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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership Bids Farewell to Clinical Coordinator, Diana Quintero

Diana Photo.pngIn June the Human Rights Program and our many partners at the University of Minnesota and in Antioquia that comprise our Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership (or "Alianza") bid farewell to our esteemed Clinical Coordinator, Diana Patricia Quintero. Diana was deeply engaged with the development of the Alianza starting in October of 2012 and has been a key contributor ever since. Her efforts on the project focused mainly on enhancing the capacity for human rights legal clinical work at the four Antioquia schools engaged in the Partnership. In particular, she focused on providing the schools with resources and support to advance methodology and pedagogy in the areas of strategic litigation on behalf of vulnerable communities, individual case acceptance and advocacy, and community outreach and education on behalf of vulnerable populations.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

HRP is thrilled to announce Jason Zencka as a 2014 Scribe for Human Rights

The Human Rights Program is thrilled to announce Jason Zencka--an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the University of Minnesota-- as a 2014 Scribe for Human Rights. The goal of the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship is to use creative narrative to reflect the different faces of victims of human rights abuses and to provide a broader array of professional experience to graduate student writers. It tries to create a platform for human rights advocacy through creative art.


Zencka graduated from the St. Olaf University with a B.A in Classics. After graduating, he worked as news reporter for a small newspaper in Wisconsin before moving to Washington D.C., where he spent four years working for the Public Defender Service as an investigator.
Zencka will spend this summer writing a fictional play, The Plea, in which he will discuss the issue of incarcerating an overwhelming percentage of the U.S population. During his time with the Public Defender Service, Zencka witnessed the inside workings of the incarceration system, granting him a deeper understanding of the human consequences associated with high incarceration rates. Inspired by this experience, Zencka chose to focus his creative pursuits on the ethical and humane dimensions of this issue. "The play makes use of the radical idea that the men and women we incarcerate - even those who have done terrible things - still suffer the full range of human feelings. Their humanity doesn't disappear when we stop seeing them. The play is an effort to see these people, to open a window into the hole into which we are throwing almost one percent of our adult population." explained Zencka.
"Working under the banner of the Human Rights Program is an honor. I am thrilled to be invited to take part in the rich and impassioned conversation on human rights the Scribe Fellowship has been hosting for years." stated Zencka.
Written by
Salma Taleb

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Path to Peace for South Sudan

South Sudan Article.pngThe Human Rights Program continues to stay updated with the events occurring in South Sudan, a conflicted region where the HRP has carried out human rights work in the past. Read about HRP's past work with Child Protection International and its Save Yar Campaign. Six months into the civil war in South Sudan, the crisis continues to intensify despite peace overtures made far away from the front lines in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. A fragile peace agreement signed last month between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President turned rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar, has not yet been fully implemented. A report published by the Enough Project presents a guide to the fundamental issues that must be addressed to end South Sudan's new civil war and establish peace and security. The report draws on a wealth of research and analysis from policy and advocacy groups, South Sudanese intellectuals and civil society, and Enough Project conversations over the past six months. Read the report.

Amnesty International requests letter signing for Syrian asylum seekers pressured to return

Reports in the media show that staff at the Manus Island, Papua New Guinea detention centre, run by the Australian Government, are pressuring Syrian asylum seekers to return to Syria where they will be in extreme danger. Read more on the Amnesty International website.

Monday, June 9, 2014

UMN Develops Spanish-Language Resources for Online Human Rights Library

umsmlogo.gifVisit the online library.

Over the course of this past year, the Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership has working to develop access to Spanish-language materials through the Online Human Rights Library. The online library is a great way for the partnership to share information pertinent to Colombia, human rights issues, vulnerable groups, human rights institutions, among humanitarian law, and among other important topics, in a very user-friendly way.

The U of M commemorates the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda through event series

176.jpgOn April 16, 17 & 19, the U of M held a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The commemoration began with the public conference, Genocide and its Aftermath: Lessons from Rwanda, featuring an opening address by Taylor Krauss, founder of Voices of Rwanda, an organization dedicated to filming testimonies of Rwandans to inspire a global sense of responsibility to prevent atrocities.

Krauss theorized that the final stage of genocide is to eliminate its trace, erase its history, so that it is made complete. As such, Krauss has been working since 2006 to film the testimonies of survivors in order to remind us what aftermath really means. He shared excerpts of three of these testimonies, demonstrating survivors' essential need to remember. Krauss concluded his address stressing that listening is not a passive act, it demands a response, reminding the audience that many nations still harbor perpetrators of this horrific crime. See the opening address here.
The first panel, which followed Krauss' address, was titled Rwanda 1994 and its Representations. It examined the failure of nation-states to intervene in Rwanda, the use of commemoration to promote peaceful coexistence, the response of the international human rights community to the genocide, and the narrative on 'lessons learned' surrounding genocide today. The panel was chaired by University of Minnesota Humphrey School Dean, Eric Schwartz, and panelists included University of Minnesota Law School Dean, David Wippman, Director of Research at the Rwandan National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, Jean-Damscene Gasanabo, Director of the Center for Victims of Torture, Curt Goering, and Badzin Fellow, Wahutu Siguru. See the first panel here.
The conferences' second panel, Immediate Aftermaths: Justice, Redress and Memory, explored the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, Gacaca courts, memory, identity, and memorials. The panel was chaired by the University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Director, Alejandro Baer. Panelists included Director of the University of North Dakota (UND) Center for Human Rights & Genocide Studies and Former Legal Officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwand, Gregory Gordon, McKnight Professor of Sociology, Chris Uggen, University of Minnesota Sociology Ph.D. candidate and future Ohio State Assistant Professor, Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at St. Cloud State University, Dan Wildeson, and Brandeis University Sociology Ph.D. candidate, Nicole Fox. See the second panel here.
The final panel, Long-term Implications: Impact, Prevention and Intervention, dealt with the long-term implications of interventions, or non-interventions, on societies that have experienced genocides. The panel was chaired by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Program Director, Barbara Frey. Panelists included Professor of Sociology of Latin America and Director of the Latin American Centre at Oxford University, Leigh Payne, University of California Sociology Ph.D. candidate, Marie Berry, Professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas and a leading scholar in genocide education, Samuel Totten, and Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Macalester College and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Kigali, Rwanda, Jean-Pierre Karegeye. See the third panel here.
Finally, Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, delivered the evening Keynote Address. Dieng addressed the lessons learned of past failures to intervene in the crime of genocide, acknowledging that the United Nations and its member states have not been as effective as they could have been and discusses how current and future atrocities can and should be treated. He discussed the importance of the work of Special Adviser's Office in predicting and preventing mass atrocity, by raising the alarm early to situations that could lead to genocide and by coordinating with all stake holders within and outside of the United Nations to prevent genocide quickly and effectively. Mr. Dieng also called attention to the fact that the public has a role in the process. He noted a special emphasis on young people, with programs planned to allow their voices to be more widely heard in the international political and humanitarian arena. See the keynote address here.
The public conference was followed the next day by a student conference at Coffman Union. Twelve students participated from across the country and world. Students presented papers on three panels, whose themes were Sexual Violence in Mass Atrocity, Western Involvement and Representation of Genocide and Mass Atrocity, and Genocide around the World. Specific topics included Valparaiso student Kayla Nomina's presentation of political cartoons and how they represented genocide and mass atrocity, University of Minnesota student Selena Ranic's presentation on sexual violence and gender discrimination in mass atrocity and Swarthmore University student Daniel Hirschel-Burns' presentation on civilian self-protection.
The final event was an Educator Workshop, held on April 19th. The workshop was conducted by leading genocide scholar Samuel Totten. More than 40 local teachers attended, from elementary, high school and college levels. Totten discussed the meaning of genocide, its legal framework, his past work in Rwanda and his current work in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. Teachers were encouraged to explore their knowledge of genocide and mass atrocity and discuss ways to effectively bring this knowledge to the classroom.
These three events, hosted by the Human Rights Program, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Institute for Global Studies brought together research, practice, academia and activism. Both speakers and attendees were able to participate in all events through questions, public receptions and one-to-one interactions. This commemoration drew attention to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and how the genocide continues to affect daily life in Rwanda today. It also drew attention to other current atrocities happening around the world. With a focus on "Lessons from Rwanda", we hope that the ideas discussed at this series of events will bring about positive change in how atrocities are viewed, represented and responded to in the future.
To view videos and photos from the events, click here.
Written by Kaela McConnon

Students in Antioquia and Minnesota Collaborate on Community-Based Clinical Cases

la picacha.pngOne of the major accomplishments of the UMN - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership thus far has been the work done in regards to the joint clinical cases that both the Colombian universities and the University of Minnesota have been working on, in particular the ongoing case of La Picacha.

Within the country of Colombia, the state of Antioquia, and the city of Medellin, La Picacha is a very large river, which since 2011 has flooded annually, leaving the city residents of Medellin at great risk, particularly in the neighborhoods of Altarista, Belén, and Laureles-Estadio.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Scholar Gabriel Gómez visits the U through the UMN - Antioquia Human Rights Partnership

10394508_504850862977448_1399930758647928571_n.jpgGabriel Gómez is a professor at the University of Antioquia (U de A) whose invaluable insight and leadership has been an important contribution to the University of Minnesota - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership. Learn more about the partnership. In the dynamic international collaboration to develop human rights curriculum, Gabriel's input has enriched the conversation and the project as a whole through his focus on network-building, sustainability, and the enhancement of interdisciplinary human rights study.