[News] Four of five speakers - including Yuri Kochiyama - pull out of UNESCO conference honoring Israel’s Peres at University of Connecticut

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 23 13:44:00 EDT 2012

  *Four of five speakers pull out of UNESCO conference honoring Israel’s 
Peres at University of Connecticut*

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Tue, 10/23/2012 - 16:55


A “human rights” conference at the University of Connecticut was in 
disarray after almost all the speakers pulled out. The /Hartford 
reports today:

    Four of the five speakers scheduled to address a conference on human
    rights scheduled for [today] Tuesday at the University of
    Connecticut canceled Monday, with one of those speakers saying she
    would not come because the event was honoring Israeli President
    Shimon Peres.

The Electronic Intifada was the first to report on Sunday that Bahrain 
rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja had withdrawn from the 
UNESCO-sponsored conference 
that was due to honor her father, political prisoner Abdulhadi 
Al-Khawaja <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/abdulhadi-al-khawaja>, 
because the same event is honoring Peres 

“Whilst I am honored that you chose my father, I am also utterly 
disappointed that you would honor him alongside a person who has been 
responsible for many human rights violations and should be put on trial, 
not honored,” Al-Khawaja wrote in an open letter.

The /Hartford Courant/ 

    It was not immediately clear why the other speakers canceled, but
    Stephanie Reitz, spokesman for the university said “It’s
    disappointing. I’m sure they all had a lot of interesting things to

    But she said the event would go forward Tuesday with some
    modification. She said the only speaker scheduled is Peres’
    son-in-law and personal physician, Raphael Walden, a vascular
    surgeon who was chief of surgery at Sheba and has been a visiting
    professor at Masschusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The other speakers at the 13th Annual UNESCO Chair & Institute of 
Comparative Human Rights Conference at the University of Connecticut on 
23 October, titled “Legacies Of Human Rights Leadership And Struggles 
<http://www.unescochair.uconn.edu/upchrconference10.htm>” were due to be 
grassroots civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, Samia Nkrumah, daughter 
of Ghana independence leader Kwame Nkrumah, and Shehrbano Taseer, 
daughter of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province 
who was assassinated in January 2011.

Last night, opponents of the honor to Peres held an alternative event 
titled “What Legacy of Human Rights Leadership? The Truth About Shimon 
Peres and Israel/Palestine,” featuring Lenni Brenner, Stanley Heller, 
and J. Ke-haulani Kauanui.

Stanley Heller, executive director of the Middle East Crisis Committee, 
told the /Courant/, “The UNESCO conference is a great idea to honor 
people who have fought for human rights, but they are making a huge 
mistake with Shimon Peres.”

Kauanui, a Wesleyan University professor who serves on the Advisory 
Board <http://www.usacbi.org/advisory-board/> of the US Campaign for the 
Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/usacbi> (USACBI) said in an email to 
the /Courant/, “Peres and the State of Israel are responsible for the 
violent domination of the Palestinian people through colonialism, 
occupation, and apartheid. These three prongs of brutal oppression are 
not only illegal, each is the very antithesis of human rights, democracy 
and freedom.”

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