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“Cry Freedom”, a film released in the year 1987 by Richard Attenborough, is a British drama film which is set against the backdrop of social scenario during late 70s in South Africa. The film projects the life events and revolts of the black activists against Apartheid named Stephen Biko and his compatriot Donald Woods. The film introspects the themes and social issues, like Apartheid, racial discrimination and abuse, corruption in politics as well as the aftermath and repercussions that evolve from violence. There are myriad facets and aspects of the violation of basic human rights portrayed in the film along with the epoch making struggle of the pioneer in the locale to fight back against those violence which were inflicted upon his fellow citizens (Claude and Weston, “Human Rights in the World Community Issues and Action”). THESIS STATEMENT This essay intends to focus on the issues of human rights and its violation inherent within the film, “Cry Freedom”. The essay also aims to assess the problems which are imbibed within the implementation of the exercise of human rights reflected through the film. HUMAN RIGHTS AND “CRY FREEDOM” The character, Steve Biko, played by Denzel Washington, is a staunch supporter for the protection of rights of the blacks in South Africa. As an activist, he has been condoned from exercising his movements. On the other end, Donald Woods, who is a journalist by profession, played by Kevin Kline, gets the message of the slum demolishing in East London at South

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Africa and runs on-spot to gather more information regarding the evacuation. Here, Donald comes across the information that Steve is banned and is confined within the area of King William’s Town. At the outset of the film, one watches that Donald is against the ban of Biko, but is skeptic about his exact political views. Biko calls Donald to see the dehumanized conditions in which the blacks within the slums live and thereafter talk about his vision for an advanced South Africa with equal potentials and opportunities for both black and white population. A gradual understanding between Biko and Donald consequently deepens their friendship when Donald not only starts to comprehend Biko’s philosophy, but also began to follow his dreams and ideals (Maslin, “Cry Freedom (1987)”). In the film, the impositions and violations of human rights are shown by the way South African government tries to condone the non-violent plunges of Biko, which he intends to run against the practice of Apartheid and dehumanized conditions of black people in South Africa. Consequentially, Biko has been shown arrested for giving a speech before the mass gathered in-front of the banishment zone. He is vandalized off his property and security forces; even threat Woods for his attempts to meet Jimmy Kruger played by John Thaw, the South African minister of Justice. However, this does not stop Biko and he attempts to reach Cape Town in order to address a student-run meeting. On his way, he is arrested by the police and brutally murdered in the police custody without making any file of his arrest or death. At this juncture of the film, the violation of the basic rights to liberty, property and life have been portrayed to be brutally snatched away by the South African


Cry Freedom and Issues of Human Rights INTRODUCTION Social issues have always found profound expression and space in modern cinema. Cinema has been phenomenal receptacle of social vices and projecting them on screen with a potent message inherent within its screenplay…
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