Human Rights Photographs Formatted title of Duke Human Rights Center Formatted quote about Human Rights

2005-2006 DHRC Events Calendar

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Calendar in Brief
Mon Jan 23 Private Military Contractors and the Laws of War
Fri Feb 17 Guantanamo and the 'War on Terror'
Wed Mar 29 Iraqi Oud and the Ciompi Quartet
Thu Mar 30 "For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism under Fire: A conversation with Captain James Yee"
Sun-Tue, Apr 9-11 Human Rights in Nepal
Sun Apr 9 Performance Artist Ashmina Ranjit
Mon Apr 10 "Sari Soldiers" directed by Julie Bridgeham
Tue Apr 11 "Writing Human Rights: Fiction and Nonfiction," a reading and lecture by Manjushree Thapa
Wed Apr 19 David Kennedy, Talk TBA
Monday, January 23


Companies like BlackWater, Triple Canopy and Halliburton now perform many of the tasks that were once the exclusive duty of regular armies. In Iraq alone, some estimates put the number of armed, privately-contracted employees at 25,000; however, this is an estimate, since there is no central registry of companies released by the Defense Department. Deployed in war zones, these multinational "private security companies" guard threatened officials, transport war material, conduct surveillance and intelligence, and even engage in battle. Administration officials consider them essential resources at a time when regular forces are stretched thin. But no central, public authority governs their conduct, ensures accountability in a way similar to regular U.S. military forces or even counts their numbers. This is especially serious when it comes to questions of human rights. Regular U.S. forces and the CIA have been implicated in serious abuses, including killings, torture and the abuse of prisoners. However, private security companies, operating largely in the shadows, are not subjected to the same scrutiny, rules of engagement or even justice system. Private contractors also may lessen the political risk of engaging American forces abroad, since their deaths and injuries don't strike the same chord of public outrage as military casualties.

Panel participants will comment on the new role of these private firms in American endeavors, paying particular attention to implications for the laws of war, human rights and contemporary concerns about abuses. Panelists include Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, a nonprofit association of service companies dedicated to improving international peacekeeping efforts through greater privatization; Frank Fountain, a former assistant Staff Judge Advocate to the Commander in Chief of the US Central Command, White House Chief Counsel to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board under President Clinton. In 2002, he became the first Chief of Prosecutions for the U.N.'s Special Court for Sierra Leone; Joe Neff, an investigative reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, who has covered the North Carolina-based BlackWater USA, a private military contractor; and Scott Silliman, a Professor of the Practice of Law at the Duke Law School and Executive Director of the Law School's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, served as a staff judge advocate in the US Air Force. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Madeline Morris of Duke Law School. Co-sponsored with the International Law Society. [View event flyer]

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Friday, February 17


Jumana Musa, Amnesty International USA's Advocacy Director for Domestic Human Rights and International Justice, will speak on the "war on terror" and human rights. One of the few human rights activists allow to visit the Guantanamo Bay, she will share her first-hand account of the hearings of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. Cosponsored with the Human Rights Working Group. [View event flyer]

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Wednesday, March 29


Rahim Alhaj
Rahim Alhaj is an Iraqi musician who studies under the great Omar Bahir at the Baghdad Conservatory. He was imprisoned and tortured under Saddam for his musical activism, and later escaped from Iraq and lived in Jordan. His performances integrate talk that politically frames his music. This concert will include traditional Iraqi music as well as original compositions by Alhaj, including a work for oud and string quartet played with The Ciompi Quartet, and a commissioned Human Rights composition by Duke composer Caroline Mallonee.

Cosponsored with Duke Performances, Duke University Center for International Studies (Director's Fund), Asian and African Language and Literatures, and the Center for the Study of Muslim Networks.

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Thursday, March 30


James Yee
Wrongly accused of treason, imprisoned and later discharged, Muslim U.S. Army Chaplain James Yee served at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba-a detention center for War on Terror detainees-for most of 2003 before his Catch-22esque descent into a military inquiry fueled by suspicion of his faith, not evidence of his alleged wrongdoing. A graduate of West Point, Yee later converted to Islam and, upon his assignment to Guantanamo, he became the base's third Muslim chaplain in six months, a contentious role that saw him educating soldiers that "Muslim" and "terrorist" were not synonymous, leading prayer services and ministering to detainees. He struck up friendships with the small group of Muslims working on the base, and, unbeknownst to him at the time, his group of friends had been dubbed "Hamas" by other soldiers, an anecdote indicative of the accusations of treason that would soon hound him. Sincere almost to the point of naivete, Yee realizes the distorted view many Westerners have of Muslims, but is constantly surprised he would become a target. A searing indictment of justice gone awry and unchecked, systemic ignorance, Yee's story is sure to stimulate its share of discussion on a volatile subject at a crucial time.

Co-sponsored by Franklin Institute Seminar, Center for International Studies, Duke Human Rights Coalition, the Center for the Study of Muslim Networks, Office of Intercultural Affairs, Muslim Students Association and Regulator Book Store.
 View Event Flyer [Adobe PDF] [rich text format]

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Sunday-Tuesday, April 9-11


The flag of Nepal
With this series of events, the Initiative seeks to focus attention on the serious human rights situation in Nepal, where State and Maoist violations of civil and political rights have increased and the rate of conflict-related violence has escalated. Currently, Nepal is the world's leader in "disappearances" and conflict continues in areas that rarely make world news.

These events are cosponsored by Franklin Institute Seminar, the Duke Human Rights Coalition, the Human Rights Working Group, the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke Performances the Ethnomusicology Working Group, APSI, the South Asia Center, Women's Studies, and Cultural Anthropology.

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Sunday, April 9


Ashmina Ranjit
Ashmina Ranjit is an acclaimed feminist/activist and performance artist who is currently a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University's MFA program. Ashmina's performance is multi-media, involving sound, movement and lighting. It deals with issues of identity, violence, caste, and women's rights in South Asia, and her recent work deals with the February 1 royal coup and ensuing increased violence and state-suppression of rights. Ashmina's talent have earned her numerous awards and great renown as one of the only female Nepali artists dealing with such avant-garde topics in a country that remains greatly influenced by conservative notions of caste and gender.

There will be a performance of "Tamas: The Darkness" followed by a discussion.
 View Event Flyer [Adobe PDF] [rich text format]

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Monday, April 10


Julie Bridgham
"Sari Soldiers: Women on the Frontline in Nepal" is a feature-length documentary that takes a probing look inside the world of women soldiers fighting on both sides of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal. The film profiles the lives of six women representing the spectrum of role-players in the conflict, including a member of the Royal Nepal Army, a Maoist Commander, a civil society activist, a women whose daughter has been "disappeared" by Army forces, a woman organizing an anti-Maoist militia in her village, and a human rights attorney. Filmmaker Julie Bridgham is a New-York based filmmaker whose previous films have included "Children of Hope: Transforming Lives in a Himalayan Kingdom."

Reception sponsored by Women's Studies and followed by the screening and panel.

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Tuesday, April 11


Manjushree Thapa
Thapa Manjushree Thapa's writings deal with the ongoing struggle for democracy in Nepal. Her work has been published as two acclaimed non-fiction and fiction books, as well as in the New York Times, Telhelka,, and elsewhere. Her most recent book, Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy (Penguin Books, 2005), is considered by The Economist as "probably the best, and certainly the most readable, attempt to address what has gone so desperately wrong with her country." Like Ashmina, she is a singularly renowned figure both at home and abroad, recognized for her work in support of women's rights and social justice in Nepal and for her talent as an engaging and provocative writer. Born in Nepal in 1968, Manjushree grew up in Canada, Nepal and the US, studying photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and receiving an MFA for English at the University of Washington.

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Wednesday, April 19


David Kennedy
Law professor David Kennedy explores what can go awry when we put our humanitarian yearnings into action on a global scale--and what we can do in response. Rooted in Kennedy's own experience in numerous humanitarian efforts, his most recent book, The Dark Side of Virtue, examines campaigns for human rights, refugee protection, economic development, and for humanitarian limits to the conduct of war. It takes us from the jails of Uruguay to the corridors of the United Nations, from the founding of a non-governmental organization dedicated to the liberation of East Timor to work aboard an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Cosponsored with the Center for International Studies and Human Rights Working Group.

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Visit and lecture by Dan Saxon: a human rights lawyer who is currently a trial attorney with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Saxon visited Duke from February 20-21, 2005, to speak about his work related to Guatemala and the campaign of extermination against Mayan villagers there in the 1970s and 1980s. Trial excerpts shown during his talk at Duke Law School are available on DVD - contact Robin Kirk. Saxon's visit was co-sponsored by the Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Center for International Studies and the Law School.

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