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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

2013-2014 Past Events

center for human rights and international justice

Estela Barnes de Carlotto
Estela Barnes de Carlotto

Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo
(Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo)

Thursday, September 19
7:00 pm
Devlin Hall, Room 008, Boston College

The Center is very proud to bring the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, in Spanish) to Boston College for a special appearance. The Abuelas are a human rights organization from Argentina dedicated to assisting in the process of reunifying families torn apart during Argentina’s state repression, sometimes called the "Dirty War", between about 1976 and 1983. During this war, the military dictatorship government carried out a campaign of state terrorism against political dissidents, kidnapping and sequestering opponents in a clandestine manner that became known as “disappearing” a person. In these situations, pregnant prisoners often gave birth in captivity and had their babies separated from them and given away in secret adoptions. Having no knowledge of the whereabouts or condition of family members, a group of women that became known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo began to organize to demand publicly of the government to reveal what happened to their abducted children. These protests, often taking place in the form of public demonstrations in the Plaza de Mayo in front of the presidential palace, were done in an environment of great fear among the general population to speak about what was happening all around.

Today, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo are a resource for people trying to find their lost children, as well as for those questioning their true identity and background in the case that they were one of the abducted babies, to confidentially research their background. The group offers psychological, legal, genetic testing and research resources to these ends. To date, 109 “grandchildren” have found their true identities through this process, and in many cases have been able to reunify with their surviving parents and grandparents.

Buscarita Roa
Buscarita Roa

Estela Barnes de Carlotto, president of the organization and Buscarita Roa, another member of the Abuelas, will give a presentation on the current state of their projects, as well as give updates on ongoing trials of members of that military government for war crimes and human rights violations.

To see a recent story and video (in Spanish) of the most recent recovered identity of a “grandchild” with the help of the Abuelas, see here.

A series of interviews with the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, compiled by Rita Arditti, and presented at the event, is available online here. (click on Browse This Collection to access the interviews themselves)

Co-sponsored by the Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights, BC School of Theology and Ministry, Office of International Programs, History Department, Organization of Latin American Affairs, and the Latin American Studies Minor program. Registration not required, but seats are expected to fill up quickly.

Grandmothers Event Flyer »


Lady Justice with devil whispering in her ear

Justice for Some: Reflections on (Every) Americans' Right to Legal Representation

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
5:00 p.m.
Devlin Hall, Room 008, Boston College

Dawn Porter (Producer/director of Gideon's Army [2013 Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Documentary Competition, Official Selection]) explores Race, class, legal representation, and the American Criminal Justice System, An especially timely discussion given the recent verdict of the George Zimmerman trial.

CO-SPONSORS: Institute for the Liberal Arts (ILA); A&S Dean’s Office; Law School Dean’s Office; Center for Human Rights and International Justice (CHRIJ); History Department; American Studies Program; Faith, Peace, and Justice Program;
Black Faculty, Staff, and Administrators Association (BFSAA)

Justice for Some Event Flyer »



John Baumann
John Baumann, S.J.

Beyond Ignorance, Hostility, and Fear: Organizing for Justice by Embracing Religious and Ethnic Passion

Thursday, October 3
7:00 p.m.
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

With John Baumann, S.J., founding director and director of special projects, PICO National Network.

Early registration recommended at

In 1972, Jesuit Father John Baumann founded PICO National Network, which has become one of the largest networks of community organizations in the world. Recognizing that religious difference can lead to hostility and violence, In this lecture Fr. Baumann tells how directly engaging local faith communities across religious and ethnic boundaries addresses justice issues, creates solidarity, and improves quality of life for all.
Cosponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry, Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College Theology Department, Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, and the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics



PICO National Network logo

From Plurality to Solidarity through Justice

Friday, October 4
12:30-4:00 p.m.
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

John Baumann, S.J., founding director and director of special projects, PICO National Network; Catherine Cornille, Newton College Alumnae Chair in Western Culture and chair, Boston College Theology Department; Larry Gordon, Senior Organizer, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Industrial Areas Foundation; Nancy Pineda-Madrid, STM associate professor of theology and Latino/Latina ministry

Using two major networks (PICO National Network and the Industrial Areas Foundation) as a springboard for reflection, this symposium examines how faith-based community organizing around issues of justice can provide common ground both for engaging in ministry in communities of diverse faith and ethnicity and for theological discourse among religions.

Early registration recommended at Free of charge, includes lunch.
Cosponsored by STM, Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College Theology Department, Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics, and the CHRIJ



Padre Melo
Padre Melo

The Price of Truth: Honduran Human Rights Since the Coup

Tuesday, October 8
12:00 p.m.
Fulton Honors Library (Room 215)

The Price of Truth Event Flyer »

The Center welcomes Ismael Moreno Coto, SJ, popularly known as "Padre Melo” and one of Honduras’ strongest human rights defenders, on October 8.

Padre Melo is the director of Radio Progreso, a Christian-based radio station that is a national leader in investigative reporting.  Radio Progreso was shut down by the new government at the time of the coup in 2009, and has suffered military occupations since. He is also director of the Center for Reflection, Research, and Communication (ERIC-SJ), a think tank that conducts research and reports on societal trends and public opinion in Honduras.

Honduras has earned the title “Murder Capital of the World,” wherein, according to the U.S. State Department, nine journalists have been killed and many more have been tortured or kidnapped, or have suffered death threats. As an outspoken critic of the 2009 coup d’état and its aftermath, Padre Melo has been a target of death threats and has a bounty on his head. He is a strong and fearless speaker. In his testimony in 2012 before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee of the U.S. Congress, he asked committee members, “How can freedom of expression be defended in a country like Honduras where the biggest violators of this fundamental freedom are the friends and partners of a “democracy” backed by policies and agencies of the United States government?”

Padre Melo will speak of the human rights abuses occurring throughout Honduran society, and especially within his own journalistic world, and within campesino and indigenous communities. He will offer in-depth analysis into the systemic reasons for the continuing violence, impunity, and injustices, and illuminate the various impacts of The Drug War.

Padre Melo is from the Central American Province of Jesuits and worked in El Salvador after his colleagues and friends (six priests, their housekeeper and her daughter) were murdered at the Jesuit residence on the campus of the University of Central America (UCA), San Salvador. The murders were committed by U.S.-trained Salvadoran soldiers on November 16, 1989.

Read his testimony before the Tom Santos Human Rights Commission:

Full report of testimony.

RealNews coverage of testimony.

Event co-sponsored by the BC Volunteer and Service Learning Center, the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy and the CHRIJ.

 About the Center for Reflection, Research, and Communication (ERIC):

The Team for Reflection, Research and Communication (ERIC, its acronym in Spanish) is a Social Apostolate in the Society of Jesus.  It began in the city of El Progreso, Honduras in 1980. Following Hurricane Mitch, the Catholic Church in El Progreso was assigned the responsibility in the care of thousands of homeless in the area. Thus the Reconstruction Committee of the Catholic Church (CRIC) was born in order to address the emergency (through food and seed distribution, housing, etc.) and organize people so they could begin to rebuild their lives and homes in the medium and long-term.

At its founding the CRIA chose to take up a process of organizing and training within communities, supporting leadership formation committed to social change and the empowerment of grassroots communities.

In Honduras "Radio Progreso" adds to the efforts of ERIC.  It seeks to accompany young people and the most vulnerable sectors, through information, education and entertainment, fostering a civic culture of organization, participation, meeting and exchange in order to build a fair and inclusive society.

Both ERIC and Radio Progreso are affiliates of Jesuit Migrant Services in Honduras.  Their community work has become increasingly important given the difficulties faced by the families of migrants and returning migrants, especially considering the number of limitations for migrants who return having suffered mutilation on their perilous journey northward.  This brings attention to the importance of the accompaniment that has been offered to the Committees of migrant families, in their search efforts to contact missing migrants through international organizations and institutions.

The defense of human rights is a mission undertaken by Radio Progreso and ERIC, which is complemented by the promotion of communication and culture as a means to strengthen the collective identity of the people in the most vulnerable, as protagonists of their own history.


Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese

Gender Equality and Sexual Identity Equality: Journeys Just Begun and a Long Way Still to Go

Thursday, October 24
12:00 p.m.
McElroy Commons, Room 237

The Center is proud to present this special conversation with former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and BC Professor of Counseling Psychology Paul Poteat.

McAleese, who was Irish President from 1997 to 2011, has been a key voice in concern for the rights of gay people and for gender equality in Ireland.  She served as the first legal advisor for the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform from 1975 to 1979, which sought to decriminalize homosexuality in Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

She has also spoken out about the plight of gay persons, particularly gay youth, in the country, leading to a high suicide rate among them in Ireland.  As a Catholic in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland, she has also addressed the emotional toll the teaching some youth have received in some Catholic schools in Ireland has taken, saying in an interview:

"They will have heard words like disorder, they may even have heard the word evil used in relation to homosexual practice.  And when they make the discovery, and it is a discovery and not a decision, when they make the discovery, that they are gay, when they are 14, 15 or 16, an internal conflict of absolutely appalling proportions opens up".

Former President McAleese has also publicly expressed her support for gay marriage and for the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood.

Prof. Paul Poteat is Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at BC’s Lynch School of Education.  He has written extensively about psychological effects of bullying and homophobia on adolescents and how to prevent bullying and homophobic attitudes in adolescents. He also received the American Psychological Association’s Best Science in the Society of Counseling Psychology Award in 2012.

The format of the event will allow a lot of open conversation with audience members.  A light lunch will be served.  Questions may be directed to

Co-sponsored by the Lynch School of Education Dept. of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology

From the Mines to the Streets movie poster

Bolivia's Processes of Social Change

Wednesday, October 30
12:00 p.m.
Devlin 026 Devlin 117*

*new location

With Bolivian activist Felix Muruchi, author of From the Mines to the Streets: A Bolivian Activist’s Life

Join the Center for lunch on Oct. 30 when we welcome Bolivian activist Felix Muruchi to talk about processes of social change in his home country of Bolivia.  His personal history as a miner, construction worker, student and union activist, nonprofit organization worker, political prisoner and later candidate, and most recently indigenous rights lawyer, provides an extraordinary lens to grasp Bolivian struggles for social justice.

Felix Muruchi Poma was born in a highland indigenous community in Bolivia where he herded llamas as a small child. When he was seven, his family moved to the Lllallagua tin mines so that his father could work underground. By the age of 16 Felix was engaged an illegal miner, before heading off to military service at 17 where he witnessed the first in Bolivia’s 18 years of military coups. He then joined the Siglo XX state mines rising to union leadership in the battle against military government repression and massacres.  At 24, determined to study, he moved to Oruro where he supported himself working construction while attending the local university. He was an active student leader who was imprisoned and tortured after the Banzer dictatorship (1972-78) closed all universities. Captured and sent to Chile as part of Plan Condor, he organized a harrowing escape, finding sanctuary in the Dutch embassy in Santiago and exile in Holland. When Banzer fell, he returned to Bolivia’s mines but was forced into exile again when General Garcia Meza seized power in 1980. He returned to a democratic Bolivia in 1986 and founded an NGO in El Alto dedicated to training unemployed miners. He was active in the fight to found a local university, where he subsequently became a student leader once again and was active in the 2003 Gas War. In 2009, some thirty years after he first became a university student, he graduated as an attorney and is currently active in supporting his community of origin. He is co-author of two books, From the Mines to the Streets: a Bolivian Activist’s Life and Ponchos Rojos about an important highland indigenous social movement.

A light lunch wiull be served.

See the event flyer here.

Claudia Samayoa
Claudia Samayoa

The Guatemalan Genocide Trial: A Sign of Hope in a Fog of Neocon Discourse

Thursday, October 31
12:00 p.m.
Newton Room, Corcoran Commons

With Guatemalan activist Claudia Samayoa.

Join the Center again for lunch for this presentation from Guatemalan activist Clauida Samayoa. Efraín Ríos Montt and his head of security in Guatemala are facing charges of genocide in an ongoing trial for their roles in perpetrating massacres during the civil war of the 1980s. As many as 200,000 people died in this confluict, which lasted from 1960 to 1996, many of whom where Mayan peasants opposing the military government or simply caught up in massacres perpetrated by the government, such as the Río Negro Massacres.

Ms. Samayoa will illuminate the social and political climate this trial is being undertaken under, and will speak to its importance to many in the Mayan community looking for some semblance of justice from the atrocities commitied during the war.

Claudia Samayoa is a founder and coordinator of Unidad de Protección de Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos Guatemala - UDEFEGUA (Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit in Guatemala). A graduate of philosophy, Claudia works full time as a researcher in human rights. Learn more about Claudia's work.

She has extensive experience providing expert witness in human rights in court cases dealing with extrajuducial killings and racial discrimination throughout Latin America.  

A light lunch will be served. View event flyer here.

Prof. Brinton Lykes
Prof. Brinton Lykes

Liberation Psychology and Social Change: An Introduction to Ignacio Martín-Baró and Challenges for 21st Century Scholar-Practitioners

Monday, November 11
12:00 p.m.
McGuinn Hall, Room 521

With Center Associate Director, Professor M. Brinton Lykes, Boston College.

This presentation and dialogue will present some of the key ideas developed by social psychologist and Jesuit priest, Ignacio Martín-Baró, and the challenges that his life and death present for psychologists and activist-scholars in the 21st century. Key contributions to psychology including findings from his community-based censuses through which he de-ideologized the official stories perpetrated by the Salvadoran government and economic elites as well as his re-conceptualization of the effects of war and state-sponsored violence as “psychosocial trauma” will be presented.  We will discuss the implications of his work for the 21st century – including the work of the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights - and whether – and, if so, how – to extend his ideas in our own work.

A light lunch will be served. Liberation Psychology and Social Change event flyer »

Co-sponsored by the Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie poster

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Thursday, Dec. 5
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline


*Admission free, but tickets required

Co-sponsored with the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life


Korea Peace Day Photo

Korea Peace Day

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
7:00 p.m.
McGuinn Hall, Room 121, Boston College

Join us for a call for peace in this 61st anniversary year of the Korean War armistice signing. Boston College will present a screening of Memory of Forgotten War, by award winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem and BC Professor Emeritus Ramsay Liem. There will be a Q& A with the filmmakers following the screening.

The event will also feature performances by Isadora Duncan Special Awardee for Outstanding Achievement, Dohee Lee; West Coast Hip Hop and Soul artist, Skim; Berklee College of Music Korean Traditional Music Society Sigimsae, joined by members of the BC KSA.

Sponsored by the Asian American Studies Program and co-sponsored by the American Studies Program, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Channing & Popai Liem Education Foundation, Institute for the Liberal Arts, History Department, Korean Student Association, Phi Alpha Theta, and UGBC.

See the film's website here.

For more information contact Professor Min Song. Download the Korea Peace Day Flyer »


Harvest of Empire movie poster

Harvest of Empire: the Untold Story of Latinos in America

Monday, March 17, 2014
7:00 p.m.
McGuinn Hall, Room 121
Boston College

Join the Center for a screening of the film Harvest of Empire: the Untold Story of Latinos in America.  Based on the book, “Harvest of Empire,” by award-winning journalist Juan González, the film is a feature-length documentary that examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

The filmtakes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape. From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S. as Juan González says at the beginning of the film, “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.” Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community.

Light refreshments will be served.  For more on Harvest of Empire, see its website here.

young man in handcuffs

Richard Ross Presents:

Monday, March 24, 2014
5:30 p.m.
McGuinn Hall, Room 121
Boston College Law School Ropes and Gray Conference Center (East Wing Room 115)

JBC will be hosting Richard Ross, Distinguished Professor of Art, University of California at Santa Barbara, award-winning photographer and author of "Juveniles-In-Justice" on March 24th. Ross will discuss his work and photography with the Boston College community.

The event, cosponsored by the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice, the Boston College Arts and Social Responsibility Project, and the Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CFJJ) is closely connected to the release of two important reports on detention reform in Massachusetts that same week by CFJJ ( CFJJ advocates for a fair and effective Juvenile justice system in Massachusetts and is playing a significant role in raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction and in the Supreme Judicial Court decisions on finding life without parole unconstitutional for juveniles in MA.

More on the “Juvenile-In-Justice” project, including photographs and more, may be viewed on its website.

RSVP for this event »

El Mozote con Tutela Legal

Truth and Justice for El Salvador Tour

Monday, March 31, 2014
12:00-1:30 p.m.

Fulton Honors Library, Fulton Hall

In September 2013, the Archbishop of San Salvador suddenly closed Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese's human rights legal aid office, saying it no longer had a reason to exist. The victims Tutela Legal worked with raised an outcry, along with human rights organizations nationally and internationally – highlighting the ongoing deep need for truth and justice. Tutela Legal accompanied victims of horrendous human rights violations from its founding in 1983 until the moment of its closure, representing major cases of violation in national and international courts and promoting human rights education. The lawyers of Tutela Legal have founded a new, independent organization to carry on this work. Tutela Legal is one of eight member organizations of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission that struggle alongside the victims for justice.

Twenty-two years after the Peace Accords and U.N. Truth Commission Report, Salvadorans struggle to build true peace in a society steeped in violence and impunity. While victims of human rights violations have worked tirelessly for truth, justice, and reparations, accompanied by the Pro-Historical Memory Commission, the current government of President Mauricio Funes has been the first to acknowledge and apologize for the active role of the government in repressing, disappearing, and massacring civilians, and to take initial steps towards reparations. The 1993 amnesty law continues to block the road to justice.


Wilfredo Medrano, with Tutela Legal María Julia Hernández, worked as a lawyer with Tutela Legal for over twenty years, accompanying the victims of the El Mozote massacre and many other cases of human rights violations.

Bethany Loberg, SHARE El Salvador, is a native of Salem, OR, and has lived and worked in El Salvador for over four years and currently accompanies SHARE’s human rights work.

The Pro-Historical Memory Commission is a coalition of human rights organizations working for truth, justice, and reparations for grave human rights violations during the armed conflict in El Salvador. Eight organizations form the commission: three committees of the mothers and relatives of the disappeared: CODEFAM, COMADRES and COMAFAC, Pro-Busqueda, which searches for disappeared children, Tutela Legal, FESPAD, an organization of lawyers working for human rights, the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission (CDHES), and the Madeleine Lagadec Human Rights Promotion Center. Each organization specializes in different areas, from accompanying family members of the disappeared in their healing processes to exhuming massacre sites, documenting abuses and taking cases to trial. Together they present a united voice for truth, justice and reparations.

SHARE currently supports the Pro-Historical Memory Commission in their work to attend to victims and build societies’ awareness of victims' rights and the need for truth, justice, and reparations, bring six cases of forced disappearance, two cases of torture and one case of a massacre to justice, and pressure the government to enact a policy of reparations. SHARE also supports Tutela Legal Dra. María Julia Hernandez as they re-establish themselves as an independent organization and continue to accompany the victims of the El Mozote, Sumpul, and Quezera massacres and ongoing human rights violations, and promote human rights education.

Goals of the tour:

  • Raise awareness of the ongoing impact of human rights violations during the war, especially forced disappearance, murder and massacres of civilians, and the still urgent need for truth, justice and reparations
  • Share the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and Tutela Legal Dra. María Julia Hernandez’s work for justice, and raise funds for this work. Envisioned is a $20,000 project for a national advocacy campaign including large mobilizations calling for truth, justice and reparations, press conferences, and commemorative events, trauma healing workshops with victims, and to maintain lawyers working to bring cases of forced disappearance, massacre, and torture to trial in El Salvador.
  • Invite U.S. communities to join us in the campaign for truth, justice, and reparations in El Salvador
  • Call participants to journey to El Salvador for a 2015 delegation in honor of the 35th anniversary of Monseñor Romero´s martyrdom
  • Gather signatures for petitions in support of El Salvador and the U.S. signing the Convention Against Forced Disappearance and for El Salvador to decree the 30th of August the Day Against Forced Disappearance.

Sponsored by the CHRIJ, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, and Campus Ministry. A light lunch to be served.

Download the Truth and Justice for El Salvador Tour flyer »

Lisa Baldez

An Evolving Global Norm of Women’s Rights

Co-sponsored by the CHRIJ

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
4:00-6:00 p.m.

Devlin Hall, Room 101
Boston College

The Boston College Political Science Department International Relations Lecture Series presents Lisa Baldez, Associate Professor of Government and LALACS, Dartmouth College.

An Evolving Global Norm of Women’s Rights: Today CEDAW is one of the most important instruments for advancing women’s rights in the international arena, but it did not start out that way. While the formal text of CEDAW has not changed since the General Assembly adopted it in 1979, its meaning has evolved over time in terms of how it is interpreted, implemented and supported. It has gained prominence within the UN system, within the countries that have ratified it, and among activists in the transnational women’s movement.  Several factors have strengthened CEDAW: the independence of the committee that oversees its implementation, changes in the global balance of power, greater NGO involvement, and a series of institutional reforms. As the result of these changes, the CEDAW of today is very different from the CEDAW of 1979. 





Cruzando las Fronteras: Clinical Experiences with Latino Immigrants in Psychotherapy

Thursday, April 24, 2014
7:00 p.m.

Campion 139
Boston College

Conexión presents an interactive community discussion with guest speaker Melissa Jacobo, LICSW. Co-sponsored by CHRIJ. Cruzando las Fronteras flyer »





CHRIJ Year-End Gathering

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
4:00 p.m.

McGuinn 521
Boston College

We will award certificates to this year's graduate recipients of the Center's Certificate in Human Rights and International Justice, and hear short presentations from prior recipients of the Center's Summer Research Grants.  After the presentations there will be hors d'oeuvres and refreshments and a chance to socialize.

Here are the presenters and their topics:

·         Sriya Bhattacharyya, "Can Policy Change Historical Discrimination? Exploring Experiences with India's Caste-based Affirmative Action Policy"  

·         Bennett Comerford, "Dynamics of Dialogue: Inter-Religious Exchange and Communal Violence in Contemporary Bangladesh"

·         Rocío Sánchez Ares, "Building Pedagogies for Liberation: Guatemalan Teachers Meeting the Socioemotional and Educational Needs of Youth at the Interface of Migration"

RSVPs welcome, but not required, to