Posts Tagged ‘award’

Carmignac Photojournalism Award for covering human rights violations – in 2019: the Amazon

September 15, 2019

Grajaú, Brazil—A deforested area in the southern Maranhão state seen from a helicopter belonging to IBAMA, Brazil’s national environmental agency [Photo: © Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac]

The Carmignac Photojournalism Award is an annual prize given to investigative photojournalists covering human rights violations [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/carmignac-photojournalism-award]. Each year, a team of environmental and political leaders selects a region to focus on and then selects a recipient, who uses the foundation’s $55,000 prize money to shoot the project they proposed. The annual award, now in its 10th year, focuses on a different region and associated human rights topic each year. For 2019 the jury chose to call for project proposals around deforestation and the Amazon. Evan Nicole Brown writing in Fact Company of 12 September 2019 notes that “in an ironic twist, the recipient of the prize money was announced as the rain forest was being obscured by plumes of smoke from the unprecedented fires.

The winner, Tommaso Protti, is an Italian-born photographer who has lived in Brazil for the past five years. ..the prize money supported the production of his photojournalism work, which began in January of this year and wrapped up in July. His reportage, developed in tandem with British journalist Sam Cowie, was revealed at the Visa pour l’Image festival in France on September 4.

……

“There’s a big problem with impunity inside the region because of the state—it leads directly to killing the environment and indigenous leaders,” Protti says. “The people there don’t have the protection [like most of us] experiencing climate collapse. The majority of the people I’ve met try to make a living with what the forest offers them.”

Kayapó Indigenous Land—Kayapo children play behind a waterfall in the Kubenkrãnken indigenous village, in southern Pará state. The Kayapo have only been in contact with nonindigenous society since the 1960s. Their land serves as a crucial barrier to deforestation advancing from the south. [Photo: © Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac]

Poor environmental health in the Amazon is, in part, responsible for poverty and violence in surrounding favelas too. Rural agricultural workers, who depend on the forest for a living, have been forced to leave the Amazon now that it is less dense and farming has been modernized. The only place left for them to go are Brazil’s cities, resulting in a crowding of favelas and the tension that results from a government pushing disparate communities into close proximity.

One of Protti’s selected photographs depicts members of the Guajajara forest guard beating an indigenous man accused of collaborating with illegal loggers. Over the course of his time photographing the rain forest and its native people, Protti was able to observe how seasonal changes affect the Amazon’s health, during the dry season (July through October) and the rainy season too. The joint work between Protti and Cowie explores the humanitarian crises plaguing the region—from Venezuelan refugee groups to agrarian and religious conflicts—and the ongoing deforestation too. “It’s a really complex award from my point of view. [The Amazon] is a national treasure,” Protti says about his win. “It’s nothing new, fires happen every year . . . but at the same time, the fires are consequences of the social [situation].”

Protti’s photographs and the accompanying reportage will be presented in London and at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris starting December 4. They will also be included, concurrently, in a monograph copublished with Reliefs Éditions.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90399868/a-photographers-race-to-document-the-destruction-of-the-amazon-rain-forest

Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela in film Whispering Truth to Power

August 12, 2019

An award-winning documentary following Thuli Madonsela’s time as Public Protector has officially been released. The film focuses mostly on Madonsela’s last year in office and is called Whispering Truth to Power.
Behind-the-scenes footage shows Madonsela’s fight for justice for ordinary South Africans. As Public Protector for South Africa, Thuli Madonsela made an impact. The film has won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs, a collection of awards at FESPACO, Luxor African Film Festival and Jozi Film Festival.
Madonsela has become a celebrated name for many in South Africa, after she managed to successfully challenge former SA President, Jacob Zuma, on his illegal use of state funds. “In other countries, people don’t know who the ombudsman is,” Madonsela’s son, Wantu explains, “If the government is doing their job properly, then the ombudsman is not this celebrated figure who is fighting the good fight, because there shouldn’t be that fight.” The documentary is filmmaker, Shameela Seedat’s first ever release. The documentary on Madonsela is available to stream at Showmax.
Read more: https://briefly.co.za/35068-award-winning-documentary-thuli-madonsela-officially-out.html

Gladys Mmari is African Human Rights Defender of the Month (July)

August 8, 2019

On 7 August 2019 DefendDefenders’ blog annouinced that Gladys Mmari, Tanzania, was chosen as Human Rights Defender of the Month July 2019:

Gladys Mmari is a driven Tanzanian human rights defender (HRD), and the founder of MAFGE (Male Advocacy For Gender Equality) – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on women empowerment through educating both women and men. “So much of the work that I do is cultural conversation. We have grown up talking about these issues among women, but now, I have to work with men as well – making it more challenging,” Mmari stresses. She fosters the idea that male voices should be heard, and educated, in women’s rights, and that it is important to establish an equitable understanding between the genders, while breaking down gender stereotypes. “We need to stop romanticising the idea of women empowerment, and co-empower one another to achieve the goals of an equal world,” Mmari affirms.

After obtaining a law degree, she worked as a human rights researcher in Tanzania, with a focus on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and indigenous rights. Then, she worked for AfricAid, an NGO specialised in cultivating leadership in young women and girls. She recalls a young boy who, following one of her sessions, asked her why he could not participate in the dialogues. He also wanted to boost women and girls’ rights. “It was a turning point for me,” Mmari says. “The time has come to work together and empower each other to revisit the many socio-cultural constraints that have stopped us from equality.” Her organisation MAFGE was hereby born.

She pinpoints numerous challenges faced in her work. “It is challenging to mobilise men to join, to ensure impact to women empowerment.” Furthermore, “most organisations that deal with women empowerment want to fund women organisations. And they do not want to see men in women organisations.”

She also points out the political situation in Tanzania as a great hurdle. Political rallies in the state deviate and misconceive the importance of HRDs, putting them at risk. As she expresses a sincere concern for Tanzanian HRDs, she mentions that the government is currently registering all NGOs under a single entity. “Here there is potential importance of this initiative, as this could be used for something productive such as acting as a more centralised human rights platform allowing more structured approaches, information passage, and funding opportunities. It is a step forward, unless it is a political interest”.

Gladys will continue to fight for women’s rights. “Women are born into unequal societies, and their achievements are unacknowledged and their potential left untapped [..] I can imagine my children and grandchildren living in a world with equal rights, and that they’ll get the opportunities and securities that I missed as a woman. That’s what keeps me going.”

Through MAFGE, she is also running a crowdfunding campaign, to strengthen gender equality in Tanzania.

Human Rights Defender of the Month (July 2019): Gladys Mmari

Dutch “Geuzenpenning” 2019 to Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra

March 13, 2019

Each year, the Dutch municipality of Vlaardingen awards the so-called ‘Geuzenpenning’; a medal honouring human rights defenders around the world.

On 13 March Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra (73) received this year’s Geuzenpenning. He has dedicated his life to supporting migrants on dangerous journeys in search of a better life: a phenomenon of all time. During their flight, they have to deal with many ill-treatments that undermine their human dignity, such as rape, murder and human trafficking. Padre Solalinde has supported these people for over ten years and has often been lambasted by both governmental and clerical authorities for his efforts.

On 14 March an academic event will be organized, in collaboration with Erasmus School of Law and the Erasmus Initiative on Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, in honour of Padre Alejandro Solalinde’s work. Padre Solalinde will open the workshop with a speech. Following that, three scholars of Erasmus University from different disciplines will offer their reflections: Prof. Samer Abdelnour (Rotterdam School of Management), Prof. Kristin Henrard (Erasmus School of Law) and Prof. Gijs van Oenen (Erasmus School of Philosophy). Subsequently, the floor will be opened to a Q&A session with Padre Solalinde and the scholars of Erasmus University. [for last year’s award, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/13/girls-not-brides-winner-geuzenpenning-2018/%5D

About the Geuzenpenning, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/geuzenpenning

https://www.eur.nl/en/esl/news/annual-geuzenpenning-granted-padre-solalinde

Further plea to Nobel foundation to recognize the HRDs of the world

October 5, 2018

On Thursday, 4 October 2018 Michel Forst and Susi Bascon wrote for the Thompson Reuters Foundation a piece entitled: “Growing global authoritarianism means we all need to become human rights defenders”. It is a further appeal to for the 2018 Nobel Peace prize to go to the Human Rights Defenders of the world {see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/18/campaign-to-give-the-nobel-peace-prize-2018-to-the-global-community-of-human-rights-defenders/]:

It would be foolish to think that defending human rights is just an issue for people in faraway countries

Every night Juana Ramirez Santiago would deliver her husband’s dinner to the hardware store he worked as a watchman. One evening in late September she called him to tell him she was on her way. She never arrived. Neighbours heard four gun shots then found her lying dead on the street. Juana – who helped found a group to challenge violence against women – was just one of hundreds of human rights defenders brutally assassinated so far this year. 2018 is on course to set a grisly record. 

Tomorrow, the Nobel committee will announce the winner of the 2018 Peace Prize. This year the prize should be awarded not to a person or an organisation but – for the first time ever – to a community: a collective award for human rights defenders like Juana Ramirez all around the world.

Each day, these brave people stand up and speak out for nothing more than the rights which everyone should be entitled. And as a result, each day, many are silenced – thrown in jail, attacked or even murdered.

Yet how many of us have heard their names? They are hidden heroes. Too often they have to stand alone, courageous individuals and small grassroots communities forced to face down crooked legal systems, corrupt multinationals and oppressive governments. That’s why the role of UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders was developed. It’s why organisations like Peace Brigades International – who provide crucial life-saving support to defenders on the ground – exist. 

The prize would shine a global spotlight on their struggle in a year when we mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which outlined how defending human rights is a right in and of itself, not a crime. 

The award could not come at a more urgent time. Not just because they deserve recognition, but because in the words of the late Kofi Anna, “We need to be vigilant in the protection of human rights defenders, for when the defenders’ rights are violated, all our rights are injured.”

Defenders are an example to us all. They show us that our rights are not only granted by law but upheld and protected by communities and individuals. They demonstrate that we all need to be human rights defenders. Particularly now that there’s a growing backlash against human rights. 

It would be foolish to think that this is just an issue for people in faraway countries. Threats to hard won rights are advancing across the West, even in the United States. Just look at women’s rights. Access to abortion is being tightened in states like Iowa, Louisiana and Mississippi.

On LGBT rights it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay in most places in the United States. There are real fears about a rollback of rights from the Supreme Court.  

When even leaders of even the oldest democracies brand the media as an enemy of the people or say that “it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters” it’s time to recognise that the struggle of distant human rights defenders is a struggle everyone must face. That is, if we want to continue living in healthy, free and democratic societies.

Make no mistake, the tide has shifted – freedom and democracy are on the defensive. Authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. That’s why we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with defenders across the globe.  And that’s why they should win the Nobel Prize. Worldwide, a narrative is spreading that human rights defenders are criminals.

The Nobel Prize is the loudest stage we have to challenge the growing discourse that discourse that dismisses and delegitimises non-violent activists as terrorists, anti-patriots, or threats to security and development.

It would send a clear message: to human rights defenders both home and abroad – you are not alone. To those who would harm them – the eyes of the world are watching and your actions will have consequences. And to the rest of us? The rights we don’t defend are the rights we can so easily lose. 

Michel Forst is the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights defenders and Susi Bascon is the director of the Peace Brigades UK

———-

http://news.trust.org//item/20181004153903-7wymp/

South African human rights defender turned teacher among the last ten nominees for the Teacher Prize

February 16, 2018

, a Forbes contributor on Africa, reports that Marjorie Brown, a South African teacher has been named a top 10 finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018, which was announced today by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates at globalteacherprize.org.

Now in its fourth year, the US$1 million award is the largest prize of its kind. In a special video message announcing the top ten finalists, Bill Gates paid a glowing tribute to the work of teachers around the world. “When you think about what drives progress and improvement in the world, education is like a master switch—one that opens up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and societies….and research has shown that having a great teacher can be the most important factor that determines whether students get a great education,” he said.

Marjorie Brown is a former human rights defender who teaches history to female students at Roedean School, Johannesburg, whilst encouraging critical thinking and global citizenship. Her students have gone on to represent South Africa at youth forums, the Paris Climate Talks and various Ivy League universities.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli (L) performs during the Global Teacher Prize ceremony in Dubai on March 19, 2017. Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

She is widely credited with bringing the New Zealand originated Kids Lit Quiz programme, devoted to improving children’s literacy, to South Africa. This global quiz programme now has more than 100 South African schools participating, which has boosted the stocks of books in libraries throughout the land and mobilized teachers to act as coaches and reading champions with students. Marjorie also founded the Phendulani literacy quiz, which will have spread to over 100 schools this year, while the South African Department of Education plans to introduce it to 45 reading clubs involving over 225 pupils, with publishers Pan Macmillan aiming to start a Phendulani quiz in a poor area near Johannesburg.

Marjorie Brown and the other finalists were selected from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world. The top ten were subsequently narrowed down from a top 50 shortlist that was announced in December 2017… The other nine finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2018 come from turkey, Brazil Norway, Belgium and the United States among other countries.

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2018/02/14/1-million-global-teacher-prize-2018-south-african-teacher-marjorie-brown-makes-top-ten/#262cf2594901

Nominations sought for the Alexander Human Rights Law Prize

September 30, 2017

Santa Clara University School of Law is seeking nominations of outstanding lawyers who might be candidates for the Alexander Human Rights Law Prize, given annually by the Law School. Now in its 11th year, the “Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize” is intended to bring recognition to lawyers who have used their legal knowledge and skills to help alleviate injustice and inequity. For more information see the recently made public Digest of Human Rights Awards: www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest.
Nominees must be lawyers who have used their skill, knowledge and abilities in the field of law to correct injustice. Selection criteria may include factors such as the:
  • Innovative nature of the programs or other activities undertaken
  • Courage and self-sacrifice required
  • Sustainability of the programs the nominee has implemented
  • Number of people benefited

Nominations should be submitted here. The deadline is 1 October 1, 2017 (although this came from an article published on 29 September).

Previous laureates are:

► 2008 Award Winner: Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, where he and his colleagues have helped reduce or overturn death sentences in more than sixty cases.

► 2009 Award Winner: Mario Joseph, one of Haiti’s most influential and respected human rights attorneys and Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), which uses prominent human rights cases and a victim-centered approach to force open the doors of Haiti’s justice system for the country’s poor majority.

► 2010 Award Winner: Shadi Sadr, an Iranian lawyer who has risked her life in her efforts to protect the human rights of women, activists, and journalists, and who launched the “End Stoning Forever” campaign and Raahi, a legal center for women which has been forced to close since Ms. Sadr has been in exile.

► 2011 Award Winner: Paul Van Zyl, former Executive Secretary of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, co‐founder of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), and now the CEO of PeaceVentures.

► 2012 Award Winner: Almudena Bernabeau, formerly of the Center for Justice and Accountability and founder of Guernica37, a new human rights law firm litigating on behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

► 2013 Award Winner: Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese civil rights attorney who, although he is blind and had a broken leg at the time, managed to escape house arrest in China. He was targeted for his human rights campaigns, including against forced abortion while China’s one-child policy was in place.

► 2014 Award Winner: Hossam Bahgat, founder and former Executive Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, whom I featured here when he was detained again for advocating on behalf of the freedom of speech and assembly in Tahrir Square.

2015 Award Winner: Martina E. Vandenberg, founder and president of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center.

2016 Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (2016).

2017 Paul Hoffman, partner in Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP and ace litigator under the Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act.

Source: Nominations Sought: Alexander Human Rights Prize (Oct. 1 Deadline) | Just Security

Prize for best Dissertation on Human Rights; deadline 1 November

September 8, 2015

False modesty could have prevented me from making this announcement, but I think that getting the highest number of quality submissions is more important.  So please pass this on:

The Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) invites law graduates to participate in the sixth Thoolen NJCM Dissertation Prize (2015) for the best human-rights thesis on university and higher professional education level.

To be considered eligible, the dissertation must have been written in the last two academic years (2013-2014 or 2014-2015) and must have received at least a Dutch ‘8’ grade equivalency by an internationally recognized university. The submitted dissertation must be written in either Dutch or English, concern a human-rights based subject and be in a direct relation to internationally recognized human rights.

The winning dissertation will be published by the NJCM!

Deadline
The dissertation must be handed in before the 1st of November 2015 at NJCM’s secretariat. Send four copies of your dissertation before this date to: NJCM P.O. box 778, 2300 AT  Leiden.

For more information and the full text of the Regulation for the Thoolen NJCM – Dissertation Prize go to: http://www.njcm.nl <http://www.njcm.nl/site/njcm/scriptieprijs/deelname>

The jury
* Mr. H. (Hans) Thoolen
Co-founder and first Chair of the NJCM; Secretary of the Board of the Martin Ennals Foundation
* Dr. (Michiel) van Emmerik
Associate Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University
* Prof. C. (Kees) Flinterman
Honorary professor of human rights law at Utrecht University and Maastricht University
* Prof. J.E. (Jenny) Goldschmidt
Honorary professor of human rights law at Utrecht University; director Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) from 2007 to 2014
* Prof. N.M.C.P. (Nicola) Jägers
Professor of International Human Rights Law of Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University; Commissioner of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights
* Prof. R.A. (Rick) Lawson
Dean of the Leiden Law School; professor of European Law at Leiden University
* Prof. B.E.P. (Egbert) Myjer
Professor emeritus of human rights law at VU University Amsterdam; judge of the European Court of Human Rights from 2004 to 2012; Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists from 2013

Previous prize winners are:
2013: Suzanne Poppelaars
Het recht op bronbescherming: Hoe verder na Voskuil en Sanoma?
2011: Laura Henderson  [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/media-framing-and-the-independence-of-the-judiciary-the-case-of-water-boarding/]
Tortured reality. How media framing of waterboarding affects judicial independence
2009: Erik van de Sandt
A child’s story for global peace and justice. Best practices for a child-friendly environment during the statement- and testimony-period in respect of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Code
2007: Shekufeh Jalali Manesh
Het recht van het kind op behoorlijke huisvesting en het BLOEM-model
2005: Janine de Vries
Sexual violence against women in Congo. Obstacles and remedies for judicial assistance

Copies of the winning dissertations can be purchased through NJCM’s secretariat: NJCM@law.leidenuniv.nl

Honduras: one of the worst places to be a human rights defender

June 5, 2015

On 25 May 2015 the inaugural PEN Canada/Honduras Award for investigative journalism, ‘Escribir sin Miedo’, was presented in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to the journalist and documentary filmmaker Fred Alvarado for his essay “HONDURAS: the Process of American Remilitarization and the Failure of the War on Drugs”.

Escribir sin Miedo was organized and launched by the newly established PEN Honduras centre, in partnership with PEN Canada, with funding from the British embassy in Guatemala. “Investigative journalism has never been more important in this country,” said Dina Meza, president of PEN Honduras, “and awards like this recognize the importance of creating a culture in which writers and human rights defenders can address sensitive issues without fearing for their lives.”

And the problems are grave:

– At least 30 journalists have been killed since the country’s 2010 Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations, and at least 48 since 2003. Several were killed even after receiving protection measures, including “precautionary measures” granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). To date the government has obtained convictions in just four of these cases, with the remaining 44 unresolved – an impunity rate of over 90 per cent.

– Frontline reports that Honduran human rights defender, Ms Gladys Lanza Ochoa, continues to face intimidation and harassment following her sentencing to 18-months imprisonment on 26 March 2015. An appeal against the sentencing has been lodged before the Supreme Court of Honduras.  [Gladys Lanza Ochoa is Coordinator of the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla (Honduran Women’s Committee for Peace “Visitación Padilla”), a collective of women human rights defenders from across Honduras who work on issues such as gender violence and women’s participation in public life, in addition to advocating for democracy and human rights in Honduras. Over the last years, Gladys Lanza Ochoa, as well as other members of Visitación Padilla have been regularly victims of threats, intimidation and surveillance in connection with their human rights work (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/19743Most recently, on 14 May 2015, the human rights defender was followed by unidentified persons riding motorcycles and driving a car that did not bear registration plates. This intimidation occurs right after Gladys Lanza Ochoa’s lawyer launched her appeal before the Supreme Court against her sentence to 18 months in prison https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/28385.

– On 25 May 2015 Telesur published a lengthy “Analysis From Reagan to Obama: Forced Disappearances in Honduras” which provides many details on 30 years of horror: “Hondurans today suffer not just from the terror of death squads but from the ravages of three decades of the implementation of neoliberal policy made possible by death squads, which makes them that much more vulnerable.” 

– Bertha Oliva, director of COFADEH and winner of the Tulip award, lost her husband Tomas Nativi to forced disappearance by Battalion 316. Nativi was taken from their home by masked agents in 1981 and has never been seen again. Over the years after Nativi’s disappearance, Oliva came to realize that she was not alone, and others had similar experiences of family members being disappeared. In 1982, 12 of these families came together to form COFADEH with the objective of bringing back alive family members who had been disappeared. In the majority of cases throughout the 1980s while Battalion 316 was operating, COFADEH did not succeed in their goal. After the 1980s, COFADEH broadened its scope as an organization not only committed to seeking justice for the families of the disappeared and truth for Honduran society, but also representing and defending victims of human rights abuses, documenting cases, and providing training to raise awareness about human rights. The creation of COFADEH was, in its own words, a “concrete action” in the face of the inactivity of the state to ensure “the right of victims to live and to have due process, among other rights that have been violated.” COFADEH has continued to play a key role in documenting and denouncing human rights abuses and demanding justice, particularly once again in the years since the coup.

for more on Honduras: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/honduras/

Canadian and Honduran PEN centres award inaugural prize for investigative/public interest journalism – MarketWatch.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/From-Reagan-to-Obama-Forced-Disappearances-in-Honduras-20150522-0027.html

Essex county (USA) proud of students for winning award with human rights video

April 24, 2015

An example of how (making) film can teach young people to become human rights defenders. This comes Essex county in the USA.

The Speak Truth To Power student video competition encourages school students to become engaged in human rights. The video contest is sponsored by New York State United Teachers and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and is based on Kerry Kennedy’s book Speak Truth To Power. Students who participate in the contest must choose one of the individuals identified by the RFK Center Human Rights and create a three- to five-minute short film. The contest is looking for student films that utilize creative storytelling to teach others about a human rights issue. The format is open to documentary, stop motion, narrative, digital photo essay or other innovative explorations that involve filmmaking components.
Two Bloomfield Tech students, Christopher A. Rodriguez and Julio Villegas, won the first place in the video contest with a five-minute film about genocide and focused on Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Elie Wiesel. This feat was proudly reported in the local media on 21 April:

“Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Essex County Vocational Technical School District …… are all very proud of Chris and Julio for winning the top prize in the RFK Human Rights Center’s student film contest. ……..It was important to share their film with our Essex County audience to raise awareness of this emotional issue and to highlight the exceptional work of our students”.

The first public premiere of the film was made Tuesday, April 21st during the afternoon celebration in Newark. In addition, the will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on Thursday, April 23rd.

Elected and school officials shared their pride about the students’ accomplishment:

I want to thank our students for their courage and their hard work,” Essex County Vocational Technical School Board President Father Edwin Leahy said. “Every time you speak the truth, you don’t get a crowd like this. You have to continue to do what is right even if you don’t have a lot of support”.

Today is an amazing celebration of education,” said Bloomfield Tech Social Studies Teacher Jennifer DaSilva, who gave the students’ the assignment. “Both students have flourished in our Diaspora class. Their film is extraordinary and helps raise awareness about the tragedies taking place in the world today”.

Also sharing words of encouragement were Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, Freeholder Patricia Sebold, Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Chief of Staff Phil Alagia.

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO AND ESSEX COUNTY VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL DISTRICT HOST STUDENT FILM SCREENING – Montclair.