Thompson Forum to feature global human rights activists

· 4 min read

Thompson Forum to feature global human rights activists

Nadia Murad (left), Leymah Gbowee (center) and Farah Pandith are the speakers for the 2019-20 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues series.
Nadia Murad (left), Leymah Gbowee (center) and Farah Pandith are the speakers for the 2019-20 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues series.

The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has announced its 2019-20 season. This year, the forum will welcome three global human rights activists and acclaimed international speakers: Nadia Murad, Leymah Gbowee and Farah Pandith.

With two Nobel Peace Prize laureates and a global expert in countering violent extremism, this year’s forum will offer opportunities to examine and reflect upon the importance of global human rights, and building a future that is anchored in peace, equality and justice for all.

The events, each held at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, are:

  • Sept. 17, 6 p.m.Nadia Murad, co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, is a leading advocate for survivors of sexual violence and genocide. Murad’s life was brutally interrupted in 2014 when ISIS attacked her village in northern Iraq, killing 600 Yazidi men, including several of her family members. She and other young women were taken prisoner and subjected to beatings and rape. After three months in captivity, she managed to escape and make it to a refugee camp. Following her escape to Germany, she co-founded Nadia’s Initiative, which works to persuade governments and other organizations to support efforts to rebuild the Yazidi homeland. Her time in captivity is chronicled in “The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State.” Her work is featured in the documentary “On Her Shoulders,” which will be screened at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at 3 p.m. Sept. 8. Murad will present “From the Front Lines: Human Rights, Sex Trafficking and the Survival of the Yazidi People.” Her talk will be translated by Yazidi activist, co-founder of Nadia’s Initiative and University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumnus Abid Shamdeen.

  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m.Leymah Gbowee, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, is a peace activist, trained social worker and women’s rights advocate. She serves as executive director of the Women, Peace and Security Program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and is the founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and co-founder and former executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa. Her leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace — which brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending the country’s civil war in 2003 — is chronicled in her memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War,” and the award-winning documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” Gbowee will present “Mighty Be Our Powers: Building Women, Building Peace.” This lecture was originally scheduled for Oct. 1.

  • Oct. 8, 6 p.m.Farah Pandith is a world-leading expert and pioneer in countering violent extremism. She is an author, foreign-policy strategist and former diplomat who served as a political appointee under Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As America’s first-ever special representative to Muslim communities, Farah traveled to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and North America — nearly 100 countries — listening to youth and developing initiatives targeted at issues such as violent extremism. Pandith will present “How We Win: Mobilizing Youth in the Fight Against Violent Extremism.”

Event summaries and full biographical information on each of the speakers is available here.

Free tickets are available from the Lied Center. To order tickets, click here, call 402-472-4747 or visit the Lied Center box office, 301 N. 12th St. Forums are general-admission events; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Events are streamed online on the Thompson Forum website. All events will also be livestreamed on NET, LNKTV City and LNKTV Education. The Sept. 17 and Oct. 2 events will be broadcast on ALLO channel 23, Charter Spectrum 1303 and Windstream Kinetic 1080. The Oct. 8 event will be available live on ALLO channel 2, Charter Spectrum 1300 and Windstream Kinetic 1005. All events will also be accessible on campus channel 4 and KRNU radio 90.3 FM. All talks are interpreted for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

A pre-talk will be delivered by a local expert on the topic in the Steinhart Room 30 minutes before each forum.

The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, Lied Center and the university. It was established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the university and people of Nebraska to promote understanding and encourage discussion.

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