIUSA will be hosting special screenings on 10 campuses around the country to mobilize youthful activists.

The film has no apparent relationship to Greg Campbell's Blood Diamonds, the highly informative Rights Readers nonfiction selection on the same subject, but I think its safe to say that Loyal Readers will be throwing a little support to the box office for this film in the near future.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Anna Politkovskaya

We came close to reading Anna Politkovskaya's account of the war in Chechnya, The Dirty War. And its still not too late for us to read her latest, Putin's Russia. Now comes news of her brutal death, so I'll take this moment to note this article on the Chechen conflict she wrote for Amnesty Magazine and AI's concern for her safety in this report. Would that we could have done more. She was certainly brave and relentless to the very end, reportedly at work Saturday finishing an article for the about torturers in the government of Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin premier of Chechnya.

Update: Amnesty press release here. Second update: Amnesty expresses concern for other Russian journalists here and you can take action on behalf of one of them here.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Child Soldiers / Child Testimony

Beasts of No Nation: A Novel (P.S.)So how about some real life child testimony to compare with the fictional version in Beasts of No Nation?

Here is a short film excerpt produced by WITNESS,
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) children make up the majority of combatants in a war that has claimed over four million lives. Through the voices of child soldiers, A DUTY TO PROTECT explores the complexity of the war, the issues confronted by girl soldiers including rape and sexual exploitation, and the importance of the International Criminal Court to end the rampant impunity reigning in Eastern DRC.

(Sidenote: Witness just launched a partnership with Global Voices, featuring human rights video from around the world, some from people documenting human rights abuses with cellphones-- I'm going to try to remember that next time one rings at the wrong time! A recent post concerned Mohammed Abbou, a Tunisian writer featured in Amnesty's Banned Books Week appeals.)

In this film from Sierra Leone, a 14 year old boy, Sidibay, tells the story of how his family were killed and how he become a child soldier.

More stories, drawings and songs from former Sierra Leone child soldiers can be found Sample excerpt,
I left about 8:00 pm to continue my journey. I walked for about an hour having nothing to eat ro drink then I suddenly saw a stream. I was drinking then I was surrounded by tall huge men and the one yield at me " What are you doing here you small boy you're a spy I'm going to kill you now." With these words Istarted trembling, then he said "Are going to join us or choose to die" then I say whatever you want to do with me I'm willing. I was then taken to their main base in that region and I was tied up for one week eating dry Cassava and drinking filthy water. One man who was living in my village and was one of them pleaded that they should let me go. and since that day I became a full childsoldier. I was injected with cocaine and then given an AK 47 riffle to carry. I started going to front lines killing people raping and do all sorts of bad things.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Child Soldiers: Nonfiction

Now that I've finished Beasts of No Nation, I have many questions, as do other Readers, I'm sure, about child soldiers and am ready to turn to nonfiction for some answers.  Here are some suggestions,

First, Amnesty International has created a curriculum guide to accompany the book Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers go to War by Jimmie Briggs.

Another nonfiction book on the subject is P.W. Singer's Children at War.  You can get a sense of the book from this video presentation (30 minute talk plus 30 minutes of Q&A).  I found this very informative. 

Or, try this half-hour interview with Singer on NPR's Fresh Air.  Some related material is also available at his Brookings page. (Singer will show up as an expert in Shadow Company as well.)

One other note, Amnesty has also collaborated with the creators of Innocent Voices, a film about child soldiers in El Salvador released last fall.  An article about student responses to the film can be found in the current issue of the Fourth R, the newsletter of Amnesty's Human Rights Educators Network (download pdf here). As far as I can tell, the film is not yet available on DVD.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Child Soldiers: Amnesty Resources

Continuing our exploration of Uzodinma Iweala's Beasts of No Nation, we explore some supplemental information about child soldiers:

Amnesty has a number of resources on this issue, beginning with this rundown of press releases.  Check out these more visual features: A flash animation about Children at war in the DRC, a slideshow (opens with soundtrack) about "Night Commuter" children in northern Uganda who walk from their home villages to sleep in cities or in camps for internally displaced persons because they fear abduction into the Lord’s Resistance Army (accompanying action for children and youth here). And my favorite: The Story in Pictures - Drawings by Child Soldiers.

In addition, Amnesty is a member of the Coalition to stop the use of Child Soldiers.

More resource links in the next few days...

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Take Action on Eritrea Today!

The 5 year anniversary action for Estifanos Seyoum and the other Eritrean prisoners of conscience we referred to previously is now online,
Amnesty International is concerned about the whereabouts and well-being of eleven former members of Parliament and ten journalists five years after their detention without trial or charge. Call on the Eritrean government to address these "disappearances."
Please visit the AIUSA action center today!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Our October Author: Uzodinma Iweala

This month we offer multimedia introductions to Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation.

First, a short video from WGBH (I couldn't import this to the blog -- Warning!-- It will start playing as soon as you click).  One might hope for a better interviewer, but at least one is impressed with the author's youth.  A more in depth audio interview is available from KCRW's Bookworm.  And finally, a print interview from The Morning News by Robert Birnbaum. Excerpt,
RB: Let’s talk about Beasts of No Nation. Why did you want to write this book?

UI: I guess it was really wanting to understand what the experiences of being a child soldier—which is an odd thing to say because you can’t really understand it unless you have been one. But wanting to have deeper understanding and not just—you read newspaper articles and you hear things on the news and see pictures and [say], “Oh, wow, that’s sad.” And then you move on, you know? Every so often in your life something happens and you say, “I can’t move on from this. This isn’t something I can just put to the side and say, ‘This is happening to people and I have other things to do in my existence.’” It doesn’t work like that sometimes. Those people who really contribute to society are the ones who do that all the time. They say, “This is a problem and we are not going to brush this problem aside.” So I guess, for me it was just a small step in saying, “OK, I have seen this and I can’t brush this aside. So let me take this small step to learn more and more about it.”
The contents of this author essay from Powells paralells that of the essay printed in the back of the paperback edition of the book...only written in the style of the novel, and may be of interest to those who read other editions or enjoy the cleverness of the presentation. 

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