Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dignity for All Thanksgiving - Human rights pilgrims launch alumni group

Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) - THEY call themselves “human rights pilgrims” for “active nonviolence.”
And Thanksgiving Day marks their launching of the Alumni for International Human Rights Law for them “to pilgrimage into the 21st century’s human rights challenges.”
Describing themselves as “pilgrims for the cause of human rights,” the founders vowed to pursue “action-oriented, impact-generating, and strategic initiatives, programs, projects, activities, and campaigns” to achieve “dignity for all.”
Co-founder Fran Quigley, Director of the Indiana-Kenya Partnership, lauded the establishment of the group, which he described as an “important organization.” Quigley praised his fellow pilgrims for their “leadership in protecting human rights and for continuing to build IU’s reputation as an institutional advocate for dignity and freedom.”
The organizers vowed to pursue the following objectives:
· Establish a diverse, cohesive, volunteer, independent, nonpartisan, and educational group of IU alumni committed to fortify the rule of international human rights law
· Address human rights issues through the human rights-based approach, from multidisciplinary perspectives, and by means of active nonviolence
· Provide mutual support and develop individual and group capacities among IU constituencies—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—to engage in any and all forms of ahimsa (nonviolence) to ensure the respect for, protection, and fulfillment of the universal, inalienable, interdependent, and indivisible economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights of all persons
· Proactively respond to any and all human rights challenges on an immediate, short-, medium-, and long-term basis, at the IU, local, national, regional, and international levels, by means of action-oriented, impact-generating, and strategic initiatives, programs, projects, activities, and campaigns
· Initiate and support any and all efforts to develop, protect, and assist IU international human rights lawyers, scholars, and defenders
As their way of commemorating Thanksgiving Day, the founders committed themselves to uphold the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. On March 8, 1999, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration, officially known as the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The alumni adhered to the Declaration as one of their key founding documents.
The list of founding members continues to grow, as alumni from various parts of the U.S. and the globe expressed their willingness to form the group. Tuinese Edward Amuzu, an LL.M. Human Rights alum, served as founding “pilgrim” from Accra, Ghana, where he works as executive director of the Legal Resources Centre. From his UN office at The Hague, The Netherlands, Sean Monkhouse, J.D., also joined hands with his fellow alumni in celebrating Thanksgiving Day by forming the group. Monkhouse works as court officer of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
While busy pursuing her human rights studies at the University of Hong Kong and interning with Amnesty International-Hong Kong Section, Heidi Reed, J.D. candidate and IU-Bloomington alumna, also agreed to form the group. From strife-torn Georgia, Shalva Tskhakaya, LL.M., also joined his fellow alumni in forming the association.
An Indiana pro bono attorney, David Rothenberg helped pioneer the formation of the group. Rothenberg is currently helping law students with their United Nations shadow reporting projects on Australia and Chad.  Pioneer members include Robert Masbaum, J.D., and Kevin Munoz, J.D.  Student leaders Wele Elangwe, LL.M., Lena Masri, J.D., and Emina Hadzic, J.D. co-founded the group. They serve as the president of the Master of Laws Association, Muslim Law Students Association, and the International Human Rights Law Society, respectively.
The modern-day pilgrims also affirmed their “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” as stated in the UN Charter.

The initial wave of “human rights pilgrims” includes:

1. Philip Aka, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.
2. Tuinese Edward Amuzu, LL.M.
3. Jacqueline C. Ayers, J.D.
4. Emily A. Benfer, J.D.
5. Thomas H. Benner, J.D.
6. Perfecto Caparas, LL.M.
7. Christin E. Cogley, J.D.
8. Adil A. Daudi, J.D.
9. Sarah M. Dillinger, J.D.
10. Wele Elangwe, LL.M.
11. Tiffany K. Girard, J.D.
12. Emina Hadzic, J.D.
13. Todd Edward Hassee, J.D.
14. Kat Hendrix, J.D.
15. Ayesha F. Johnson, J.D., LL.M.
16. Marc S. Kaliser, J.D.
17. Lun Kham, J.D.
18. Raio G. Krishnayya, J.D., LL.M.
19. Matthew Ryan Kubal, J.D.
20. Bobby Y. Lam, J.D.
21. Monica C. Magnusson, J.D.
22. Robert Masbaum, J.D.
23. Lena F. Masri, J.D.
24. Zoe M. Meier, J.D.
25. Sean A. Monkhouse, J.D.
26. Julia T. Mudd, J.D.
27. Kevin Munoz, J.D.
28. Emily Anne Munson, J.D.
29. Philemon A. Nkafu, LL.M.
30. Fran Quigley, J.D.
31. Waseem Ahmad Qureshi, S.J.D. candidate
32. Heidi Reed, J.D.
33. David Rothenberg, J.D.
34. Jhon J. Sanchez, J.D., LL.M.
35. Seema R. Shah, J.D.
36. April F. Shaw, J.D.
37. Nicole S. Steward, J.D.
38. Kavinvadee Suppapongtevasakul, LL.M.
39. Simeon P. Sungi, LL.B. (Honors), LL.M., Ph.D. candidate
40. Nelson Taku, LL.M.
41. Edye T. Taylor, J.D.
42. Shalva Tskhakaya, LL.M.

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