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By Jamie Brandel, 3 Generations Summer Intern

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 The vlogger (left) having fun at a North Korean water park

As a millennial, social media has been a powerful tool in the fight for human rights — whether it be the Arab Spring or the Human Rights Campaign’s equality logo. Whatever the cons of the Internet may be, it is without a doubt a profound force in raising awareness of global issues.

So when I saw the North Korean fun vlogs from Louis Cole, better known by his Youtube name FunforLouis, the first word that came to mind was “strange.” If the word North Korea wasn’t in the title, you may never know that Louis was vloging about one of the most frightening places on Earth. If you have ever turned on a TV before, you probably know this about North Korea. There’s quite a disconnect between this video and reality. You also probably know that getting into North Korea isn’t an easy task. We don’t know much about the country for a reason: It blocks out any “corruption of its society” from the outside world. So it seems pretty obvious that Louis must have agreed to some guidelines, also evident by the controls set up in his visit, like Ms. Kim – one of his “tour guides.”

Whether he was paid by the North Korean government or not, as some media outlets are reporting, he is clearly complicit. Like Shane Smith said, “You’re not a tourist — you are on a tour.”

Going to visit the monuments that pay homage to North Korea’s authoritarian leaders, visiting a waterpark and schools while remaining silent on reality, these things make him just as guilty in recreating a very orchestrated image. The secretary of Joseph Goebbles, who is now the subject of a new documentary A German Life, claims she had no idea what the Nazi regime what really up to. Just another job. She says she had no idea what happened when her friends disappeared; this obliviousness is one in the same. Under the guise of some cultural relativist argument, Louis says that the Western media only portrays this horrible image of North Korea, and it’s his job to show the culture and focus on the positive. At one point he tells the camera that it would cost him 200 US dollars, even as a visitor, to get probably a couple minutes worth of data. But no problem there. So does passive acceptance and willful ignorance equate to innocence? No, not really.

Louis responded with another vlog after he received a large amount of backlash. Two things struck me: One is his mention of his two favorite places he has visited, Rio and Cape Town. He mentions that Cape Town has one of the largest wealth disparities in the world. And yet, anyone who has visited Cape Town will tell you that no one, absolutely no one, would visit Cape Town and not include the images of apartheid-era settlements and racism. It is inherent in their culture and in every South African’s identity. So, quite the opposite of showcasing North Korean culture.

Secondly, Louis talks about how he just left out the clips of him talking to people about their realities and how bringing happiness to people, like when they surf, was a means of change.

Now, no one is asking FunforLouis to be an investigative reporter, but purposely leaving out the truth of North Korea is the ultimate bystander effect. If you act as if the people around you aren’t under constant threats of violence, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Well, it does.

Change won’t come from momentary “happiness” like Louis says but when silence is broken.

unnamedBy 3G Intern Luis Rivera-Nesrala

Last Week Tonight: A poignantly daring late-night news show hosted on HBO by John Oliver. The show’s success is in large part a reflection of Oliver’s ability to brilliantly marry award-winning reporting and in-depth research with his unique British satirical sense of humor.  Still, the reason that millions of viewers keep coming back each season is that Oliver acts as a proxy for his viewers, unflinchingly expressing the justified righteous rage that many of us feel on a range of social and political issues.

Last week I got on YouTube and realized that the newest episode, Puerto Rico, was out. Never mind that I’d be late to class, I clicked on it immediately.

As a Puerto Rican, I was thrilled that the economic crisis was finally being covered on a much-deserved international platform.

Even though the segment was characteristically funny and well-researched, by the end of it I was left with nothing more than a jumbled list of economic and political reasons as to why Puerto Rico is in the hole.

I was unmoved, unsure why I should care about this issue.

Oliver’s power to mobilize and galvanize people to a cause is perhaps his most powerful tool. But where was it this time? More than simple recognition of the problem, I hoped that the segment would finally knock some sense into the millions of Americans who have no idea why they should care about Puerto Rico. For once Oliver failed.

Now it’s my turn.

Too many people are probably wondering, “How this crisis is more relevant to us as Americans than the Greek financial crisis? After all, we don’t live on the island. We don’t pay $7 for a gallon of milk, or a 13% sales tax. And we certainly weren’t responsible the $70 billion debt that the Puerto Rican government recklessly racked up.”

So, why should you care?

Why? Because most Puerto Ricans aren’t responsible for the debt either. And now they’re paying the price for it. Let’s break it down:

1) First, Puerto Ricans are Americans.

We are born with US social security numbers, US citizenship and we hold US passports (there is no such thing as a Puerto Rican passport). We are full American citizens in every sense.

2) Fifteen years ago there were close to four million of us living on the island. Today that number has plummeted to 3.5 million. That means that the island has experienced a 7% decline in population.

“But 7 percent??”  you might say. “That means that 93% of people are still there. How is that even a big deal?”

Let’s put that into perspective.

If 7% of the US population fled the country, we would lose the entire population of the State of Texas — the second most populated state in the US. The implications of that are huge! Economically that would be like losing almost 10% of the country’s entire economic production and income. And when people have less income, they spend less. When they spend less, companies produce less. And this leads to even more people losing their jobs. For many in Puerto Rico, the only option is to head to the mainland to find work.

Last year alone over 80,000 people left the island.

The bigger picture? Many of these people are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and other highly educated people on whom the economic recovery will one day depend.

3) How the island fell into this toxic cycle of unlimited borrowing is largely connected to the job market,  but it is too intricate to explain in a few words.  So let’s focus on the consequences of this economic catastrophe.

Due to some unjustifiable laws and obscure amendments likely introduced by Senator Strom Thurmond in the 80’s, Puerto Rico cannot file for bankruptcy like any of the fifty states. This means that the 330,000 people who paid into their retirement funds for their entire working lives aren’t receiving their retirement pensions because the government has wiped them clean and can’t replace them. And even if they wanted to come out of retirement, the chances of finding a job in the overheated labor market would be nearly impossible. This means that food stamps, housing assistance and unemployment benefits will be slashed and the disenfranchised will continue to suffer. This means that the electric grid on the island will continue to suffer major cuts, prohibiting hospitals from operating, schools from opening, and people from getting basic services.

This was an economic crisis. Now we are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.

—————-

The point I’m hope to make is simple.

The Puerto Rican people are not Greece halfway around the world.

This problem is your problem: now, or later.

Because we, as Puerto Ricans, are Americans.

We are Americans facing the very real possibility of becoming a lost generation. For millions of people, the inability to pay for higher education or find jobs is a daunting reality. For millions of people who have relied on government help, the massive social safety networks have expired.

You must care about Puerto Ricans because we are not just some islanders who live in your favorite vacation spot. We are the beautiful and intelligent Miss Universes, unrivaled in titles. We are the Major League Baseball players that your kids look up to and aspire to be. We are the Supreme Court justices that proudly guard and preserve the U.S. Constitution. We are the entertainers you pay to see on Broadway, whose CDs you buy and whose movies you watch. We are the people of all genders, colors, sexualities and religions who don the uniform and travel to places beyond our homeland to protect the democracy that we all enjoy.

All figures and talking points aside, we are American.

We are Americans who have lost, and will continue to lose, homes, health care and access to education. If nothing is done, and prices keep increasing, many of us may even lose access to proper nutrition.

Puerto Rico’s previous governors and their grossly negligent administrations let their greed and power affect the fates of millions while they comfortably spent their millions. Now those people are penniless and being taxed at higher rates than any other place in the United States, even as they make less.

All of this in an attempt to pay off an exorbitant debt that can’t be paid.

This is not the Puerto Rican people’s fault. They have been exploited and now it is the moral and legal obligation of the federal government to protect the citizens living under its constitution.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not Obama. This is not Fortuño. This is not Ryan.

Esto se trata de la sobrevivencia del pueblo Puertoriqueño.

You can watch the video here

You can view a PDF of the graphic here

3 Generations’ Syria Intern Luis Rivera-Nesrala will be offering his vision on the importance of regarding the value of Syrian lives as equal to life in the West this Saturday at the Posthuman Glocal Syposium in New York City. He believes that in the West a dangerous narrative has taken hold which relegates Syrian refugees to the status of second-rate humans in an attempt to justify the reluctance of many Western nations to offer humanitarian aid. Rivera-Nesrala’s presentation is entitled, Syrian Refugees: The Other Does Not Exist, and will feature a clip from 3 Generations’ film Three.

Please check out the graphic below that will be presented in conjunction with his talk:

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In conjunction with the New York Posthuman Research Group, New York University is holding its second annual Posthuman Glocal Syposium on the weekend of April 22nd. This year’s conference, titled Posthuman Futures, calls on a wide range of scholars, philosophers and NYU students to come together for a productive two-day dialogue on how we envision the future that comes after humanity in the postanthropocene era.

A complicated topic, posthumanism is an ideological and social movement founded in the philosophical discipline following humanism. While there are a multitude of disciplines that fall under the umbrella of posthumanism, the main idea is that in the future the human race will inevitably evolve to the point where we cease to be human. The looming questions with which each of the subgroups concerns itself is how to achieve the desired state of posthumanism, and what such a society would or must be like.

At its most basic level, posthumanism can be seen as a critique of humanism, the ideology and philosophy that places the human subject at the highest level of importance in the biosphere and universe. The posthuman philosophy seeks to establish a postanthropocentric society, in which all human life, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. is equally as valuable as every other organism and inorganic being.

If you would like to learn more, a link for the conference is here. 

In December 1984 Glenn Ford was tried for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport Jeweler who was robbed and shot to death in his own shop, for whom Glenn did yard work. Despite Glenn’s assertion of his innocence and a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime, a combination of:

  • Inexperienced defense lawyers (they had never tried a criminal case, were being paid less than $3 an hour and were unaware they could request funding to hire experts)
  • The testimony of a forensic pathologist (which was later exposed as “pure junk science at its evil worst”)
  • Racial discrimination (from the all-white jury in a Confederate flag-flying Courthouse, at a time when legislation made it difficult to prove racial bias)

These issues led to Glenn being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Glenn was kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and was not permitted to participate in any religious services or educational programs.

After numerous failed appeals Glenn was finally released on March 11, 2014, when new evidence emerged showing that he ‘was neither present at, nor a participant in’ Rozeman’s robbery and murder. At the time of his release, Glenn had spent 29 years, 3 months and 5 days behind bars, making him one of the longest serving death row inmates in the United States. Tragically, Glenn was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly after his release.

After Glenn’s exoneration, A.M Stroud, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 trial, issued an apology to Glenn, and urged that he be granted the maximum $330,000 compensation available under Louisiana state law:

“In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning… Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute.”

However, Louisiana’s compensation law requires “factual innocence,” meaning that the defendant did not commit not only the crime for which he was convicted, but also “any crime based on the same set of facts.” The state attorney general’s office argued that Glenn didn’t have “clean hands” because they claimed he knew about the plans for the Rozeman robbery and pawned some of the stolen jewelry. The Innocence Project’s Kristin Wenstrom stated that ‘they [the state attorney general’s office] are coming up with new minor crimes he was never charged with or convicted of.’

The only compensation Glenn received was a debit card loaded with $20.24 upon his release, which was standardly issued to all released inmates, and he had to rely on donations to receive the hospice care that he urgently needed. On June 29, 2015, Glenn passed away from his disease at a home provided by the nonprofit group Resurrection After Exoneration.

Political Background to Glenn’s Case

Although a particularly extreme example, Glenn’s story is far from unique. Twenty states have no laws pertaining to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. There have been 152 exonerations from Death Row since 1972 and 329 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989. The number of innocent prisoners in the United States is unknown, but the few studies that have been conducted estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of prisoners are innocent. To provide context, if just 1% of prisoners were innocent, that would amount to 20,000 prisoners across the country.

Further, it is impossible to separate racial prejudice and institutionalized racism from issues surrounding both the death penalty and wrongful convictions. In Louisiana the odds of receiving a death sentence are 97% higher if the victim is white as opposed to black, in Washington State, North Carolina and California a black defendant is more than three times as likely to receive a death sentence if the victim is white. In 96% of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both.

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The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest in the world today and one of the biggest since World War Two. 11 million Syrians – nearly half the population – have been displaced and many are seeking asylum across the Middle East and Europe.  An estimated 2 million refugees have crossed the border into Lebanon. Increased security and checkpoints have left 80% of these refugees without legal status.

3 Generations started telling stories from Syria back in 2014 when we filmed interviews with Nasir, Yasmine and Sultan, three Syrian refugees in Jordan. We are proud to continue this important work through our role as a producing partner of the upcoming documentary feature Beyond the Borders. Written and directed by Sophia and Georgia Scott, the film is set in Lebanon along the Syrian border and follows the lives of four Syrian refugees and a German professor fighting for peace and human rights.

Beyond the Borders gains exclusive access to unknown stories in a region that is on the fringes of hell. The Scott Sisters have spent over a year on the borders of Syria documenting the stories behind the news reports. Beyond The Borders will be a reflection of the strange chaotic lives of the people living in the shadow of the Syrian war.

This is the second documentary feature from the Scott sisters. Their first film, In The Shadow of War, followed four teenagers born in Bosnia towards the end of the civil war. The film examines the lasting psychological trauma of growing up in the aftermath of war. Watch the trailer below:

The Scott sisters are currently on location in Lebanon filming and editing. The film will be ready for release in early 2016. Watch this space for more information.

By Lili Hamlyn

Tim Hetherington was a British photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who was tragically killed in Libya in 2011 while covering the Libyan civil war. Tim is perhaps best known for the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, co-directed with Sebastian Junger, which chronicles a year with a U.S. platoon in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan. Tim also worked as a photographer on 3 Generations’ co-produced The Devil Came on Horseback. His body of work includes numerous photographic projects and magazine photo essays, as well as art installations, multimedia exhibitions and short films which included Diary (2010), a ‘highly personal and experimental film’ shown below:

Hetherington was an alumnus of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, which is where I studied for my undergraduate degree in English Literature. As an admirer of his work, I felt deeply moved by his untimely death. This eventually led me, along with fellow student Sara Edwards, to co-found the Tim Hetherington Society, an Oxford University-based documentary film and photography/photojournalism society, in his honor.

By running this society I not only became more closely acquainted with Tim’s remarkable body of work but was also able to meet those who personally knew him: his friends from Oxford, his photojournalism professor Daniel Meadows, his colleagues James Brabazon and Platon and his wonderful mother Judith.

Tim did not approach photojournalism with cool detachment or any misguided belief that he could be an invisible objective observer. Instead, he engaged with his photographic subjects on a personal level, and preferred to be called an  ‘image maker’ rather than a photographer.

In Sebastian Junger’s brilliant documentary on Tim’s life, Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?, we are repeatedly presented with Tim engaging in a chatty rapport with the people he’s photographing. In the film Tim states, “I want to connect with real people, to document them in real circumstances, where there aren’t any neat solutions.”

This is perhaps a perfect summation of his work and philosophy: It’s not didactic, and instead seeks humanity even in the most extreme of circumstances. Personally, I feel rather honored to have had the opportunity to connect with Tim’s impressive body of work and, through the stories of those who knew him, been able to gain some insight into this extraordinary man.

 

EPSON MFP image

 

As early as 1819, the United States government had policies in place to ensure the cultural genocide of Native Americans. With the Indian Civilization Act Fund, Native children were stripped from their homes and forced to learn the religion, language, and ways of their oppressors in the Boarding School Era.

Native children faced physical punishment for speaking their Native languages and practicing their spirituality. General Richard Pratt, the founder of arguably the most violent boarding school in the United States, created the motto of the Boarding School Era, “Kill the Indian…Save the Man.” If the United States could not commit literal genocide by murdering masses of Native Americans, they tried to destroy the cultural and spiritual ties to their internal being.

Generations later, the trauma is interwoven into our DNA, contributing to illnesses such as, diabetes, depression, and posttraumatic stress that run rampant throughout Indian Country. This trauma pervaded our communities, causing assimilation to white society and instilling fear of practicing Native spirituality, wrongfully driving traditional ceremonies underground. One hundred and fifty years after these oppressive polices were enacted, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 to protect the practice of Native American spirituality. With a revitalization of Native spirituality, came the revitalization of Native languages.

3 Generations’ upcoming film, The Dakota Project will shed light on the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation, who are faced with the North Dakota oil boom’s impact of environmental degradation to their ancestral lands. The film will showcase the work of spiritual leaders who are guiding younger generations to understand that spirituality and language are inherently tied to our lands, songs, and history. As a Lakota and Ojibwe woman, a graduate of Native American Studies, and an assistant to this film, I knew that to better understand the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes, I would need to learn their history, spiritual practices, and their languages.

Across Indian Country, tribes are working to revitalize their languages. Curriculum has been added to schools, immersion camps, immersion day cares, and many other efforts are celebrating Indigenous languages to keep our cultures thriving. The Dakota Project has joined in this celebration. Every Wednesday, I’ve taken on an initiative to share a word of the day and showcase a little of what I’ve learned from these affiliated tribes. As a student of Lakota language, I’ve come across similarities and differences between our languages. I am learning in this process that I am proud of my effort to learn from other tribes. During pre-colonial times, our ancestors of the Great Plains were multilingual and communicated across tribes. In my effort to share the vocabulary, I hope that it encourages our viewers and fans of our Facebook page to learn more the history of Indigenous languages and take time to learn from one another.

In case you missed it, here are a few of my favorite words that I’ve learned from the Three Affiliated Tribes. Take some time to learn a little too!

“Good”                                        “Spring” (Season)                                   “Mother”
Mandan (Nu’eta)                       Mandan (Nu’eta)                        Mandan (Nu’eta)
Shi                                                Wehinu                                        Na’e

Hidatsa                                       Hidatsa                                        Hidatsa
Tsạkits                                         Miawakute                                   Ikaŝ

Arikara (Sahnish)                    Arikara (Sahnish)                      Arikara (Sahnish)
AtíŝtIt                                           Hunaaneeká                                 Atiná

-Autumn White Eyes, 3 Generations

https://www.facebook.com/theDakotaProject
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/05/28/trauma-may-be-woven-dna-native-americans-160508
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865
http://www.mhasi.com/
http://www.mandanlanguage.org/
http://hidatsa.org/
http://www.arikara.org/
Freedom, Law, and Prophecy: A Brief History of Native American Religious Resistance by Lee Irwin–http://www.sacredland.org/PDFs/Irwin.pdf

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SEX trafficking

By: Isabel Stub, Social Media Intern

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act has had major bipartisan support since its introduction to the House on January 7th, 2015. The bill would create federal funding for human trafficking victims by imposing heavy fines on convicted traffickers. The entire process, from introduction to the Judiciary Committee’s approval last month, has been marked by neutrality in terms of partisanship, a testament to our nation’s collaboration when it comes to eradicating sex trafficking.

Recently however, one particular issue has come to light which may prevent the bill from passing. This week, Democrats withdrew support for the bill after finding that it contains Hyde Amendment language, which is a legislative attachment that restricts federal funding for abortions and other health services. This is a conservative partisan amendment to a bill that was previously conceived to be bipartisan. To compound the problem, the anti-abortion clause would remain unchecked for five years, instead of undergoing annual reevaluation.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the group Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, released a statement, “No woman should have her decision about abortion made for her because she can’t afford medical care, especially those emerging from exploitation and in need of comprehensive health care like trafficking survivors, who are overwhelmingly young women.” These words resonate with a powerful argument that supports a more accepting and compassionate understanding of the needs of rescued sex trafficking victims. To restrict a woman’s access to choose what happens to her own body, regardless of whether a pregnancy is a result of rape or accidental circumstances, is based on fundamental lack of empathy and a denial of pragmatism. Abortions happen and will keep happening even if conditions are unsafe and unregulated. The safety of women is at stake, especially for those who cannot afford medical attention or who have already been ostracized by society by means of abuse or trafficking.

Regardless of one’s perspective on abortion, it is undeniably a partisan issue, which is halting the progress of the bill. It comes down to language. Senate Minority Leader, Dem. Harry Reid, took the floor on Wednesday morning to address the conflict, stating, “Today, the Senate is doing a good deed. We have a chance to address human trafficking. In this legislation that is meant as an outline to stop child trafficking and human trafficking generally, there is a provision in this legislation dealing with abortion. It has nothing, nothing to do with this.”

We need to demand action. With the oil boom in North Dakota attracting more sex trafficking than police and rehabilitation resources can manage, we need funding now and if the Hyde Amendment language is not removed, it gives traffickers more time to expand their business and destroy the lives of women and children. This is a human issue, a narrative told by people living in unfathomable conditions. But their voices cannot be heard. Write to your senators and expedite the passing of the bill without partisan legislation. Help victims regain their humanity.

Read the full version of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/181/text
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By Jane Wells, Founder and Executive Director of 3 Generations

At the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz how can there still be Holocaust denial? My own father was tasked with documenting what the Allied forces found when they liberated the Nazi concentration camps. Survivors and witnesses are still alive today — many were honored guests in Poland earlier this week. While much of the world did stop to remember and mourn, I still ask myself what lessons have we truly learned? Today’s refugee crisis dwarfs that of 1945, and genocide has not stopped. “Never Again” just keeps happening and amazingly we are witnessing the regrowth of holocaust denial.

My father, Sidney Bernstein, was a filmmaker during World War Two, working for the British Army and later S.H.A.E.F – the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. For five months in 1945 his orders were to film the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, collect footage shot by the American, British and Russian liberators and create a documentary that would show the German people what had been done in the name of Hitler and the Third Reich

This project and the ensuing film entitled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was considered so vital at the outset that he was able to enlist the best writers, editors and experts Great Britain had to offer. His old friend Alfred Hitchcock came from Hollywood to help make a film that would provide “the visual evidence that nobody could deny. It was to be a record for all mankind”. It is not an exaggeration to say they anticipated Holocaust denial.

Yet his film was never seen, shelved in the fall of 1945 as geo-political forces changed priorities. He did not speak of this project for another 40 years and he was not alone in his silence. Witnesses, cameramen and documentarians were silenced, both by official mandate and by what I would call PTSD. How can we calculate the long-term damage this may have done?

Two films have been made to explore this strange episode in British history. In the first, A Painful Reminder, made in 1985 when the footage from the camps was first declassified (40 years after it was shot), my father’s comments about the purpose of his film are quite clear, “The film was not intended as propaganda. This was the visual evidence that nobody could deny. It was to be a record for all mankind”. Another interviewee, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, explains in the film, “the name Auschwitz didn’t mean anything. That which today is such a byword, at that time had no ominous significance for us at all.” It wasn’t until June 1944 when five inmates escaped that the world knew what horrors were being perpetrated in Auschwitz. First-hand accounts and newsreel footage were the only way the world got information. Then, as today, what happened when that information was known became political. The distinguished historian Sir Martin Gilbert explains that the Allies refused to bomb Auschwitz because a few British Civil Servants determined that information about death camps was “Jewish sob-stuff”.

Andre Singer’s Night Will Fall (2014) a contemporary documentary tells the story of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. Using archival footage and present-day interviews with survivors and liberators, it is an in -depth exploration of why the Allies, having initially encouraged the project later decided to shelve my father’s film.

In 2014 German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was painstakingly digitized and fully restored by the Imperial War Museums in London who are the guardians of the footage and the archives. It had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. The restoration precisely follows the script, notes and cameramen’s “dope” sheets from 1945. Its restoration brings a 21st century viewer face to face with irrefutable visual evidence of atrocities as if they had happened yesterday. Sequences showing Adolf Hitler are so strikingly “fresh” and clear that one can see sweat dripping down his face. He is brought to life anew. The concentration camp footage is brutally real. The filmmaking is skilled and under the influence of Alfred Hitchcock is careful to employ techniques that would refute accusations that the atrocities they document did not happen.

There are many tragedies within and surrounding these films. Obvious ones document unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis. The issue of suppression of vital evidence 70 years ago and how that impacted history and those who bore witness is another. Today the question of who should and should not have access to this powerful and distressing material still lingers (the Imperial War Museums are adamant that the footage is too disturbing for broad educational use). And lastly we have to address the continued accusations that the holocaust and this evidence were fabricated. In the last few days I have read comments about Night Will Fall on my Facebook feed that included:

“It’s been proven there were NO. Gas chambers and that is a fact.” (sic)
“The Holocaust was a hoax”

With the persistence of Holocaust denial comes a renewed need for accurate documentation. As a social justice filmmaker I battle daily to tell the stories of survivors of crimes against humanity in an honest and believable way. This episode of my father’s history was the genesis of 3 Generations, the 501c3 organization I run. Last July German Concentration Camps Factual Survey and Night Will Fall were shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It was a complicated time to watch atrocity films in Israel, the Gaza war was raging, passions were heated and many Israelis felt threatened. As a visitor it was hard not to see parallels between the images from Nazi occupied Europe and scenes of devastation in Gaza. Since then many Jews in Europe feel at greater risk than at any time since the Second World War. Today I received an email from an Israeli who described feeling that his country has “become Europe’s whipping boy in some sort of pro-Muslim frenzy.”

Many people have asked me what my father would have made of all this. I can only speculate, but I am pretty certain he would have wished for a truly democratic Israel that respected the basic human rights of all its citizens. Whether that can be accomplished remains to be seen, but the message of his work as a suppressed witness and documentarian was clear:

“All we can do now is honor the dead and try to win the battle for peace”.

His words ring true to me across the decades, sad as it is that we still have to “battle for peace”.

 

A version of this article can be found on The Huffington Post

This year we are thrilled to announce our partnership with the The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade and Stop Sex Trafficking Miami in honoring the winners of the 2014 Malone Prize. Through these partnerships we are furthering our initiative to help end sex trafficking by working with law enforcement to recognize prostitution as modern day slavery.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org
For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

This year’s Malone Prize award ceremony will take place on January 12th, 2015 at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, FL. To learn more about the Malone Prize, please follow the link .

Nominations close on December 19th. If you’d like to recommend a law enforcement officer for the prize, please fill out the form here and return to Info@3Generations.org.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 13, 2013: Denver Police Department Sergeant Daniel Steele holds his Malone Prize. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 3 Generations)

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

If Katrin Bennhold’s front-page article in today’s New York Times —Years of Rape and “Utter Contempt” in Britain — were told as a narrative movie, it would be considered too far-fetched to be true and would most likely be viewed as a hyperbolic psychological drama. However it is a news item and one subtitled, “Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Girls Flourished.”

Ms. Bennhold recounts a monstrous story of over 1000 girls as young as 12 being groomed for rape by gangs of young Pakistani men over a period of 16 years in a working class town called Rotherham. Even when girls came forward with parental support, the authorities chose to ignore the crimes, lost evidence and succumbed to the worst kind of victim blaming. In a staggering series of cases of police negligence, children who were raped were referred to as “tarts” and crimes against them called “100% consensual”.

It would be easy to imagine this does not happen here in the United States or that this is an isolated incident. Sadly, neither is the case. Nor is it simply a story of child abuse and rape. What is described is sexual slavery and fits our Federal definition of (child) sex trafficking. It also serves as an important illustration of the common misconceptions about commercial sex, outdated law enforcement culture around prostitution and sex crimes and the on-going battle to stop blaming victims for crimes committed against them.

Ms. Bennold’s article describes girls being groomed by young men who they perceived as friends or boyfriends – this is the most common way that pimps in the USA recruit girls into the sex trade. In Rotherham the sexual encounters, “evolved from personal gratification to business opportunities” to literal life–threatening enslavement, an evolution that perfectly matches the descent of many young people in this country from quasi-volitional sex work to enslavement.

Equally tragic and also prevalent in this country is the dominant culture that sees, and in many cases, insists that all this sexual activity is consensual. This ranges from adults engaging in sex with underage boys and girls, which, whether we like it or not, is statutory rape, to minors being “boyfriended” or kidnapped by pimps and gangs and sold for sex as prostitutes. The outcomes of these crimes depend almost entirely on the attitude of local law enforcement and their understanding of the severity of harm done to any minor who is sexually abused. Many people in this country (and elsewhere) believe prostitution is a victimless crime, one that it is here to stay and does not warrant time, money and focus by our criminal justice system.

My experience over the last 5 years making the documentary Tricked  about sex slavery in the USA unequivocally indicates otherwise. No one I encountered was unscathed by their sexual abuse. All still carry deep and lasting wounds years and decades later and every john who had purchased sex was insistent that nothing that he had done could have in any way harmed the girls and boys from whom he had paid for sex. In between is the criminal justice system – gradually waking up to the reality that sexual crimes of this sort are major human rights violations that need our utmost attention. Alas, way too slowly for the hundreds of thousand of victims out there. Katrin Bennhold deserves praise for telling such as newsworthy story.

jerusalem 3

July 2014 was an interesting moment to be invited to the Jerusalem Film Festival. I was a jury member for the Spirit Of Freedom Award. We watched 10 impassioned and geographically diverse films exploring the search for freedom in Mali, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Turkey/Kurdistan, Greece, The Netherlands, Rwanda, Darfur, Syria and Bosnia. My fellow jurors were the celebrated Palestinian actor/director Makram Khoury and the multi-award-winning Turkish Producer Zeynep Atakan. I was privileged to sit with them.

In addition the 31st Jerusalem Film Festival screened two films very close to my heart. German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – a truly harrowing documentary produced by my late father Sidney Bernstein in 1945 – was never completed and not seen fully until this year. The Imperial War Museum in London spent years of painstaking work restoring and completing my father’s film. The inspiration behind this effort Dr. Toby Haggith, was present to explain why and how he and his colleagues had restored this forgotten work, and to put this very difficult document of atrocity in a context. My brother David Bernstein also came to put the work in familial context. Night Will Fall, directed by Andre Singer, is an excellent 2014 documentary that details why my father’s film was not finished and shown 70 years ago. It was awarded Honorable and Special Mention at the Jerusalem Film Festival and Sheffield Doc Fest last month.

These two films by and about my father’s work documenting the Holocaust, and the Spirit of Freedom Award films all speak directly to what we do at 3 Generations: telling difficult stories, documenting atrocities, giving survivors opportunity to speak of their experiences and in the words of my father creating “evidence for all mankind”. As the narrator of his film explained in 1945, if we do not take heed, “night will fall”. For many people across the Middle East and beyond it seems that this July night has indeed fallen.

– Jane Wells

 

jerusalem 2

 

Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

On Monday, Jane and Elizabeth flew out to the Midwest to begin work on 3G’s newest project which will focus on the trafficking of Native American girls in the man camps that have sprung up around the Bakken Oil Fields of Montana, North and South Dakota. Several articles* have been written in recent months highlighting the disturbing spike in drugs, crime and prostitution that communities supporting these man camps typically witness. None however, address the particular plight of the region’s Native American population whose poverty often makes them a target for exploitation. To learn more about this story, take a look at program specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Lisa Brunner’s testimony from the hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking” back in September of 2013, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates on Jane and Elizabeth’s travels.

* NPR, Al Jazeera America, Huffington Post & Mint Press News

Testimony of Lisa Brunner, Program Specialist, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

Hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking: Federal, State, and Local Perspectives” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Monday, September 23, 2013

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/combating-human-trafficking-federal-state-and-local-perspectives

Human Trafficking of Native women in the United States is not a new era of violence against Native women but rather the continuation of a lengthy historical one with the colonization of America through wars, forced removal from their homelands to reservations, boarding schools and forced urban relocation. Domestic human trafficking in the United States has a longstanding history.

Native women experience violent victimization at a higher rate than any other U.S. population. Congressional findings are that Native American and Alaska Native women are raped 34.1%, more than 1 in 3, will be raped in their lifetime, 64%, more than 6 in 10, will be physically assaulted. Native women are stalked more than twice the rate of other women. Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average. Non-Indians commit 88% of violent crimes against Native women.

Given the above statistical data and the historical roots of violence against Native women, the level of human trafficking given the sparse data collected can only equate to the current epidemic levels we face within our tribal communities and Nations.

As an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota, I live, work and raise my children on my reservation. I have worked for over 15 years addressing domestic violence and sexual assault of Native women and have witnessed and heard countless stories of human trafficking occurring to the point that we have girls as young as 12 years olds who are victims. With the introduction of heroin, we now have an epidemic of the same age group and up of girls and women who are trafficked now have heroin needles in their arms. Native women and girls are sold for $20 worth of heroin.

We have mothers call local county sheriffs departments reporting their daughters missing only to be told, “We have better things to do with our time or why don’t you be a mother and know where the hell your daughter is”. It is difficult given the jurisdictional complexity of the 566 federally recognized tribes in the country with non-Public Law 280, Public Law 280, 638 Contract, Land Claim Settlement States, Oklahoma’s checkerboard and Alaska Native villages. To add to the complexity, if the perpetrator is non-Native, then the Tribes and Alaska Villages do not have criminal jurisdiction

With the recent wide-range impact of extractive industries such as oil fracking and pipelines is predatory economics at its worse for the Fort Berthold Nation in North Dakota and Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. With the fracking of the Bakken formation, comes “man camps’. The victim advocates responding to calls for service on Forth Berthold said there has been a doubling and tripling of numbers of sexual assaults, domestic violence and human trafficking incidents since 2008.

The multiple layers of issues that have come to the forefront are the lack of documentation of these man camps. Emergency services often can’t find their locations and since they are located in isolated and desolate areas, there often are no cell phone services available. There are two types of man camps: documented and undocumented. Undocumented camps are often 50-100 trailers that a rancher or farmer has set up on his land to rent out and make money. These undocumented camps present a special problem for emergency services and organizations since they don’t exist on a map or have addresses.

The other issue involved with the man camps in Forth Berthold is lack of monitoring and registration of sex offenders whether they are in the documented or undocumented man camps that pose a serious threat to the safety of women and children in the area.

In Montana, the Bakken Oil Boom has impacted the largest reservation, Fort Peck, and residing counties have experienced both a population and crime explosion.

The majority of employees from the oil rigs are not from Fort Peck Tribes or Roosevelt County or even from Montana. There have been documented increases in drug use and human trafficking, theft, alcohol related incidents and assaults within the last year. Law enforcement response, tribal DV/SA services, and medical response to these crimes have tripled in the last year.

Within Northeastern Montana there are currently three man camps with several more only seventy miles away in the neighboring state of North Dakota. Many Tribal advocates have responded to victims that have been trafficked at the man camps often preying on young native women. Groups of men from the man camps use free access to drugs and alcohol as a method of coercion for young native women to “get in the car” and go party. This has resulted in 11 young native women ranging from the ages of 16-21 years of age reporting rape, gang rape and other sex acts; the majority of these victims are afraid to report due to fear and shame.

The Fort Peck Tribes SORNA program reports that one year ago there were forty- eight registered sex offenders and now there are over six hundred registered sex offenders. The struggle has been that non-native sex offenders to do not recognize the tribal jurisdiction and feel they “do not” have to report to the tribal SORNA program. However, the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies have assisted in gaining registration of known sex offenders on the tribal registry.

Another aspect of to the domestic human trafficking issues in the U.S. and Tribal Nations is the U.S. Adoption Industry. In an article in Indian Country Today titled: Trafficking of Native Children: The Seamy Underbelly of U.S. Adoption Industry brings to light the practice of selling Indian infants and children to the highest bidder which brings in revenue for lawyers from $25,000-$100,000 per child. In this article, it is stated that in 2012, 50 Native children were adopted out from North Dakota to South Carolina. These adoptions are done without the Tribes knowledge or consent or that of the biological fathers.

To really gain insight to domestic human trafficking in the U.S., one must take examine the many sectors in which this is facilitated, whether it be extractive industries, pimps, gangs, cartels, family members or lawyers working in an adoption industry. Many different avenues must be examined and taken into account to fully understand what leads to this epidemic of human trafficking that not only impacts Tribal Nations and Alaska Villages but all citizens of this country.

I am a Program Specialist with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. Our role as an organization is to serve as a National Indian Resource Center that provides technical assistance/training, resource development, policy development, research activity and public awareness that also seeks to enhance Native American and Alaska Native tribes, Native Hawaiians, Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to violence against Native women.

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

by Lillian Holman, 3Generations Intern

In 3Generation’s documentary Tricked about human trafficking within the United States, possibly one of the most disturbing moments is not in fact one of the horrifying accounts provided by the victims, but instead when the pimp Robert Money calmly tells the camera that “All women is either a prostitute or a whore. The definition of a prostitute is a woman that sells her pussy for money. A whore f***s for free.” In three sentences, he defines half the human population by their sexuality. There are no exceptions in his perverse logic and he says all women, not all people. Men can feel free to live on not being “whores,” but sexually active women are stuck with that label.

This quote had me thinking about issues that seem to be everywhere I turn recently, whether it be my Facebook newsfeed, the conversations on my college campus, or that slightly nervous feeling I get walking the streets by myself. Because people like Money exist, my identity as a woman has become a hindrance rather than something wonderful to be celebrated. It means that I can show too much at a party. It means that a person can look at me on the street and assume I cannot fight back. It means that my sexuality can define me rather than be relegated to the privacy of my bedroom. Frankly, these are all things I would rather not be thinking about. I would rather go to a party and feel like I look fabulous regardless of what I’m wearing, whether it be “too much” or “too little” in the eyes of someone else. I want to be able to go on adventures in my city and not feel like I need the buddy system in order to survive. I want the conversation about sex to begin and end with my partner and only my partner. I want to live my life as a grown woman and not constantly think about the fact that I’m a woman. Sadly this is not the world we live in, but it should be.

After the tragic shooting at UCSB last month, the two hashtags “#NOTALLMEN” and “#YESALLWOMEN” started making the rounds. One was defensive. One called for solidarity. They spurred lots of opinion pieces and discussion. What made me sad however, were the responses surrounding “#NOTALLMEN.” There was anger that men would dare to defend themselves against what they saw as attacks against their gender and suddenly it was one giant battle of the sexes rather than a united front against a crime of hate. These men were angry with women blaming them rather than angry with Elliot Rodger. The women were blaming all men rather than Elliot Rodger. What should have happened was that all people should have been angry at Elliot Rodger and his antiquated ideas. This is why I loved the men who used the hashtag “#YESALLWOMEN.” They almost uniformly wanted to understand more what it means to be a woman in a still sexist world and wanted to stand with women. They made this issue an “#ALLPEOPLE” issue as it should be.

This brings me to the issues that permeate college campuses right now. Sexual assault has come to the forefront as lawsuits come out left and right against colleges and college fraternities. A list of 55 colleges are being investigated by the federal government under Title IX because of their mishandling of sexual assault cases. At Stanford, a movement is underway called “#STANDWITHLEAH” because Leah’s rapist is being allowed to graduate even after being charged with raping her. At Wesleyan University, two all male fraternities are being sued for rapes that allegedly occurred on their premises. This has become an issue of gender because the victims that have come out in the lawsuits are predominately female and the perpetrators are predominately male. It is important to remember however, that anybody can be assaulted, regardless of gender, and anybody can be a perpetrator, regardless of gender. It is a point that has been sadly forgotten in the big debates and one that would help these lawsuits rather than harm them. Once again, this should be about people committing crimes against people, rather than about men committing crimes against women. At Wesleyan University one of the proposed solutions is forcing the all male fraternities to go coed with the logic being that women having a voice and a presence in these spaces would make other women feel safer. I like this solution because it supports the idea that everyone’s voice should be heard. Rather than living off of assumptions, experiences can be shared. Just like the men who scanned the “#YESALLWOMEN” tweets, the men in these organizations can learn about a different life experiences, women can experience firsthand that not all men are like these monsters, and this ridiculous divide can disappear. Perhaps then if one of their siblings gets raped, the anger can be directed exclusively at the perpetrator and justice can actually be served along the lines of a crime rather than a political issue.

It has taken tragedies to get these issues to be so prominent, but amazing people of all genders, many of whom I’m lucky enough to be peers with, have taken this as an opportunity to talk and stand up for what they believe in.  Hopefully what will result from all of these people standing up is a culture that views and condemns these “#FEWPEOPLE” as the monsters they are.

 

Further reading/watching:

 

“Yes, All Men”

by Charles Blow for The Slate

http://www.thestate.com/2014/06/04/3487863/blow-yes-all-men.html

 

“Violence against women-it’s a men’s issue”

by Jackson Katz for TEDxFiDiWomen

http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue

 

“Stanford sexual assault victim demands tougher sanctions for offenders”

by Katy Murphy for The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/stanford-sexual-assault-victim-demands-tougher-sanctions-for-offenders/2014/06/07/43580f2c-ee7d-11e3-b84b-3393a45b80f1_story.html

 

“Wesleyan Considers Coed Fraternities”

by Kathleen Megan for The Courant

http://articles.courant.com/2014-06-08/news/hc-wesleyan-fraternities-coed-20140530_1_greek-life-wesleyan-university-sexual-assault
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