By Zafra Usman

Painting by Zafra Usman 
Based on photograph* by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters (2020)

Where are my human rights?

When did I lose my status of humanity,

become a race all too different.

When did the sins of another

become the sins of my father?

How did tomorrow’s terrorist

become synonymous with today’s entrepreneur, dreamer, son and brother?

Why do the blood and tears of my kin dilute in the face of justice?


Where are my human rights?

When did my dreams disappear in the face of survival?

Was it the week after last,

when every breath I inhaled smelt of missing?

Missing article 3** of a declaration of rights being undone,

missing a father,

of cries being unsung.


Where are my human rights?

Have they hibernated indefinitely,

taken a sleeping pill of irrelevancy,

got lost in our collective memory?


Did they forget I exist;

in pools of blood on the streets of Delhi,

in the hollow cries of millions in China,

on the seabed of the Mediterannean,

in the remains of the Rohingya.


Did they forget I persist;

in the hearts of millions who prostrate

to find the will to live another day,

who speak inside

before they speak out,

take your shoes and tread carefully

when all we want to do is






*Article 03 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  states that: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of persons. 


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