Pitt’s Ford Institute Plans Talk, Film Series to Highlight Situation in Sudan

Issue Date: 
February 21, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh’s Ford Institute for Human Security, focusing on the questions and issues facing Sudan, will offer a lecture by a veteran human-rights advocate as well as a film series about humanitarian issues in Sudan, the Congo, and Chad.

John Prendergast, the cofounder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity, will deliver a free public lecture titled “Eye on Sudan: The Promise and Perils of Secession” at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, in 3911 Posvar Hall. Prendergast will be a Visiting Fellow at Pitt’s Ford Institute for Human Security in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) beginning today through March 4. The lecture is part of the Ford Institute Speaker Series.

Prendergast will discuss the uncertainties faced by the people of southern Sudan following their peaceful vote to secede after two decades of war failed to bring independence. Despite Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s acceptance of the vote’s outcome, the prospect for peaceful secession remains unclear. Prendergast will discuss some of the challenges that the Sudanese people are facing. Among them are disputes involving the north-south border and how to share oil wealth; Sudan’s oil fields are in the south and export facilities are in the north. He also will discuss the possibility of widespread fighting sparked by communal disputes in the regions of Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

The Ford Institute for Human Security will also host a free public three-part film series Feb. 23-28 featuring documentaries selected and presented by Prendergast. Each film screening will be introduced by Prendergast and followed by a question-and-answer session. Screenings will be held at 7 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. A schedule and description of the films follow:

War Child: The Emmanuel Jal Story (C. Karim Chrobog, 2008) will be shown Wednesday, Feb. 23. The film chronicles the odyssey of Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier of Sudan’s civil war. Now an emerging international hip-hop star, he shares a message of peace for his beloved Africa. (93 min., PG-13)

3 Points: Peace, Protection, Punishment (Josh Victor Rothstein, 2009) will be shown Friday, Feb. 25. When Tracy McGrady of the National Basketball Association heard about the challenges children from Darfur were facing in the Chad refugee camps, he traveled to Chad. 3 Points highlights the Darfuri refugees’ quest for quality education in the camps. Following his trip, McGrady cofounded the Darfur Dream Team with Prendergast.  (60 min., PG-13)

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (Lisa F. Jackson, 2007) will be shown Monday, Feb. 28. The film attempts to shatter the silence that surrounds sexual violence as a weapon of conflict. Tens of thousands of women and girls have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated, and tortured by soldiers from foreign militias and from the Congolese army. Jackson, herself a victim of gang rape, tells her story while relating the stories of several other Congolese women.  (76 min., Not Rated)

Prendergast is a veteran human rights advocate who has worked on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and at the U.S. State Department. In the nongovernmental sector, he has worked at UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

For more information on the events or the Ford Institute for Human Security (www.fordinstitute.pitt.edu), contact Diane Roth Cohen at 412-648-7434 or drc51@pitt.edu.