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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Anna Kaminski and Tenzin Pelkyi Receive Human Rights Awards

AnnaTenzin.jpg The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies are thrilled to announce that Anna Kaminski, a junior majoring in Art, Global Studies and Social Justice, and Tenzin Pelkyi, a senior majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, received the 2nd Annual Inna Meiman Human Rights Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award, respectively.

The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies are thrilled to announce that Anna Kaminski, a junior majoring in Art, Global Studies and Social Justice, and Tenzin Pelkyi, a senior majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, received the 2nd Annual Inna Meiman Human Rights Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award, respectively.
Anna Kaminski
Anna Kaminski pic.jpg
Anna Kaminski has a passion and enthusiasm for human rights activism that is difficult to match. Traveling to Iraq as part of her work with the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP), Anna's passion is what allowed her to remain in the country even after the original teaching project fell through. According to the nomination letter submitted on Anna's behalf, "Without a classroom and with help from the director of the Muslim Peacemaker Team, [Anna] organized classes at restaurants, in people's homes, offices, and elsewhere around the city of Najaf. In addition, [Anna] went door to door organizing a community street clean up and pressured the local government to invest in garbage pick-up." Having been impacted deeply by her visit to Iraq, Anna returned to the states to publish writings about her time there. In addition, photos that she took while abroad have been exhibited in various venues this spring.
In Minnesota, Anna has worked to raise the visibility of human rights issues as one of the organizers of the 2011 and 2012 HeART Show, an arts collaboration featuring dozens of musicians, visual artists, speakers, and organizational co-sponsors. The 2011 HeART Show raised needed funds for the American Refugee Committee. This year's proceed went to Not for Sale, an organization focused on human trafficking.
Tenzin Pelkyi
Tenzin Pelkyi pic.jpg
Tenzin Pelkyi has worked tirelessly to advocate for human rights in her homeland of Tibet, while also striving to support the agency of Tibetan people throughout the diaspora, according to the nomination letter submitted on her behalf. She has used her energy and her voice to organize prayer vigils, march at protest rallies, and speak at demonstrations. Tenzin's leadership has been a vital boost to the work of the U of M chapter of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and to informing the University community about the situation in Tibet. She is currently working to bring Ngawant Sangdrol, the longest serving female Tibetan political prisoner, to the University to share her story. Another of Tenzin's efforts includes fostering peaceful dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese youth.
Tenzin's efforts go far beyond the local. She has been active in lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to support diplomatic action with regard to Tibet and she is currently helping to organize a Minnesota Tibet Lobby Day at the Minnesota State Capitol this session.
Anna and Tenzin clearly have the passion for putting themselves out there to promote and protect human rights. On top of balancing studies, work, friends, families and more, these two exemplary students are working hard every day to create positive change. We say "THANK YOU!"
The Awards
The Inna Meiman Award is given in recognition of the friendship between Inna Meiman, a Soviet era Jewish refusenik who was repeatedly denied a visa to seek medical treatment, and Lisa Paul, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, who fought tirelessly on her behalf, including a 25-day hunger strike that galvanized a movement for Inna's freedom. The friendship between Paul and Meiman is memorialized in the book, Swimming in the Daylight: An American Student, a Soviet-Jewish Dissident, and the Gift of Hope.
This year, we are delighted to establish a new award for undergraduates: The Sullivan Ballou Award is named after Major Sullivan Ballou, an Army soldier killed at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Ballou became the inspiration for this award because of the heartfelt commitment he expressed in a letter to his wife before the battle. The award carries on Ballou's spirit by honoring a student who acts from the heart and devotes heartfelt energy to those around them.
The celebration is hosted by the Human Rights Program in the Institute for Global Studies and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Argentine Muralist Brings Human Rights to Life in Folwell Hall

by Laura Schroeder

DSCN2459.JPGOne of the most striking squares in the human rights mural created by Argentinean artist, Miguel Rep depicts a gun severing the umbilical cord of a pregnant woman with a sinister hand outstretched, poised to snatch her newborn child. This and other images of the "Dirty War" in Argentina came from the artistic production carried out in Folwell Hall from February 29th to March 3rd, 2012.





by Laura Schroeder
"The work of art is a scream of freedom." -Christo

One of the most striking squares in the human rights mural created by Argentinean artist, Miguel Rep depicts a gun severing the umbilical cord of a pregnant woman with a sinister hand outstretched, poised to snatch her newborn child. This and other images of the "Dirty War" in Argentina came from the artistic production carried out in Folwell Hall from February 29th to March 3rd, 2012.
Rep's visit occurred in conjunction with the XVII The State of Iberoamerican Studies Series: Human Rights Across the Disciplines. Professor Ana Forcinito, who invited the muralist, said it was important to showcase Rep's work because "art has the ability to transcend barriers and it formed an important part of the fight against impunity and human rights abuses in Argentina." Besides his art about human rights Rep has created pieces on democracy, the military dictatorship and Argentinean literature. Rep believes that human rights art is depicted less often than it is written and, because of this, he seeks to represent the underrepresented form. Rep acknowledges that "human rights are difficult themes to represent, but art works with this complexity." As Forcinito said, "it is one thing to talk about torture, but it is another to see it."
The mural is composed of twelve colored squares and each individual square in the mural narrates a separate story about human rights. The moment Rep finishes a work, it is no longer his, it has entered the public discourse. When asked about what he wants the public to take from the mural, Rep said that he "hopes that this particular mural is useful to the public", in that it raises questions and discussions. Forcinito was particularly moved by the white spaces present in the mural. She thought that it helped to illustrate the idea that some narratives are unrepresentable, yet still equally present. The mural, which will be on display in Folwell Hall, engages will engage audiences for years to come on human rights issues across several disciplines, as it also gives voice to many underrepresented narratives.