U of M Spring Semester 2015: Human Rights Workshop with Shiran Gooneratne

S-Gooneratne Flyer (2015 APR 7)-1(1)


February 19, 2014 Human Rights Session: Refugees in Malaysia

Flyer for Ms. Sreedharan's presentation.

In 2012, according to the UNHCR, almost 920,000 people applied for asylum or refugee status. These are people who are seeking safety from persecution in their home countries. They are often fleeing from threats of violence, rape, or torture. They may have used their entire life savings to escape their home country. They may be in severe need of medical attention and mental health resources. Yet despite making it to the relative safety of another country, their struggle may be far from over.

On Wednesday, February 19, Humphrey Fellow Liva Sreedharan will discuss how approximately 100,000 refugees in her home country of Malaysia go out of the frying pan and into the fire, escaping persecution in their home countries only to arrive in Malaysia, where they are perceived as illegal immigrants. Ms. Sreedharan will talk about the particular vulnerability of women refugees to abuse and exploitation, and how this ill-treatment is an assault not only on their human rights, but their identities as well.

Prisoners in Their Skin: The Story of Persons with Living with Albinism in East Africa

Do you use sunscreen? Do you go to tanning salons? Has anyone ever told you that you are ‘exotic’? Humphrey Fellow Alice Kimani will bring a new perspective to these seemingly innocuous questions when she presents “Prisoners in Their Skin: The Story of Persons with Living with Albinism in East Africa” on Wednesday, February 12 at the University of Minnesota Law School.

In her presentation, Ms. Kimani will discuss the social stigma surrounding persons living with albinism in East Africa, as well as the human rights concerns that have resulted. Not only do persons with albinism face societal discrimination in areas such as education and employment, but they have also become targets for human organ traffickers.

Ms. Kimani brings a wealth of experience and expertise from her extensive work on the issue of human trafficking.  Prior to her Humphrey Fellowship, she was the Regional Policy, Liaison and Reporting Officer for International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also worked with IOM in Tanzania, and is an alumni of the Refugee Service Centre at University of Oxford.

The presentation will be on Wednesday, February 12, from 12:15-1:15 PM in Mondale Hall Room 15. Food will be provided.

Humphrey Fellowship Visit to Youthrive

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows participating in the August Professional Development Track, On the Ground in Minnesota, offered by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center attended a site visit at the organization Youthrive on August 20th, 2013. Fellows learned about the innovative approach that Youthrive takes to youth leadership and youth/adult partnerships. They met with a group of impressive young leaders, brainstormed around issues of youth violence, and learned about Youthrive’s four steps to youth leadership. They also had a great time!

Judge Philip Aguinaldo to Lecture on Anti Human Trafficking

Congratulations to Philip Aguinaldo (Philippines, 2012-13). He was recently invited by the Philippine Judicial Academy, the education arm of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to be the lecturer on Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy on July 5, 2013 in Manila, as well as a moderator and group facilitator for the same training on July 3rd and 5th. Judges, prosecutors, public attorneys, and court personnel will participate in the training.

Congratulations to the 2012-2013 Humphrey Fellows

On Sunday, April 21st, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows in Law and Human Rights at the University of Minnesota Law School and Human Rights Center celebrated their graduation. Although their program year will continue until June 14th, Fellows will now branch out to work with organizations throughout the United States.

We are proud of all of our Fellows’ accomplishments this year and amazed by what they have taught us.

Woman (Poem)

A poem by 2012-13 Humphrey Fellow Cheryl L. Daytec (Philippines) in honor of the 16 Days to End Violence Against Women.


 by Cheryl L.  Daytec


In fairy tales, they stole your strength

Made you

A wispy figure

Whose salvation is

In the kiss of a prince

In holy discourses

You have been targeted

For stoning, for burning`

A prostitute

A widow purged of essence

A rambling witch

A wife defiled

An unwed mother

An uncircumcised virgin


You have been dragged

Through the corridors of sorrow

A grieving mother

A hurting wife

An ignored daughter


You have been built

To a prototype

Scared of your power:

A mind shorn of will of its own

A head for nodding

To your father and husband

Eyes for weeping

A tongue for talking balderdash

And singing men’s accolades

Arms for holding infants

And drying laundry

Legs for moving around the kitchen,

Or for toddling behind patriarchy


Come. Sprint to higher ground

From the depths of submission

Jump off the pages of fairy tales

Bolt the pigeonhole’s door

Be as a butterfly emerging

From the cocoon

Soaring to heights

Seeking its metamorphosis

Awing the world


For there are struggles

To lose without your strength

There are problems

Unsolved without your wisdom

History is a narrative of lies

Without your story


For truth cannot be half of itself


First published in Muse India, 2009