Human Rights and GenocideSpring 2004

Hubert G. Locke
"Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places: Reflections on the Holocaust, Racism and Death" - April 19

In his most recent book, Hubert G. Locke recounts his personal struggles in the face of three major life experiences -- the death of his parents, his life as a black American and his preoccupation with the Nazi Holocaust. For Locke, these experiences present a serious challenge to conventional Christian teaching. They have forced him to re-examine scripture--in which he has discovered a remarkable congeniality between biblical writers and skeptics. Locke is the founder of the annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches and former dean and professor at the University of Michigan. He has devoted more than three decades to studying and writing about the Holocaust, race, criminal justice, religion and public policy.

Fall 2003

 Film "North of 49" - Tuesday, Dec. 9

"North of 49" is a story about arson, forgiveness and healing based on events surrounding the attack on the Gobind Sadan Sikh temple in upstate New York. Four teenagers from Oswego County destroyed the sacred place of neighbors who practiced an unfamiliar religion rooted in an unfamiliar culture. Instead of hatred, however, the act released a force of love and forgiveness. Immediately after the teens were arrested, the Sikhs forgave them—while acknowledging they had to be punished for their crime.

North of 49The hour-long documentary was co-produced by Richard Breyer and David Coryell. Breyer is a professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Coryell is a screenwriter and adjunct professor at the Newhouse School in the Department of Television, Radio and Film. Ralph Singh, leader of the Sikh community north of Syracuse, introduced the film.


Visaka Dharmadasa, Josephine Perez, and Michal Miller: Women Waging Peace at the Grassroots: Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Israel" - Monday, Nov. 10

Visaka Dharmadasa, Josephine Perez, and Michal Miller are in the United States as part of Women Waging Peace's fifth annual Colloquium on Peace Building through Civil Society. As the project coordinator of Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Miller facilitates and researches for the joint Israeli-Palestinian program "Women and Nonviolent Approaches to Conflict Resolution." This cross-community initiative investigates the role of women in peace building and nonviolence, with particular emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Miller recently traveled to Northern Ireland as part of an Israeli and Palestinian delegation examining the management of divided cities and exploring issues related to sharing resources, dealing with ongoing violence, and reintegrating ex-combatants, among others. Dharmadasa is founder of Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action, chair of the Association of War-Affected Women, and secretary of the Kandy Association for War-Affected Families. Perez is director of the Peace Education and Capacity-Building Program of the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute. Women Waging Peace is an organization devoted to the full inclusion of women in peace processes, launched in 1999 to connect women in conflict areas to one another and to policy shapers worldwide. Hunt Alternatives Fund is a private foundation that advances innovative and inclusive approaches to social change.

Darla White '99: "Women Waging Peace: a Global Paradigm" - Friday, Sept. 19

Alumna Darla White returns to her alma mater William Smith College to talk about her work with the Hunt Alternatives Women Waging Peace initiative, its current projects, and specific examples of women’s peace-building work in the world today. The talk will also provide an occasion for discussion about how women from a variety of backgrounds, with differing skills and perspectives, can contribute, and have contributed, in a meaningful way to the worldwide movement for peace. White graduated from William Smith in 1999 with majors in religious studies and English. Women Waging Peace is an organization devoted to the full inclusion of women in peace processes, launched in 1999 to connect women in conflict areas to one another and to policy shapers worldwide. Hunt Alternatives Fund is a private foundation that advances innovative and inclusive approaches to social change.

Spring 2003

Jeremy Cooney '04: The Roma: Past, Present, and Future: Undiscovered Truths Revealed - April 23, 2003

Jeremy Cooney, a member of the Hobart Class of 2004, studied in Germany, Hungary and Romania abroad in the fall of 2002, as part of a collaborative abroad program through Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Cooney will present the research he conducted there in a presentation titled "The Roma: Past, Present, and Future: Undiscovered Truths Revealed." Cooney worked on this project with Alexandra Kagan, a Union College junior, as part of the Partnership for Global Education (PGE) program between Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Union College. The PGE was established in 1999 through funding of the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to develop innovative collaborative management of international programs and new initiatives to integrate study abroad into the academic and social fabric of campus life. Projects include a journal aimed at students with experience abroad, and a network to put first-hand student expertise to work in schools in the areas adjacent to the campuses.

Cooney and Kagan's project focused on breaking through the stereotypes of the Roma (also known as Gypsies) and gaining an understanding of the culture. They examined some of the policies that states in the region have adopted to try to accommodate the Roma, and grass-roots programs designed to help the Roma help themselves. Their presentation will include video and still images taken from their field research and will be followed by a question and answer period.

Exiled Chinese poet and democracy activist Yi Ping: The Causes and Lessons of the Chinese Cultural Revolution - Feb. 6, 2003 

Yi Ping, pen name of Jianhua Li, is banned from returning to his country. He currently lives in Ithaca, N.Y., with his wife, Lin Zhou, and their teenage son, Mao, as part of the "Cities of Asylum" global network organized by the International Parliament of Writers. Ithaca is the 27th City of Asylum in the world and only the second in the United States. Cities of Asylum supports writers whose works are repressed and whose lives and livelihoods are endangered. In China, Yi Ping collaborated on pro-democracy journals, such as Sea Waves, took part in the "Xidan Democracy Wall Movement," co-founded the underground poetry journal Survivors (which organized the first Survivors Poetry Festival, a harbinger of the 1989 Students' Democracy Movement), and was present at the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was repeatedly subject to police harassment, barred from teaching, and unable to publish his work freely - only two of his books have been published in China, in expurgated versions. He now publishes his work in emigré journals.

Civil rights activist Lenni Brenner: Peace Must Mean Justice: Palestinian Human Rights-Jan. 22, 2003

Lenni BrennerBrenner's talk emphasized the need for human rights in Palestine. "Half of the people in the lands controlled by Israel are not Jewish, and trying to make a Jewish state where half the people are not Jews is wrong," said event organizer Daniel McGowan, professor of economics. "With war looming, the topic is both timely and relevant to our mission addressing human rights and genocide."

Brenner was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He became an atheist at 12, and a Marxist at 15, in 1952. His involvement with the Black civil rights movement began on his first day in the organized left, when he met James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality, later the organizer of the "freedom rides" of the early 1960s. He was active in the mid 1950s with Bayard Rustin, later the organizer of Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington.

Fall 2002 Event

Aparicio Pérez Guzmán: The Impunity of Global Actors - October 9, 2002

Guzmán is currently working with the landless workers of Guatemalan eastern department of Izabal. In Izabal, there are currently at least 16 land conflicts between landless workers who are reclaiming lands after labor disputes with transnational companies (including Del Monte subsidiaries) and national farms that, according to the 1996 Peace Accords, are to be distributed to the landless farmers. In 2001-2002, six land-rights activists have been killed in Izabal.

Guzmán, an indigenous Mayan Mam, was born in 1965 in a small village on one of the numerous export-plantations that cover Guatemala’s southern coast. From a young age, impoverishment and economic necessity forced Guzmán to work at survival wages on the large sugar, cotton and cattle export-plantations in the coastal region. Although his formal studies were abruptly ended in his youth, he recently completed his primary education. Continuing his commitment to human rights and justice for his community, where he had been a catechist and literacy promoter, Guzmán affiliated with Campesino Unity Committee (CUC) in 1992. CUC works to unite Guatemalan farmers to stand up for their land rights. He has held various national positions with CUC. Currently he is co-secretary of National and International Relations for CUC, and also serves on its coordinating board. From 1992-1994, his efforts to organize landless farm-workers and support their demand for the legal minimum wage on a local cattle plantation ended in his two-day illegal detention in 1994. Manrique works in Rights Action's Guatemala office. An accomplished translator, speaker and writer, she does educational and outreach work with Rights Action related to development, human rights and environmental issues. Rights Action raises funds for community development, human rights and emergency relief projects in southern Mexico, Central America and Peru.

Spring 2002 Events

Jonathan Widmark and William Ferris IV: Sacrifice of Self
Raoul Wallenberg and the Truth Behind the Man, Myth, and Martyr - April 25, 2002

For three years Hobart students William Ferris IV and Jonathan Widmark researched the life of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and hero of World War II, credited with saving more than 100,000 Jews from extermination. Their work, driven by a passion to tell the story of Wallenberg’s courage in the face of unspeakable horror, has been made into a multimedia presentation. With financial support from Hobart alumnus Stuart S. Piltch, Ferris and Widmark have conducted research in Hungary, Switzerland and Sweden, meeting with members of the Wallenberg family, Holocaust survivors, people who had assisted Wallenberg, Swedish government officials, and academics. They visited monuments, former safe houses, the old Swedish legation, and the Danube River to which countless Jews were marched, shot and then tossed into the river.

Hannah Pick-Goslar: An Evening with a Childhood Friend of Anne Frank - April 10, 2002

Pick-Goslar and Anne Frank were childhood friends who were placed in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II. Readers know Pick-Goslar as "Lies" in Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Woman. She lived next door to Anne Frank after both girls' families fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and moved to Amsterdam. At separate times, Pick-Goslar and Frank were sent ot Bergen-Belsen Frank perished in the Nazi camp. Pick-Goslar survived and continues to tell their story.


Fall 2001 Events

Justice in Rwanda: Genocide and the Arusha Trials film screening and a lecture November 27.

StrejilevichNora Strejilevich addressed the Dirty War in Argentina. Strejilevich is an Argentinean writer and poet who survived the atrocities of the "Dirty War" in Argentina in the 1970s. She found political asylum in Canada where she got her Ph.D. in Hispanic American Literature. She has been a professor in several Canadian and American Universities, including Grand Valley State University (1999-2000) and San Diego State University (2000-2001).

Strejilevich was awarded a Canada Council grant for the writing of Una sola muerte numerosa (A single numberless death) and in 1996 received a Letras de Oro Literary Award for the novel. A Howard Translation Grant was awarded for the translation of Una sola muerte numerosa into English. It has subsequently been adapted for the stage, and the play ran November 9, 10, and 11 at Grand Valley State University. Strejilevich’s academic and fictional oeuvre includes essays, shorts stories, plays, and poems. In addition to offering literary readings of her own fictional work, she frequently presents papers and lectures concerning such topics as memory, social justice, and narrative. Likewise, Strejilevich has presented oral testimony of human rights abuses committed during the ‘dirty war’ in Argentina; portions of her statements to CONADEP can be read in their final report, Nunca Más. She has also testified to international investigatory commissions.

turkCharles Turk spoke about his experiences of collectivization in Eastern Europe and its relation to genocide in a talk titled "Bolshevik Genocides" at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. Turk is the author of My Father's Words, his autobiography, which chronicles Turk's escape from a depressed Communist Hungary in 1956 to a free and prosperous America. Ranging from the personal humiliation and political ostracism of his family for being peasant farmers, to the grand scale of dehumanizing institutions and methods of both Fascism and Communism, My Father's Words gives human faces to the millions of silent victims of 70 years of totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe.

Turk retired in 1998 after 30 years of full-time service in the English Department of McQuaid Jesuit High School, where he served as chairman for 11 years and received the Award of Excellence for Secondary School Teaching from the University of Rochester in 1994. Turk received his B.A. degree as a triple major in English, philosophy, and history in 1969 from Canisius College, and has served on the Princeton board of readers for Advanced Placement exams since 1988. He currently enjoys retirement teaching part-time and conducting seminars for high school teachers in the preparation of students for the A.P. English Exam.

Cristobal Osorio Sanchez, Rio Negro Massacre survivor. Guatemalan Cristobal Osorio Sanchez says he's a survivor of the four separate "Rio Negro Massacres" committed in 1982 by the Guatemala Army and civil defense patrols to relocate forcibly the Rio Negro village to make way for the construction of the Chixoy Dam, which was funded by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development. More than 440 members of the Maya-Achi community of Rio Negro were massacred and the Rio Negro community was burnt to the ground. Soon after the massacres, the dam's flood basin was filled, leaving most of the former Rio Negro under water. Since 1994, Sanchez has been a leading human right activist in the Rabinal region, where Rio Negro was located. He has been working to get full compensation and reparations from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development, and the Guatemalan government for the surviving members of the Rio Negro community. Sanchez is also pursuing justice for the crimes of the past, and designing and implementing community controlled development projects. In February 1999, the United Nations-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification released a report, called the Memoria del Silencio, which states that approximately 200,000 Guatemalans were killed in Guatemala between 1960 and 1996. The Commission concluded that the four massacres, the arbitrary executions of other members of the community before and after the massacres, and the harsh living conditions (due to flight from the massacres and the forced resettlement) that resulted in the deaths of numerous massacres survivors, together demonstrate the intent of the Army to destroy Rio Negro. That intention, in turn, signifies genocide.