2013-2014 Past Events
center for human rights and international justice
Thursday, September 19
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.
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: http://www.abuelas.org.ar/comunicados/restituciones/res130807_1420-1.htm
A series of interviews with the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, compiled by Rita Arditti, and presented at the event, is available online here: http://openarchives.umb.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15774coll10 (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.
Justice for Some: Reflections on (Every) Americans' Right to Legal Representation
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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)
Beyond Ignorance, Hostility, and Fear: Organizing for Justice by Embracing Religious and Ethnic Passion
Thursday, October 3
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 www.bc.edu/stmce.
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
From Plurality to Solidarity through Justice
Friday, October 4
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 www.bc.edu/stmce. 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
Tuesday, October 8
Fulton Honors Library (Room 215)
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:
The full report:
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.
Thursday, October 24
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-sponsored by the Lynch School of Education Dept. of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology
Wednesday, October 30
Devlin 026 Devlin 117*
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.
Thursday, October 31
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 at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ClaudiaSamayoa
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.
Liberation Psychology and Social Change: An Introduction to Ignacio Martín-Baró and Challenges for 21st Century Scholar-Practitioners
Monday, November 11
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 (www.martinbarofund.org) - 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
Thursday, Dec. 5
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline
*Admission free, but tickets required
Co-sponsored with the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life