Sue Cox

Sue Cox

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Freedom of Expression campaign One law for all Saturday 11th February.

My contribution

Sue Cox Survivors Voice Europe 

      Survivors Voice is an International organisation of men and women who were sexually abused  in their childhood by catholic priests.
It is always tempting when asked to speak at these occasions to talk exclusively  about ones own organisation, but today I am here to support very strongly  "One Law for All "and this campaign for freedom of expression.To support Anne Marie and Maryame, and the students and Universities who have all taken such a brave stance against these  appalling incidences. So although my particular "Bete Noir" is the catholic church, I know that  tyrants names and faces may be different, but the damage they do is the same, the pain they inflict is the same. Threatening free speech diminishes me as a woman, as a human being, and without a stand it could diminish my children's generation and my grandchildren's generation. 
     The name survivors VOICE was chosen for that reason, because for centuries survivors had  no voice.
Survivors voice came about for me after being asked to speak at the "protest the pope"campaign in 2010. It  was very honoured to do so, but also had no idea that I would be in front of twenty-thousand people! When I looked out at that sea of faces it took my breath away! And those  posters! What a sight, creative, amusing and very very real. 
I was scared, ill equipped, but with YOUR help I managed to get those words out! And because of your warmth and support I became strong! I became able to embark on this "mission" of Survivors Voice Europe. Your support as we marched and dedicated that march to survivors of catholic clergy abuse was awesome, and something that I doubt  could  happen elsewhere. 
Because you made me strong and braver, I was able to go to Rome and join with others to do the same thing, we danced in front of vatican square in celebration of all of our survival, despite them rather than because of them! We have been back three times now, and also to Verona where some of our bravest members live. They are all deaf and speech impaired people from the Provolo institute in Verona, all of whom were seriously and systematically abused by the clergy who were supposed to be looking after them, one man by sixteen priests! he was just past around like a piece of meat.They are probably some of the bravest people I  know, and they don't HAVE a voice, they can't talk and they can't hear, but they are making a stand! They had not been able to do that  publicly until we arrived that October and joined with them. YOU helped with that!  Their posters when we meet are also awesome, have the same humour and irony and this in a country where they are not allowed to talk about what happened to them! These crimes are rarely  reported in the media, And this is Italy! Just 1 and a half hours away on a plane. Last time we were there, Marco and I took with us the pictures and videos of the "protest the pope" march and the "secular Europe campaign ", our friends had never seen them! They had no idea that something this big had happened, it simply was not reported in Italy.Their chins were on their chests! This is all about free speech and free expression!
You are not allowed to have banners anywhere near the vatican, or even tee shirts with slogans on! In fact you aren't able to have banners within 500 yards of vatican square! They might "offend" Il  Papa! Well, the vatican and it's narcissistic regime offends me!
Last October we met again, in Piazza Castel  SantAngelo opposite the vatican, and there were police and a helicopter making sure we did not "offend" At one point the helicopter wired down to the police to remove  an elderly deaf man's poster  which said "RATZINGER OUT!" they said it was offensive and  they took it off him! He simply picked up someone else's and carried it higher! And we ended the day by sending up hundreds of `Chinese lanterns  saying "ENOUGH" into the sky! Hard for the helicopter to get rid of! And in the end some of the police clapped and cheered! 
This matters! If I don't use my voice as I am able to, then I will be ashamed in the presence of those who cannot.
When I knew I was going to say a few words today I looked up the idea of free expression in the hope that someone cleverer than me could give me a tip! The only thing I found was a quote by George Washington, (I don't know how appropriate that is!) But I liked the quote!
It says "If we take away freedom of speech then we will be led ,dumb and silent like lambs to the slaughter" Looking at that quote it can either be wise words  or even a "tip" to a tyrannical regime! "If you take away their freedom of speech you can lead them dumb and silent like lambs to the slaughter" clever!
But I will go back to that wonderful "pope protest" in London and those amazing posters and banners!  There was one that stood out for me, one of you here may have made it! And in fact I have it cut out and posted on the wall next to my desk. Inspiring me every day it  says : 


Where else in this beautiful World can you say that! We have to Cherish  that right and defend it!!!

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