Human Rights Awareness Week kicks off


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University of Iowa students and faculty members will come together for a week of events centered on human rights awareness.

This week will feature events highlighting human-rights issues on campus.

The events will include film screenings, an open-mike night, and a presentation by UI Center for Human Rights founder Burns Weston, a professor emeritus of law.

Helen Dickson, the communications specialist for the UI Student Government, said the week was not difficult to plan. The organizations worked together to plan the week, she said, and it all came together well.

“We created a coalition of all the human-rights groups on campus,” Dickson said. “We’re all pretty passionate about it.”

The organizations aim to raise awareness of not only global but campus issues as well, she said.

Weston will present his new book on Wednesday, Green Governance: Survival in Commons, which details environmental issues, human rights, and ecological government.

Other events will include the Freedom Reading at Java House, screenings of Miss Representation, a documentary about the portrayal of women in the media, and Doctors of the Dark Side, which details the role of doctors in torture.

The week will end on Saturday with Shots of Sweets for a Shot @ Life.  The event will feature music and desserts benefiting Shot @ Life, an organization that aims to provide vaccines to children. It will be held in Old Brick.

A candle light vigil, scheduled for Sunday evening, was canceled due to weather.

David Lam-Lau, vice president of marketing and cofounder of the UI Students for Human Rights, said the vigil is meant to get people together to start thinking and talking about the issues.

The organization, founded in October 2012, is not affiliated with the Center for Human Rights.

Planning for the week got started early, said Lam-Lau

“A lot of presidents of the groups got together over break,” he said.

The organizations involved include UI Students for Human Rights, Amnesty International, UI United Nations Association, Students Abolishing Slavery, Feminist Union, Physicians for Human Rights, Iowa United Nations Association, ONE, Liberty in North Korea and the UISG.

Some groups, such as the Johnson County chapter of the Iowa United Nations Association, focused on particular issues; others, including UI Students for Human Rights, were all encompassing. 

All members are encouraged to present their ideas at meetings, Lam-Lau said.

The Iowa United Nations Association focuses on a smaller selection of issues, said Katy Hansen, the Johnson County Chapters president.

The chapter focuses on several women’s issues including, political participation of women, economic empowerment, and ending violence against women.

“Human Rights should be the basis for government,” Hansen said. 

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