COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WELCOMES 10 ACTIVISTS TO THE 2010 HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES PROGRAM

For Immediate Release July 21, 2010

Contact:
Stephanie V. Grepo, Director, Capacity Building Programs
Telephone: 212-854-7189; email: sg2670@columbia.edu

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WELCOMES 10 ACTIVISTS
TO THE 2010 HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES PROGRAM

New York, NY — On Monday, August 30th, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) at Columbia University will welcome 10 human rights activists as the 22nd cohort of the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP).

The intensive HRAP curriculum is defined by academic coursework, skills-building workshops and networking opportunities with the human rights communities in New York and Washington, DC. By the time the advocates complete the program in mid-December, they will have acquired the knowledge, skills and connections necessary to further develop themselves as human rights professionals and their organizations back home.

Through a competitive selection process, the 10 advocates were chosen from 170 applications representing 58 countries. “Every year, we are impressed by the caliber of the applicants to HRAP,” said Stephanie V. Grepo, Director of Capacity Building Programs at ISHR. “We look for advocates who indicate in their application essays that they have thought about how they will utilize and share the knowledge, skills and networks they have gained through HRAP once they return home.” For example, Andrea Nuila of Honduras wrote in her application: “The systematic violation of human rights has been atrocious since the coup… The greatest challenge I face in my work is the creation of new and effective strategies that will help us deal with illegal governmental actions affecting the fundamental rights of the Honduran people… My participation in HRAP, besides helping me to develop, can influence the work that Honduran NGOs are doing in international advocacy and at the litigation level.”

HRAP would not be possible without the support of numerous human rights professionals and organizations who generously share their expertise, networks and time with the Advocates. ISHR is very grateful to the following for their financial support of the 2010 Program: Arcus Foundation; Stephen Lewis Foundation; International Women’s Program of the Open Society Institute; Sperry Fund; Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Foundation; the Harriman Institute at Columbia University; and an anonymous donor.

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Editor’s Note: All Advocates will be available to speak to the media while they are in residence at Columbia University. For further information, please contact Stephanie V. Grepo at 212-854-7189 or sg2670@columbia.edu.

The 2010 Human Rights Advocates are:

Naglaa Ahmed
African Center for Justice and Peace Studies
Sudan

Naglaa became a Human Rights Monitoring Officer with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) in 2009. ACJPS, an NGO based in Africa, London, and New York, is devoted to promoting human rights in Sudan. The organization works to prevent human rights violations, to protect those at risk, to hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights violations, to ensure effective access to justice for victims of human rights abuses, and to entrench a human rights culture into Sudanese governance, society, and culture. Naglaa’s responsibilities at ACJPS include monitoring and maintaining an overview of human rights developments in Sudan, establishing systems to ensure mutual support and accountability for victims of human rights violations, and identifying training and development needs for Sudanese lawyers and journalists. Naglaa received her Bachelor of Laws from Beirut Arab University and a Master of Science in Maritime Law from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport.

James Rwampigi Aniyamuzaala
Youth with Physical Disability Development Forum
Uganda

James started his position as the Human Rights Program Coordinator at Youth with Physical Disability Development Forum (YPDDF) in February 2007. YPDDF seeks to improve the standard of living of youth with physical disabilities using human rights-based approaches and education. Through YPDDF’s Human Rights Program, James empowers young people by providing them with knowledge and information needed to demand their rights. In addition to his work at YPDDF, James is a stakeholder in the Disability and HIV/AIDS Project of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) and works part-time as a Human Rights/Disability Rights Educator at Kyambogo University. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Kyambogo University and has received numerous certificates for completing programs and workshops at Kyambogo University, AIDS Information Centre, the World Health Organization, and East African Community Youth Organization.

Siarhei Antusevich
Belarusian Independent Trade Union
Belarus

Siarhei was elected secretary-treasurer of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU) in 2007. BITU is one of the largest independent self-governing trade unions in Belarus with 7000 members. Siarhei’s work currently focuses on violations of human rights, especially union rights, in Belarus. Before he was elected to his post at BITU, Siarhei served as chairman of a local independent trade union organization, Hrodna Azot, where he organized advocacy campaigns for union, social, and community issues. From 2003 to 2007, Siarhei was the sole independent member of Hrodna City Council. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Belarus State Technological University in 1996 as well as a Diploma of Attendance from Belostock Institute of Public Administration in 2006. In addition, Siarhei has completed training programs at the International Labour Organization International Training Centre, United States Department of State, and Japan International Labour Foundation. While in HRAP, Siarhei will cooperate with the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, which is the oldest academic institution in the United States devoted to the study of the countries of the former Soviet Union, East Central Europe and the Balkans.

Susan Aryeetey
International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana)
Ghana

Susan began at International Federation of Women Lawyers in Ghana (FIDA-Ghana) in 2002. Founded in 1974, FIDA-Ghana is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that addresses discriminatory practices against women in society as well as promotes and protects the rights of women and children. As Resource Mobilization and Communications Officer, Susan enhances the operations of FIDA-Ghana by planning, executing, and reporting on advocacy projects, implementing capacity-building programs, maintaining relations with other regional offices of International Federation of Women Lawyers, and serving as the organization’s spokesperson and media representative on issues of womens’ rights. Susan received a Diploma in Journalism with Distinction from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. She also has attended a number of workshops and training programs including the International Workshop on Resource Mobilization in Malaysia and leadership training from the Ark Foundation.

Agnes Atim
National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
Uganda

Agnes is Executive Director of National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda (NACWOLA). A network of more than 60,000 Women Living with HIV (WLHIV), NACWOLA promotes positive living for WLHIV and their families through advocacy and networking, positive prevention of HIV, peer psychosocial support, legal support, and promoting rights of women and children living with HIV. She is a social worker with more than 12 years work experience providing leadership, strategic programming, and implementation of human rights, HIV/AIDS, health, gender-based violence, and community services programs at national and international organizations. Agnes is one of the leading Ugandan advocates for the rights of women and children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. She holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Project Planning and Management and Education, a Master of Arts Degree in Development Studies, and Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.

Colette Lespinasse
Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatries et aux Refugies
Haiti

Colette became Executive Director of Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatries et aux Refugies (GARR) in 1999. GARR promotes and protects migrants’ rights through activities involving advocacy, humanitarian and legal assistance, and the reinsertion of returnees. Colette’s responsibilities include coordinating the organization’s activities, managing its public relations, and fundraising. A prominent journalist, Colette regularly publishes articles about migrants and refugees on the GARR website as well as in national and international reviews. Although her advocacy work is predominantly driven by the situation of migrants and refugees along the Haitian-Dominican border, she also hosts a program for women on the Haitian radio station, Radio Kiskeya. Colette received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Universite Quisqueya in 1999 and has also followed coursework in human rights, journalism, and international law in Canada, Haiti, and Italy.

Glenda Muzenda
Gender and Media Southern Africa
South Africa

Glenda started as Country Facilitator and Network Coordinator at Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA), an advocacy institution, in July 2007. She coordinates research aimed at improving AIDS-related care work policies targeted at women and girls in Southern Africa. She pioneered safe spaces and networking forums for minority women, including lesbians, to eliminate discrimination in South Africa. Between 2003 and 2005, Glenda volunteered with British Columbia People with AIDS (BCPWA) in Canada. She currently works with LGBTI groups in Africa to create safe spaces for young women to discuss sexuality openly and seek mentorship without fear of discrimination. She writes widely on gender justice, human rights, women’s rights, democracy, and sexuality, and contributes frequently to both print and online media outlets in Southern Africa.

Andrea Maria Nuila
Center for Women’s Rights
Honduras

Andrea joined the Center for Women’s Rights (CDM) in Honduras in September 2006. CDM documents and combats violence against women in Honduras. As the Assistant in CDM’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights Program, Andrea oversees workshops in sexual and reproductive health for young people, coordinates efforts for CDM’s annual rock concert that raises awareness about HIV/AIDS, investigates sexual crimes against women in Honduras, and provides legal assistance to victims of illegal detentions and political persecution. Andrea earned her Law Degree from the Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana in 2009. She has completed training programs, including the Advanced International Training Program on Sexuality, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Rights of Young People in Sweden, as well as two workshops with the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights.

Azra Smailkadic-Brkic
Genocide Intervention Network
USA

Azra was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war in Bosnia and its aftermath fostered her interests in genocide prevention, conflict management, and peace building. She earned a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna. Her thesis, “Violence against Women: From the Bedroom to the Battlefield,” focuses on mass rape as a weapon of war and a tool of genocide. At the Inter-University Center of Dubrovnik and the University of Sarajevo, she worked as the Program Coordinator of the Master’s-level course “War Crimes, Genocide and Memories,” whi ch was the first of its kind in Southeast Europe. Azra has volunteered with the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention since January 2009. As a 2010 Carl Wilkens Fellow with the Genocide Intervention Network in Washington, D.C., Azra raises awareness of genocide through book groups, speaking engagements, and meetings with U.S. policy makers. Azra is a Whitney M. Young, Jr. Advocate.

Bakary Tandia
African Services Committee
USA

Bakary works as both Case Manager and Policy Advocate at African Services Committee. As Case Manager, he assists clients newly diagnosed with HIV access health care, housing, and supportive services that enable them to regain their health and build productive lives. In this role, he facilitates a weekly support group that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for people from across the African Diaspora. As Policy Advocate, Bakary works to raise awareness of public health and human rights issues in New York City’s African community and to empower newcomers to understand and to protect their rights as immigrants. Originally from Mauritania, Bakary is also Executive Director of the Forum for African Immigrant Associations, an organization begun under the auspices of African Services. In that capacity, Bakary organizes community leadership trainings to provide African organizations with the skills they need to achieve their goals. In addition, he serves on the board of the New York Immigration Coalition. He was the recipient of the 2005 New American Leaders Fellowship Program, jointly sponsored by Coro Leadership Center and The New York Immigration Coalition, and was a participant in the Hamburg-New York 2007 IntegrationXchange 2007, a program jointly sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Koeberg Foundation in Germany. Bakary was trained as a criminologist at the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast and holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Bakary is a Whitney M. Young, Jr. Advocate.

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