©2014 Thomas W Morley |     All rights reserved.

Envisioning Human Rights

World-Class Photography Exhibition At UC Berkeley To Benefit Human Rights.

Envisioning Human Rights is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the human Rights Center, opening at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall on August 28th 2014.

“These photographs capture profound moments of courage and defiance,” said Eric Stover, faculty director of the Human Rights Center. “They remind us that human rights photography is at its best when it shuns the sensational and sentimental and instead finds human dignity in the face of injustice.”

The ten featured photographers- Mimi Chakarova, Nic Dunlop, Stephen Ferry, Stephen Goldblatt, Ken Light, Susan Meiselas, Giles PeressSebastião Salgado, Jean-Marie Simon, and Thomas W Morley; donated 38 works to be shown and auctioned to benefit the Human Rights Center’s research on war crimes, sexual violence in conflict, and other serious violations of international law and human rights. The Human Rights Center,established in 1944, was the first University based human rights center on the West Coast. 

All the photographs in the Envisioning Human Rights exhibition, tell the stories of human rights challenges and triumphs over the past twenty years.

For more information on the exhibition please visit: http://www.envisioninghumanrights.com/

Download pdf Envisioning Human Rights booklet: Envisioning HR press booklet

I am very proud to have been asked to exhibit in such an event. Being recognised as a photographer concentrating on human rights and placed in such company is an honour. Taking pictures has led me towards the recording and documentation of poor and marginalised communities, civilians caught up in war, refugees and torture. For me, photography is tied up with the rights of people, recording their story and documenting their plight. I hope I can carry on for many more years to come.

Thomas W Morley

Envisioning Human Rights

Envisioning Human Rights

Akello Teriza Kalulu.

Fifty years old and married with six children. In 2002 the LRA came to her village and burned down her house. They then stole all her worldly possessions and murdered two of her boys and her husband in front of her, cutting them down with machete’s. When they eventually left they abducted the three other children, one girl and two boys. She has never heard from them again.

Envisioning Human Rights

Envisioning Human Rights

Laryong Dorotay.

Eighty years of age and married with seven children. In April 2004, two of her children were abducted by the LRA and have never been heard from since. In the raid the LRA took everything; goods, cattle, goats, chickens, house hold property and then burned it to the ground. Before they left Dorotay and her husband were beaten within an inch of their lives.Her husbands legs were permanently crippled.

Envisioning Human Rights

Envisioning Human Rights

Rose Lakue.

Sixty five years of age and married with five children. In 2002 her eldest son was abducted by the LRA. During the attack her husband was dragged in front of the village and hacked to death with machete’s. Everything they owned was taken and her home was burned to the ground.

The pictures above are taken from my work, “Voices Of Acholi Women.” Taken in northern Uganda during the conflict between Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA – and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces – UPDF in 2005.

Acholi Women:

The Acholi women were truly forgotten in northern Uganda during the times of war. I think women are in conflicts; and have become the brunt of so much horror and violence. It seems as time passes, crimes against women have become a real weapon in war all over the world. Rape and mutilation are a theme in so many conflicts now.

There was so much of this in northern Uganda; women with their breasts and lips cut off. Forced to watch while their children and husbands were hacked to death in front of their eyes, many abducted raped and enslaved. Many executed.

This conflict was in no way typical. Rarely did the Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA – and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces – UPDF – have long bouts of fighting, it was not a traditional war in that sense. It was a slow burning torturous and painful war, carried out over two decades, which inflicted its cruelness primarily on civilians. Children forced to kill their parents hacking them to death before they are abducted and turned in to child soldiers. There are so many horrific stories, stories of situations that would rarely be witnessed, only the results seen and so to this end I wanted to record the stories putting a face to the living who had suffered so much.

I made my way to the Amida IDP camp, with an interpreter I hijacked from MSF staff. There were over 23,000 Acholi people living there in the most appalling conditions. Malnutrition, cholera, malaria and other diseases wreaked havoc on a population crammed into the overcrowded and unsanitary camp, forced there by the Ugandan government who did nothing to care for them.

I chose a spot outside the camp under a group of trees in the shade and sent a message that a reporter was here to visit, listen and record their stories related to the conflict.

This whole idea was off the cuff, I really did not know quite what to expect or if anyone would wish to come and tell a stranger their deeply personal stories.

I was though quite taken aback, astonished even, when ten minutes later people poured from the camp, mostly women and of all ages. I can only make a guess but I seemed to be confronted by three maybe four thousand women by the time the word had circulated and they had all made their way to me.

It was so moving, as they quietly found themselves a spot and sat down on the ground. There was no noise, no pushing or shoving. No fighting for position. Some of the eldest people were helped there, as were the many injured. This all happened gently, in slow motion. It was a beautiful sight and yet so sad.

I had in my mind pictured how I wanted my portraits to be, natural, personal and as close as possible. I had a little wooden chair in front of the tree, for the women to perch on and I had a small school table to write on and lay my equipment. My interpreter stood behind me always, I wished he wouldn’t, but he thought he was protecting me, which was flattering, and controlling the women, which was quite an interesting thought.

I was just about to begin, by firstly talking to the crowd and just underlining why I was there and what I was looking to do, when the camp LC1, the local commissioner, the man in charge appeared. A man I had been trying to avoid.

The number one in his title pointed to his importance at the camp and in many cases correlating directly to the position in the ladder the local official might be on the corruption scale. I had not been to ask permission, simply because of this and that the bribe given to him would never see the light of day once in his pocket. Nor would it benefit his people; the ones he was apparently protecting.

He was drunk, many of the men were, and extremely aggressive. He was angry that I had not been to see him, bribe him, take him more booze and had brought UPDF soldiers with him to have me arrested. I though, was in safe hands; I had three thousand women on my side, who had all understood why I was there and were not happy when they realised the LC1 had come to remove me. The women angered by his behaviour, surrounded him, pushing him around jeering and shouting.

So it was agreed that I could return the following day.

I arrived early and to an amazing sight. My table and chairs were already set up and in front of it, on the ground, sat the women and children and many more than the previous day. Again the large crowd was quiet.  And so I spent that day taking down the stories of those Acholi women and composing their portraits, including their hands. For me their hands are one of their most important tools, they show how hard a life they live and a deeply personal view for Acholi people.

The stories were and are all so sad and what I show is only a very small contribution to highlighting the importance of the rights and needs of people to be noticed and to be able to tell their stories. It is undoubtedly an import part of healing for the people; they just want and need someone to listen. That day the Acholi women behaved with such dignity, so gentle, quiet and with care for each other. Many dressed in their best cloths and wore what jewellery they had. It was a humbling day. Civilians are rarely mentioned and their human rights are close to never up-held. I hope these few stories are just a small something to highlight the rights of civilians in all conflict situations, which have sadly become a direct target in all modern day conflicts.

Photography & Writing By Thomas W Morley.

For more information on the exhibition please visit: http://www.envisioninghumanrights.com/

Download pdf Envisioning Human Rights booklet: Envisioning HR press booklet


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