Hollie Nyseth Brehm, a current graduate human rights minor and PhD candidate in Sociology, recently returned from Bosnia, where she carried out research for her dissertation that investigates the causes and processes of genocide and the spread of violence. The project more specifically focuses on regional and temporal variation in violence, examining why some areas of Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sudan experienced a higher degree of violence during genocide and why some time periods were more violent than others.
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Lalinne Bell, the new Scribe for Human Rights, will focus her summer project on the Cambodian genocide and its impact on survivors. Bell, herself a survivor of the genocide, and her family have lived in the United States for 30 years as refugees. As scribe, she plans to research and write about her family's experience of genocide and assimilation. Bell will conduct interviews with her family members and other survivors, and her personal connection with her interviewees will give her writing a richly intimate quality as she explores the disconnectedness, distrust, and fear innate in Cambodian culture following the genocide.
The Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDF) "awards outstanding Graduate School students with interdisciplinary dissertation topics who would benefit from interaction with faculty at one of the University's interdisciplinary research centers or institutes." Last academic year, two graduate students, Shannon Golden and Corbin Treacy, partnered with the Human Rights Program as part of this fellowship.
As I write this, I'm still coming down from the adrenaline rush of defending my MFA thesis, a book-length essay about the connections between spiritual contemplative practice and the evolution of solitary confinement in American prisons. Looking back, it's difficult for me to imagine what my thesis would have looked like had I not received support from the Human Rights Program through the Scribes for Human Rights Fellowship last summer. The financial support, contacts, and expertise I gained as a Fellow helped me to grasp the terrifying reality of solitary confinement through the impact it has on individual lives.
For the first five months of 2013, thanks to a Fulbright-García Robles award, I have had the pleasure and challenge of teaching and researching about human rights in Mexico. My experience here has been among the most rewarding of my career. I have been based in Mexico City, which is the most stimulating place I have ever lived, with its crush of people, traffic, street life, culture and politics.
The Honorable Lloyd Axworthy, distinguished Canadian politician and current president of the University of Winnipeg, envisioned the future of humanitarian intervention before a crowd of students and community members on Tuesday, May 21. Axworthy's experience in the Canadian Foreign Ministry in the 1990s allowed him the opportunity to contribute invaluably the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty, the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine--the subject of Tuesday afternoon's talk.
The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies are thrilled to present Whitney Taylor and Katie Menke, both graduating seniors, as the recipients of the 3rd annual human rights awards. Whitney Taylor received the Sullivan Ballou award, and Katie Menke received the Inna Meiman Award. These two exemplary students have demonstrated incredible aptitude, commitment, and passion in their service of others throughout their time at the University of Minnesota, and we are proud to recognize their outstanding accomplishments this coming Friday, May 3rd. We hope you will join us in the celebration! Lunch and cake will be provided.
The 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.
The 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.
On 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.