LGBTQ RIGHTS AND CHRISTIANITY IN GEORGIA

Shota Adamia

shotaHaving struggled against the oppression of first the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, Georgians have become to believe that the Georgian Orthodox Church is the only institution capable of preserving and protecting the Georgian Nation. The church was successful in maintaining its status and influence throughout decades of occupation, but since its liberation from the Soviet Union in 1989, the church has become not only free, but also excessively active, enjoying the support and unquestionable trust of at least 90% of the Georgian population. The majority of devoted Georgian Christians, including priests, have not withheld themselves from making homophobic statements, as well as actions. On 17th May 2013, Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, saw extremely violent actions against LGBTQ supporters on the streets of the city.

On the international day against homophobia, Identoba, a Georgian LGBTQ rights supporting organization, in collaboration with other organizations, as well as independent supporters, planned an event on the central Rustaveli Avenue. The original plan was to have all the supporters stand in front of the former parliament building from 1 PM – 1:30 PM in a silent demonstration, showing the importance of protecting the human rights of the LGBTQ community. On the evening prior to the event, the current Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia the Second, made a statement, condemning the planned event, claiming that homosexuality is a sin and its spread should be avoided. In response to his statement, more than 10,000 people gathered in front of the former Parliament building at midnight and spent all night there, following the orders of the priests that led this anti-LGBTQ demonstration. On the morning of 17th May, approximately 2,000 policemen received the order to surround the anti-LGBTQ demonstration in order to avoid a possible clash, as the LGBTQ-support demonstration was continuing as planned.

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As I reached Rustaveli Avenue through the underground system (the only way of getting there, as anti-LGBTQ demonstrators had blocked all the other surrounding streets), the police escorted me to Liberty Square, which lies at the very beginning of the Rustaveli Avenue, not far from the former Parliament building. As the anti-LGBTQ demonstrators had taken over the grounds surrounding the former Parliament building, the location of the LGBTQ-support demonstration was promptly changed to Pushkin Square, right next to Liberty Square.

At around 12:50 PM, as I was standing in the middle of Pushkin Square in a group of 7 people, (5 of whom were not Georgian), all the legal observers as well as local journalists started running towards the police cordon on Rustaveli Avenue, blocking the way for anti-LGBTQ demonstrators, so that they could not approach Pushkin square. I was surprised and slightly scared by the fact that only about 50 of us LGBTQ supporters were left at the square. I soon saw an aggravated crowd of 10,000 Georgians, eager to “protect Christianity,” running in our direction. Priests swearing; several of them carrying stools that they later used to hit mini-buses that were carrying LGBTQ-supporters out of the spot; men in traditional Georgian dress screaming, running towards Pushkin Square chanting the Lord’s prayers, occasionally interrupted to curse at the LGBTQ-supporters; older women running with nettle plants in their hands that they wanted to beat us with; all 10,000 people, in religious ecstasy, with one aim – to protect Christianity from perversion by murdering LGBTQ-supporters. Continue reading “LGBTQ RIGHTS AND CHRISTIANITY IN GEORGIA”

MATT KUPFER: ON BEING SELECTED AS A CARNEGIE JUNIOR FELLOW

Matt Kupfer, IGS ’12 is the winner of the Carnegie Junior Fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

matt kupferWhen I graduated from Brandeis last year, the inevitable question was what to do next. I wasn’t sure, but I did know that I wanted to continue studying Russian so that my language skills wouldn’t fade away with disuse. I also wanted to continue doing something I started during the summer: blogging and writing freelance articles about the post-Soviet region. I ultimately decided to go back to St. Petersburg, Russia, where I had studied abroad my junior year, to study Russian and work on getting professionally fluent in the language. This has allowed me to learn more about the political and social changes occurring here and to continue writing.

Not long after I got to Russia, that same question returned: what to do next? Then, I heard about the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Junior Fellows program, a year-long fellowship for graduating seniors and recent college graduates that allows them to serve as research assistants to the Carnegie Endowment’s senior associates. I had enjoyed researching and writing my senior honors thesis on the 2010 outburst of interethnic conflict in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and I also liked researching and writing blog posts and articles about social and political issues in Central Asia. For that reason, the fellowship immediately appealed to me.

Naturally, I decided to apply to Carnegie’s Russia/Eurasia Program. The application essay was extremely difficult because it asked me to describe ways in which the United States and Russia could cooperate in the Pacific Region. This wasn’t something one could simply research. It required a lot of critical thinking (which I assume will be required on the job, too) and a great deal of attention to the changes in US-Russia relations. Though satisfied with my essay, I never felt certain I had answered the question “correctly.” Still, after an interview over Skype, I was chosen to serve in the Russia/Eurasia Program, so I must have said something right!

I view being selected a Carnegie Junior Fellow as a great oppurtunity for me, because it will allow me to work with regional experts–something I hadn’t expected to happen so soon…and be paid for it, too. I will also be able to put my Russian to good use and continue to learn about the post-Soviet region, which is my passion. I believe the fellowship will put me in contact with significant thinkers in this field and will give me a greater sense of where I want to go next in my professional life.

A CLOSER LOOK INTO NORTH KOREA

north korea posterWednesday, April 10, 2013, 3PM – 4:30PM

Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library

‘Nukes, missiles, satellites, prison camps…You’ve heard about North Korea in the media, interested in hearing the truth?

The Brandeis International Journal, in collaboration with the Korean Economic Institute of America, is proud to present to you an expert panel discussion on North Korea.  Speakers will include the former German Ambassador to North Korea who has spent several years living in Pyongyang, and has personally met Kim Jong-Il himself!

Come hear the real story about the nation across the world that is threatening to attack the United States.

Featuring:
Friedrich Löhr
Former German Ambassador to North Korea, Former German Deputy Chief of Mission to China, Former German Consul General of New England
Nicholas Hamisevicz
Director of Research and Academic Affairs at the Korean Economic Institute of America
Sue Mi Terry
Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Former National Intelligence Fellow at CFR, Former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council

THE NEW MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLAMIC WINTER?

arab springMonday, March 11

5:00 – 7:00 PM

Rapaporte Treasure Hall

Brought to you by the Brandeis International Journal and the Brandeis Israel Public Affairs Committee 

What are the consequences of the Arab Spring? Will the Middle East be more radical now? How will recent events affect the ever-changing demographics of the region? How does Egypt, Israel, and Iran view these uprisings? Come listen to experts address these questions and others.

Moderator: Professor Naghmeh Sohrabi
Panelists: Professor Eva Bellin, Karim Elkady, Jonathan Snow, and Payam Mohseni

Food will be served!

Co-sponsors: International and Global Studies Program (IGS), Politics, and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES)

INTERVIEW WITH DR. MOISES LINO E SILVA, PANELIST FOR BRAZIL’S BALANCING ACT

moisesDr. Moises Lino e Silva is an anthropologist who specializes in the question of freedom and its relationship to different pressing topics such as poverty, violence, sexuality, and development. Dr Lino e Silva has written on issues related to the impact of ecotourism on the life of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Forest and his current research is centered on issues of freedom as experienced by slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He currently holds a shared appointment teaching in Anthropology and in International and Global Studies at Brandeis University. Recently, Dr Lino e Silva has been selected a World Social Science Fellow by the International Social Science Council (UNESCO).

What do you think are the main challenges for economic development and sustainability in Brazil?

So, while some advances have been made, there in still a lot of inequality in Brazil. A good question to ask is how will the new economy work for different people. For example, my own work as an anthropologist focused on favelas (urban shantytowns) in Rio de Janeiro and a big concern is how will Brazil deal with favela dwellers now that the country is richer. Some favelas have of course benefitted from social projects. But, for instance, with big international events in Brazil like the Olympic games and the World Soccer Cup there have been changes to the lives of the urban poor. One thing is the so-called “pacification” of favelas, during those events, where the state took over the territory from drug lords and a challenge is to see if those policies will be sustained in general and to see if Brazil’s growth can be sustained beyond what people would call a “bubble” and what will happen to the poor if this bubble bursts. The second thing is about how Brazil’s growth will impact the environment. Brazil has a lot of natural resources such as oil and minerals that have been traditionally what we exported. Part of Brazil’s growth can be explained by its relationship to China and the Chinese buying our commodities. So another question is how much of our development is dependent on exploiting natural resources for producing commodities? More specifically, how does industrial growth cause pollution in our cities and rivers? Like in Sao Paulo, it is appalling how polluted the river Tietê is. It is more like an open sewer and it smells really bad. So there are various questions of reconciling economic growth and protecting environmental resources. The last thing I will mention is the impact of the agricultural industry on our forests. People argue that they need more land for growing their crops and raising cattle but where does that land come from? From deforestation. We have been successful in slowing down deforestation but it is always an open-ended question and we need to see how this will play out in the future. Continue reading “INTERVIEW WITH DR. MOISES LINO E SILVA, PANELIST FOR BRAZIL’S BALANCING ACT”

SOLI SORABJEE LECTURE: BUREAUCRACY AND MASCULINITY IN INDIA AFTER INDEPENDENCE

grewal-sorabjee2013Soli Sorabjee Lecture with Dr. Inderpal Grewal, Yale University 

Thursday Feb. 28th at 5:00PM

Shapiro Admissions Center, Presentation Room

The Spring 2013 Soli Sorabjee lecture, entitled Bureaucracy and Masculinity in India after Independence will feature Prof. Inderpal Grewal from the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at Yale University. This talk will analyze four memoirs written by administrative officials in India who moved from the British Indian Civil Service into the Indian Administrative Service after Independence.

Dr. Grewal’s research interests include transnational feminist theory; gender and globalization, human rights; NGO’s and theories of civil society; theories of travel and mobility; South Asian cultural studies, and postcolonial feminism.  She is the author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire and the Cultures of Travel (Duke University Press, 1996) and Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms (Duke University Press, 2005). Currently she is working on a book length project on the relation between feminist practices and security discourses.

This event is sponsored by the South Asian Studies Program and the Brandeis-India Initiative. Refreshments will be served.

INTERVIEW WITH SARAH G. KIM, ORGANIZER OF THE ‘DEIS IMPACT EVENT – GULAG NATION: NORTH KOREA AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

Seoul-train-film-posterSarah G. Kim is a Brandeis University Senior majoring in Sociology and minoring in International and Global Studies. As part of ‘Deis Impact! 2013, she is organizing a screening of the award-winning documentary, Seoul Train (2004), about the lives and deaths of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland. The film will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Sung-Yoon Lee from Tufts University .

Gulag Nation: North Korea and Crimes Against Humanity
Thursday, February 7th, 12 – 2 pm
Levin Ballroom

What inspired you to organize this event?

This event is part of the second annual social justice festival called ‘Deis Impact! 2013 Exploring Social Justice on Campus, in Waltham and Around the World. Early on, when I first found out about all these insane human rights violations in North Korea, they stuck with me partly because of my own cultural and ethnic ties to where my parents were from. Also, I don’t understand how people can just continue going about their lives when they are exposed to this kind of information. So since high school, I started to bring awareness to people around me and that’s what I was hoping to do with this event as well because not many people know about the atrocities happening in North Korea and I figured that the best way to easily present these issues was through a film. With just words, I think for a lot of students here, it tends to go in through one ear and come out the other because there is so much information on our campus. So with this documentary film I hope to show them that this stuff is actually happening no matter how bad or unrealistic it seems. For instance, there are gas chambers in North Korea and public executions that not a lot of people know about. I also invited a guest speaker, Dr. Sung-Yoon Lee who is Assistant Professor of Korean Studies at Tufts University. I met him over the summer when I was looking to see if there were any Korean studies programs in the area. I realized that he also speaks a lot on broadcast news such as BBC, CNN and NPR so I thought if we had someone like him come to our school, all the information and knowledge he could share would help inspire us and also see what we can actually do to help these people.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the film?

It is a documentary about North Korean citizens who are trying to either flee from North Korea or from China. A lot of them tend to escape to either Russia or China because the 38th parallel is very heavily guarded and it is almost impossible to escape by entering South Korea. It is a bunch of activists, many of them are either North Korean or Chinese citizens who act as double agents and they set up this route of safe houses for them to escape into. I thought this film was interesting also because it asks the Chinese government that is part of international law why they violate those laws by systematically arresting these people and sending them back to North Korea. It sheds light on why the Chinese government doesn’t view these people as refugees, which is a very important issue. It also questions why the United Nations hasn’t done anything to save these people. It shows live footage of these people planning their escape routes and it talks about what they were subject to when they were forced to live in prison camps.

Why is this event important and relevant for IGS students?  

I think this film is of interest to IGS students because they are studying a world that is becoming more and more globalized but a country like North Korea is still isolated despite all its neighboring countries that have been growing tremendously in the past few years. It is interesting to see how North Korea comes into play in affecting global trends especially if it were to be re-united with South Korea, or at least if the dictatorship ended what would it mean for countries like the US, South Korea, China or Japan. I think it is important to see all this in an international perspective. So stop by anytime during the event. I hope IGS students will have the heart to come and learn something new. Learn that North Korea is not just a country with nuclear missiles but there are people there that are suffering a tremendous amount.

For more information about the event, you can contact Sarah at sgk730@brandeis.edu.

BEYOND NUREMBERG: THE FUTURE OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Prince zeidWednesday, January 30, 2013

Time: 5:30 pm

Location: International Lounge, Usdan

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations, will deliver a Distinguished Lecture in International Justice and Human Rights. He will reflect on the development of international criminal justice since Nuremberg and the seeming challenge faced by tribunals in leading those convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes to acknowledge and repent of their crimes. The event will be moderated by Donald Ferencz of the Planethood Foundation, which has generously funded the Distinguished Lecture.

Prince Zeid is Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a post he held previously for six and a half years from 2000-2007. From 2007-2010 he was Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States of America. He also served as Jordan’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, with the rank of Ambassador, from 1996-2000. Prince Zeid holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

In early 2009, Prince Zeid was asked by the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court to chair the closing stages of the negotiations to the “Crime of Aggression” — identified by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg as the “supreme international crime” – specifically with respect to its definition and the conditions for the Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over it, all necessary for the crime to become operational under the Rome Statute. Under the President’s leadership and guidance, those negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion and by consensus in Kampala, Uganda, in June 2010. Most recently, from March through to October 2011, Prince Zeid coordinated the search committee for the selection of the next prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. And also from 16 September 2010 to 7 March 2012 he was the Chairman of the “Country-Specific Configuration for Liberia” — the committee within the framework of the UN Peace Building Commission responsible for overseeing the transition from peacekeeping to the consolidation of peace in Liberia. He was also a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Council for the World Development Report 2011. He is married to Princess Sarah Zeid, and they have a son and two daughters.

This event is cosponsored by the Legal Studies, International & Global Studies and Peace, Conflict & Coexistence Departments, and the Heller School’s Coexistence and Conflict Program.

AN IGS CONVERSATION – THE NEW GLOBAL CITIES: POVERTY, OPPORTUNITY AND IMPROVISED URBAN LIVES

Wednesday, Nov. 7th, 7PM (6:30 for pizza)
Mandel Center Reading Room, (3rd Floor)

Is the future of the world’s global cities being created on their margins? Are city dwellers creating new and spontaneously ordered social worlds? Can informal urban networks replace formal government?

Interested in these critical questions? Join our IGS Conversation on the New Global Cities!

Our featured guest speaker is Dr. Moises Lino e Silva, Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.

Dr. Lino e Silva will also be an IGS Lecturer in Spring 2013 teaching IGS 170A Rise of Brazil and ANTH 129B Global, Transnational, and Diasporic Communities. He specializes in Brazilian urban life, favelas, the question of freedom in its relationship to wider topics such as poverty, sexuality, religion, violence, social justice and globalization. His most recent publication is entitled Formally Informal: Daily Life and the Shock of Order in a Brazilian Favela.

Our panel will also include two IGS Seniors – Shinhye Oh and Tripti Singh. Shinhye is writing her senior thesis on  the emerging nouveau riche and new forms of economic inequality in Beijing, China. Tripti has worked at a local NGO in Chandigarh, India integrating migrant slum dwellers, living on the periphery of the city, into new forms of urban employment.

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY

Film Screening and Q&A with director Alison Klayman

Thursday, November 1st, 7PM

Edie and Lew Wasserman Cinematheque, Sachar International Center

Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Co-sponsored by IGS, the Department of Fine Arts, the Department of Politics and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.