Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tibet and Tiananmen

The Autobiography of a Tibetan MonkAs we commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen demonstrations consider viewing this film about Rights Readers author Palden Gyatso (The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk) made in 1998 at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Or try Tibet - Cry of the Snow Lion featuring both Palden Gyatso and Blake Kerr (Sky Burial). Kerr was an eyewitness of the 1987 demonstrations in Tibet that were a precursor to Tiananmen 1989 and kicks off the film with his account:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Birthday Action for Aung San Suu Kyi

Freedom from Fear and Other Writings: Revised EditionJoin Salman Rushdie with your wishes for Aung San Suu Kyi's 64th birthday coming up on June 19 at 64 Words for Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amnesty International action here.

For July: Daughters of Juarez

For July we have selected The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border by Teresa Rodriguez,
For more than twelve years, the city of Juárez, Mexico -- just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas -- has been the center of a horrific crime wave against women and girls. Consisting of kidnappings, rape, mutilation, and murder, most of the atrocities have involved young, slender, and poor victims -- fueling the premise that the murders are not random. As for who is behind the crimes themselves, the answer remains unknown -- though many have speculated that the killers are American citizens, and others have argued that the killings have become a sort of blood sport due to the lawlessness of the city itself. And despite numerous arrests over the last ten years, the murders continue to occur, with the killers growing bolder, dumping bodies in the city itself rather than on the outskirts of town, as was initially the case, indicating a possible growing and most alarming alliance of silence and cover-up by Mexican politicians.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rights Readers Round-up

Another of our periodic posts rounding up what's new with Rights Readers authors:

Salman Rushdie has a part in the film version of Midnight's Children
to be directed by Deepa Mehta (Water). More here.

Philip Gourevitch (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families) defends Obama,
Mr. Obama is not suppressing information when he opposes the release of more photographs. After all, he just made public a series of Bush administration torture policy memos that authorize the very methods for inflicting pain and suffering that the Abu Ghraib photographs represent. In fact, it is because of Mr. Obama’s leadership in bringing these dark practices to light that the press and the public — having for too long been passive to the point of complicity on the issue — are now agitating for more sensational imagery. Who are we trying to fool, if not ourselves, if we pretend that we need more photos to know what has been going on?
Amira Hass (Drinking the Sea at Gaza) arrested as she returns from Israel to Gaza. This incident not really getting in the way of her reporting the nitty gritty of life in Gaza.

Did not know that Hector Tobar (The Tattooed Soldier) is an LAT columnist. I think that's where I will go when I need a shot of LA nostalgia, especially columns like this. I miss my raucous neighborhood parrots.

Amulya Malladi (A Breath of Fresh Air) has her own blog.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jailed without Justice

Brother, I'm Dying (Vintage Contemporaries)Revisiting the subject of our March discussion (Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat) of deaths in immigrant detention, Amnesty International released a compelling report on the subject in March (yeah, I'm a little late on this one), Jailed without Justice. You can download the report and take action here.

Hear AIUSA Executive Director discuss the report on WNYC:

The NYT reports on another death in immigrant detention here.

Bonus: Edwidge Danticat reads poetry in Haitian creole for PEN.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wiwa V. Shell

In the Shadow of a Saint: A Son's Journey to Understand His Father's LegacyIn the run up to the Wiwa v. Shell trial set to begin next week in New York, PEN American Center sponsored a panel discussion featuring Ken Wiwa (In the Shadow of a Saint: A Son's Journey to Understand His Father's Legacy). The proceedings are also summarized at Guernica and the NYT,
Among the accusations are that Shell employees were present when two witnesses were offered bribes to testify against Mr. Saro-Wiwa, said Jennie Green, a senior lawyer at the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the family. She said Mr. Saro-Wiwa’s brother Owens has also stated that Shell’s managing director, Brian Anderson (now retired), told him, “If you call off the campaign, maybe we can do something for your brother.”
The article also mentions that Ken Wiwa is working on a novel. The NYT explores the implications for other corporations with questionable human rights practices here and the history of oil exploitation in Nigeria here.

In addition to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Earthrights International is involved in the lawsuit. Loyal Readers may remember Earthrights founder Ka Hsaw Wa's visits to Caltech. He weighs in here.

Finally, Democracy Now reports on the latest violence in the Niger delta.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For September: The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin

Our September selection will be The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalinby Adam Hochschild,
Although some twenty million people died during Stalin"s reign of terror, only with the advent of glasnost did Russians begin to confront their memories of that time. In 1991, Adam Hochschild spent nearly six months in Russia talking to gulag survivors, retired concentration camp guards, and countless others. The result is a riveting evocation of a country still haunted by the ghost of Stalin.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Global Day of Action for Troy Davis

Head on over to the AIUSA Troy Davis page Finality over Fairness or go directly to the action: Support Clemency for Troy Davis. You can also keep up with the latest developments on the Troy Anthony Davis website.

And while I'm at it, some recent 'must reads' for Californians:

'Dysfunctional' death penalty racks up 28-year, $5-million tab (LA Times)

Can Californians afford to keep the death penalty? (Sacramento Bee)

California Still the Highest Spender on the Death Penalty (ACLU)

Divided appeals court upholds death sentence (San Francisco Chronicle)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rights Readers Round-up

Just catching up on some of our Rights Readers authors:

Excellent interview with Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) on the BBC World Book Club.

Daniel Alarcon (Lost City Radio) discusses editing a collection of short stories by Latin American writers with the The New Yorker. Names to watch for?

Arundhati Roy (The Cost of Living) on the crisis in Sri Lanka. Follow the latest on Sri Lanka on AIUSA's Human Rights Now blog.

Going back a couple months on this one, but here's a New Yorker podcast on the Politkovskaya (Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy) trial. Amnesty insight here.

Tribute to Reinaldo Arenas (Before Night Falls) at PEN World Voices. Francisco Goldman (The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?) participated in a panel too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our May Author: Robin Wright

Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle EastFirst, Robin Wright, author of our May selection Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East has her own website. She's also the sort of author who does all the TV/radio talkshows to promote her book, such as NPR , The Diane Rehm Show, a broadcast of an LAPL event and Authors@Google, much of which just summarizes the book's contents, so why not just get it all in a nutshell on Comedy Central?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Robin Wright
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

Also this Terence McNally interview at least kicks off with an anecdote about her days as a sports reporter for the Michigan Daily (Go Blue!).

You can catch her punditizing on more recent events on this Meet the Press episode: How will Obama cash in political capital? Or as suggested by a Loyal Reader, this Diane Rehm Show panel about Iran/US relations sparked by the Roxana Saberi case.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Rights Readers Supreme Court

Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass ViolenceNine years or so ago, we read Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence by Martha Minow. Now its come to my attention that the author is on at least one speculative list for the current Supreme Court vacancy.

Rights Readers trivia question: what other author we've read has made a Supremes speculation list? Hint: Minow names her in the video above from Facing History.

Minow'slatest looks like it would be interesting to the educators among us (more here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Making Rights Really Universal

Aww, all this Star Trek mania is making me nostalgic for the days when Amnesty International Group 22 tabled at the Star Trek convention in Pasadena. I wish I had pictures, but at least I still have my delegation badge! Remember when the Trekkies used to scarf up our cute little Universal Declaration of Human Rights booklets with the UN logo on them that kinda-sorta resembles the logo at left, thinking they had stumbled on some profound interplanetary document? But surely the United Federation would have a UDHR-derived bill of rights governing earthlings and aliens! For another flashback, try this Slate article, "Star Trek: The Next Generation's eerily prescient torture episode", which I recall we helped to promote (note that the article does mention an interplanetary version of the Geneva Convention.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Philip Gourevitch Update

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from RwandaPhilip Gourevitch, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, a book Rights Readers selected almost ten years ago, has returned to Rwanda and although the resulting New Yorker article is available to subscribers only, you can listen to him discuss his experiences here. He has also suggested some further reading on the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath at The Book Bench. On another of his favorite topics, you can read some of his recent commentary on torture here and listen to a discussion on the topic on the April 23rd edition of the "Political Scene" podcast.
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