Justice in Translation

Justice in Translation is a web publication series that publishes  short-to-medium length translation [up to 10,000 words] from Southeast Asian languages to English. The series includes laws, court decisions, essays, short stories, poems, protest declarations, etc. — any piece that a given translator would like to share with a broad, English-reading audience including scholars, practitioners, journalists, and others. 

All pieces published in the Justice in Translation series are posted below, with the most recent first. Click on the underlined titles to download the PDF of each piece. Follow the JSEALab on Twitter or Facebook to get news when a new translation is published. See the Call for Submissions for details about how to publish in Justice in Translation.

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2024

Justice in Translation 1/2024

Letters from Prison: Volume 2, written by Arnon Nampa, translated by The Article 112 Project

Arnon Nampa (อานนท์ นำภา), a Thai lawyer, poet, father and human rights defender, was recently imprisoned following conviction of violation of Article 112 in Thailand.  Arnon soon began writing letters from prison, which were then disseminated via social media by his family and supporters. The letters are a record of both the injustice of the judicial process and how one human rights defender is holding the line against this injustice. The record of his life and struggle in the letters is also an essential history of Thailand. The Article 112 Project, part of the JSEALab, is translating these letters from Thai into English. This is the second volume of Arnon’s prison letters; the twenty-five letters in this collection were written between 16 November 2023 and 11 January 2024.

 

2023

Justice in Translation 6/2023

An Open Letter from the Siamese Communist Party to the Masses on the Rule of the People‘s Party, introduced and translated by Peng Ai.

This leaflet, produced and disseminated by the Siamese Communist Party and Siamese Communist Youth League in 1932, serves as an open critique and opposition to the newly established People’s Party government after the 1932 Revolution.

Justice in Translation 5/2023

Letters from Prison: Volume 1, written by Arnon Nampa, translated by The Article 112 Project

Arnon Nampa (อานนท์ นำภา), a Thai lawyer, poet, father and human rights defender, was recently imprisoned following conviction of violation of Article 112 in Thailand.  Arnon soon began writing letters from prison, which were then disseminated via social media by his family and supporters. The letters are a record of both the injustice of the judicial process and how one human rights defender is holding the line against this injustice. The record of his life and struggle in the letters is also an essential history of Thailand. The Article 112 Project, part of the JSEALab, is translating these letters from Thai into English. This is the first volume of Arnon’s prison letters; the twenty-five letters in this collection were written between 3 October and 15 November 2023.

Justice in Translation 4/2023

Song lyrics by BLAST translated by Dr. Hka Lum.

This is a translation of two songs by BLAST,  a punk rock band formed by Indigenous Kachin pastors in Kachin State Myanmar whose songs helped launch and grow Myanmar’s first country-wide environmental movement, against the Myitsone Dam. They are featured in the recently-released feature documentary, Above & Below the Ground.

Justice in Translation 3/2023

Dragon (not) for Sale translated by Cypri Jehan Paju Dale.

In Komodo National Park in Eastern Indonesia, the home for the largest living ancient lizard Varanus komodoensis, local communities resist the negative impact of top-down conservation and ecotourism projects and articulate their indigenous knowledge and everyday practice of human-animal conviviality. This article incorporates three Translationa. Translation 1 is a statement by Komodo People delivered to the Indonesian government expressing their refusal to the plan to relocate local communities from the national park. Translation 2 is a letter from Komodo communities and civil society groups to UNESCO, calling the United Nations agency–who designated the area as World Heritage Site in 1991– to take appropriate actions in preventing the calamities caused by the new tourism development plans. Translation 3 is a letter by the Wae Sano Community to the World Bank who financed the geothermal project that put their village at risk.

Justice in Translation 2/2023

The Hunger Diaries translated by The 112 Project.

Between 18 January and  11 March 2023, Tawan, or Tantawan Tuatulanon, and Bam, or Orawan Phuphong, went on a hunger strike to call for justice for detainees and prisoners in Article 112 and other political cases. The Hunger Diaries is a translation of the daily memos their lawyer wrote to update the public on their condition and other details about their case. The memos are a chronology of a political struggle, a diary of increasing physical suffering, and evidence of a ferocious hope for justice.

Justice in Translation 1/2023

“Cruelty as Policy”: The Anti-Infiltration Campaign of the Communist Party of the Philippines by the Melito Glor Command, translated by Veronica Alporha and Patricio N. Abinales.

This is a translation of a memorandum prepared by the Communist Party of the Philippines’ New People’s Army unit, the Melito Glor Command, that provided cadres and commanders a guideline as to how to arrest, interrogate and render judgment on suspected military spies. This served as the model for other units of the Party which faced a similar “problem.”

Click here to watch Vec’s interview with Robert Francis Garcia (Bobby).

2022

Justice in Translation 7/2022

“Oaths and Ordeals in Classical Cambodian Law, 1011–1891,” by anonymous, translated by Trent Walker.

Translations of three Cambodian texts on oaths and ordeals—“Oath of the Guards,” “A Solemn Oath,” and “Law for Ordeals”—dating to 1011, 1693, and 1891 CE, respectively, and grounded in three linguistic phases of the Khmer language: Old, Middle, and Modern. These texts reveal the importance of such oaths and ordeals over time and provide a basis for comparison with similar legal traditions in pre-twentieth-century Burma, Laos, and Siam.

Justice in Translation 6/2022

“A Collection of Protest Materials Opposing the Yuam River Water Diversion Project,”  by the People’s Network of the Yuam, Ngao, Moei and Salween River Basin, translated by Mueda Nawanat and introduced by Zali Fung and Vanessa Lamb.

This collection, authored by the People’s Network of the Yuam, Ngao, Moei and Salween River Basin, illustrates the range of engagements and forms of resistance by communities impacted by the proposed Yuam River Water Diversion Project, a Thai state-led project. These materials show why and how communities oppose the water diversion project, and the ways they seek to participate in and shape development.

Justice in Translation 5/2022

“Islam as an Ideology,” written by Mohammad Natsir and translated by Megan Brankley Abbas.

In the 1950s, Mohammad Natsir was one of Indonesia’s most prominent Islamic nationalists. His influential essay, “Islam as an Ideology,” argues that Islam encompasses far more than just personal religious beliefs and acts of ritual worship. It also establishes social, economic, and political principles and thus should, according to Natsir, play an integral role in the nascent Indonesian state. 

Justice in Translation 4/2022

“You or me who pretended to know?” written and translated by Phana P.

This translation of a performance piece, first created in August 2020 during the beginning of the ongoing struggle for democracy in Thailand, reflects the profound creativity questioning of authority that is part of this struggle.

Justice in Translation 3/2022

“Casual Casualty and Eliminated,” written and translated by Khải Đơn.

These two acute poems, written in Vietnamese and translated into English by Khải Đơn, refract the everyday fear and violence present and lingering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice in Translation 2/2022

“Lao Phaen, 11/4/2015,” by Patiwat Saraiyaem, translated by Peera Songkünnatham.

A classic nineteenth-century song, reimagined under lèse majesté. Uncensored for the first time.

Justice in Translation 1/2022

“Instructions and Lessons to Keep,” by Jose F. Lacaba, translated by David Michael M. San Juan.

This is an English translation of an ode to personal and collective survival that would certainly be comforting at the very least, and inspiring, at the very most in these perilous times. A gritty and grounded “Desiderata” (Max Ehrmann, 1927) to help us all heal and carry on.

2021

Justice in Translation 7/2021

Constitutional Court Ruling No. 19/2564: A Selection of Documents, translated by Tyrell Haberkorn.

On 10 November 2021, the Constitutional Court of Thailand ruled that the peaceful protests and calls for reform of the institution of the monarchy by activists in 2020 constituted overthrow of rule by democracy with the king as head of state. In this selection of documents, the petition submitted to the Constitutional Court requesting this ruling, the counter statements submitted by the activists, and the full Constitutional Court ruling are translated. The ruling raises significant questions about the meanings of democracy, law, and sovereignty in the Thai polity.

Justice in Translation 6/2021

“My Will,” by Dr Thiha Tin Tun, translated by Astraia Eugene

This is a  letter written in advance by a fallen hero, a young physician, in the Spring Revolution against the military in Myanmar. Before going out to protest, the writer said goodbye to his family members and beloved ones and urged them to remain alive even though he is not present anymore. 

Justice in Translation 5/2021

Constitutional Court Ruling No. 20/2564, issued by the Constitutional Court of Thailand, translated by Chalermrat Chandranee

On 5 December 2021, the Constitutional Court of Thailand released a ruling  that the provision in the Civil and Commercial Code which stipulates that marriage shall only be between a man and a woman is constitutional. This decision has significant impacts on questions of LGBTQIA+ rights in Thailand and the role of the Constitutional Court in protecting, or derogating, these rights.

Justice in Translation 4/2021

Legend of Sapang-Bato,” by Fanny A. Garcia, translated by John Andrew M. del Prado

This story is about a young woman working in a retirement home as she recounts the story of an old woman who refuses to stay. What she learns is the struggle of poor farmers whose lives were lost after they fought for their lands forcibly taken from them by the government in the Philippines.

Justice in Translation 3/2021

“Little children play with fire,” by NANA, translated by May Chong

With a title derived from a nationalist tune, Nana’s ‘Anak kecil main api’ delivers a searing rebuke to the adults who have failed their children in the face of disaster. May Chong’s translation has endeavoured to preserve the original’s rhythm together with its evocative imagery. This is their first collaboration after becoming friends and colleagues in the Malaysian spoken word scene.

Justice in Translation 2/2021

“Justice in Thought,” by Muhammad Dudi Hari Saputra, translated by Christopher Hulshof

In this article, Indonesian scholar Muhammad Dudi Hari Saputra critically analyzes the pervasiveness of intellectual hierarchies in Indonesian society and disparate quality of higher education outside of the island of Java. By singling out the experience of Papuans, his critique of Indonesia’s academic culture is delicately linked to larger injustices perpetrated upon Papua by the nation’s center of power. Ultimately, the author leaves readers to ponder whether physical injustices can be prevented without first examining the less tangible injustice in our own thoughts.

Justice in Translation 1/2021

“Legal Reform, Where Are You Going?” by Eryanto Nugroho, translated by James Llewellyn

The renowned legal reform activist Eryanto Nugroho argues in his essay “Legal Reform, Where Are You Going?” that attempts to undermine Indonesia’s premier anti-corruption agency has placed the country at a crossroads. Everyday Indonesians need to see the hard-won rule of law reforms that were achieved after the collapse of the New Order authoritarian regime as milestones. By viewing the reforms as milestones, the Indonesian people can determine for themselves where the country is heading and whether it is truly moving in the right direction.