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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shannon Golden's Field Research in Uganda

Human Rights minor Shannon Golden, a PhD candidate in Sociology, spent most of 2011 in Uganda conducting field research for her dissertation on community reconstruction after atrocity. This slideshow documents her process. First, Shannon spent time getting to know the communities in which she conducted interviews. Then, with a team of research assistants from Uganda, she interviewed people from three villages to find out what they thought about rebuilding following atrocity. Currently, Shannon is analyzing the interviews, and she will begin to write her dissertation soon.



Human Rights minor Shannon Golden, a PhD candidate in Sociology, spent most of 2011 in Uganda conducting field research for her dissertation on community reconstruction after atrocity. This slideshow documents her process. First, Shannon spent time getting to know the communities in which she conducted interviews. Then, with a team of research assistants from Uganda, she interviewed people from three villages to find out what they thought about rebuilding following atrocity. Currently, Shannon is analyzing the interviews, and she will begin to write her dissertation soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Write for Rights Day!

In honor of International Human Rights Day (December 10), Amnesty International hosts the largest human rights event in the world: Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon. Hundreds of thousands of people write letters, participate in postcard campaigns, and demand that the human rights of individuals around the world are respected, protected, and fulfilled. Last year, the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights hosted an event on the University of Minnesota campus that saw 350 people write over 800 letters. This year, we have coordinated our efforts to present students with letters, postcards, and petition signatures written to local, state, national, and international leaders on topics including human trafficking, LGBT rights, torture, and immigration detention, along with letters provided by Amnesty International on rights of prisoners of conscience.

Come join us in the Willey Hall Atrium from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Friday, December 9, to stand up for human rights!



In honor of International Human Rights Day (December 10), Amnesty International hosts the largest human rights event in the world: Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon. Hundreds of thousands of people write letters, participate in postcard campaigns, and demand that the human rights of individuals around the world are respected, protected, and fulfilled. Last year, the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights hosted an event on the University of Minnesota campus that saw 350 people write over 800 letters. This year, we have coordinated our efforts to present students with letters, postcards, and petition signatures written to local, state, national, and international leaders on topics including human trafficking, LGBT rights, torture, and immigration detention, along with letters provided by Amnesty International on rights of prisoners of conscience.
Come join us in the Willey Hall Atrium from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Friday, December 9, to stand up for human rights!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rice University Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellowships on Human Trafficking


Rice University Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellowships on Human Trafficking

Rice University is accepting applications for year-long faculty fellowships to participate in the inaugural Rice Seminar "Human Trafficking - Past and Present: Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Disciplines." Seeking applicants from any rank (postdoc to senior) and all disciplines whose research interests intersect with the humanistic and scientific study of slavery and human trafficking from the Classical era to the present. Fellows will take part in a year-long academic think tank, leading to the publication of papers in an edited collection with a major university press. We offer $60,000 salary, benefits, and a research/relocation allowance. Deadline January 17, 2012; visit http://hrc.rice.edu/riceseminars for details and to apply.

Rice University Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellowships on Human Trafficking
Rice University is accepting applications for year-long faculty fellowships to participate in the inaugural Rice Seminar "Human Trafficking - Past and Present: Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Disciplines." Seeking applicants from any rank (postdoc to senior) and all disciplines whose research interests intersect with the humanistic and scientific study of slavery and human trafficking from the Classical era to the present. Fellows will take part in a year-long academic think tank, leading to the publication of papers in an edited collection with a major university press. We offer $60,000 salary, benefits, and a research/relocation allowance. Deadline January 17, 2012; visit http://hrc.rice.edu/riceseminars for details and to apply.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter Student Speaker Conference: Righting Human Wrongs

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Development is hosting their biannual student speaker series. The title is: "Righting Human Wrongs: the Value of Rights in International Development". The theme is defined broadly, seeking a diversity of theoretical and practical perspectives on any relevant issue, event, population, or geographic area.

At the conference, each selected student will give a 15-20 minute presentation based on his or her paper, followed by a brief Q&A. After all speakers have made their presentations, there will be a moderated panel session with all presenters and open discussion to tie together the ideas presented. The panel session will explore links between the student's presentations and the value of taking an interdisciplinary approach to this theme.


Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Development is hosting their biannual student speaker series. The title is: "Righting Human Wrongs: the Value of Rights in International Development". The theme is defined broadly, seeking a diversity of theoretical and practical perspectives on any relevant issue, event, population, or geographic area.
At the conference, each selected student will give a 15-20 minute presentation based on his or her paper, followed by a brief Q&A. After all speakers have made their presentations, there will be a moderated panel session with all presenters and open discussion to tie together the ideas presented. The panel session will explore links between the student's presentations and the value of taking an interdisciplinary approach to this theme.
Presentations and Speakers:
"Stability through Services: Army Tactical PSYOP Perspectives on Operation Iraqi Freedom"
Eric Peffley, 1L student, Law School
"The Challenges of Human Rights Reporting in Transitional Countries"
Hindolo Pokawa, Ph.D. Candidate, Comparative International Development Education, Director of Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy
"Viewing Human Rights Functionalities in a Historical and Geopolitical Setting: Thick or Thin Vernacular?"
Emily Springer, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology
"Promises to Keep and Miles to Go: The Situation of Child Rights in India"
Parul Sheth, Humphrey International Fellow
"Human Rights and Development in Conflict: The Case of Urabá, Colombia"
Brandon Wu, Master of Public Policy Candidate, Humphrey School
Moderator: Allison Zomer, Master of Development Practice, Humphrey School
Date: December 2, 2011
Time: 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm (food and refreshments provided)
Location: Walter Library Room 101

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Human Rights Graduate Student Colloquium

Each semester, the Human Rights Program holds at least one colloquium that focuses on students research. This semester's colloquium will take place on December 6th from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 260 of the Social Sciences Building. Two graduate minors in human rights will give presentations on their research:

Shannon Golden (Sociology) will discuss "After Atrocity: Community Reconstruction in Northern Uganda." After 25 years of civil war that displaced nearly the entire population from their homes, the people of northern Uganda have finally moved back to their home villages and are working to rebuild. Using data from 90 in-depth interviews, this study explores the process of social reconstruction in three resettled communities. Residents discuss their perceptions of relationships with neighbors, unity, interdependence, conflict resolution, and other issues that reveal a great amount of complexity in their efforts to make sense of their new lives at home.

Chris Strunk (Geography) will present on "Resisting Federal-Local Immigration Enforcement Partnerships: Redefining "Secure Communities" and Public Safety." Constructing undocumented immigrants as a security threat has allowed the government to justify extraordinary measures that have pushed immigration enforcement increasingly inward from the border. The Secure Communities program, which integrates federal criminal and immigration databases to identify and deport undocumented immigrants, represents only the latest attempt. Using the Washington DC metropolitan area as a case study, this paper shows how advocates and activists are challenging discourses that conflate undocumented immigrants with criminality while simultaneously articulating alternative understandings of community and public safety.

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy and the Responsibility to Protect

On Tuesday, November 22, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, a former Canadian Minister of External Affairs, will speak about the Responsibility to Protect principle. Dr. Axworthy has served twice as President of the UN Security Council. He is know for his advocacy of an International Criminal Court and for his work on the abolition of land mines, for which he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The event will take place in room 25 of Mondale Hall from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
lloydaxworthy.jpeg

The rights of States traditionally trumped the rights of people. But in 2005 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a fundamentally new concept of what sovereignty meant, declaring that it not only gave States certain rights, but also entailed the responsibility of States to protect their own citizens.
Further, the new doctrine stipulated that when States failed to uphold this responsibility, the international community, acting through the UN, had not only a right, but an obligation, to act in the interest of endangered populations and could even use force to do so, though only as a last resort, when all other means of peaceful intervention had been exhausted.
Laudable though the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine appears, it must be admitted that the international resolve to apply it has been wanting on multiple occasions. Why this is so and what can be done about the problem will be addressed by Dr. Axworthy during the course of his presentation.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Women of War: The Struggle of Afghan and Iraqi Women for Democracy

Recognizing the importance of women's situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Human Rights Program and the Advocates for Human Rights are presenting a two-phase Conference on Women of War: The Struggle of Afghan and Iraqi Women for Democracy. The first phase of the conference will consist of a panel discussing issues of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the impact of the United States' exit strategy on women's rights. The Advocates' Women's Program Director Cheryl Thomas will moderate the panel. Panelists include Anila Daulatzai, a professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University; Haider Hamza, an Iraqi Photo Journalist; and Yousef Baker, a sociology PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This event is free and open to the public.

November 1, 2011
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

University of Minnesota Law School
Walter F. Mondale Hall, Room 30


Recognizing the importance of women's situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Human Rights Program and the Advocates for Human Rights are presenting a two-phase Conference on Women of War: The Struggle of Afghan and Iraqi Women for Democracy. The first phase of the conference will consist of a panel discussing issues of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the impact of the United States' exit strategy on women's rights. The Advocates' Women's Program Director Cheryl Thomas will moderate the panel. Panelists include Anila Daulatzai, a professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University; Haider Hamza, an Iraqi Photo Journalist; and Yousef Baker, a sociology PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This event is free and open to the public.
November 1, 2011
5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
University of Minnesota Law School
Walter F. Mondale Hall, Room 30

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights

On Monday, October 9th, the Human Rights Program and the Creative Writing Program held a conference entitled My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights. The conference featured prominent writers and professors from the University of Minnesota and Kingston University in London.

Celebrated writer and University of Minnesota Regents Professor Patricia Hampl chaired the first panel, "The Voice of Human Rights: Teaching Narrative Writing." In introducing the panel, Hampl noted that memoir is the act of using the self as an instrument to render the world. First person voice serves to illuminate our inner lives, which help us to understand external events. The Diary of Anne Frank, the inner voice of one girl, has allowed us to in some sense more personally conceived of the horrors of the Holocaust. The first group of panelists consisted of Annette Kobak (Joe's War: My Father Decoded), Nuruddin Farah (Crossbones), Vesna Goldswrothy (Chernobyl Strawberries), and Emin Milli (eminmilli.posterous.com). Kobak spoke particularly of the use of voice in activism. The tool of dictators, she said, is silence, while voice is the tool of writers and advocates. Farah stated that "the only way to fight injustice is to expose it." Writers, in telling stories, retain the voices of those who have been exposed to injustices. Goldsworthy focused on the duty of the memoir. The act of writing a memoir is, in some cases, the refusal to submit to a narrative decided by those in power. As such, writing is a form of dissent. Milli described his experience with blogging and protest.
In the keynote speech, "Bearing Witness to Atrocity: Forms, Motives, Ethics," Professor James Dawes of Macalester College outlined the ethical questions of writing about human rights. Bearing witness is the creation of an accurate account of our time for future generations, stated Dawes. However, the act of bearing witness is embroiled in several paradoxes. For instance, trauma is that which cannot be integrated. Trauma is incomprehensible by definition. So how do you tell the story that cannot be told? Human rights writers face the challenge of understanding incomprehensible events and relaying that understanding without skewing the reality behind the events.
The afternoon panel, "Reading Across Borders and Genres: Linking the Humanities and Social Sciences in Human Rights Curricula," was chaired by Brian Brivati of the John Smith Memorial Trust. The panelists represented the disciplines of political science (Kathryn Sikkink), English (Meg Jensen), history (Elaine Tyler May), Spanish and Portuguese studies (Ana Forcinito), and African studies (Charlie Sugnet). This panel focused on the potential for inter-disciplinary study of human rights. Sikkink noted that the social sciences concentrate on why questions, which supplement the what questions that other disciplines like law tend to focus on. Jensen pointed out that writing (fiction, memoir) can provide a more complex view of the truth than trials. May stated that the historical perspective is often useful when thinking about human rights. Forcinito discussed the role of testimonial writing in Latin American studies. These testimonies provide insight into some of the key actors in the human rights movement, but they are often overlooked in by other disciplines. Sugnet, like Jensen, described the power of storytelling, referencing film specifically, in providing the most accurate truth. The inter-disciplinary model provides a platform for greater inquiry into human rights study.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video from My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights


If you couldn't make it to the conference, or just want to see it again, here is the video. Part 1 covers the first panel (The Voice of Human Rights: Teaching Narrative Writing), as well as the keynote speech by Jim Dawes. Part 2 covers the second panel (Reading Across Borders and Genres: Linking the Humanities and Social Sciences in Human Rights Curricula).


Part 1

Part 2


"Migrant Rights: The Perilous Journey from Central America to the United States" (Monday, Oct. 24, 2011)

The Advocates for Human Rights presents "Migrant Rights: The Perilous Journey from Central America to the United States," an event featuring Nancy Garcia. Garcia is visiting from Oaxaca, Mexico, where she works for the non-profit migrant support center COMI (Center for the Orientation of Migrants). The Center is integrally linked to the national migrant support network and provides services such as workshops and orientation for migrants and a point of contact and referral for family members of migrants trying to locate their displaced loved ones. Nancy will speak about migration trends in Oaxaca (as a place of origin, transit, and return) and about the experience of migrants from Central America as they travel across Mexico. Recently, she has been active in events organized in Oaxaca to bring attention to the violence and dangers that Central American migrants face on their way north.

The event will be held at The Advocates for Human Rights (330 Second Avenue South, Suite 800, Minneapolis, MN 55401) on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 from noon - 1 PM. Questions should be directed to Sarah Herder at sherder@advrights.org or 612-746-4691.

Minnesota International NGO Network (MINN)

Minnesota International NGO Network (MINN)'s mission is to be a forum for international practitioners and supporters to learn, network, and exchange professional expertise. The core focus of the work is the exchange between practitioners who work in Minnesota-based NGOs that work abroad. Visit the organization's website for more information.
http://www.minnesotangos.org/

Monday, September 26, 2011

fundraiser2.jpg

Join the Human Rights Program and the Creative Writing Program for a fundraiser for the Scribes for Human Rights on Sunday, October 9. The reception will offer a more intimate opportunity to meet some of the incredible writers, scholars and human rights activists who will be featured in our conference. Tickets are $100 per person. Visit giving.umn.edu/hrp to donate.

Featured human rights storytellers Brian Brivati, James Dawes, Nuruddin Farah, Vesna Goldsworthy, Patricia Hampl, Meg Jensen, Annette Kobak, Emin Milli, Kathryn Sikkink and Claire Stanford will be present. Creative prose can help us understand the effects of incomprehensible human rights atrocities, in a way that news reports simply cannot. With that in mind, the Scribes for Human Rights Fellowship provides a summer stipend for a current creative writing graduate student to produce a narrative work on human rights and engage deeply with the issues of our time.


Life Writing2.jpg


Brian Brivati is director of the John Smith Memorial Trust. He was previously professor of contemporary history at Kingston University.
James Dawes teaches U.S. and comparative literature at Macalester College. He is the author of That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity and The Language of War.
Nuruddin Farah is a Somali novelist and currently holds the Winton Chair in the Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. His award-winning fiction focuses on human rights issues in Somalia.
Vesna Goldsworthy is the writer of Chernobyl Strawberries, a memoir of her native Yugoslavia. She is a reader in English and creative writing at Kingston University in London.
Patricia Hampl is a Regents Professor with the University of Minnesota's Creative Writing Program and a celebrated author. Her memoir The Florist's Daughter won the won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction.
Meg Jensen is Deputy Head of School of Humanities at Kingston University, London. She publishes creative writing and literary criticism, with a focus is upon writers' lives. She has recently completed her second novel.
Annette Kobak is a writer and broadcaster. Her latest book, Joe's War: My Father Decoded, was Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.
Emin Milli is a well-known Azerbaijani blogger who was imprisoned in 2009 for his political activities. He is co-founder of the AN Network.
Kathryn Sikkink is a Regents Professor and the McKnight Presidential Chair of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Her most recent book is The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing the World.
Claire Stanford is an MFA candidate in creative fiction and non-fiction writing at the University of Minnesota. She is the current Human Rights Scribe. Her work appears on the grist.org Food Studies blog.
This reception will take place in the Upson Room of Walter Library (Room 102, 117 Pleasant Street SE, University of Minnesota East Bank). Our goal is to raise $25,000 to endow the fellowship. We ask that you consider a minimum contribution of $100 to help us reach that goal. RSVP by September 30 to hrp@umn.edu or 612-626-7947.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Advocates for Human Rights Human Rights Education House Party



The Advocates for Human Rights will be hosting a Human Rights Education House Party on September 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the home of Ted Irgens.
2115 Pillsbury Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
For more information or to RSVP, visit http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/human_rights_education_house_party.html.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ongoing Dialogues: Memory and Human Rights

This international symposium, beginning on September 29th, will address the role that literature, art and film play in the struggles against enforced disappearance, torture, degrading treatment, forced prostitution, human trafficking, violence against immigrants, gender violence, and femicide. We seek to address the relations between artistic practices and struggles against impunity and between aesthetics and ethics, and to give visibility to current human rights concerns and to the design of practices of memory.

This international symposium, beginning on September 29th, will address the role that literature, art and film play in the struggles against enforced disappearance, torture, degrading treatment, forced prostitution, human trafficking, violence against immigrants, gender violence, and femicide. We seek to address the relations between artistic practices and struggles against impunity and between aesthetics and ethics, and to give visibility to current human rights concerns and to the design of practices of memory.
Speakers include:
Jean Franco, Columbia University "The Ghostly Arts"
David William Foster, Arizona State University "Helen Zout's Desapariciones: Shooting Death"
Ileana Rodríguez, Ohio State University "Operación Pájaro: Expediente 27, 1998. Obispo Gerardi: enemigo del estado"
Horacio Castellanos Moya, Writer, Journalist READING from Insensatez y Tirana memoria
Duane Krohnke, University of Minnesota "The Interactive Global Struggle Against Impunity for Salvadorean Human Rights Violators"
Guillermina Walas, Independent Scholar "Ciudad y memoria: reclamos de justicia a través de las marcas testimoniales de La Plata (Argentina)"
Margarita Saona, University of Illinois at Chicago "Memory Sites: From Auratic Spaces to Cyberspace in Peruvian Embattled Memories"
Amy Kaminsky, University of Minnesota "Memory, Postmemory, Prosthetic Memory: Reflections on the Holocaust and Argentina's Dirty War"
Alma López, Artist, Activist, Visual storyteller "La Llorona Desperately Seeking Coyolxauhqui"
Hernán Vidal, University of Minnesota "Verdad universal: notas jurídicas para una hermenéutica cultural basada en los derechos humanos"
Alicia Kozameh, Writer READING from Pasos bajo el agua, 259 saltos, uno inmortal, Mano en vuelo, y "Bosquejo de alturas"
Barbara Frey, University of Minnesota "Forms and Practices of Human Rights Advocacy"
Patrick J. McNamara, University of Minnesota "Memory Without Metaphor: Cognition and the Art of Human Rights in Mexico"
Raul Marrero Fente, University of Minnesota "Ethics and Law in the Inter-American Human Rights System"
Luis Martín Estudillo, University of Iowa "The Banality of Torture? Earning Democratic Credentials Under Franco"
Miguel Rep, artist, cartoonist "Del derecho humano al humor"
Regina Marques, Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal "Women's Rights as Human Rights. Vulnerabilities in Portugal and in Europe. The Gap Between the Law and Life"
Javier Sanjinés, University of Michigan "Estética y derechos humanos bajo la dictadura en Bolivia: el monumentalismo de Fernando Díez de Medina"
Alicia Gaspar de Alba, UCLA READING from Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders
Leigh Payne, University of Minnesota. "The Struggle Against Silence and Forgetting in Brazil"
Alexis Howe, Dominican University "Madness and Disappearance: El infarto del alma by Diamela Eltit and Paz Errázuriz"
Ofelia Ferrán, University of Minnesota "Mala gente que camina, by Benjamín Prado: Uncovering the Plot of Franco's 'Stolen Children' in Contemporary Spain"
Ana Paula Ferreira, University of Minnesota "Lidia Jorge's A Última Dona: Witnessing the New (?) 'Banality of Evil' in Post-Dictatorship Portugal"
Félix de la Concha, Artist "Facing Memories: Portraits with Testimonies"
The event will take place on:
Thursday September 29, 9 am-5 pm
Friday September 30, 9 am-7 pm
Saturday September 31, 9 am-2.30 pm
Maroon Room, McNamara Alumni Center 200 Oak St. SE Minneapolis, MN 55455
Contact Prof. Ana Forcinito (aforcini@umn.edu) or Prof. Jaime Hanneken (hanne045@umn.edu) for more information.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Literary and Human Rights Worlds to come together at October conference

At its core, human rights is a field of storytelling. As advocates, journalists, teachers and artists, we attempt to construct comprehensible stories out of the incomprehensible atrocities we observe through our work and study. We write to make sense of the things we've seen, to weigh the costs of our commitments to human dignity, and to remember what difference, if any, we feel we have made.

On October 10, 2011, the Human Rights Program and the Creative Writing Program are hosting a day-long series of events featuring writers, scholars, advocates, and artists from around the world. The conference, My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights, will explore the links between literary work, specifically memoir and the first person voice, with human rights testimony, scholarship and field work.

At its core, human rights is a field of storytelling. As advocates, journalists, teachers and artists, we attempt to construct comprehensible stories out of the incomprehensible atrocities we observe through our work and study. We write to make sense of the things we've seen, to weigh the costs of our commitments to human dignity, and to remember what difference, if any, we feel we have made.
On October 10, 2011, the Human Rights Program and the Creative Writing Program are hosting a day-long series of events featuring writers, scholars, advocates, and artists from around the world. The conference, My Letter to the World: Narrating Human Rights, will explore the links between literary work, specifically memoir and the first person voice, with human rights testimony, scholarship and field work.
Leading the conference, in coordination with Human Rights Program director, Barbara Frey, is Regents professor and acclaimed author, Patricia Hampl. The event will be held at the Coffman Union Theater, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 10. Featured speakers include celebrated writers Nuruddin Farah, Vesna Goldsworthy, Eva Hoffman, Annette Kobak; activist and blogger, Emin Milli, from Azerbaijan; interdisciplinary scholars including Brian Brivati and Meg Jensen from Kingston University, James Dawes from Macalester College, and Ana Forcenito, Elaine May, Kathryn Sikkink and Charlie Sugnet from the University of Minnesota.
The evening of October 10, renowned journalist and author, Philip Gourevitch, will deliver the Esther Freier Lecture at 7:00 pm. at the Coffman Union Theater. Gourevitch wrote the award winning book, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: stories from Rwanda. His writing about societies in conflict and other human rights topics appears as part of his regular contributions to The New Yorker, Granta, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books.
All of the events on October 10 are free and open to the public.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Enemies of the People filmmaker wins top journalism prize

The Human Rights Program is thrilled to offer our sincerest congratulations to Cambodian journalist and genocide survivor, Thet Sambath, who has won the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award for uncovering the secrets of the brutal Pol Pot Regime. His film Enemies of the People will be used as evidence at the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders which starts in Phnom Penh on Monday June 27, 2011. Enemies of the People premiered in Minnesota late last fall.

A Cambodian journalist who spent a decade tracking down and eliciting unprecedented confessions from former Khmer Rouge officials has won the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award. Thet Sambath, 44, a senior reporter with the English-language daily Phnom Penh Post, spent a decade gaining the trust of, among others, Pol Pot's deputy Nuon Chea (aka Brother Number 2). His remarkable results were documented in the award-winning documentary film Enemies of the People which took Special Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival of 2010 and is to air on PBS television in July.

The Knight Award is given annually by the Washington DC-based International Center for Journalists in recognition of media professionals who have taken bold steps to keep citizens informed despite great obstacles. ICFJ said: "[Sambath's film] is arguably the most important documentary about the Khmer Rouge. Within Cambodia its impact was close to home and personal. It will be used as evidence in the trial of Nuon Chea this year, and it brought Cambodians some understanding of that tragic time in their history.

"Enemies of the People is arguably the most important documentary about the Khmer Rouge." International Center for Journalists

Thet Sambath speaking from his home in Phnom Penh said: "I am truly honored to receive this award for my work over the last decade. I believe its recognition will assist greatly in the process of finding out the truth of my country's sad history and enabling us all, victims and perpetrators alike, to move forward together towards a more peaceful and just future."

Sambath lost both his parents and an older brother to the Khmer Rouge. They were among an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians (around 1 in 5 of the population) who died during the regime of the radical communist movement. The deaths were caused by overwork, starvation, execution and massacre.

Enemies of the People shows the personal nature of that investigation. "I knew my parents and all the other victims died in a terrible way. But I didn't know why they died and no-one could tell me. I wanted to try and find out why all this happened. So I tried to speak to the people who did it. Only the killers know the truth."

Working mostly at weekends, in his spare time, Sambath started his research in 1999 a year after the Khmer Rouge movement collapsed. In 2001 he was introduced to Nuon Chea, formerly the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue. Over the following years he built an extraordinary level of trust with the retired revolutionary which led to a series of detailed admissions of the most secret and lethal decisions taken by the Khmer Rouge leadership.

Remarkably, Sambath also built up a network of Khmer Rouge perpetrators around the Cambodian countryside who were also prepared to confess to wide scale killings. Before this there had been little or no admission of killing made by any former Khmer Rouge at any level of the organisation.

Fellow journalists have been unstinting in their praise of Sambath's work.
Elizabeth Becker (author of When the War was Over) wrote: "Sambath has accomplished the equivalent of a miracle. Nothing else like Enemies of the People exists in broadcast journalism."

Seth Mydans (South East Asia correspondent of The New York Times): "He's an extraordinarily imaginative and resourceful journalist, traits that are most evident in his brilliant documentary, Enemies of the People."

Patrick Barta of The Wall Street Journal: "Enemies of the People may be one of the most important films about Cambodia ever made. It works not only as a historical document, but also as a work of art in its own right."

Rob Lemkin, Sambath's British film-making partner, said: "The perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields have spoken and are speaking to him because they trust him and because he has persuaded them at the most profound level that it is in their interests and those of their society to speak - no matter how difficult or dangerous it may be for them. This is an astounding achievement."

The trial of Nuon Chea and three other central committee members of the Khmer Rouge starts on Monday 27th June, 2011 in Phnom Penh in a hybrid court set up jointly by the United Nations and the government of Cambodia. The defendants face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to Agence France Presse: " The only time Nuon Chea -- the movement's chief ideologue -- admitted the regime's murderous tactics was in the 2009 documentary Enemies of the People when he said perceived traitors were killed if they could not be "re-educated" or "corrected".
The Knight Award will be presented to Sambath on November 1, 2011 at the ICFJ Awards Dinner, the biggest international media event held in Washington DC.

The Human Rights Program is thrilled to offer our sincerest congratulations to Cambodian journalist and genocide survivor, Thet Sambath, who has won the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award for uncovering the secrets of the brutal Pol Pot Regime. His film Enemies of the People will be used as evidence at the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders which starts in Phnom Penh on Monday June 27, 2011. Enemies of the People premiered in Minnesota late last fall.
A Cambodian journalist who spent a decade tracking down and eliciting unprecedented confessions from former Khmer Rouge officials has won the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award. Thet Sambath, 44, a senior reporter with the English-language daily Phnom Penh Post, spent a decade gaining the trust of, among others, Pol Pot's deputy Nuon Chea (aka Brother Number 2). His remarkable results were documented in the award-winning documentary film Enemies of the People which took Special Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival of 2010 and is to air on PBS television in July.
The Knight Award is given annually by the Washington DC-based International Center for Journalists in recognition of media professionals who have taken bold steps to keep citizens informed despite great obstacles. ICFJ said: "[Sambath's film] is arguably the most important documentary about the Khmer Rouge. Within Cambodia its impact was close to home and personal. It will be used as evidence in the trial of Nuon Chea this year, and it brought Cambodians some understanding of that tragic time in their history.
"Enemies of the People is arguably the most important documentary about the Khmer Rouge." International Center for Journalists
Thet Sambath speaking from his home in Phnom Penh said: "I am truly honored to receive this award for my work over the last decade. I believe its recognition will assist greatly in the process of finding out the truth of my country's sad history and enabling us all, victims and perpetrators alike, to move forward together towards a more peaceful and just future."
Sambath lost both his parents and an older brother to the Khmer Rouge. They were among an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians (around 1 in 5 of the population) who died during the regime of the radical communist movement. The deaths were caused by overwork, starvation, execution and massacre.
Enemies of the People shows the personal nature of that investigation. "I knew my parents and all the other victims died in a terrible way. But I didn't know why they died and no-one could tell me. I wanted to try and find out why all this happened. So I tried to speak to the people who did it. Only the killers know the truth."
Working mostly at weekends, in his spare time, Sambath started his research in 1999 a year after the Khmer Rouge movement collapsed. In 2001 he was introduced to Nuon Chea, formerly the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue. Over the following years he built an extraordinary level of trust with the retired revolutionary which led to a series of detailed admissions of the most secret and lethal decisions taken by the Khmer Rouge leadership.
Remarkably, Sambath also built up a network of Khmer Rouge perpetrators around the Cambodian countryside who were also prepared to confess to wide scale killings. Before this there had been little or no admission of killing made by any former Khmer Rouge at any level of the organisation.
Fellow journalists have been unstinting in their praise of Sambath's work.
Elizabeth Becker (author of When the War was Over) wrote: "Sambath has accomplished the equivalent of a miracle. Nothing else like Enemies of the People exists in broadcast journalism."
Seth Mydans (South East Asia correspondent of The New York Times): "He's an extraordinarily imaginative and resourceful journalist, traits that are most evident in his brilliant documentary, Enemies of the People."
Patrick Barta of The Wall Street Journal: "Enemies of the People may be one of the most important films about Cambodia ever made. It works not only as a historical document, but also as a work of art in its own right."
Rob Lemkin, Sambath's British film-making partner, said: "The perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields have spoken and are speaking to him because they trust him and because he has persuaded them at the most profound level that it is in their interests and those of their society to speak - no matter how difficult or dangerous it may be for them. This is an astounding achievement."
The trial of Nuon Chea and three other central committee members of the Khmer Rouge starts on Monday 27th June, 2011 in Phnom Penh in a hybrid court set up jointly by the United Nations and the government of Cambodia. The defendants face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to Agence France Presse: " The only time Nuon Chea -- the movement's chief ideologue -- admitted the regime's murderous tactics was in the 2009 documentary Enemies of the People when he said perceived traitors were killed if they could not be "re-educated" or "corrected".
The Knight Award will be presented to Sambath on November 1, 2011 at the ICFJ Awards Dinner, the biggest international media event held in Washington DC.

CPI demands unimpeded humanitarian access to displaced women and children

As violence continues in South Kordofan, as well as in other regions of Sudan's north
and south, Child Protection International calls for freedom of humanitarian movement
and the special protection of children. The violence has displaced thousands and killed
hundreds. It is increasingly difficult to even access the severity of the situation because
certain villages and regions have been cut off from UN monitors and humanitarian aid
completely. Entire communities are being wiped out along ethnic and political lines,
without anyone to witness these atrocities and aid in stopping them. This is a blatant
violation of human rights and amounts to crimes against humanity. It is in crises like
these that humanitarian aid is desperately needed and children are incredibly vulnerable
to violence, abuse and malnutrition.

The violence must stop and there must be complete freedom of movement and
unhindered humanitarian access for all those who want to reach those affected. Without
humanitarian aid, displaced persons, especially children, will not have enough food,
water or physical protection in this conflict ridden region. Child Protection International
echo's UNICEF representative Nils Kastberg's statement that "this is the moment for
President Omar al-Bashir and Vice-President Salva Kiir to send a clear and unequivocal
message - one that reaches all the way down to each and every soldier in the field -- thatthe denial of humanitarian access constitutes a grave violation of human rights."

Children must be protected and cared for by their families, communities and government.
They deserve to live in peace, not in constant fear of violence and chaos. It is time the
Sudanese leaders honor their promises and cease violence; allow humanitarian aid to
move feely and protect the most vulnerable of society, the children.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Publishing Opportunities for Student Scholars

To ensure our students have every opportunity to be recognized for their work on human rights and social justice the HRP has created a comprehensive human rights publication guide. The publication guide offers a complete list of human rights and transitional justice journals from around the world.

For students interested in seeing their work published the publication guide offers detailed information on every journal including submission deadlines and dates, style requirements, contact information of editors, and links to journal websites.

To stay true to the Human Rights Program's commitment to interdisciplinary human rights education the publication guide is broken down by areas of study. Depending on students' areas of expertise and investigation the guide is organized by law reviews, multi-disciplinary journals, and publications that solely publish the work of graduate and undergraduate students.

The Human Rights Program strongly encourages all students to work towards getting articles, papers, and theses published by taking advantage of the wide opportunities for student scholars. To view the publication guide and begin the process of submission follow the link for more information. http://hrp.cla.umn.edu/courses/publications/

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

University of Notre Dame: Graduate Program Manager, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studie

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame (kroc.nd.edu) is searching for a Graduate Program Manager. The Graduate Program Manager administers the Kroc Institute's MA and Ph.D. programs. The MA program enrolls approximately 40 students, many of whom are international students. Students in the program spend five months completing an internship at field site locations around the world. The Ph.D. program will grow to an enrollment of 20-25 students over the next few years.

This position is the main point of contact for students on administrative issues from the time they are admitted into a Kroc Institute academic program until graduation. This includes coordinating travel, housing, and insurance arrangements and payment of stipends; planning and implementing graduate student orientation, workshops and special events; coordinating administration of field internships and masters theses; preparing and updating brochures and handouts about the program; and compiling reports on program activities as requested by the Director of the Masters Program. This position serves as Registrar for the graduate program, assisting students with the registration process and troubleshooting registration issues. Work is occasionally required on evenings and weekends.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:
A Bachelor's degree in a relevant field required; Masters degree preferred. Candidates should have excellent organizational abilities, knowledge of international programs, written and oral communication skills, flexibility, and an ability to handle a variety of tasks and deadlines in a fast-paced environment.

APPLICATION PROCESS:
Please apply online at http://ND.jobs to Job #11193 or visit http://jobs.nd.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=56845. For additional information about working at the University of Notre Dame and various benefits available to employees, please visit http://hr.nd.edu/why-nd.
The University of Notre Dame is committed to diversity (http://diversity.nd.edu/) in its staff, faculty, and student body. As such, we strongly encourage applications from members of minority groups, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and others who will enhance our community. The University of Notre Dame, an international Catholic research university, is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

ArtCorps: Positions available in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize

Join ArtCorps and strengthen sustainable development in Central America with your creative talents. Through theater, storytelling, music, digital media and other creative facilitation techniques, ArtCorps Artists educate and inspire people to participate actively in improving the environmental, health and social conditions in their communities. Each ArtCorps artist works directly with a local development organization that is an expert in its field, strengthening their work through the arts.
Artists will:
• Work and live in his or her host community from January 2012 through December 2012. Artists have the option to extend their stay for a second year if agreed upon by the host organization.
• Receive room and board, medical insurance and a small personal stipend.
• Receive training and technical assistance from ArtCorps staff in the region in order to integrate ArtCorps methodology into the host organization.
Apply now for opportunities in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize! For info and initial application, visit http://www.artcorp.org/Become-an-ArtCorps-Artist. The early application deadline is May 15, 2011 and the regular deadline is June 20, 2011.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Human Rights Scribe, Claire Stanford, using creative writing to promote food justice

IMG_1590.JPG (Claire Stanford, right, pictured with Human Rights Program Director, Barb Frey, left.)

The Human Rights Program and the Creative Writing Program of the Department of English are delighted to announce Claire Stanford as the 2011 Scribe for Human Rights. Claire is a second year Masters of Fine Arts candidate in creative fiction and non-fiction writing. Along with a stellar background in social justice and writing Claire has an extensive history in community service and engagement, making her an ideal recipient of the Scribe for Human Rights fellowship where she will spend the upcoming summer as a writer-in-residence at the Human Rights Program.


For the Scribes Fellowship, Claire will develop and implement a creative writing program with a human rights focus at Gordon Parks High School, a school for "at-risk" youth located in St. Paul, Minnesota, who have limited opportunities for creative expression. Claire's expressed goal for the summer is not only to facilitate creative opportunities for the underserved students at Gordon Parks, but also to create a pilot creative writing curriculum that can be incorporated in other school garden programs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul school districts. Claire's vision for the curriculum is two-fold, moving from a focus on developing skills and confidence to a focus on personal reflection on the many human rights issues that affect this community. Additionally, Claire plans to write both blog posts and essays about the experience and food justice's larger relation to human rights, looking forward toward a potential memoir about the ever-growing school garden movement.
While pursuing her degree in creative writing Claire spends her time as a food writer focusing primarily on social justice issues in the sustainable food movement, and particularly the key human rights issue of food justice. This summer, Claire plans to write a series of blog posts and essays about the experience, placing Gordon Parks' creative output and the issue of food justice within the larger context of human rights. Since Claire ultimately plans to write a memoir about the school garden movement; the Scribe for Human Rights fellowship will be an important first step in the creation of the larger work of Claire's proposed project.
The Scribes for Human Rights Fellowship, inaugurated in 2006, is designed to support a MFA student as they work with the HRP as a writer-in-residence while learning the issues and players making up the field of human rights. By using a creative narrative style the Scribe helps raise the visibility of human rights issues for a broader audience. We have no doubt Claire will excel at the mission of making human rights accessible to everyone and are thrilled to have her join our staff this summer. Congratulations, Claire!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

University of Minnesota Graduate's Story Lives On in Human Rights Scholarship

IMG_1534.JPG Inna Meiman Human Rights Award recipients, Nora Radtke (left) and Morley Spencer (right) pictured with author and activists Lisa Paul (center)

University of Minnesota graduate, Lisa Paul, recently returned to the West Bank to share her human rights success story in the form of her newly released memoir, Swimming in the Daylight. Along with discussing her book Lisa awarded the first Inna Meiman Human Rights Award, a scholarship created in the name of Inna Meiman, the inspiration behind Lisa's past human rights advocacy to two current students, Morley Spencer and Nora Radtke.

Swimming in the Daylight commemorates the relationship between Paul and Inna Meiman, a Jewish Russian refusenik, denied a visa to leave the Soviet Union in order to receive cancer treatment abroad as punishment for participation in the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, the lone human rights advocacy group in the U.S.S.R. during the height of Soviet government control and censorship. In 1985-86, Lisa carried out a 25 day hunger strike to draw national attention to Inna's plight. Her actions spurred national interest in the story and resulted in a visa allowing Inna to come for cancer treatment in the U.S. The Inna Meiman Human Rights Award, created to honor Inna and Lisa's fight for human rights recognizes students at the University of Minnesota who have already shown a dedication to protecting and promoting human rights.

The 2011 award recipients, Spencer and Radtke, friends, colleagues and graduating Global Studies seniors have already shown strong dedication to their studies and future careers to protecting and promoting human rights. Though internships, work and student group involvement Radtke and Spencer have shown time and time again their passion for expanding human rights at home and abroad.

Radtke has worked in various capacities with the Human Rights Program since 2008. As a sophomore, Radtke began interning with Child Protection International (CPI), taking on projects ranging from coordinating events to writing reports to submit to the UN Special Rapporteur on Southern Sudan. While finishing her degree, Radtke, works part-time for the Human Rights Program, is President of the Global Studies Student Association, and serves as a board member for CPI. Human Rights Program Coordinator Rochelle Hammer, who nominated Radtke for this award, stated, "Nora eagerly seeks every opportunity to learn about human rights, to transfer the knowledge she has gained to fellow students, friends, family and colleagues, and to find new ways to advocate for those who suffer" and, "Knowing the background of the award, I have no doubt that if Lisa Paul were to start her hunger strike again tomorrow, Nora would be right behind her, advocating for Inna."

Morley Spencer has also contributed greatly to human rights organizations in the Twin Cities area and abroad. In 2009, Spencer began to intern for the Advocates for Human Rights. In this capacity, she researched and wrote educational human rights materials. After her internship, Spencer continued to volunteer with the Advocates, planning and participating in a variety of events, including legislative advocacy work and tabling at the State Fair. Emily Farrel of the Advocates recommended Spencer for this award, saying, "I am quite impressed with this outstanding young woman and give her my strongest recommendation for professional roles in the future that require intelligence, excellent writing skills, organization, communication skills, human rights service and a positive attitude. She is deserving of recognition for her skills and hard work." Spencer has also volunteered for CPI and has worked in Namibia, where she wrote UN shadow reports and trained students on human rights.

Both Radtke and Spencer are highly deserving of this award and recognition for their work in the human rights field. We congratulate these two passionate activists, wishing them all the best as they continue their work of advancing human rights.




University of Minnesota graduate, Lisa Paul, recently returned to the West Bank to share her human rights success story in the form of her newly released memoir, Swimming in the Daylight. Along with discussing her book Lisa awarded the first Inna Meiman Human Rights Award, a scholarship created in the name of Inna Meiman, the inspiration behind Lisa's past human rights advocacy to two current students, Morley Spencer and Nora Radtke.
Swimming in the Daylight commemorates the relationship between Paul and Inna Meiman, a Jewish Russian refusenik, denied a visa to leave the Soviet Union in order to receive cancer treatment abroad as punishment for participation in the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, the lone human rights advocacy group in the U.S.S.R. during the height of Soviet government control and censorship. In 1985-86, Lisa carried out a 25 day hunger strike to draw national attention to Inna's plight. Her actions spurred national interest in the story and resulted in a visa allowing Inna to come for cancer treatment in the U.S. The Inna Meiman Human Rights Award, created to honor Inna and Lisa's fight for human rights recognizes students at the University of Minnesota who have already shown a dedication to protecting and promoting human rights.
The 2011 award recipients, Spencer and Radtke, friends, colleagues and graduating Global Studies seniors have already shown strong dedication to their studies and future careers to protecting and promoting human rights. Though internships, work and student group involvement Radtke and Spencer have shown time and time again their passion for expanding human rights at home and abroad.
Radtke has worked in various capacities with the Human Rights Program since 2008. As a sophomore, Radtke began interning with Child Protection International (CPI), taking on projects ranging from coordinating events to writing reports to submit to the UN Special Rapporteur on Southern Sudan. While finishing her degree, Radtke, works part-time for the Human Rights Program, is President of the Global Studies Student Association, and serves as a board member for CPI. Human Rights Program Coordinator Rochelle Hammer, who nominated Radtke for this award, stated, "Nora eagerly seeks every opportunity to learn about human rights, to transfer the knowledge she has gained to fellow students, friends, family and colleagues, and to find new ways to advocate for those who suffer" and, "Knowing the background of the award, I have no doubt that if Lisa Paul were to start her hunger strike again tomorrow, Nora would be right behind her, advocating for Inna."
Morley Spencer has also contributed greatly to human rights organizations in the Twin Cities area and abroad. In 2009, Spencer began to intern for the Advocates for Human Rights. In this capacity, she researched and wrote educational human rights materials. After her internship, Spencer continued to volunteer with the Advocates, planning and participating in a variety of events, including legislative advocacy work and tabling at the State Fair. Emily Farrel of the Advocates recommended Spencer for this award, saying, "I am quite impressed with this outstanding young woman and give her my strongest recommendation for professional roles in the future that require intelligence, excellent writing skills, organization, communication skills, human rights service and a positive attitude. She is deserving of recognition for her skills and hard work." Spencer has also volunteered for CPI and has worked in Namibia, where she wrote UN shadow reports and trained students on human rights.
Both Radtke and Spencer are highly deserving of this award and recognition for their work in the human rights field. We congratulate these two passionate activists, wishing them all the best as they continue their work of advancing human rights.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our thanks.

The Human Rights Program wishes to express our delight at the great success of the first International Women's Week. Many thanks to all presenters, participants and event coordinators who all played integral roles in helping to raise awareness in the Twin Cities community to many of the issues facing women around the world today.

We are inspired by the passion of protecting and promoting human rights, social justice and human dignity that is clearly evident in the Twin Cities and University communities by the great participation of students, faculty and community members throughout International Women's week. We look forward to seeing more of the community dedication to human rights in all of our upcoming events.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Minneapolis Welcomes U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

speakerspanels_rashidamanjoo.jpgMinneapolis-Twin Cities residents, including several representatives from the Human Rights Program, had the opportunity to witness a February 2 hearing on domestic violence convened on behalf of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo. Ms. Manjoo's mandate charges her with the task of reporting on the state of violence against women worldwide. She focuses on four broad areas: violence in the home (domestic abuse, incest, etc.), violence in the community (assault, rape, etc.), violence on the state level (in prisons, condoned by law or practice, etc.) and violence against refugees and other migrants. She visited the area as part of a fact-finding mission in the US. Other areas visited included Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Miami, San Francisco, and New York City.

The purpose of Ms. Manjoo's visit, sponsored by the Advocates for Human Rights, was to listen to the testimonies of community members who had suffered as a result of violence against women and to receive written reports from survivors and activists. Seven women told their stories; two were mothers of victims, while the others were survivors themselves. All reported lives lost and/or destroyed by violence against women. Many made suggestions to improve the legal processes that follow domestic abuse or pointed out stumbling blocks in the system. A few community activists also spoke, adding another perspective to the discussion.

The suggestions and stumbling blocks referenced are:

1. Several mentioned that friends and neighbors knew but did nothing. They either felt threatened by the perpetrator or did not know how to help the woman in need.
2. One woman described her struggles with disability access in the court system. The system's inability to cope with her needs prolonged her legal process, which added to her suffering.
3. Several women noted the time and financial strains of prosecution, which often add to the feelings of powerlessness and impede recovery. Some suggested state funding for victims of domestic abuse as well as a wider availability of state-funded counselors.
4. Others pointed to different problems in the court system: unqualified or disrespectful judges in the family court system, inability to receive restraining orders, the issue of child custody battles, and the repeated release of violent offenders.
5. One activist talked about the increased barriers to justice for refugees and non-native English speakers. The court system seems to have inadequate resources available for these women, in terms of translators and competent legal advice. Additionally, there are extenuating circumstances, such as seeking permanent legal status in the US, that may encourage women to stay with abusive partners.
6. Another activist highlighted the role of men in this systemic problem. Violence against women is perpetrated for the most part by men. Men tend to have more political capital. They are more represented in the policy-making and legal spheres. Therefore, they must be part of the solution. Violence against women cannot continue to be seen as a women's issue.
7. One community member requested that someone make a database of refugees/asylees coming to the US for domestic violence reasons. On occasion, those who perpetrated the violence have also sought refuge in the US. When this is granted, the woman is no longer safe. A database of violent offenders against female refugees would protect these women more fully.
8. Many of the survivors described the pressures on family members, especially children, exposed to this violence. Institutionalized mechanisms to support family members must be strengthened.
9. One theme present in most of the testimonies was the need for education, relevant to signs of domestic abuse and what to do in the case of such violence (as both a victim and a friend or family member).

Ms. Manjoo will be publishing a report on her findings in June of 2011. To read this report, when published, and find out more about work in the Twin Cities area to eliminate violence against women, see the Advocates for Human Rights website (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/) and their Stop Violence Against Women Campaign (http://stopvaw.org/).

The Human Rights Program commends the efforts of all of the people who make this event possible, including Ms. Manjoo, the Advocates for Human Rights, all the women giving their testimonies and everyone involved behind the scenes.


speakerspanels_rashidamanjoo.jpgMinneapolis-Twin Cities residents, including several representatives from the Human Rights Program, had the opportunity to witness a February 2 hearing on domestic violence convened on behalf of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo. Ms. Manjoo's mandate charges her with the task of reporting on the state of violence against women worldwide. She focuses on four broad areas: violence in the home (domestic abuse, incest, etc.), violence in the community (assault, rape, etc.), violence on the state level (in prisons, condoned by law or practice, etc.) and violence against refugees and other migrants. She visited the area as part of a fact-finding mission in the US. Other areas visited included Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Miami, San Francisco, and New York City.
The purpose of Ms. Manjoo's visit, sponsored by the Advocates for Human Rights, was to listen to the testimonies of community members who had suffered as a result of violence against women and to receive written reports from survivors and activists. Seven women told their stories; two were mothers of victims, while the others were survivors themselves. All reported lives lost and/or destroyed by violence against women. Many made suggestions to improve the legal processes that follow domestic abuse or pointed out stumbling blocks in the system. A few community activists also spoke, adding another perspective to the discussion.
The suggestions and stumbling blocks referenced are:
1. Several mentioned that friends and neighbors knew but did nothing. They either felt threatened by the perpetrator or did not know how to help the woman in need.
2. One woman described her struggles with disability access in the court system. The system's inability to cope with her needs prolonged her legal process, which added to her suffering.
3. Several women noted the time and financial strains of prosecution, which often add to the feelings of powerlessness and impede recovery. Some suggested state funding for victims of domestic abuse as well as a wider availability of state-funded counselors.
4. Others pointed to different problems in the court system: unqualified or disrespectful judges in the family court system, inability to receive restraining orders, the issue of child custody battles, and the repeated release of violent offenders.
5. One activist talked about the increased barriers to justice for refugees and non-native English speakers. The court system seems to have inadequate resources available for these women, in terms of translators and competent legal advice. Additionally, there are extenuating circumstances, such as seeking permanent legal status in the US, that may encourage women to stay with abusive partners.
6. Another activist highlighted the role of men in this systemic problem. Violence against women is perpetrated for the most part by men. Men tend to have more political capital. They are more represented in the policy-making and legal spheres. Therefore, they must be part of the solution. Violence against women cannot continue to be seen as a women's issue.
7. One community member requested that someone make a database of refugees/asylees coming to the US for domestic violence reasons. On occasion, those who perpetrated the violence have also sought refuge in the US. When this is granted, the woman is no longer safe. A database of violent offenders against female refugees would protect these women more fully.
8. Many of the survivors described the pressures on family members, especially children, exposed to this violence. Institutionalized mechanisms to support family members must be strengthened.
9. One theme present in most of the testimonies was the need for education, relevant to signs of domestic abuse and what to do in the case of such violence (as both a victim and a friend or family member).
Ms. Manjoo will be publishing a report on her findings in June of 2011. To read this report, when published, and find out more about work in the Twin Cities area to eliminate violence against women, see the Advocates for Human Rights website (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/) and their Stop Violence Against Women Campaign (http://stopvaw.org/).
The Human Rights Program commends the efforts of all of the people who make this event possible, including Ms. Manjoo, the Advocates for Human Rights, all the women giving their testimonies and everyone involved behind the scenes.