Why not share your experiences with us?
Whatever your background, and howsoever you choose to live your life, we’re all united by our shared humanity. All of us are entitled to fundamental and inalienable rights. These rights have been beautifully expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and almost every country on earth has signed-up voluntarily to the UN charter with the exception of Saudi Arabia and a few other countries from the old Soviet Bloc – they’ve since reversed their policy. Apartheid South Africa also had the ‘honour’ of refusing to sign up to a charter that demanded equality for all human beings.
So naturally, we do not live in a perfect world, and not all human beings are minded to respect universal rights. It was because of the human tragedies in the wake of World Wars 1 & 2 that the universal declaration of human rights saw its first light of day; there were of course many precursor declarations. The concentration camps of Nazi Germany and the tens of millions of peoples that perished in needless wars made it abundantly clear that if we want to obvert similar tragedies in the future we must internalise some basic values. Bosnia, Rwanda, Halabja, Myanmar, are all modern day reminders.
The fact that our world is not a perfect one, and there are people who think it’s okay to dehumanise others because of perceived ‘differences’ in ethnicity, ‘race’, religion, gender, sexual orientation and natural and physical abilities means we must work together to ensure that forces of human rights prevail over the forces of inhumanity, cruelty and humiliation.
It’s that simple, even if portracted conflicts are not that black and white.
Our individual histories of suffering and shared stories of dispossession may have made this task a little difficult but we are not defined by our past. Having experienced the inhumanity of exploitative policies should mean we take the side of those currently being exploited – however strong, popular or great the ‘oppressors’. It’s our commitment to the future that will help shape our new legacies. We should never shy away from the commitment to at least ‘try’ to make things better whatever our individual abilities and capacities.
The Portmir Foundation is entirely subsumed within this quest.
For British-Paharis, our past is one of dispossession and exploitation. We recognise that as a people, our forbears spoke a distinct language and had a culture of their own, but today, having left that cultural space, we have become citizens of the world. We understand that we cannot live together peacefully as individuals, communities and nations if we do not develop practical ways of living together.
But yet in our own communities in the UK we have social ills and individual cases of personal tragedies that make living a dignified and fulfilled life needlessly difficult. Domestic violence for instance is rife in our communities as patriarchy continues to influence how some of us behave. Many perpetrators of domestic violence do not consider their behaviour wrong. Most women are the victims of these structural cruelties whilst some, usually with more traditional values, help enforce or perpetuate these inequalities. And yet we do not like to talk about these social realities, which for some victims are quite acute despite living in a functioning liberal democracy that has outlawed domestic violence with criminal sanction.
The reasons for these failures are many but suffice to say that our own communities pose some of the greatest hurdles. It is in the same vein that we shed light on issues of forced marriage, radicalisation of our youth to extreme interpretations of Islam that are completely opposed to the exercise of unfettered human rights and a host of other social problems. Not all ‘governments’ or ‘government policies’ are benign and we will speak out against unjust policies.
We will say the things that make people feel uncomfortable, even if it’s not fashionable, or considered conventionally polite because of social taboos. We’re not scared of offending people’s sensibilities, and neither are we committed to the personal aggrandisement of individuals through community ’causes’. We believe in speaking the truth for the sake of the truth even if we become casualties in the quest for genuine human ‘rapprochement’ by those committed to their ‘own’ personal agendas. Our cause is a just one and we will fight for it.
If you care about these problems sufficiently enough to get involved directly or indirectly then please join the Portmir Foundation. You don’t have to be a British Pahari to take part in our activities as we recognise that we belong to a much bigger family that has made these British Isles its home. It’s only with the involvement of local people drawn from different backgrounds, professions, vocations or occupations that we can truly create the platforms by which we can aspire to live dignified lives in our communities. This is probably the best expression of a ‘multiculturalism’ that actually works. We have always believed that despite being a cultural heritage organisation with social agenda issues our ‘culture’ is fluid and evolving – it is a ‘living’ culture being shaped by our new environment.
With your help, ideas and activism we can make the Portmir Foundation a beacon of hope for the many members of our communities who would like to share in our aspirations and goals to become part of the beautiful tapestry that makes our cultures worth living.
Want to join us?
We would love to hear from you!