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I went on holiday and came home with a random tattoo.
Arguably this isn’t all that unique a situation to find oneself in, as a Brit on a eurotrip to a destination famed for various types of excess. However, on my trip to the Netherlands, I didn’t gain a dirty little secret but a little something which I will forever be proud of.
After a few days visiting the picturesque, unique and liberal city of Amsterdam, I took the hour-long train ride to The Hague. The city was preparing for Museumnacht (Museum Night) and the centre of town was warming up with music, the restaurants and bars were spilling outdoors, and with ‘light’ being the theme for 2013 beautiful installations were being added to the streets and museums. It was truly a privilege to visit a new city on such an evening.
But what I had come for was the chance to do something I would never forget, and never be able to – or want to – take back. So after a stroll around, a photo outside the Peace Palace (housing the International Court of Justice), and with a top pal to hold my hand, we joined the queue outside Humanity House.
After a four hour wait, I was allocated the letter N and became the 1011th person to join the Human Rights Tattoo project. Run by Tilburg Cowboys and Mundial Productions, and endorsed by Amnesty International in the Netherlands, this part art project, part elaborate publicity stunt began tattooing all 6773 characters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2012. The creators hope that each of us will somehow speak about our tattoo once per week, together generating nearly 1000 conversations each day about Human Rights. 1074 tattoos have been completed to date; the beautiful growing image plus the personal statements of each participant are available to view at http://www.humanrightstattoo.org
I had never had a tattoo before, but my nerves (and the sting) were topped by the force of the most important, universal, powerful cause. 1cm² might not be much, but a very wise lady, Margaret Mead, once wrote: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ Even the consumerist monolith Tesco knows that every little helps. I am so proud to have written my commitment to human rights on my skin.
by Katie Lusmore
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham