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Release: Immediate

Iowa immigrants and Nobel Prize winner tell personal human rights stories Nov. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Former natives of seven countries who have relocated to Iowa will share their personal human rights stories during a 1-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 symposium in the Terrace Room (first floor) of the Iowa Memorial Union.

Natives of Bolivia, Bosnia, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Mexico, and Sierra Leone who have relocated to Iowa, will present personal testimonies, as will 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Menchu, whose story will open the symposium, lost three family members during her family's crusade against human rights abuses of indigenous Indians of non-Spanish descent by the Guatemalan military.

The personal anecdotes will be followed by Menchu's human rights lecture at 8 p.m. Menchu is lecturing as a part of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, the year-long, University of Iowa commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed 50 years ago.

The purpose of the symposium, "The Struggle for Human Rights: The Broken Silence of Iowa Immigrants," is to poignantly show that human rights is a local, as well as universal, issue.

"The program is designed to create some space in the universe for 'silent' voices of immigrants by probing the human condition through human faces and personal stories. We want to make Iowans more aware of the economic and cultural contributions immigrants make to the vitality of our state in the Heartland," says Dorothy Paul, symposium coordinator.

The symposium is free and open to the public. A reception for Menchu will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the North Union of the IMU; tickets are $5. For more information, contact: Dorothy Paul, Iowa Division, United Nations Association-USA (a symposium co-sponsor) at (319) 337-7290.

Other co-sponsors are The Stanley Foundation and Amnesty International USA-Iowa City.