Saturday, February 9, 2008


By Carla M. Collado

Gazette Newspapers, CA
Feb 7 2008

It's not every day that Southern Californians get to meet genocide

Next week, California State University, Long Beach, will invite the
community to meet these survivors and learn more about such global
issues at the President's Forum on International Human Rights focusing
on "Modern Genocides and Global Responsibility."

The forum - free and open to the public - will take place Monday
through Wednesday throughout the CSULB campus. Scheduled events
include art exhibits, panel discussions with human rights experts, film
screenings, genocide survivor testimonies and musical performances,
among other things.

CSULB President F. King Alexander said the three-day forum is the
first of several forums the university will host down the road focusing
on international human rights issues (education, health and genocide
are just some).

"We're doing a lot to internationally engage our campus on lots of
issues and to broaden the understanding and broaden our level of
interest to include some very important issues that impact world
affairs," Alexander said.

He said the university chose to lead with a forum focusing on genocide
because it is such a high-profile topic in the news today.

"It's so we all have a better understanding of what we need to do as
a global society to eradicate such global atrocities," he said.

One of the highlights will be the keynote address at 7 p.m. Monday
(at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center) by Francis Deng, the United
Nations' special representative of the secretary-general on the
prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. Over the decades, Deng has
served as representative of the United Nations secretary-general on
internally displaced persons, as senior fellow at the United States
Institute of Peace, as human rights officer in the United Nations
Secretariat and as ambassador of the Sudan to Canada, Denmark, Finland,
Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Other guest speakers include Ishmael Beah, who lived as a child soldier
in Sierra Leone and wrote about his experiences in "A Long Way Gone:
Memoirs of a Boy Soldier;" Immaculee Ilibagiza, who survived the
Rwandan genocide in 1994 and told her story in her book "Left to
Tell;" and Ervin Staub, psychology professor at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst, who has helped develop radio programs in
Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo to promote healing and reconciliation
and prevent new violence.

Panel discussion topics will include definitions of genocide,
scholars in conversation on the Armenian genocide, survivors'
testimonies, redress and reconciliation and policy response and the
role of governments. There also will be multiple film screenings and a
"Working for Change" career fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at
the Friendship Walk on campus with representatives from organizations
that fight for human rights.

Alexander said the forum offers events for people with different levels
of interest and urged the community to take advantage of the experts,
films and discussions taking place at the forum.

"Great universities E this is what we do, and this is what we should
do - provide access to special events that many cities don't provide,"
he said.

Beyond the three-day forum, Alexander said that CSULB faculty members
have been asked to incorporate discussions on human rights issues into
their classes (in courses on international affairs, political science,
sociology and world politics, for instance). He said professors can
use the forum as an opportunity to raise awareness, internationally
engage students and broaden their access to international media.

"We think that we'll get a lot out of this that lasts more than three
days," Alexander said.

The President's Forum on International Human Rights is being sponsored
by the CSULB Foundation, the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual
History and Education at the University of Southern California,
the Port of Long Beach, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the California
Conference for Equality and Justice, Behr Paints and Lowe's of Central
Long Beach.

While the forum is open to the public, seats will be filled on
a first-come basis. For a complete schedule of events, parking
information and other details, visit

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