We had our first class today. We talked about identity and ethnicity. Identity is a social/group concept that cannot exist without the group. A person cannot have an identity by themselves because people are divided and grouped by common traits and ideals that they share with others thus giving them their identities. The unfortunate side effect of identity, is that they ALWAYS exclude something: short OR tall, male OR female, old OR young, and these exclusions can lead to conflict and violence between the included and the excluded.
After our class we went to the ARCT (Albanian Rehabilitation Center for Trauma and Torture Victims). We met with the Executive Director of the center, Adrian Kati, and he shared his life story with us (he told us about his family’s exile and his father and uncle’s executions) and shared a little about what they do at the center. Their goal is “PREVENTING TORTURE AND PROMOTING A SOCIAL CHANGE” -ARCT Webpage
They do this by:
- Advocating and lobbying for legislative changes that help to improve the conditions in places of detention and reduce the risk of torture and ill-treatment.
- Providing monitoring, documentation of torture and ill-treatment, focusing both on legal and medical aspects; watch dog activities, education, and individual representation to the most vulnerable people deprived of their liberty.
- Empowering hundreds of existing and new torture victims every year by informing them of their legal rights through visits, expertise, as well as by developing and distributing information in print.
- And much more… (http://www.arct.org/index.php)
After the ARCT visit we went to visit with a representative from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), Fiorentina, she spoke with us about what their Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights does. They “promote democratic elections, respect for human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and the rule of law” in their 56 participating states. (http://www.osce.org/)