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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 16, 2003

(Photo: Dominga Sic Ruiz)

Center For Human Rights Co-Sponsors Debut Of 'Discovering Dominga' April 23

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) is hosting a screening of "Discovering Dominga: Survivor of the Rio Negro Massacre in Guatemala," Wednesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. in the Illinois Room of Iowa Memorial Union. A question and answer session with Dominga Sic Ruiz, the protagonist, will follow the film. The event is free and open to the public.

"Discovering Dominga" chronicles the journey of a young Iowa housewife who discovers she is a survivor of one of the most horrific massacres in Guatemalan history, committed in 1982 against Maya Indian villagers who resisted a dam project funded by the World Bank. The film follows her emotional odyssey of self-discovery and political awakening as she travels from the cornfields of her adoptive Iowa to the Maya highlands of Guatemala in search of her past.

Dominga Sic Ruiz was nine years old when, in the midst of a bloody civil war, soldiers and paramilitary squads murdered her parents and other Maya villagers. She escaped with her baby sister, who later died. Dominga was brought to an orphanage and adopted by a Baptist minister and his wife in Iowa. As an adult 18 years later, Denese, as she called herself, went back to the massacre site where her parents were brutally murdered. She decided to join other community survivors in a dangerous effort to bring genocide charges against the generals who ordered the massacres in which some 200,000 civilians in Guatemala were killed. She became the voice against suppression, and her mission was now to speak out against the tragic events in her native land.

"We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to debut this important documentary," said Chivy Sok, deputy director, UICHR and project director of the Child Labor Research Initiative. "The massacre in Guatemala should never be forgotten from history. Dominga's courageous return to her native Mayan village and her commitment to find justice demonstrates that one person can make a positive difference in this chaotic world."

This documentary will be disseminated nationwide through PBS this summer.

The debut screening is presented by UICHR, The Bijou, Institute for the Support of Latino Families and Communities and UI International Programs in collaboration with 14 other institutions, including the following: Catholic Campaign for Human Development; the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC); COE Division of Curriculum and Instruction; COE Language, Literacy and Culture Program; Commission of Latino Affairs of Iowa Department of Human Rights; Coralville Public Library; Iowa City Foreign Relations Council; Iowa City Human Rights Commission; Iowa City Public Library; Iowa United Nations Association; International and Comparative Law Program; National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice; UI Charter for Human Rights; and UI department of rhetoric.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability and require accommodations in order to participate, please contact Patricia Pollock at (319) 335-3900.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Writer: Mansi Bhatia