Human rights panel casts light on current issues across the globe


Koichi Iwasaki

A woman is speaking at a presentation
Prof. Marjorie Agosin speaks at a human rights lecture at the Barabara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Photo by Koichi Iwasaki/the Gateway

A lecture on human rights was held at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center on Oct. 2. Two panelists presented on human rights in Latin America, mainly offering political and feminist perspectives.

From 1970 to 1990, the Republic of Chile was under control of the military regime. During that time, more than 3,200 people were killed and about 38,000 people were tortured, according to the Daily News.

Marjorie Agosin, a Latin American studies professor at Wellesley College, said that human rights in Latin America were exposed to violation, especially under the military regime. She also said, “women have not had official political power,” however, “every single person has fought for justice, so everyone is a witness of each other.”

Agosin is a Chilean American writer who has gained notability for her outspokenness for women’s rights in Chile.

Agosin added that human rights are important “because they speak about dignity of people.” She said human rights are not only the right to freedom but also the right to participate in civil society. She strongly believes these are “fundamental for human life.”

In many countries, like the United States, people enjoy freedom and human rights. However, other people are still oppressed, especially in communist countries or in countries with military dictatorships like Sudan. Hong Kong is currently facing a threat to the violation of human rights. This is not simply a problem from the past, but an on-going issue in today’s world.

Goldstein Family Chair in Human Rights Laura Alexander said it can’t be guaranteed that regime change can bring human rights improvement. She also said the keys to improving human rights are “what decisions people make about how they want to function society and how governments want to try to protect their people.”

Alexander said that the United States is one of the places where people can live in safety and most people have rights to participate in society. She pointed out, however, that “there are always ways you could look to try to make some improvements in the way that people’s rights can be protected,” because there are some people suffering from poverty or disabilities that make it difficult to participate in society, even in Nebraska.