The UMass Boston Human Rights Working Group and the College of  Public and Community Service
invite you to attend a free

Conference Saturday MAY 3rd  9am - 5pm

War on Terrorism or Assault on Human Rights?
Civil Liberties, Homeland Security and Democracy in the Post 9/11 World

Ryan Lounge, McCormack Building 3rd Floor, University of Massachusetts Boston

PRESENTERS:

 

Deborah Anker,

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
Michael Avery,

National Lawyers Guild President
Chip Berlet

Senior Analyst of Public Research Associates
Nancy Chang,

Center for Constitutional Rights
David Cole
,

Georgetown University Law School

Yaju Dharmarajah,

 SEIU Local 509, Amherst

Soffiyah Jill Elijah,

Harvard Law School

Sunaina Maria,

South Asian Center
Monami  Maulik,

Desis Rising Up and Moving
Nancy Murray,

American Civil Liberties Union
Merrie Najimy,

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Matthew Rothschild

The Progressive Magazine Editor
Nancy Talanian and Irvine Sobelman ,

Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Chuck Turner,

 Boston City Council

 USA Patriot Act Art Exhibit

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT UMBHRWG@HOTMAIL.COM

 

 

 

Please download the flier above, modify it if necessary, and use it to help publicize the conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM OR ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS?

SATURDAY, MAY 3RD UMASS BOSTON CONFERENCE

by Paul Cantor

 

“War on Terrorism or Attack on Human Rights? is the title of a 9 AM to 5 PM conference to be held in the Ryan room on the third floor of the McCormack building at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday, May 3rd.  The conference, organized by The University of Massachusetts Human Rights Working Group (UMBHRWG), is free and open to the public.    Refreshments will be provided.  

 

Among the featured participants are:  Michael Avery, President of the National Lawyer Guild; Nancy Chang,  senior litigation attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights;  David Cole,  Georgetown University Professor and legal affairs correspondent for The Nation;  Soffiyah Jill Elijah, Harvard Law instructor; Merrie Najimy, President of the Arab-American Anti-discrimination Committee; Nancy Murray, Director of the Bill of Rights Educational Project; Chip Berlet, Political Research Associates analyst;  Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive; and Joshua Anygeorge, a poet from Sierra Leone.   Together with other scholars and activists, they will engage the audience in an examination of issues related to civil liberties, homeland security and democracy in the post 9/11 world.

 

The purpose of the event is to enable questions related to the tradeoff between freedom and security to be addressed in an academic setting where all viewpoints are welcome.  Nevertheless, the UMBHRWG is concerned that many who would like to attend may stay home out of fear caused not by acts of terrorism but by recent attacks on first amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly and fourth amendment rights to be secure from arbitrary arrest or seizure.  The UMBHRWG has reason to hope, however, that others will be motivated to attend the conference in order to take a stand in support of the bill of rights and the United States constitution and to demonstrate their solidarity with law-abiding Arab-Americans and anti-war activists threatened by the Bush administration’s “anti-terrorist” activities and legislation. 

 

Activities that have, according to the UMBHRWG, led individuals and organizations to express concern that the War on Terrorism has turned into an attack on human rights include the:

 

1.      arrest of University of Massachusetts Adjunct Professor Tony Van Der Meer following an incident in which a National Guard recruiter told him he should be shot in the head for his antiwar views.

 

2.      questioning of University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor M. J. Alhabeeb by a Federal Bureau of Investigation’s agent after someone accused him of holding anti-American views.  Alhabeeb is a U.S. citizen who was born in Iraq.

 

3.      arrest last December of six Middle Eastern students studying in Colorado for enrolling in fewer than 12 credits of classes.

 

4.      questioning by the police of antiwar protesters in New York City regarding their political affiliations. 

 

5.      arrest and mistreatment of non-citizens many of whom have been held for long periods or deported without being charged with a serious crime.  The Bush administration, according to Nancy Chang, “has interrogated without suspicion, arrested without charge, and detained without justification as many as two thousand Muslim nationals of Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.”  And Human Rights Watch in its 2003 Annual Report indicated that some of these detainees “were physically and verbally abused because of their national origin or religion.”

 

6.      arrest of Attorney Lynne Stewart on charges based on information obtained by the government from secretly monitoring her conversations with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, whom she was defending. 

 

7.      mistreatment of prisoners captured during fighting in Afghanistan and held at the United States base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Amnesty International reported that there are indications that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are “not only beyond the pale but also beyond the law."

 

8.      creation of a climate in which people are afraid to express anti-war or anti-administration sentiments.  Presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, for example, warned all Americans that they “need to watch what they say, watch what they do” and events around the country have lent credence to his warning.  Attorney Stephen Downs, for instance, was arrested in a shopping mall near Albany, New York for wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Give Peace a Chance” emblazoned on it.   Natalie Maines, the lead singer for the country-singing trio known as the Dixie Chicks, was assailed and the group’s music was pulled off radio stations in response to her remark that she is “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”   Bill Maher’s popular television show, “Politically Incorrect”, which celebrated free speech, was canceled after, in reference to the claim that suicide bombers are cowards, he said, “We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.”  Bretton Barber, a high school senior in Michigan, was sent home from school in February for wearing a T-shirt with a picture of President Bush labeled as an international terrorist.  And last September three medical students were arrested in Georgia after a woman in a restaurant overheard conversation she believed sounded suspicious and reported them to the police. 

 

New laws and regulations which have aroused concern and which will be examined by legal scholars at the conference include: the USA PATRIOT Act,  which enables the government to invade peoples privacy and imprison them without due process; the legislation establishing a Department of Homeland Security; the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System or SEVIS which requires schools, colleges, and universities to keep the government informed of where foreign students are living and what courses they are taking; and other statutes which enable the government to engage in racial profiling and to collect and maintain information on individuals not charged with a crime or suspected of being involved in criminal activities.   This new legislation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, threatens “the bedrock values of liberty, equality and government accountability” on which our nation was founded.

 

The conference will begin at 9 AM with a legal overview of the issues by Nancy Chang, David Cole and Michael Avery.   The legal overview will be followed at 10:45 by a panel on immigration practices, racial profiling, detention and deportation which will include Merrie Najimy;  Soffiyah Jill Elihah;  Sunaina Maira, co-author of Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America; and Ayesha Kazmi, a member of the Islamic Students Association.   

 

A third panel, The FBI, Surveillance, and Government Secrecy, with Chip Berlet, Matthew Rothschild, and labor organizer Yaju Dharmarajah will begin at 1:45.  Finally a panel on political action beginning at 3:30 will include Chuck Turner; Monami Maulik founder and organizer of DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving, a social justice organization for working-class South Asian immigrants; Abira Ashfaq, a human rights lawyer; and Nancy Talanian, director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.  

 

The May 3rd event will also include a poetry reading  by Mr. Anygeorge and the U.S. Patriot Art Show which will be introduced by Christian Science Monitor cartoonist  Clay Bennett and Mike Konopacki of Huck/Konopacki: Labor Cartoons.  There will be a lunch break from 12:45 to 1:45 and time throughout the day to interact with representative of the many human rights organizations expected to attend, participate in the discussions, and set up literature tables.   

 

Co-sponsors of the conference include the UMass Boston Student Senate, the Umass Boston Graduate Student Association, the UMass Boston Provost’s Office, The College of Public and Community Service, SAHELI: Friendship for South Asian Women, Western Massachusetts Labor against the War, Boston Labor for Peace and Justice, BankBusters, TecsChange, Community Church of Boston, Unitarian Universalist Society, The National Lawyers Guild, American Friends Service Committee, Jobs with Justice, Grassroots International, The New England Immigrant Detainee Response Network, The Arab-American Anti-discrimination Committee of Massachusetts, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, The Center for Constitutional Rights, The ACLU of Massachusetts Civil Liberties Task Force, and the South Asian Center, the UMass Boston English Department and the UMass Boston Anthropology Department. 

 

For more information go to www.umb.edu, scroll down to the shortcuts and click on “human rights” or contact the UMBHRWG at umbhrwg@hotmail.com.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

War on Terrorism or Assault on Human Rights?

Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, and Democracy in the Post 9/11 World

 

UMass Boston, Ryan Lounge

May 3rd, 9:00-5:00

Free and Open to the Public

 

Program

 

===============================================================

 

PART I:

 

Opening Comments: (9:00–9:05)

 

·        Ismael Ramirez-Soto, Dean of UMass Boston’s College of Public and Community

      Service – introduce the conference and the first two speakers

 

Legal Overview of the Issues: (9:05-10:25) 20 minutes per speaker with 20 minutes of dialogue with the audience)

 

·        Nancy Chang of the Center for Constitutional Rights, author of Silencing

      Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our

      Civil Liberties, will cover the loss of civil liberties and restrictions on 1st Amendment

      rights

·        David Cole from Georgetown University Law School, author of No Equal Justice:

      Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System, who litigated a number of

      major First Amendment cases, including Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989),

      United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 928 (1990), and who is the legal affairs

      correspondent for The Nation, a columnist for Legal Times, as well as a commentator

      on National Public Radio: All Things Considered, is going to do the opening

      overview of issues concerning “enemy aliens”

·        Michael Avery from Suffolk Law School, the president of the National Lawyers

      Guild, and co-author of Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation will examine the

      issue of enemy combatants and the Executive Order on Military Tribunals

 

(Student Moderator: Diana Bell, Chair of the Human Rights Working Group and student in the Political Science Department and Latin American Studies)

 

_____________________________________________________________

15 minute break/audience mix time

_____________________________________________________________

 

Nancy Murray – activist, writer, and the Director of the Bill of Rights Education Project and the Civil Liberties Task Force of the Massachusetts ACLU, will introduce the presenters (10:40-10:45)

 

Immigration Practices, Racial Profiling, Detention and Deportation: (10:45-12:05) – 15 minutes per presenter, with 20 minutes of dialogue with the audience -- led by the student

 

·        Merrie Najimy -- the President of the Arab-American Anti-discrimination

      Committee, will discuss racial profiling including registration and student monitoring

·        Soffiyah Jill Elijah of the Harvard Law School – an attorney for a number of

      political prisoners who have been placed in lockdown following 9/11, will discuss

      these conditions and issues of detention, deportation, bond, orders of supervision and

      how these and other aspects of the immigration system functions as a whole to

      deprive people of rights.

·        Sunaina Maira of the UMass Amherst English Department, the South Asian Center,

      and author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City,

      and co-editor of Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America will speak

      on fears of immigrant children

·        Ayesha Kazmi a UMass Boston Student in the American Studies Department, and

      member of the Islamic Students Association will share stories of abuse that she has

      endured

 

(Student Moderator: Carlos Maynard, a student from the Sociology Department and the Applied Linguistics Graduate Studies Program)

 

_______________________________________________________________________

5 minute break ________________________________________________________________________

 

(Gautam Premnath of the UMass Boston’s English Department will introduce the artists (12:10-12:15)

 

Intro to USA Patriot Art Show, exhibited in the Ryan Lounge (12:15-12:45) -- 10 minutes per presentation with 10 minutes to initiate a dialogue with the audience that will continue throughout the lunch break)

 

·        Clay Bennett cartoonist with the Christian Science Monitor and Mike Konopacki of

      Huck/Konopacki: Labor Cartoons will introduce the show, its artists, and its goal –

      people can then look at the art on their lunch break and interact with the artists.

 

 

===============================================================

LUNCH BREAK (12:45-1:45)

===============================================================

 

PART II:

 

Opening Comments: (1:45-1:50)

 

Winston Langley -- Associate Provost of UMass Boston and author of The Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues Since 1945, will comment on human rights abuses post 9/11 and then introduce the participants in the next presentation/panel

 

The FBI, Surveillance, and Government Secrecy: (1:50-2:55) – 15 minutes per speaker with 20 minutes of a dialogue with the audience)

 

·        Chip Berlet – Senior Analyst for Political Research Associates, co–author of Right-

      Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, which was one of twelve books

      to receive the Gustavus Myers Center Award for outstanding scholarship on the

      subject of human rights and intolerance in North America. Berlet has appeared live on

      ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s Today Show, and CBS’s This Morning. He has been

      interviewed on scores of other national and local television and radio news programs

      and talk shows, including NPR’s All Things Considered, Terry Gross’s Fresh Air,

      David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio, and Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now. He is

      the editor of Eye’s Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, which was a

      recipient of a 1996 Gustavus Myers Center Award. He will cover counter-subversion,

      apocalyptic thinking, and how right-wing groups feed information into the

      government surveillance system

·        Matthew Rothschild former editor of Multinational Monitor, current editor of The

      Progressive (where he is also director of The Progressive Media Project), has

      appeared on Nightline and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and is a Web-Active

      commentator, has written and worked extensively on issues of peace and justice,

      with a recent focus on “New McCarthyism” and will discuss this new era of

      surveillance and the workings of The Progressive’s McCarthy Watch Website

·        Yaju Dharmarajah -- organizer with SEIU Local 509 on the UMass Amherst campus

      who has been targeted by the FBI from a profiling tip, will discuss this experience

 

(Student Moderator: Brian Gangemi, student in the Psychology and Spanish Departments )

________________________________________________________________________

15 minute break/mix

________________________________________________________________________

 

Rajini Srikanth of UMass Boston’s English Department, and co-editor of Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America; Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing; A Part Yet Apart: South Asians in Asian America; Encounters, and White Women in Racialized Spaces will introduce our poet (3:10-3:15)

 

Poetry Read: (3:15-3:30): Joshua Anygeorge, an asylee from Sierra Leone who was detained in New Jersey for eight months, wrote during this time in lockdown and will speak about his experience and read some of his work.

 

Chuck Turner – member of the Boston City Council who has worked with

many neighborhood human rights issues and led the development of a

resolution countering the USA Patriot Act in Boston will briefly talk about the road ahead and introduce the next speakers (3:30-3:35)

 

Political Action: (3:35-4:40) – 15 minutes per talk with 20 minutes of a dialogue with the audience)

 

·        Monami Maulik founder and organizer of DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving (a

      social justice organization for working-class South Asian immigrants in NYC, that

      has been working with immigrants jailed in INS detention centers) will talk about

      grassroots organizing against INS detention

·        Abira Ashfaq Abira Ashfaq is an activist for social justice and an immigration

      detention attorney with CLINIC Inc. and will talk about community based lawyering 
      as political action, and how communities work together

·        Nancy Talanian director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee will

      talk about how they organized this campaign to embrace resolutions to counter the

      USA Patriot Acts in towns and cities across the state and nation

 

(Student Moderator: Anna Frader, a student in the Political Science Department)

________________________________________________________________________

 

Closing Comments: (4:40-5:00)

 

Ismael Ramirez-Soto – closing comments and a comment on the effort to develop a resolution on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

 

(5:00-5:30) Audience interaction and networking: in order to begin to develop more extended communities and to discuss developing activist workshops for a future date on UMass Boston campus.

 

Conference Cosponsors:

The College of Public and Community Service, SAHELI: Friendship for South Asian Women, Western Massachusetts Labor against the War, Boston Labor for Peace and Justice, BankBusters, TecsChange, Community Church of Boston, Unitarian Universalist Society, The National Lawyers Guild, American Friends Service Committee, Jobs with Justice, Grassroots International, The New England Immigrant Detainee Response Network, The Arab-American Anti-discrimination Committee of Massachusetts, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, The Center for Constitutional Rights, The ACLU of Massachusetts Civil Liberties Task Force, and the South Asian Center.

 

 

Dire Directions to UMass Boston ctions tMape of major routes around UMass  Boston

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

 

SUBWAY: Take the Red Line to JFK/UMass Station. A free shuttle bus will carry you from the "T" parking lot to the campus.

 

COMMUTER RAIL: Take the commuter rail to the JFK/UMass station from the South Shore on the Middleboro and Plymouth lines.

 

BUS: Kenmore Square stop (service all day): the Number 8 bus; the last one leaves campus at 1 a.m. Forest Hills stop (rush hour only): the Number 16.

 

BY CAR

 

FROM THE NORTH take Interstate 93 south through Boston to exit 15 (JFK Library/South Boston/Dorchester) and follow the University of Massachusetts signs along Columbia Road and Morrissey Boulevard to the campus. FROM THE SOUTH take Interstate 93 north to exit 14 (JFK Library/Morrissey Boulevard) and follow Morrissey Boulevard northward to the campus.  FROM THE WEST take the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90) east to the turnpike's end at Interstate 93. Take I-93 south one mile to exit 15 (JFK Library/South Boston/Dorchester) and follow the University of Massachusetts signs along Columbia Road and Morrissey Boulevard to the campus.  Parking fee: $5 per single.

 

Questions? Call the University's Office of Parking and Transportation automated information line: 287-5040. To talk with a staff member: 287-5041.