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'No Land’s Song: Imagine you are not allowed to Sing' by Dr. Steeve Coupeau, 6/15/15

An interesting film with a US premiere at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival this year is No Land’s Song. The film depicts the struggle of the lead female composer and her team to promote the female voice in Iran. We watched as she sought the permission to perform. Although all of the female singers have the required work permits, she is told that she can only perform for a female audience.

Courtesy of HRWFF

Since 1979, the regime has silenced the female voice. In this film, Iranian composers in alliance with French artists tried to fight back with music and won a chance to perform to a public audience. Again, imagine you can be arrested for singing in public. This film ranks among some of the best films to be shown at Human Rights Watch Film Festival until June 21st. Details at: ff.hrw.org/new-york


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Dr. Steeve Coupeau on the Burden of Peace, 6/20/15

A poignant documentary that screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2015 is Burden of Peace which follows Guatemala's first female Attorney General with a background in human rights, Claudia Paz y Paz. Director Joey Boink sought to follow this humble woman in her quest. Paz y Paz obtained spectacular results, including the conviction of Rios Montt which was a momentous occasion, albeit overturned.

Courtesy of HRWFF

The trial against Montt involved indigenous communities at different levels, which showed their recognition as citizens. In addition to Montt, Paz y Paz bought to justice powerful criminals and corrupt politicians. Her ascension to the office showed that working within the state apparatus in Latin America, can under some circumstances, achieve great things.

Bichotte and Mayor de Blasio Speak Out Against Statelessness in Dominican Republic, 6/23/15

BROOKLYN, NY (June 23, 2015):  Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn), stands firm with a broad coalition which includes  Mayor Bill de Blasio, activists in both the Haitian and Dominican communities, human rights activists, and her colleagues in government to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Dominican Republic. In May, the Assemblymember introduced and with the support of her colleagues passed Resolution K376 which decries the illegal practices of the Dominican government, and calls for support of the House of Representatives Resolution 443 (2013-14) to oppose the rendering of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian ancestry stateless.

Hundreds of thousands of Dominican born citizens of foreign descent, predominantly of Haitian ancestry, are deemed stateless after a court ruling 168-13 in 2013. "The other shoe has finally dropped, and the threat of mass expulsions in the Dominican Republic is now real," said Bichotte.