HART Prize for Human Rights 2019| Changing Perspectives

27 March 2019

This year we received a record number of entries from a diverse range of countries, resulting in our toughest competition yet! We were truly impressed by the quality, creativity, and passion for Human Rights demonstrated by our participants, and toughly enjoyed all the submissions we received.

Senior Creative category 1st place winner Hay-Ching Tang with trustee Jo Russell

Hay-Ching Tang won 1st place in our HART Prize for Human Rights Senior Creative Competition 2019 with their untitled entry shown below:


Viewed from the left, the piece shows Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar/Burma as in the eyes of many tourists; a central view offers a juxtaposition; while viewed from the right, the piece tackles the Rohingya plight in Rakhine State. It is a commentary on how it is easy for us as individuals and as the international community to visit a country and be LEFT with only beautiful memories (hence the view from the left). I know that I myself have been guilty of this. However, it is RIGHT that we should also educate ourselves, consider, and in some wag act upon the human RIGHTS situations in such countries and not be wilfully blind or otherwise ignorant (hence the view from the right). The materials, technique and symbolism used in the piece offer my own take on this.

LEFT: The pagoda side is shiny, golden and beautiful; some parts even glisten! It is easy to be blinded by such dazzling beauty that our judgment can become clouded (symbolised by the clouds in the blue sky). The painting is smooth, gentle and subtle – again adding to the perception of beauty.

RIGHT: The Rakhine state side by contrast is rough and textured. It shows the destructive fires stemming from Myanmar/Burmese security forces setting Rohingya villages alight. This violence against the marginalised Rohingya has displaced many people (shown by the refugee camp on the right hand side). The wire fence is held by 3 posts of red, green and yellow, symbolising the national flag. This fence is an interpretation of the stateless status of the Rohingya people, who are subject to extreme security measures. In contrast to the pagoda, the only glossy surface in this picture is the river of blood along the bottom, representing the casualties and bloodshed as a result of the atrocities.

JUXTAPOSITION: The juxtapose shows that whilst one may admire the splendour of sites such Shwedagon Pagoda, it is possible to do so whilst at the same time being aware of the human rights horrors such as the persecution of the Rohingya people. I urge the international community to look beyond what is in the tourist guide.

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