Sunday, March 03, 2013

Remembering Stéphane Hessel: October 20, 1917 – February 26, 2013

Stéphane Hessel, “father of indignados”, dies aged 95
by Jerome Roos

French resistance hero, co-drafter of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and author of pamphlet that helped inspire a global youth uprising, dies.

To create is to resist. To resist is to create. Those are the words with which French resistance hero and public intellectual Stéphane Hessel closed off his 2010 pamphlet, Indignez-Vous. The 32-page booklet went on to sell 4.5 million copies in 35 countries and, a year later, helped to inspire a global youth uprising, as protesters throughout world — from the Spanish indignados and the Greek aganaktismenoi on to the occupiers at Wall Street and beyond — took up his call for a “peaceful insurrection” against the inequities of global capitalism.

Writing at the noble age of 92, Hessel urged today’s youth to resist the injustices of our globalized world — the growing gap between the rich and poor, the subversion of democracy by powerful corporations, the global ecological crisis, the systematic mistreatment of immigrants, the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people — with the same outrage and ferocity with which his generation fought Nazi tyranny. “The reasons for outrage today may be less clear than during Nazi times,” he wrote. “But look around and you will find them.”

Stéphane Hessel lived a remarkable life in more ways than one. A Jewish-born resistance fighter who was apprehended and tortured by the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, he not only survived the Holocaust by escaping imprisonment after swapping identity with a deceased friend, but also went on to become an influential French diplomat who would help draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Throughout his professional life, he remained fiercely critical of French and Israeli government policy.

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More Resources:

The New York Times: Stéphane Hessel, Author and Activist, Dies at 95

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