Iraq History Project Art Festival

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DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Iraq History Project Art Festival offers insight into human rights advocacy

DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI) and human rights artist Tom Block collaborated to host the Iraq History Project Art Festival at DePaul University from September 28 to October 3, 2010.

Through a series of events including lectures, film screenings and exhibits, Chicago-based artists, human rights activists and members of the legal community explored human rights issues and the power of art as a tool for advocacy. The festival featured more than 20 artists and a wide range of activist art forms, including film, theater, painting and photography.

The final day of events included a screening of the award-winning courtroom drama “The Response,” based on the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal transcripts, and a post-screening discussion with writer/producer Sig Libowitz. Also highlighted in the day's exhibits were artist interpretations of IHRLI's Iraq History Project narratives.

The Iraq History Project gathered and analyzed first-person narratives of severe human rights violations committed under the government of the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein (1968-2003) and by a variety of groups after the U.S.-led invasion (2003-2008). While some data on past and recent human rights violations in Iraq was available, the suffering of the Iraqi people had been inadequately documented making it difficult to understand the severity and impact of political violence over the past four decades.

The project addressed this issue by collecting more than 8,900 testimonies representing over 55,000 pages of personal narratives—one of the largest independent human rights data collection projects in the world. The material documents the individual experiences of torture, massacres, assassinations, rape, kidnapping, disappearances and other violations, providing important insight into both past and current violations in Iraq.

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