Hungarian American Coalition Holds its Seventh Annual Human Rights Workshop in California

The Seventh Annual Human Rights Workshop was held on May 30 through June 1, 1996 at the International House, University of California, Berkeley, with a large number of participants.

The Workshop was organized by the Hungarian American Coalition, the Hungarian Communion of Friends, and the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation. Co-sponsors included the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council, the National Committee for Hungarians in Slovakia, and the San Francisco Area Hungarian American Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, May 30, the Workshop held a Public Forum on the topic of “Human Rights and Minority Rights in a World of Change and Conflict.” Speakers included Eric Stover, Director, Human Rights Program, Townsend Center for the Humanities, U.C. Berkeley, who spoke about accountability and criminal justice for Balkan war crimes; and Beverly Smrha, Executive, Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, who reported on Project Harvest Hope, an assistance project designed by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland to assist a Hungarian village in Romania. Finally, Laszlo Hamos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF), provided an overview of “The Special Concerns of Hungarian Communities in East Central Europe,” including Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine.

The two-day Workshop also featured lectures and discussions of 20th Century Hungarian history, with a focus on Hungarian minorities, planning strategies, and effective methods of communications with the general public, media, and Washington decision-makers. A team from HHRF, the New York-based non-profit human rights organization, presented a simulation of a Congressional Finance Committee hearing which had been scheduled for June 4th in Washington, D.C. Workshop participants acted as witnesses and members of Congress, and they engaged in lively debate on the issue of granting permanent and unconditional MNF to Romania.

Lecturers included Edith Lauer, who served as Moderator from the Hungarian American Coalition; Andrew Ludanyi of Ohio Northern University from the Hungarian Communion of Friends; Laszlo Hamos from the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation; attorneys Frank Koszorus Jr. and Geza Kadar, Jr., of the Hungarian American Coalition; Daniel Odescalchi of Strategic Advantage International; and Robert H. Kelly of Stanford University.

Krisztina Ujvagi, Agnes Varga and Tamas Bollyky, recent recipients of The White House Internship Program by Ameritech, attended the Workshop and provided organizational assistance.

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