July 23, 2014

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.

Shota 2

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. [Read more...]

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

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

sarah kimWhat 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.

AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN MADRID

By Ivan Ponieman-Ferradas in Madrid, Spain

I am a rising junior majoring in Economics and International & Global Studies.  This summer I am interning for the United States Department of State Foreign Service at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain.  The Foreign Service carries out American foreign policy around the world.  Its mission is to promote peace, development, and democracy abroad for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

I have wanted to intern for the Foreign Service since I was a senior in high school, when I learned about the internship opportunity through the Department of State website.  When the application period opened last November, I worked closely with career counselors at Hiatt to make sure that my application reflected strong candidacy.  I applied to the internship online and was offered a position in December upon receiving security clearance.  After completing extensive paperwork and being interviewed by federal investigators, I successfully received my security clearance and a final offer during early March.

The Embassy in Madrid is divided into five different sections: management, economic, political, public affairs, and consular.  I am working at the consular and economic sections.

The consular section is divided in the Visas unit and the American Citizen Services unit (ACS). Visas is in charge of processing both immigrant and non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States.  ACS takes care of American citizens in Spain, from processing new passports to going on prison visits and handling abduction cases.  I am currently working in Visas assisting consuls in processing an average of 200 daily visa requests.  I work with the general public receiving cases, entering passport data, and taking fingerprints. [Read more...]

Front Row Seats at the Trial of Charles Taylor

Esther Brandon

Writing from the Brandeis in The Hague spring semester program

On April 26, 2012 Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 criminal counts. 

Charles Taylor was the President of Liberia, 1997 to 2003. He was convicted of aiding and abetting brutal rebel movements that committed mass atrocities in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 90’s. The Trial Court found he had helped plan the capture of diamond mines and the invasion of the capital, Freetown. During the movement, over 50,000 people died, while countless others fled the country or took refuge in camps. Taylor is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

When I first laid eyes on Mr. Taylor, I was extremely surprised by his demeanor. He appeared in a blue pinstriped suit with a maroon tie. During the reading, he sat stoically, occasionally taking notes with a yellow ballpoint pen. I expected to see a man capable of great violence, a person who ordered the deaths of thousands for the sake of diamonds and personal gain. Instead, I saw a man looking a little sad, with no evil gleam in his eye as he was convicted of aiding & abetting with the planning of:

  • 5 counts of crimes against humanity: murder, rape, sexual slavery, other inhumane acts, and enslavement.
  • 5 counts of violations of Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions: acts of terrorism, violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder; outrages upon personal dignity; violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular cruel treatment; and pillage.
  • 1 count of conscripting or enlisting child soldiers under the age of 15 years.

His sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday May 30, 2012.

The Office of the Prosecutor used great innovation to prove Taylor’s connection to the crimes committed in Sierra Leone while he lived in Liberia. They referenced radio and telephone intercepts and brought in radio operators who had connected Mr. Taylor’s residence in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, to the rebels in Sierra Leone. Taylor’s head of security, bodyguards and other associates testified about arms and ammunition shipments for use by the rebel forces. Bank records proved tax payments entered into Taylor’s personal bank account that were used for the war effort. [Read more...]

Y’en a marre (Enough is Enough)

Grace Killian

Y’en a marre or ‘Enough is enough’ are words written on walls all across the capital city of Dakar, Senegal.  But these are notjust words. Y’en a marre is a youth movement led by rappers and journalists.  As I took my hour-long walk down a main road to school every day, these words were put in context when I passed beggars and groups of lean-tos built on the side of the road.  These images would reappear in my consciousness when there was a power cut again, as there was everyday for several hours. The sight of my neighborhood darkened by a power cut was particularly striking against the backdrop of the African Renaissance Monument in the distance. This 164ft monument was meant to symbolize Africa rising from a history of oppression yet its construction was estimated at $27 million while the majority of the population constantly struggled with poverty.  The frustration towards these contradictions and life in Senegal was palpable as well.  I could see it when my host mother would sigh, “What kind of country is this?!” or when we would meet a demonstration in the streets and be forced to find a different route.

This movement and these frustrations were also coming at a critical time in Senegalese history: a highly contested election. Then president, Abdoulaye Wade, was running for a third term despite the fact that he had passed a law restricting presidents to serving only two terms earlier in his presidency. Wade also faced widespread criticism and accusations of corruption. In many ways, Y’en a marre and the people of Senegal seemed to be dissatisfied with Wade and his presidency and considered this to be the cause for most problems. The preparations of the coming election were everywhere: walls were also graffitied with names of candidates and expressions of hope for 2012 and there were nightly debates on TV discussing the legality of Wade’s bid for candidacy. [Read more...]

Interview with Florence Levy Kay Fellow Beatrice De Gasquet

Editor’s note: Dr. Beatrice de Gasquet will moderate our discussion of “The Challenges of Global Migration” (this Wednesday, Feb. 15th, at 6:30 pm in the Mandel Center Reading Room).  

Next fall Dr. de Gasquet will teach A Democratic Babel? Language Politics in Contemporary Europe.  The class that will use language to explore topics in European politics such as European integration, the persistence of nationalisms, regionalism, minority rights and immigration. 

What IGS classes have you taught at Brandeis?

In the Fall I was teaching a class called ‘Behind the Veil’ about religion and ethnicity in France. The idea was to start with the law banning the veil in schools (and later banning the full veil in public space) and then talk more broadly about issues of religion, politics, race and immigration in France.  So we looked not only at Islam but also Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism in France to understand the history of religion, politics and secularism and how it intersects with the history of immigration in France. The point was to begin with a very specific issue and draw out the links with larger historical and political issues.

How do you think that these themes are relevant and useful for IGS students?

There were several things that came up especially in class discussions that are relevant for IGS students. For instance, depending on the country, the way people view the relationship between religion and politics is very different. Of course, the French view and the US view contrast quite nicely and this comparative aspect was very interesting to many students. I saw this in the presentations they did. Some talked about religion and politics in Morocco and Turkey so we had nice comparisons with other countries looking at race and immigration in different ways. There was another aspect that came up regarding the relationship between French and US politics.  French politics, on many issues, is in part a reaction to a perceived threat to national identity or independence from either the US or Europe or immigration from North Africa. So we addressed this particular connection between religion and concerns about national identity in France as opposed to other countries such as the US. [Read more...]

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