Human Rights advocacy at USN: reflections on my internship at Scholars at Risk

Liliana Marcela Guzman Aricapa i studying master in human rights
During the Artivism Day Campaign, November 2023.
Outside the Norwegian Pariliament at the European Advocacy Days December 2023
Outside the Norwegian Parliament, Artivism Camping Display, November.
Liliana Marcela Guzman Aricapa i studying master in human rights
Liliana during the 10th year conference Together for Peace in Colombia at the Red Cross Conference center in Oslo.

Liliana, a student in the master's program Human Rights and Multiculturalism shares her experience and the meaning of doing the internship at Scholars at Risk

Text by: Liliana Guzman, Human Rights and Multiculturalism student, 2023.

Why master in human rights?

The main reason why I decided to take a Master's degree on Human Rights and Multiculturalism was to learn about Human Rights (HR) and its real implications and effects in society.  In the first semester of the program, we studied several theories and practical cases addressing the challenges and the role of HR today; however, I understand that a human rights specialist must face the real world and its challenges, as theories without practice may limit our possibilities of contributing to social justice. That is why holding an internship at an organization like Scholar at Risk (SAR) become deeply relevant to me. SAR is an international network based in NY that advocates for Human Rights and supports those who, by defending academic freedom, suffer the most unjust situations.


Advocating for scholars who are unfairly detained

Our SAR/USN internship aimed at advocating for scholars who are unfairly detained. We were committed to raised awareness and keep the case on the public view, ultimately avoiding that detained scholars are forgotten or invisibilized. The advocacy we developed at the internship focused on giving such scholars hope and making them feel that they are still important and are not forgotten. These aspects are crucial to keep the human spirit strong and able to resist under circumstances that are unbearable.  For me, this mission has been crucial and inspiring, it really gives meaning to the word human in Human Rights, keeping in mind that humanization can never be forgotten in advocacy work. In the internship, our actions were pointed to the benefit of a real person, to whom our advocacy could really make a difference.

I started the internship full of ideas and passion. I wanted to do so much for professor G.N Saibaba's crucial case and SAR provided me the opportunity to align my knowledge of human rights with creativity and teamwork. With a strong motivation from our professors and my peers, we were inspired and managed to produce a vibrant advocacy campaign that was able to louder our voices in favor of professor G.N Saibaba. We designed and produced a podcast named Knowledge Unchained Advocacy Unbound, where topics such as academic freedom and the Professor Saibaba unfair situation were discussed in depth. Also, and taking advantage of the multicultural component of our Master's program, we produced a beautiful and inspiring multilingual campaign that we ended up sharing with other institutions, like SAR at MCI Vienna.

Campaining and music production

From European Advocacy Days December 2023

Our multilingual campaign was rooted on the concept of artivism.

The entire project was based on the connections between human rights violations faced by Professor G.N Saibaba and his own poetry. His book ‘Why do you fear my way so much’ was our main source of inspiration, we have used recitals at events at USN and in Oslo and we have created Professor G.N Saibaba Poems Collection, a multilingual online collection of his poems in several languages, like Urdu, Portuguese, Norwegian, Georgian, Swahili, German, Chinese among others. We have engaged with students and professors from USN’s Music Program and they composed and produced a beautiful song entitled Free Shaibaba:

This internship has got me closer to the praxis of HR through advocacy work. It made me realize the limits and opportunities we have while working for social justice. I understand now how creativity, teamwork, and inspiration may impact our work as human rights defenders. This experience has been of great value to both my professional and personal life. I am very grateful to SAR internship for allowing me to explore my knowledge of human rights and, at the same time, to overcome challenges by proposing new passionate advocacy ideas using a bit of Latin American creativity.