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Monday, September 22, 2014

New center to focus on human rights and peace studies

By Carla Candia
Posted

Antonio, a Guatemalan worker who tried to cross the Arizona border in 2005, was abandoned by his smugglers for not walking fast enough. A non-profit group later found him in Southern Arizona’s Sonora Desert, baking in 115-degree heat. Though Antonio tried to get help from several patrol units that passed him on the highway, none had stopped.

“Several border patrol agents to whom I’ve spoken over the years admitted to stopping only for ten or more migrants. Otherwise, as one put it, ‘it’s not worth the paperwork,’” said Linda Green, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona, who told Antonio’s story as part of her talk, Arizona Borderlands: Immigration, Militarization, Inequality at Lehman College on Feb. 24.

Ms. Green was the keynote speaker at the first-ever conference hosted by the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies at Lehman College. Director Victoria Sanford, a Riverdale resident, said the Center, which opened in late January, will serve as an open forum for community members, students and university staff.

“We see our role as a human right center not as only being scholarly presentations about human rights but actually providing a connection to practitioners of human rights and to people who are seeking to build bridges with others working in different parts of the world,” said Ms. Sanford, who hopes to partner with organizations within the Riverdale community.

Ms. Sanford said the center, the only of its kind in the Bronx, falls right in line with the college’s history of working for human rights. It was at Lehman College that the United Nations started drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1946.

The Center is also working with Lehman faculty to develop an interdisciplinary minor in Human Rights and Peace Studies that includes a Research Committee Working Group to support human rights work by Lehman students.

Organizers chose immigration as the subject of its first conference because, they said, it captures the Center’s mission.

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