April 11, 2007

In Response To The Religious Protest Against Elton John.

WHO: Trinidad and Tobago Anti Violence Project (T&T AVP)

WHAT: Appeal to Archdeacon Phillip Isaacs, Pastors Winston Cuffie, Whitfield Lawrence and Terrence Baynes and other religious leaders to show Christian leadership in opposing music inciting murder and violence

WHY: Easter weekend performances by Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Sizzla, Kalonji and Vybz Kartel, whose music urges listeners to commit murder and other un-Christian and illegal acts of physical and sexual violence against homosexuals, women, police, white people and other groups

The Trinidad and Tobago Anti Violence Project (T & T AVP) has written the letter below to Christian leaders urging them to raise their voices against murder and violence as four Jamaican dancehall "DJs,"all of whom have been protested or banned worldwide for inciting murder and violence in their lyrics, are set to perform at venues in Tobago and Trinidad over the Easter weekend. Buju Banton is scheduled to perform at Pigeon Point Beach, Tobago on Glorious Saturday, April 7, and at Sting Night Club in La Romain, Trinidad on Easter Sunday,April 8, while Elephant Man, Sizzla, Kalonji and Vybz Kartel are slated to appear at the Hasley Crawford Stadium on Glorious Saturday. Two of the three venues are state-owned property. These performers are four of the most notorious and widely protested Jamaican singers of 'murder music'. While murder music is unacceptable at any time, the T & T AVP noted, it is particularly disturbing when performed in Trinidad & Tobago during Easter, a sacred time on the Christian calendar that traditionally symbolizes peace.

Calling the recent response by a handful of clerics to Sir Elton John's upcoming appearance at the Plymouth Jazz Festival in Tobago "hateful and hypocritical," a spokesperson for the T & T AVP noted that Christian leaders have been mum for years as Jamaican dancehall artists calling for people to murder and mutilate homosexuals and for men to sexually degrade and dominate women have performed repeatedly in Trinidad and Tobago. "It is not Christian leadership when you object to a performance, that has no sexual content, by someone who has shown sterling humanitarian service and raised millions of dollars in the fight against HIV and AIDS which benefits the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago," said spokesperson, Kerwyn Jordan, "but you turn a blind eye to the violence other foreign singers viciously promote on stage." Trinidad and Tobago is one of 30 countries benefiting under the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV and AIDS, supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Caribbean has suffered from serious problems with growing violence in recent years. This development is mirrored in the growth of dancehall music that promotes extreme violence - known as 'murder music.' While the themes of murder music are wide ranging, the lyrics typically call for extremely violent acts against marginalized groups, including homosexuals. T & T AVP recognizes that this issue has ramifications beyond music and certain stigmatised groups. Exporting murder music poses a threat to the region's future.

"It is not Christian leadership when you object to a performance, that has no sexual content, by someone who has shown sterling humanitarian service and raised millions of dollars in the fight against HIV and AIDS which benefits the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago,"

"If we allow violence to infiltrate our societies, then we are down the slippery slope to chaos and anarchy," said another spokesperson,Jacquelyn Fields, a retired law enforcement officer. "If people tolerate calls for the brutal murder of fellow citizens, then we will become a Godless, lawless, hateful society. Trinidad and Tobago already has a serious problem with crime; we do not want to end up with one of the highest murder rates in the world," Fields added.

Toni Morrison, in her 1993 Nobel Prize address, said "Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it IS violence." Fields echoed this sentiment, concluding that, "the silence of these Christian leaders against such atrocities on the holiest weekend of the Christian calendar condones such violence."

Contact Persons:

(1) David D. K. Soomarie +1 868 497-6879
(2) Jacquelyn Fields +1 868 742-5753

Email: tntavp@gmail.com

More Religious Hypocrisy Over Elton

Letter to Christian Leaders

March 29, 2007

Dear Christian Leader

The Trinidad and Tobago Anti Violence Project (T&T AVP) invites you to take a leadership stand this coming Easter season against violence, musical performers who incite it, and those profit from this 'murder music.'

Four visiting singers, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Sizzla Kalonji and Vybz Kartel, are all scheduled to perform in Tobago and Trinidad over the coming Easter weekend. These are Jamaican dancehall performers who have all recorded grossly violent lyrics (see attachment), which they continue to perform, that incite mutilation and murder of fellow humans. They have been the subject of worldwide demonstrations and cancellations including, in the case of Buju Banton, action by the government of the United Kingdom to bar him from performing in that
country. These protests and government action have focused on the fact that these performers' music incites audiences to violence against homosexuals and other marginalised groups.

These four violence-inciting singers are scheduled to perform at two State-owned venues, the Hasely Crawford National Stadium and Pigeon Point beach, and a private nightclub, The Sting, in La Romain during the Easter weekend when Christians commemorate the violent crucifixion
of Jesus Christ and his resurrection over death – the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

We invite you to join us in taking a firm moral stand against music and musical performers that promote violence against others and in condemning promoters and venues who profit from those who incite such violence and hate. Because religious leaders have been in the forefront of efforts to address runaway violence in Trinidad and Tobago and the sense of lawlessness and insecurity this creates, we look forward to you standing with us in this holy season by speaking out boldly against those who preach illegal and un-Christian violence against any group. While such hate speech is not the practice of all dancehall singers, there is a clear pattern among those who perform such lyrics of deeply troubling attitudes and lyrics that also cheapen women's lives and place their sexual security at risk.

These performers offend Christ's teaching by singing death and violence against individuals as if they were not God's children. T&T AVP believes that on matters of manifest principle, such as standing against wanton and illegal violence, we should be united regardless of other differences. We hope that, in celebration of Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, you will add your leadership to ours in issuing a powerful call for an Easter weekend in Trinidad & Tobago free of performances that preach violence against others and of profiteering from such performances.

Yours in faith,
David D. K. Soomarie
Stop Murder Music!
Email: tntavp@gmail.com