Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

Rerouted, Rerooted: Oral Histories of Syrian-Armenian Refugees

By Larissa Peltola, Editor, RightsViews.   The Armenian Genocide, which took place 106 years ago, today, claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. While people around the world are now more aware of what occurred in 1915, following a global push for recognition of the genocide, few are aware of the lasting implications of the genocide which have carried on to this day. HRSMA alumna Anoush Baghdassarian (‘19) and Pomona College graduate Ani Schug (‘17) have undertaken the important and necessary work of collecting the oral histories of Syrian-Armenian refugees - the descendants of genocide survivors - to keep the memories of those who have perished alive. What was the Armenian Genocide?  Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide, was moved to do so after hearing about the systematic annihilation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Before WWI, Armenians - in what is now Turkey - totaled over two million. But by 1922, there were fewer than...
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ISHR’s 2021 Human Rights Career Panel: Pursuing a Human Rights Career During and After a Pandemic

ISHR’s 2021 Human Rights Career Panel: Pursuing a Human Rights Career During and After a Pandemic

By Anna Miller, RightsViews co-editor and graduate student in the human rights M.A. program. On March 24, 2021 Gergana Halpern and Monica Olveira hosted the Institute for the Study of Human Rights Annual Career Panel. Since the global community has been living through the COVID-19 pandemic for more than one year now, some wonder if there are still job opportunities for students interested in human rights careers. Human rights professionals say yes - perhaps now more than ever before.  Meet the Panelists  Rebecca Brown is the Senior Director of Global Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Before joining the Center, Rebecca was Deputy Director of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), where she oversaw the organization’s program work and coordinated the Women and ESCR Working Group. Rebecca has published numerous pieces on reproductive rights, equality rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, and disability. Ryan Heman is Senior Manager of Forced Labor & Human Trafficking at Humanity United, and supports...
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The Neoliberalization of Academia: Why the Columbia University Graduate Workers Strike is a Human Rights Imperative

The Neoliberalization of Academia: Why the Columbia University Graduate Workers Strike is a Human Rights Imperative

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. The opinions expressed in this article are Noah’s own and are not representative of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) or Columbia University.  Thousands of graduate students and student workers at Columbia University began striking on March 15, 2021 after many stalled negotiations with school administrators. A strong majority of student workers, 96%, voted  yes to authorize a strike and with a  deadline of March 15, 2021. The Graduate Workers of Columbia University (GWC) and all those in solidarity call on the university to agree to a fair contract. According to GWC bargaining committee members, the strike is a last resort after years of unsuccessful negotiations with university representatives, and assert that withholding their labor is the final means of forcing the university to recognize their demands. Columbia University has had a long and tumultuous history in regards to treating graduate workers as employees....
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Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

Myanmar’s Coup: Unearthing its Constitutional Roots

By guest contributors Namrata Rawat* and Rishav Devrani.* February 1, 2021, the world witnessed Myanmar succumbing to a military coup after a 5-year run of a democratically elected government. The coup happened on account of alleged fraud in the 2020 elections wherein the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi saw a landslide victory with 83% votes in its favour. Myanmar, currently under a year-long state of emergency, would be under military rule. The coup d’état has been condemned by countries and international organisations across the globe, who have called it a serious blow to democratic reforms. However, this state of events is not unprecedented, a similar narrative presided over the 1990 election as well. The imposed state of emergency is provided for under Section 417 of the Constitution of Myanmar. It becomes pertinent to discuss this as a military rule can have unavoidable violations of human rights across the country. In this article, the authors...
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Making a Statement: Whose Land Are You On?

Making a Statement: Whose Land Are You On?

By guest contributor Ruthie Tucker* It is becoming trendy for institutions of higher education to recognize Indigenous land by issuing a “land acknowledgment statement” (LAS). Typically, a team of faculty and staff begins by researching the history of the ancestral land of the Indigenous Nation occupied by the institution. From there, the group crafts a statement that honors the ancestral land of the Indigenous Nation. Many national organizations provide models and suggestions for such statements, and it is common for colleges and universities to look to each other for wording. The institution will usually post the LAS on its website, and the LAS may make its way onto class syllabi, might be read at some campus events, and one might find the odd poster about it here and there on campus. These are all good things. My institution, St. Norbert College, is located on the ancestral land of the Menominee people. As a member of the Menominee Nation, I can’t help...
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Social Isolation or Social Death: How Covid-19 is  impacting LGBTQ+ Adolescent Mental Health

Social Isolation or Social Death: How Covid-19 is impacting LGBTQ+ Adolescent Mental Health

By Isidora Roskic, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. With a total of 28 million infected, the United States stands as having the highest number of total virus cases in the world. Among those impacted, Covid-19’s effects are felt most acutely by LGBTQ+ youth who are challenged with battling stressors unique to their marginalized identities and young age.  As the pandemic rapidly evolved, the country implemented several state-based health mandates that, among other things, required citizens to self-isolate and socially distance. To further minimize the spread of the virus, supplementary measures were put in place which included the closures of K-12 schools, universities, local businesses, recreational facilities, businesses, and even some public spaces. While the extent to which these actions take place can vary from state-to-state, even short-term closures can have significant negative impacts on the mental and physical wellbeing of adolescents. Above all, healthcare practitioners believe the switch from physical to digital education is particularly...
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Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

Student Debt Forgiveness is a Human Rights Issue

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program. Americans owe over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt and the Federal Reserve projects that 31% of all U.S. adults have student loans. House and Senate Democrats have frequently implored President Biden to forgive up to $50,000 of federal debt through an Executive Order, an action Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has articulated Biden should take during his first 100 days in office. During a recent CNN town hall, an audience member asked President Biden what actions his administration will take to forgive up to $50,000. He quickly responded by stating “I will not make that happen.” President Biden has given several reasons for why he does not support large student debt forgiveness, namely, he believes such action would disproportionately benefit students who go to “elite” private colleges. “It depends on whether or not you go to a private university or public university,” he said...
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The State vs. The People: The Indian Government’s War Against Farmers and Dissent

The State vs. The People: The Indian Government’s War Against Farmers and Dissent

By guest contributors Saba Kohli Dave* and Namrata.*   In the wake of the historic farmer’s protests in India, on February 8th, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hailing from the country’s contentious Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), compared protestors to parasites in Parliament. This politically motivated comparison comes as no surprise as there has been a steady state-led crackdown on those asserting civil rights and liberties through protest. However, the state made a miscalculation when it promulgated three agriculture-related ordinances in June 2020, which were passed in Parliament under controversial circumstances in September 2020. Since November, farmers across India have been the major voices of dissent, outraged at laws that were passed without their consultation. Why are the farmers protesting? The 3 farm laws were passed blurring legal and constitutional lines. The bills were arrived at without pre-legislative consultation, tabled without scrutiny, and passed through a dubious “voice vote.” They have been perceived by a majority of farmers as the government abrogating its...
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The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Kelly Dudine, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program   Globally, girls and women are simultaneously among the most overworked and most impoverished populations. Entire economies thrive due to the unrecognized and undervalued labor of women, including household work, care work, and informal and low-wage labor.  During the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, girls and women stand to lose even more. Women in varying levels of employment are now struggling to maintain dignified work, and many fear the loss of income more than the pandemic itself. “During the first lockdown, all the artisans were tense about not having enough orders to work and feared not getting paid,” said Rosna Kafle, Chair of the Kopila Valley Women’s Cooperative in Surkhet, Nepal.  The Cooperative employs some of the most vulnerable women in the community with work as tailors and weavers. Before the Cooperative, many of the artisans were unemployed, or performed hazardous work, like breaking stones or...
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President Biden’s Promise to End Gay Conversion Therapy

President Biden’s Promise to End Gay Conversion Therapy

By: Guest Contributor Isidora Roskic, MA candidate in the Human Rights Studies program at Columbia University.  With the 2020 election results finalized, the Biden-Harris administration could bring promising advancements for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. While Trump’s Republican platform was once referred to as one of the “worst platforms in terms of LGBT issues,” President Biden’s policy proposals hold great prospect for real change. According to his Plan to Advance LGBTQ+ Equality in America and Around the World, banning so-called “conversion therapy” presently stands as one of the government’s top priorities. Gay conversion therapy (GCT), otherwise referred to as “reparative therapy,” is the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to alter one’s sexual orientation or gender identity through spiritual, psychological and/or physical intervention.  Experimental “treatments” include lobotomies, testicular tissue transplants, chemical castration, and aversive conditioning: application of electric shock to hands/genitals, and administration of nausea-inducing drugs during the presentation of homoerotic stimuli. Conversion therapy survivor, Sam Brinton, opened up about the horrors of undergoing...
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