Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard Center for Environmental Policy will host an open forum, “Origins of Amnesty International (AI) and its Growth in the U.S.: A Dialogue with the AI Pioneers,” on Thursday, October 20. Free and open to the public, the program will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. The participants will discuss how Amnesty International began and what its mission is; what AI did and didn’t do; why AI was so effective as a grass-roots movement; how AI helped to change and shape the human rights movement; and the direction that AI is headed in the 21st century. The panelists, who helped found both national and regional chapters of AI in the United States, include Joan Ashley, Andrew Blane, Larry Cox, A. Whitney Ellsworth, David Hawk, David Hinkley, Rose Styron, and Yadja Zeltman. The Open Forum will be moderated by Joanne Fox-Przeworski, director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and former board member of AIUSA. Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize–winning grassroots activist organization with more than 1.8 million members worldwide. Amnesty International undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights. Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is the U.S. Section of Amnesty International. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy promotes education, research, and public service on critical issues pertaining to the natural and built environments. Its primary goal is to improve the quality of environmental policies by incorporating the best available scientific knowledge into the policy-making process at the local, regional, national, and international levels. The Center’s innovative graduate program, launched in 2001, trains future leaders who can translate the science behind environmental and natural resource problems into creative, feasible policies. The Center’s unique modular program offers an intensive course of study, grounded in the sciences, as well as economics, law, politics, and ethics, and emphasizes communication skills and leadership training. After a period of internships, graduates are prepared for careers in nonprofit organizations, government, and the private sector. The program leads to a master of science degree or professional certificate in environmental policy, and the Center offers two joint degree programs: a doctor of jurisprudence with Pace Law School and a master of arts in teaching with Bard College. It is also affiliated with the Masters International Program of the Peace Corps. Reservations are requested. For more information about the forum, call 845-758-7073, e-mail, or visit About the Panelists In 1974 Joan Ashley cofounded the Chicago-based Amnesty Group 113. She is also a cofounder of the Midwest office and was later elected to the national board of AIUSA. Ashley was a board member of the ACLU, Illinois Division; a staff member of the American Friends Service Committee; and head of the Draft Counseling Center. In 1988, when she and her husband moved to Vermont, she became a trustee of the Vershire VT Scholarship Foundation and continues to be an active member of Hanover Friends meeting. Ashley makes frequent trips to Israel, especially to the Ramallah Friends School, for which she has initiated fundraising campaigns in the Upper Valley Region of Vermont and New Hampshire. She also serves as a board member of the Vermont Humanities Council. Andrew Blane is professor emeritus of Russian history at the City University of New York. A former member of AIUSA board of directors, he was the first American elected to the International Executive Committee (IEC), the nine-member governing body of AI. Blane served on the IEC from 1974–82, two years as its vice chair. His responsibilities during these years included AI work in Latin America, Asia, and at the United Nations and its worldwide Campaign for the Abolition of Torture. He is coauthor, with Priscilla Ellsworth, of an Al oral history pilot project. He currently serves as director of the International League for Human Rights and secretary of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (USA). Larry Cox is senior program officer of the Ford Foundation’s Human Rights Unit Peace and Social Justice Program. His work focuses on international justice, advancing economic, social, and cultural rights, and human rights in the United States. Prior to his role with the Ford Foundation, Cox was for five years executive director of the Rainforest Foundation, an international organization that works with indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon to protect their land and rights. With AI for 14 years, he held a number of positions including communications director, director of the Program Against the Death Penalty, and deputy director of AIUSA. He also served for five years as deputy secretary general of AI’s International Secretariat in London, which undertakes AI’s research and services its activist membership around the world. Cox received a bachelor’s degree in history from Mount Union College, has done graduate work at the University of Geneva, and is currently pursuing an master’s degree in religion and human rights at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He is coeditor of Close to Home: Case Studies of Human Rights Work in the United States and writes and speaks frequently on human rights. A. Whitney Ellsworth is the former publisher of the New York Review of Books and is now managing partner of the Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, based in Lakeville, Connecticut, which publishes three weekly newspapers. In 1972 he joined the board of AIUSA, became chair in 1976, and served on the AI International Executive Committee from 1982–87. He remains a member of AIUSA Group 26 in New York City. He attended seven International Council Meetings of AI, served on various planning groups, and represented AI on missions to Romania, the Philippines, Morocco, Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey. He is currently a board member of Human Rights First and the Andrei Sakharov Foundation USA. David Hawk was executive director of AIUSA from 1974 to 1978. Following this tenure he served as consultant to AIUSA seeking U.S. ratification of the international human rights conventions and on the AIUSA board of directors. In the 1980s, under the auspices of the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights, Hawk researched, documented, and sought accountability for the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. From 1994–95 Hawk undertook missions to Rwanda for the U.S. Committee on Refugees and AI. Later in the ’90s he directed the Cambodia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. From 1999–2002 Hawk lobbied for the U.S. ratification of the Mine Ban Convention and set up a program of assistance to amputees in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam, on behalf of the NGO Landmine Survivors Network. Since 2002 Hawk has concentrated on human rights issues in North Korea. In 2003, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea published Hawk’s major study, Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps–Prisoners’ Testimony and Satellite Photographs. Currently Hawk is writing a report on freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. David Hinkley, a founding member of West Coast AI chapters, developed the AI Indonesian cogroup. He served as chairperson of AIUSA in the years following the London-based organization’s receipt of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Peace. He was elected four times to chair the International Council Meeting, AI’s policy-making assembly of representatives from over 50 nations. From 1982 to 1990 he was Western Regional Director of AIUSA, overseeing a period of dramatic growth in influence, donor support, and public visibility in the 13 western states. After leaving AI, Hinkley worked as a communications and fundraising consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, U.S. Committee for Refugees, Aurora Foundation, and Humanitarian Project. In 1993 he was named social justice director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. He now serves as executive director of Survivors International. Rose Styron is a poet, journalist, and activist for human rights and abolition of the death penalty. A former board member of AIUSA and PEN, she has undertaken numerous human rights missions on behalf of these organizations. She is the author of By Vineyard Light, a collection of poems centered on Martha’s Vineyard, where she and her husband, writer William Styron, have spent extended summers since 1959. Her previous books include From Summer to Summer, Thieves’ Afternoon, and Modern Russian Poetry. Her poems and essays have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She began to work with AI following a trip to the U.S.S.R. in 1968; and served on three AI fact-finding missions in the 1970s to Chile, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Africa (Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana). During the 1980s she traveled to Central America (El Salvador and Chile) for AI and met with Andre Sakharov in both the U.S.S.R. and United States in the late 1980s. Yadja Zeltman has participated in AIUSA since 1972, when she founded the Madison Avenue Group (Group 11), of which she remains a member. At this time they are preparing for publication an English translation of correspondence between a former Ukrainian prisoner of conscience and Group 11 (published in Ukranian in 1996). She served on the AIUSA board for many years. With Blane, she founded the Soviet Union AI cogroup (using as a model Hinkley’s Indonesian cogroup). She served as executive director for the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights in Vienna, Austria, from 1989–94. # # # (10/11/05)

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This event was last updated on 10-11-2005