Amparo was very upset about something. She was going on, in that passionate way, about an issue of great concern. She saw me looking at her and she realized I was clueless. “You have no idea what’s going on, do you?” she said.
I admitted I was clueless.
“They have started to tinker with watches. Now people have to wear watches which show their gender-whether they are male or female, and their height as well!”
I was bemused. “Does it matter?” I asked.
“YES, IT DOES MATTER!” She said, in that inimitable Amparo way. “OF COURSE IT MATTERS. It is screwing with universal standards!”
Those who know Amparo know she yelled a lot, often in frustration, often at those who failed to understand the urgency of the situation. How urgent it was to have the same universal standards of rights, everywhere, everytime!
What was my dream about? If Amparo was yelling at me from across the divide of Death, this was definitely something quite important. The clocks/watches, I think, came out of my mind because I had been watching HUGO, by Martin Scorsese. If you haven’t seen that film, let me say its all about clocks. A lot about clocks.
And Amparo of course was a lot about universal standards. Universal standards of human rights. She was working to mainstream the human rights framework into the UN just before she died, at a rather young age.
Perhaps, I thought, Amparo was critiquing my recent glorification of social media. I’d been too optimistic in my analysis that social media was the REAL MEDIA, as I had posted on Twitter. Because if it follows you and tags you “female,” “Five foot two” and “lives in Kathmandu,” it surely is not following the universal standards of journalism. Boring old traditional media, despite it flaws, always gave everyone the same news within the same 8 pages, in a regular old boring daily newspaper. Just like human rights. Everyone got the same thing-no more, no less.
I’m not going to get all Benedict Anderson on you now. Just wanted to share the incredible, passionate, wonderful voice of Amparo Tomas, straight across the Valley of Death.
As to what Amparo Tomas, a human rights activist from Valencia, Spain, was doing in Nepal, in 2004, at the height of Nepal's civil conflict, you will have for me to finish writing my book.
El legado de Amparo sigue vivo en Nepal
A Human Rights Approach to Development: Primer for Development Workers (Amparo Tomas, 2005). Language(s): English