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March 15, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Students Study Human Rights in Northern Ireland Over Spring Break

Students visit the Omagh bombing memorial site with Michael Gallagher, chairperson of the Omagh Self Help and Support Group. Gallagher advocates nationally and internationally for a public inquiry into the bombing.

Students visit the Omagh bombing memorial site with Michael Gallagher, chairperson of the Omagh Self Help and Support Group. Gallagher advocates nationally and internationally for a public inquiry into the bombing.

This year, 16 students of various majors and academic years packed their bags and their passports to embark on a nine-day visit to Northern Ireland for ANTH 4620/5620: Human Rights, Law and Justice in Northern Ireland.

The Center for Law, Justice and Culture just completed its fourth successful spring break study abroad program in Northern Ireland.

The program is led by CLJC Director and Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Haley Duschinski, along with CLJC Pre-Law Specialist Larry Hayman ’03 (B.A. Political Science) and International Education Program (IEP) On-Site Program Coordinator Samantha Rommel ’15 (B.A. Anthropology).

 

Students meet with Bogside Artist Tom Kelly in front of the famous Free Derry wall at Free Derry Corner, the site of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.

Students meet with Bogside Artist Tom Kelly in front of the famous Free Derry wall at Free Derry Corner, the site of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.

Students learned about the Troubles, a war that devastated society and threw Northern Ireland into a near-state of emergency for more than two decades. They met with restorative justice activists and human rights lawyers, learned about memorialization efforts, and toured streets adjacent to the infamous “peace wall” and its murals.

Students heard the personal stories from people who lived through the conflict on both sides. Hallie Zarbaksh, a senior studying Environmental Science, said that was the most interesting part for her.

“We were exposed to both republican and unionist perspectives, often telling their side of the same story,” Zarbaksh said. “The story comes to life when coming from the lips of those who lived it. And that story is never black and white. It’s shades of gray.”

Students meet with Paul O'Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry. The PFC carries out research on human rights and policing in Northern Ireland.

Students meet with Paul O’Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry. The PFC carries out research on human rights and policing in Northern Ireland.

Students visited three cities in Northern Ireland: Belfast, the largest city and the site of most of the violence; Derry, the location of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre; and Omagh, the site of a horrific bombing in 1998, after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. They also visited the national wonder, Giants Causeway.

Madeline Rettig, a senior studying Anthropology and Political Science, said some of the most influential experiences for her were in Derry.

“My experiences in Derry with people who have lived through the Troubles are some I will never forget,” Rettig said. “The people of Derry have lost so much and continue to suffer from inadequate civil and human rights protection.”

The Human Rights, Law and Justice in Northern Ireland study abroad is offered every spring break.

 

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