April 2009 Archives

The Graduate School at the University of Minnesota has recognized an Interdisciplinary Graduate Group on Human Rights and Transitional Justice, providing a community for faculty, grad students and experts to collaborate and share their knowledge on the subject. The purpose of the group is to provide joint research, education and clinical opportunities in the study of effective processes for preventing serious international human rights violations and efforts to bring justice to those whose rights have been violated.

Reporter Sharon Schmickle provides an update on Roxana Saberi's imprisonment in Iran on the basis of her expired press credentials. Originally from Fargo, Saberi has the support of MN human rights activists seeking to defend her rights under the Geneva Convention. Schmickle reports on the shocking parallel in the lack of due process between Saberi's case and those of the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

MinnPost.com

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REUTERS - Roxana Saberi, Fargo native before her arrest in January

Reporter Sharon Schmickle provides an update on Roxana Saberi's imprisonment in Iran on the basis of her expired press credentials. Originally from Fargo, Saberi has the support of MN human rights activists seeking to defend her rights under the Geneva Convention. Schmickle reports on the shocking parallel in the lack of due process between Saberi's case and those of the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

This summer many human rights minor graduate students will travel to sites around the nation and world as interns for various organizations working to promote and protect human rights.

Paul Walters - Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellow 2009
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Friends of Ngong Road, Nairobi, Kenya

The mission of Friends of Ngong Road is to provide education and support for Nairobi children living in poverty whose families are affected by HIV/AIDS so they can transform their lives. Friends of Ngong Road pairs each sponsor with a specific child allowing for a mutually beneficial relationship to develop.

Paul’s role in the organization will likely be to conduct research, explore potential donor opportunities, train staff on quality assurance, and take pictures and video clips for the development of a promotional video.

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(Left to right: Luka Krmpotich, Eric Rosenthal, Rachel Garaghty,Clark Nguyen Barbara Frey and Yi Deng)

The Human Rights Program hosted a meeting on April 17 between Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of Mental Disability Rights International and students interested in pursuing human rights careers. Rosenthal reflected upon his fifteen year career as the founder and head of MDRI, a path he chose after realizing that the rights of the disabled were not being addressed by mainstream human rights organizations. Rosenthal's work at MDRI was launched by a $25,000 fellowship from the Echoing Green Foundation to work on the rights of the mentally disabled. For the first few years of his work, Rosenthal believed that, "If I could just write the perfect human rights report, other NGOs would pick up the issue." He realized quickly that he would need to build his own human rights organization, focused on the extreme violations he witnessed around the world, if any progress were to be made to protect the rights of this vulnerable group.

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(SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, April 10th, a packed crowd of expatriate Liberians, students, professors and
community members gathered at Northrop Auditorium to welcome Liberian President Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected woman president of an African nation.
After a rousing performance of the Liberian national anthem, President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf received the University's highest honor, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
During the month of April, the University of Minnesota will welcome two very important guests working courageously to promote human dignity and ensure equality. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, will speak on April 10th and Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) will speak on April 17. We invite friends of the Human Rights Program to join us in welcoming these two distinguished guests.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will engage in conversation with Humphrey Institute Dean J. Brian Atwood about the current challenges facing her homeland at Northrop Memorial Auditorium on Friday, April 10th at 2:00 pm. President Johnson Sirleaf, internationally known as Africa’s “Iron Lady,” is the first woman to be democratically elected to lead an African nation. She has previously held several positions at the United Nations, including serving as the first woman to lead the Development Project for Africa.

Minnesota-Mexico Connection

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Barbara Frey visited human rights colleagues in Mexico for a week in March to discuss collaborative possibilities for research and training regarding reforms to the criminal justice system in Mexico. Frey was the guest of FLACSO-Mexico (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales), a graduate institute in social sciences with which the Human Rights Program has a partnership. Frey and her FLACSO colleagues met with several experts in law schools, the courts, and the federal public defenders office to discuss the human rights effects of the penal reforms.

International Women's Day 2009 was a great success, drawing over 600 participants from across the state, nation and world. The annual event provides an opportunity for women and men to connect and discuss current issues affecting our local and global communities. Fahima Vorgetts, Women for Afghan Women, and Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, University of Minnesota Law School, opened the day by addressing the many issues facing women in conflict and post-conflict societies.

"The more things change, the more they are the same" commented Professor Ní Aoláin; reflecting on the conditions women face within the context of war. Sexual violence, irreparable reproductive ramifications, likelihood of becoming a refugee or internally displaced and disproportionate economic repercussions, are a systematic reality for women in the context of war. Although women bear the burden of war there is an incredible lack of women's involvement in resolution and peace agreement efforts. Professor Ní Aoláin described the pre-agreement, formal peace agreement and post-agreement processes of conflict resolution as male dominated and often detrimental to the status of women in transitional societies. Not only do the post-conflict processes marginalize the power of women in society, their ambiguity often leads to confusion, misunderstandings and unrealistic demands. In the future, Professor Ní Aoláin would like to see a gendered approach to conflict resolution that looks beyond the Western model of repair.

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Right to Left: Cheryl Thomas, Fahima Vorgetts, Barbara Frey, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (Photo Courtesy of Alex Philstrom)

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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