Human Rights Watch Researcher to Speak at Columbia on Exhibition of Children’s Drawings from the Darfur Crisis


NEW YORK, March 1, 2006 The Friends of the Columbia Libraries and Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library will sponsor a talk next week by Human Rights Watch Researcher Dr. Annie Sparrow, who will discuss the exhibition “‘Smallest Witnesses’: The Crisis in Darfur Through Children’s Eyes,” on display at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. The event will take place on Wednesday, March 8, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the 4th Floor (entry-level) Atrium Area of Columbia’s International Affairs Building. The exhibition of children’s drawings from Darfur will be on display in the Atrium through March 10. To attend, please respond by March 6 to mh932@columbia.edu or 212-854-4768.

20060203_darfur Photo by Jonas Steengaard for Human Rights Watch

The conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is widely considered to be one of the most serious ongoing human rights and humanitarian crises in the world. Under the pretext of suppressing an internal rebellion, Sudanese soldiers and government-backed Janjaweed militias have committed massacres, summary executions, acts of sexual violence, the burning of villages and towns, and other crimes against humanity documented by Human Rights Watch and other human rights NGOs. An estimated 2.4 million people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2003, and as many as 180,000 may have died, according to United Nations figures.

The exhibition features drawings collected during a recent Human Rights Watch mission to refugee camps along Darfur’s border with Chad, after HRW researchers gave children pens and crayons to draw while their families were being interviewed. Without prompting or guidance, the children produced vivid and disturbing scenes of the violence and atrocities they had witnessed: attacks by the Janjaweed militias, aerial bombings, rapes, the destruction of villages and the refugees’ flight to Chad. The children’s drawings corroborate in chilling detail the eye-witness testimonies about crimes against humanity in Darfur that Human Rights Watch has been documenting for months, and thus represent a valuable graphic record of the ongoing human rights crisis.

In 2004, Human Rights Watch selected the Columbia University Libraries’ new Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research (CHRDR) as the repository institution for its archives. Together with the archives of Amnesty International-USA, these records will help make the CHRDR an international documentation center for the global human rights movement. The Center will feature the archives of these and other human rights organizations along with a professional archiving staff, a depositor advisory board, and a preliminary program of human rights lectures, exhibitions, conferences, and other activities. The CHRDR archives will complement Columbia’s existing human rights programs, many of which will draw on these new resources for teaching and research.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international monitoring organization based in New York, with offices in Washington, London, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, and several other cities around the world. It conducts research into human rights conditions in more than 70 countries around the world, and publishes its findings in dozens of reports every year. Human Rights Watch has an annual budget of $22 million and a staff of nearly 200 people. For more information, see: http://www.hrw.org/

The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University is a graduate professional school established in 1946 for the purpose of training students for careers in such fields as international business and banking, government service, international organizations, and journalism. The School aims to provide an academic environment where the world’s pathways of learning, policy, and action converge. At SIPA, a major university connects in countless ways with the nation’s largest city, and with economic and political networks that span the globe. The school’s web site is located at: http://www.sipa.columbia.edu/

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, see: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rbml/

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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03/01/06 ICL