Human Rights

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Orwell in Cuba

How 1984 Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight
edition:Paperback
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A Question of Commitment

A Question of Commitment

The Status of Children in Canada, second edition
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
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In Praise of Blood

In Praise of Blood

The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Excerpt

The UN documents leaked to me amount to historical vindication for Kagame’s victims. They also stand as a testament to the courage of young Tutsis who had been part of a brutal regime yet broke free, risking censure and death to tell the truth. Kagame has grossly miscalculated the mix of fury and shame that many of his men felt after committing acts of depravity. A soldier who was part of a mobile killing unit in Ngondore told me that before they were shot, dozens of Hutu men, women and children were tied up and forced to sit on the edge of a steep hill near a tea plantation, their backs facing the soldiers. He admitted that, day after day, it was the same operation: he and the other soldiers methodically unloaded their guns into the bodies of a total of two thousand civilians on that hill in April 1994. The memory of these executions has never left him.

In 1997 I went to Congo and met refugees in the forests south of Kisangani and in transit camps. I traveled to the equatorial town of Mbandaka then down to the capital, Kinshasa. Then I went back to Goma and crossed the border on foot to Gisenyi, Rwanda, before going through Ruhengeri to Kigali and its surrounding rural areas. That trip, in particular my foray into the Congolese jungle, was a crucible where I discovered a level of suffering that overwhelmed me. For a very long time, I doubted if I could ever truly tell the story of what I heard and saw.

It took me two decades to reorient myself, to shake down the emotions and observations from that trip. But I continued to speak to victims and observers of the violence that has gripped the region. Over the last five years I have devoted myself full-time to understanding the dynamics of Kagame’s violence prior to, during and after the genocide. What has inspired me throughout my reporting is the power of memory and the way it works to conquer fear. This book is a testament to the courage of some two hundred direct and contextual witnesses of RPF crimes, including officials who worked at the UN tribunal set up in the aftermath of the genocide. I am grateful to all those who shared their stories and let me into their profound inner world. As their testimony reveals, Kagame did not commit these crimes alone. He operated—still operates—with significant political cover. I continue to be astonished by all the ways he has got away with it.

Violence is never abstract for the victim or the perpetrator. In Praise of Blood puts a human face on the violence in Rwanda and Congo. It names those alleged to have orchestrated the most heinous of crimes. For reasons of safety, however, I cannot identify by their real names most of the witnesses who talked to me or provided me with documents for this book. Kagame remains a powerful, protected and dangerous figure.

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Perception
Excerpt

Cathy Mattes

The Perception Series:
KC Adams, and the Value
of Socially Engaged Art

Art is a catalyst for social change, and Winnipeg-based artist KC Adams (Oji-Cree) is a social-change agent. Her work addresses racism toward Indigenous peoples, engagement with the land and ceremony, the association between nature and technology, and the benefits of community and kin. With ceramics, photography, beadwork, collaborative performance, and installation, she holds up a mirror to society, and provides opportunities for viewers to participate, reflect, and strategize to make personal and collective change. Adam’s photo-based series Perception challenges racist stereotypes and remedies the aftershocks of historical colonization and its continuous and present hold on contemporary Canadian society. The series relies on willing participants and an invested audience, and is best described as socially engaged art.

Although all art invites social interaction, socially engaged art depends on the involvement of others. Historically, it occurred in art galleries, where artists made artworks which were participatory and appealing, like convening visitors to share food or personal narratives in exhibition spaces. This blurred the lines between artist and audience, and broadened understandings of what constitutes art. Physical art objects or video recordings became the residuals or documentation of the process-based artwork instead of the main component.

Socially engaged art now often happens outside of gallery spaces, and artists are driven to not only challenge understandings of art, but also to make social change. They address concerns like gender inequality, poverty, or the effects of colonial oppression. They collaborate with the public to paint murals on buildings, make posters for distribution, organize pop-up exhibitions in storefronts, and create performance works at community gatherings. They activate conversations that promote self-reflection or cross-cultural education and respond to the current issues of their time. For Indigenous artists, socially engaged art is more than a yearning to make right in society; it is also about their own relationships to the land, and a way to personally and collectively heal from the negative impact of colonization. It requires making art in a good way, grounded in culture, community, and kinship ties.

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Power Shift

Power Shift

The Longest Revolution
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Chapter 1: In the Beginning(s) — the impact of agriculture, industrialization, and religion on the status of women

Chapter 2: Sex — from the pleasure principle to rape

Chapter 3: Religion, Culture, and Custom — the roles they’ve played over time

Chapter 4: Politics and Society — the power and the fury of changing world opinions

Chapter 5: The Economics and Energetics of Tomorrow — the future possibilities for girls and women

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