On May 8th, the Human Rights Program, in collaboration with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, held an awards ceremony to recognize the tremendous work of undergraduate students in the field human rights. Alongside the work of the Human Rights Program Student Advisory Board, the event celebrated the contributions made by students Aisha Galaydh and Kenneth Gonzales with the Inna Meiman Award and Sullivan Ballou Award, respectively.
On May 7, Ore Koren from the departments of Political Science and Applied Economics led the final Holocaust, Genocide and Mass Violence workshop, an initiative of the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In this final installment, Koren presented his quantitative research, which analyzed the patterns of rarity of state reparations as a remedy to victims around the world following instances of mass violence.
On 8 April 2015 Chief Prosecutor to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda issued a statement in regards to the alleged crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Following her arrival to the court in the summer of 2014, her office has received immense pressure to address these systematic atrocities characterizing the conflict. The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) has been accused of perpetuating a series of internationally recognized crimes, including mass executions, sexual slavery, rape, gender-based violence, torture, forced recruitment of children, and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. Bensouda recognized and acknowledged the severity of the situation in Iraq and Syria, which serves to threaten regional and global peace.
On April 24th, in memory of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Institute for Global Studies, the Human Rights Program, the Department of Sociology, and the Ohanessian Chair hosted a conference to promote understanding of mass violence, in general, and the Armenian Genocide, in particular, and analyze the implications of such events in a public context. The first session of the conference consisted of three different speakers who spoke on the topic of survival, trauma and resilience.
Professor Alejandro Baer from the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Yagmur Karakaya from the Department of Sociology led the penultimate session of this series of HGMV workshops by presenting their work on Holocaust memory politics in Spain and Turkey. Particularly relevant due to the timing of Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Day of the Republic of Spain and the criminal implications of their work in Turkey today, Baer and Karakaya spoke on the effects of recognition and memory of genocide, in general, and the Holocaust, in particular, in the countries of Spain and Turkey.
Mike Alberti, the Human Rights Scribe for 2015, is a second-year Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota. Alberti comes to the fellowship with an interest in the connection between writing and expression for prisoners in Minnesota. For the past year, he has been working with a group called the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW), a local non-profit organization that provides creative writing classes in Minnesota state prisons. The Scribe fellowship will allow him to continue teaching in prison over the summer, as well as to assist with administrative duties, including helping to organize a public reading of the work of incarcerated writers.
This summer, five students from colleges in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area will begin their work at the new, Minneapolis-based non-profit organization, Prison Nursery Project. The focus of their work will be on investigating the impact of incarcerating mothers with their young children in prisons throughout the world, with the overall goal of documenting and bringing to light the serious developmental and human-rights-related implications of such imprisonment.
As part of the University's Guy Stanton Ford Lecture Series, author and activist Bryan Stevenson spoke to a full crowd at Northrop Auditorium on issues surrounding contemporary and historical injustice in the legal system of the United States. Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, working primarily to advocate for young children, juveniles, and adults who are facing mandatory life sentences and/or a death penalty.
Earlier this semester, Carrie Oelberger presented her research project called "A Thousand Wildflowers or a Formal Garden? International Grantmaking and the Structuring of Transnational Society" at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The project addresses the way in which foundations disproportionately disperse the majority of their grant money to NGOs in first world countries rather than concentrating on giving money to organizations located in developing countries. She questions if grant giving takes the organized form of a metaphorical garden or if funding is more scattered and diverse, as in a field of wildflowers.
Each spring, the Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies celebrate the tremendous work of students in human rights with the Inna Meiman Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to nominate an undergraduate student who has truly been impressive in their human rights work. Self-nominations are also accepted. The awards will be given out at a luncheon ceremony on Friday, May 8th.