April 2013 Archives

HRP Announces New Scribe for Human Rights: Lalinne Suon Bell

Lalinne.jpgThe Human Rights Program is thrilled to announce Lalinne Suon Bell, an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction, as the 2013 Scribe for Human Rights. She received her B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, majoring in Classics and minoring in Political Science. Prior to beginning her MFA, Bell worked as the Fund Development Director and Grant Writer at the United Cambodian Association of Minnesota, Human Services Representative for Hennepin Country, and as a Financial Specialist for Dakota County, where she conducted needs assessments with regard to economic, social, and health-related issues.

Third Annual He(art) Show Raises Over $1,300

heartshow.jpgThe He(art) Show, an annual art show that raises funds for different human rights organizations, took place this past Friday, April 19. This year, the event addressed LGBTQ discrimination in all forms, and featured dance and poetry performances, visual art pieces of many different mediums, and live music from a wide range of genres. The atmosphere was fun, colorful, creative, and supportive, the artwork was beautiful, and the performances were moving. Those who came enjoyed great company, good food, and creative inspiration, all while gaining a deeper understanding of the social justice issues surrounding LGBTQ rights and of the destructive and sometimes devastating consequences of homophobia and transphobia. Proceeds from the event, totaling over $1,300, were donated to the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, an organization committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender nonconforming people through education, resources, and advocacy.

Nepalese Human Rights Defender Visits U of M

jitman.jpgOn March 27th, the Human Rights Program had the privilege of hosting Mr. Jitman Basnet, a devoted and honorable human rights lawyer and journalist from Nepal, to speak to U of M faculty, staff and students about his experiences as an activist and torture survivor. Mr. Basnet has been working for human rights and transitional justice for fifteen years in Nepal, and has witnessed first-hand the devastating consequences of the civil strife there, whose affects continue to resonate seven years after the conflict's end. Because of his stand against violence and repression during the war, Mr. Basnet suffered detention and severe acts of torture by both sides of the conflict. He was witness to extreme violence at the hands of the Maoist rebel forces, and to army atrocity, torture, mistreatment, enforced disappearances, and killings of detainees in the army barracks.

UIC_L.jpgFaculty, staff, and students gathered on April 4th and 5th to participate in the first annual Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Conference (UIC), hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies and the Institute for Global Studies. The conference provided students a unique opportunity to showcase their own work and discuss with others what they are working on. Students presented on a range of topics, from sex trafficking in Eastern Europe to Orientalism and the Middle Eastern Cold War to ethanol production in Brazil. Many focused on topics related to human rights and social justice, which is not unexpected: "The study of human rights is one of the signatures of global studies at the University of Minnesota," said Evelyn Davidheiser, Director of the Institute for Global Studies.

Call for Applications: 2013-14 Student Advisory Board

sab.jpgThe Human Rights Program is seeking six talented and creative undergraduate students with a passion for human rights advocacy and scholarship to join the 2013-14 Human Rights Program Student Advisory Board (SAB). SAB members will develop student-led initiatives on current human rights issues, work as partners with the program's director and staff in providing support for existing HRP projects, and serve as HRP ambassadors among U of M students. This is an excellent opportunity for students to hone tangible skills for effective advocacy in the field of human rights, engage network with human rights faculty and staff within the Program and the broader University, and contribute to the HRP through action, advocacy, and leadership.

Call for Nominations: 2013 Human Rights Awards

tenzin.jpgEach spring, the Human Rights Program celebrates the tremendous work of students in human rights with the Inna Meiman Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award. Faculty and staff: Please help us recognize the work of students in Human Rights by nominating committed undergraduates for the below awards. Students: We encourage you to self-nominate or nominate a peer who has truly impressed you. Please note that all applications and nominations are due by Friday, April 12, 2013.

Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks (NYT)

On any given day, about 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement at the 50 largest detention facilities that make up the sprawling patchwork of holding centers nationwide overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, according to new federal data. Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days. Continue reading...

mladic.jpgOn March 14, the Human Rights Program student assistant, Whitney Taylor, presented her research at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies' Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence workshop. In her talk, Whitney discussed the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), examining the official operations of the tribunal and analyzing public opinion surrounding the court's legitimacy and effectiveness. She found that public opinion of the ICTY was drastically lower in Serbia than in either Bosnia or Croatia, and through her research strove to unearth reasons explaining why.

Dismantling Don't Ask Don't Tell

brown.jpgThe University of Minnesota had the honor of hosting alumnus and guest speaker Greg Brown on Thursday, March 28th. Brown recently retired from his position as senior personnel administrator in the Department of Defense, and he returned to campus to talk with students and faculty about the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy regarding homosexuality within the United States Armed Forces. Brown played a leading role in one of the most significant domestic human rights achievements of the last 20 years: the dismantling of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

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