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This young Kashmiri rapper is protesting the Rohingya genocide through music

Catch Team | Updated on: 23 September 2017, 20:48 IST
(Photo courtesy: Aamir Ame)

Hailing from the alleys of downtown Srinagar, Aamir Ame knows what oppression is. With the Valley a perennial battle ground for insurgents and the Indian army, Kashmiris like Aamir have ended up as collateral damage; their rights and freedoms curbed. Having lived this struggle, Aamir, a Kashmiri rapper who goes by the name Emcee Ame, is especially empathetic to the sufferings of people, not just in Kashmir, but around the world.

It is this sense of empathy that led the 23-year-old Business student to notice the Rohingya genocide unfolding in Myanmar, and speak out against it through his music. The result is the track Rohingya – Silent Genocide, a 3-minute-long track accompanied by searing visuals of the violence unfolding in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Taking action

Speaking to Catch, Ame recounted how the track came about. “In my free time, I try my level best to interact with my listeners and collect ideas from them. I was following the same routine on social media when I found some heart-wrecking visuals of a Rohingya village,” he says. One video, of men armed with with axes, swords and guns torturing a small group of Rohingya women, left Aamir in tears.

This experience led Aamir down a dark part of discovery, where he learned more about the genocide, its history, and the full extent of the brutality. Shaken, he realised he had to take action. “People in the Rakhine state are being murdered so brutally and no body is giving any help to them. I decided to do something for the people of Rohingya,” he tells Catch.

It reminds of our [Kashmiri] own helplessness. Does it not?

Looping in his crew members, Husteer and Menime, Aamir soon had a verse and the music for a song ready. Unsurprisingly, the idea resonated within Aamir's circles. “When I posted a status for this song, my friend, a very talented lyricist named Sufi Auqib, called me and said, 'It reminds of our own helplessness. Does it not?'”

Auqib's own writings inspired Aamir to write another verse, before yet another artiste friend, Kay-y, helped with the chorus for the song. One week later, the song was completed.

The Kashmir-Rakhine parallel

The Rohingya crisis is unfolding a long way from Aamir's life, but, as he points out, there are a lot of similarities between what's happening in Rakhine and the situation in Kashmir. “It won't be wrong to mention here that, as a Kashmiri, I can relate to the Rohingyas,” he says matter-of-factly.

“It's quite obvious that we Kashmiris have been victimised by similar atrocities here too,” Aamir says. “We have witnessed the worst of situations in the past decade itself, and the way Rohingya Muslims are being violently abused is similar to how Kashmir is evaporating into clouds of smoke,” he reflects with sadness.

He also sees similarities in the global community's reaction to both Kashmir and Rakhine.“The way the UN has not done anything regarding the massacre in Kashmir, the same way the international community is watching the Rohingya situation from a safe distance,” he says, obviously upset.

The international community is watching the Rohingya situation without acting.

This frustration reflects in his song, where he calls out both the UN as well as its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. When confronted with the fact that the UN security council has condemned Myanmar's government, Aamir points out that condemnation is the extent of their action.

“The UN should take a strong action against this massacre. If they do not, this may result in inspiring other countries as well to kill minority in their countries. I would suggest Mr. Antonio to take such an action against this massacre that no country in this world will think of doing such things in the future,” Aamir states resolutely.

For now, the young rapper is focused on furthering his music career. With an album out by the end of 2017, and an aim to start a record label with Husteer, the young rapper certainly has a busy future ahead of him. None of this though, is coming in the way of his activism. “Me and my team are looking to team up with some NGOs to help them [the Rohingyas] through various means... and I will always give my voice to the voiceless.”

First published: 23 September 2017, 20:48 IST