2009 Human Rights Fellows

UC Berkeley students join with others from UC Irvine, UC San Diego, Hastings Law School and UC Santa Cruz to tackle human rights issues at home and abroad.

Upon returning from work in the field, fellows report back on their projects at the UC Human Rights Fellows Conference. Learn more and view multimedia from the Fellows Conference here.

The 2009 fellows are:

Andrea Ballestero, Anthropology, Irvine
Andrea will promote discussion about the human right to water in Central America, in collaboration with the Center for Environmental and Natural Resources Law (Centro de Derecho Ambiental y Recursos Naturales), an advocacy organization in Costa Rica. She will conduct a series of interviews and workshops with indigenous groups, local communities, national experts and economic groups.

Listen to Andrea's description of her project.
Read Andrea's final report.
Watch a preview of Karl's documentary.

Karl Baumann, Digital Arts and New Media, Santa Cruz
Karl will develop a documentary exploring the use of documentary film and video for advocacy and research. Working with WITNESS in New York, Karl will examine footage of the Rodney King riots and media coverage of Desert Storm to draw conclusions about the effect of imagery on human rights campaigns, political agency and personal memory.

Listen to Karl's description of his project.
Read about Karl's project on WITNESS' blog.

Thomas Blair, Joint Medical Program, Berkeley
Tom will work with South Asian immigrant elders in Fremont, California for the Community Ambassadors Program for Seniors. His research will document the impact of community outreach on access to essential services, including dialysis, transportation, and social security, through extensive interviews with Hindu, Muslim and Sikh program volunteers.

Read Tom's Notes from the Field.
Listen to Tom's description of his project.
Read Tom's final report.

Daniel Cooney, Goldman School of Public Policy, Berkeley
Global climate change will force migration of thousands of people in the coming years and challenge human rights activists working to address problems stemming from lack of access to land, water and other essential resources. Daniel will work with journalists to develop a multi-media global hub called Face the Change, to advance discussion of climate change. The first project will document the effects of climate change on people living in the low-lying islands of the Maldives, in cooperation with the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Read Daniel's Notes from the Field.
Listen to Daniel's description of his project.

Chris Chambers-Ju, Political Science, Berkeley
Chris will work with Centro de Investigacion y Educacion Popular (CINEP) in Colombia to study violence against public school teachers. According to the Colombian teachers union, 337 teachers were murdered from 1999–2006. Teachers are accused by various armed factions of collaborating with their opposition. It is unclear why and how the violence has continued after the 1991 demobilization of leading armed groups. Chris’s research will collect data about the incidence of violence in specific regions.

Listen to Chris' description of his project.
Read Chris' final report.

Carolina Fuentes, Social Documentation Program, Santa Cruz
Carolina will help produce a documentary “Our Right to Sing,” that will trace the movement of musicians in El Salvador to address political upheaval of civil war. Protest music is a common yet profound vehicle for social change shared throughout the world. Carolina was part of a Christian musical group in El Salvador at 16, and her church was burned by a military group in 1976.

Listen to Carolina's description of her project.

Lauren Groth, School of Law, Berkeley
Lauren will help file gender-based asylum claims to protect women fleeing human rights abuses for the Tahirih Justice Center. Women worldwide face rape, forced marriage, domestic violence and sex trafficking, despite many legal conventions prohibiting these crimes. Women can seek protection in the United States under the Victims of Violence and Trafficking Protection Act and some attain visas with the help of Tahirih Justice Center.
Read Tom's final report.

Read Lauren's final report.

Judith Joffe-Block, Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley
Jude will work on a multimedia project documenting threats to press freedom in Mexico, where escalating violence has seriously undermined full, free news reporting. She will work with CENCOS, the Centro Nacional de Communición Social in Mexico City, on their Permanent Campaign to Protect Journalists.

Listen to Judith's description of her project.

Cathleen Kozen, Ethnic Studies, San Diego
Some 2,300 Japanese Latin Americans were “kidnapped” in 13 Latin American countries during WWII and brought to the U.S. Some were forced into camps and others were used in a hostage-exchange program with Japan. Cathleen will work with Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans! (CFJ), founded in 1996 to address the human rights violations of Japanese Latin Americans. The group is working toward Congressional hearings in 2009 on redress legislation.

Listen to Cathleen's description of her project.

Daniel Lavelle, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley
The indigenous Zulia people in western Venezuela face increasing coercion and violence from private landowners and state-owned coal companies. In cooperation with Global Exchange, Daniel’s project will use GPS and GIS techniques to map land-use claims and help establish borders of indigenous territories.

Listen to Daniel's description of his project.
Read Daniel's final report.

Evelyn Levine, Hastings College of the Law
Evelyn will work with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies in San Francisco to help protect women and girls from gender violence through asylum cases. She will work specifically on Guatemalan cases where women face rampant threats of sexual violence and murder.

Listen to Evelyn's description of her project.

Nicole List, Geography, Berkeley
Nicole will help urban farmers in Dakar retain access to water and land rights, against the pressure of real estate developers. With the Dakar-based Environnement et Developpement dans le Tiers Monde she will compile enthographic accounts detailing how urban farmers function in the Pkine area, about 15 miles from downtown Dakar.

Listen to Nicole's description of her project.

Viviana MacManus, Department of Literature, San Diego
Association of the Ex-Detained Disappeared (AEDD) compiles testimony  of former prisoners of the dictatorship in Argentina. Viviana’s project on the “recuperation of historical memory as a human rights issue” will aid the search for truth and justice for those held in 340 Argentinean concentration camps and address their fervent desire to speak out.

Listen to Viviana's description of her project.
Read Viviana's final report.

Rekia Mohammed-Jibrin, Graduate School of Education, Berkeley
Rekia will work with Oakland Copwatch’s Police Accountability Project to archive and analyze video footage of police misconduct in Oakland, California. She will also analyze the economic costs of police officers’ human rights violations in an effort to curtail abuses.

Watch a video about Rekia's project.

Camille Pannu, School of Law, Berkeley
At Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) Camille will help develop strategies for community-driven advocacy and litigation to address the health impacts of environmental degradation on low-income people in Richmond, California. Camille will submit testimony of behalf of CBE regarding the city’s decision to allow expansion of a Chevron oil refinery.

Listen to Camille's description of her project.
Read Camille's final report.

Brian Parker, Hastings College of the Law
Brian will work with lead attorney Pablo Fajardo to seek justice for over 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians in a landmark lawsuit against ChevronTexaco for the environmental atrocities committed by the company during its oil operations in the Amazon. A court appointed expert estimated the damages at around $27 billion for the environmental remediation and adverse health effects to the local people, including increased rates of cancer, skin disease, and miscarriages.

Read Brian's Notes from the Field.
Listen to Brian's description of his project.
Read Brian's final report.

Aghaghia Rahimzadeh, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley
Aghaghia will work in India with “forest-dwelling” indigenous Van Gujjars whose traditional migratory life is now threatened by what became Rajaji National Park in 1983. Developing policies that balance national conservation goals without marginalizing local populations will help bridge gaps between human needs and environmental sustainability.  

Stephen Smith, School of Law, Berkeley
Stephen will work with the Human Rights Watch Program for Terrorism and Counterterrorism to investigate the resettlement of Yemeni detainees, the largest group of Guantanamo detainees held in U.S. custody after the attacks of September 11th. The study will help inform development of policies related to the closure of Guantanamo and treatment of future detainees. Stephen will contribute to drafting practical guidelines for resettlement programs that protect individual dignity and the collective security interests of the United States.

Ather Zia, Anthropology, Irvine
Ather Zia will investigate women's agency manifested in the civil society processes against human rights abuses especially enforced/custodial disappearances in the Indian administered Kashmir. This study will enable findings about various aspects of their mobilization and participation as well as issues concerning law, order and discursive construction of the phenomenon.

Watch a video about Ather's project.

Anonymous, Environmental, Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley