Haigazian University

Seminar in partnership with the OHCHR on “Dealing with the Past: Memory for the Future”

Nov, 09
Seminar in partnership with the OHCHR on “Dealing with the Past: Memory for the Future”

In partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Haigazian University organized a seminar on Friday, October 29 on the subject of “Dealing with the Past: Memory for the Future”. During this half-day insightful seminar, which was also attended by Ms. Lyn Eid, Tamara Bou Chahine, and Sana Youssef from the OHCHR, Haigazian faculty and students from the English, Political Science, and Social & Behavioral Sciences presented their findings and future research projects.

Initiated by the OHCHR, in collaboration with the UNDP and UN Women in Lebanon, this project was born in light of Law 105, passed by the Lebanese Parliament for the investigation of the fate of Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons, having as main aim to support civil society, individual families, and national institutions in their collective efforts to seek the truth and move towards reconciliation around the legacy of the protracted period of civil wars (1975-1990).

As part of the project, the HU Writing Center had called earlier in September for student essay submissions, to hear reflections and/or stories which relate to truth seeking and moving towards reconciliation in light of the fate of Missing and Forcibly Disappeared Persons during the civil war in Lebanon. Given the relevance of the topic, powerful works were submitted, addressing the themes of Trauma and Reconciliation, Remembrance and Forgetfulness/ Collective Remembrance and Truth-Seeking, Peace-Building and Human Rights, and Dealing with the Past to Bring about Change.

The seminar opened with the welcoming words of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, followed by a presentation on “Laws on Enforced Disappearance”, prepared by students Jack Jizmejian, Garen Kazarian and Armen Simonian from the newly created Human Rights Club.

HU Writing Center Director, Ms. Anita Moutchoyan introduced the selected students of the Call for Essays, who eloquently presented their essays: Saria Shatila on Challenging Power Struggles: Giving Hope to the Families of the Disappeared , Jana Jaber on Between the Sparks of the Past and Future, Youmna Haddad on I Have a Homeless Uncle, Jana Oliek on The Downfall of the Past, and Hamza Damerji on Ten More to Go AND Deaf and Blind (by Choice).

Chair of the English Department, Dr. Suha Safiyiddeen introduced the “Gender and language Course” offered at Haigazian, and how this impacted students in their papers within the framework of the course; Araz Pamboukian and Reine el Ariss on The left Behind Women: Between Grieving the Enforced Disappearances and Challenging the Gender Order, and Nour Al Daouk and Marian Wakimian on Through Challenge Comes Change: Building a More Peaceful Future.
For his part, Chair of the Political Science Department, Dr. Maximilian Felsch shared his findings of a survey research on Opinions, Identities and Expectations: The Mindset of Lebanese Students.

Dr. Ziad Suidan from the English Department introduced a new course on “The Literature of the Disappeared” offered during summer, followed by student Luna Dhaywe presenting her paper on Into the Archives: What it says about our Past, Present and Future.

The project also resulted in two MA theses that are closely monitored by advisors Dr. Hanin Hout and Rita Merhej from the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences. In this respect, two candidates presented their thesis proposals; Reem Rehimi on Anxiety, Depression, and Persistent Complex Bereavement across the families of the Forcedly Disappeared and Deceased during the Lebanese Civil War, and Noura Amika on The Narratives of the Survivors of the Beirut Blast in relation to their Recollections of Past Tragedies in Lebanon.

It is worth mentioning that all the project’s proceedings will be published soon, as part of the collaborative initiative between Haigazian University and the OHCHR.
The seminar ended with concluding remarks by Ms. Lyn Eid, the OHCHR representative.

Mira Yardemian
Public Relations Director