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International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC)

Spring 2011 Students

Jamie Hoffman

Jamie Hoffman

Jamie Hoffman, 3L, believes that many victims of genocide begin the healing process by seeking justice.

Hoffman was a volunteer legal advocate for Asylum Access Tanzania in the summer of 2010, where she helped start the first urban refugee legal aid organization in Dar es Salaam.

"Working with refugees has given me a unique perspective on war crimes and genocide. Although all these people have had such varied experiences, the need for justice has been a recurrent theme throughout and one that I have been personally committed to seeing realized."

In addition, Hoffman has studied international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law at the American University of Cairo. She has also worked with asylum seekers in Los Angeles helping them to avoid deportation to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened.

"Working with refugees has given me a unique perspective on war crimes and genocide. Although all these people have had such varied experiences, the need for justice has been a recurrent theme throughout and one that I have been personally committed to seeing realized."

Hoffman earned her bachelors degree in history from Pomona College and studied at American University in Cairo.

Trevar Kolodny

Trevar Kolodny

Trevar Kolodny, 3L, has long been attracted to international affairs, and thrives on cross-cultural exchange. He lived in England for three years while earning his undergraduate degree at Cambridge University, and recently spent time in India.

"While staying with my friend's family in Calcutta, I was deeply affected when we saw the slums in which so many people live. My limited exposure to the world at large has made me fascinated by international human rights law, not only as a possible response to some of the worst instances of human suffering, but for its capacity to keep my eyes open to the wide variety of human experience."

My limited exposure to the world at large has made me fascinated by international human rights law, not only as a possible response to some of the worst instances of human suffering, but for its capacity to keep my eyes open to the wide variety of human experience."

In 2007, Kolodny traveled to Israel with the Taglit-Birthright Program, which allows young Diaspora Jews to travel through Israel with Israeli soldiers.

"One of the soldiers spoke to me about the international law of war, and gave personal examples of how difficult many of those rules are to obey in practice. It would be fair to say that my favorite part of the trip was getting to know the Israeli soldiers, and I am still in touch with two of them."

Last semester, Kolodny worked as a full-time extern for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. "I gained exposure to how legal decisions are made and what judges are looking for in people who work for them, and I am thrilled to bring that knowledge to a clinical position with an international tribunal."

Aysha Pamukcu

Aysha Pamukcu

Aysha Pamukcu, 3L, became involved in international human rights issues after pursuing several social justice projects both domestic and international. "Human rights interests me professionally, academically and personally. As a child of immigrants, I have strong cross-cultural skills and experience communicating with diverse individuals."

Pamukcu worked as a Center for Progressive Leadership Fellow at the Wallace Global Fund. In the Women's Empowerment Division, she worked on the issue of female circumcision, which included working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to research a situation analysis report and to attend the United Nations Global Consultation on Female Genital Mutilation.

At USC Law, Pamukcu wrote research papers that include "Drag on the Dock: Passing and Performance in Nineteenth Century Anti-Sodomy Trials," and "Women's Rights as Human Rights: The UN's Campaign to Stop Female Genital Mutilation." Through a fellowship with the Center for Law, History and Culture, she is currently working on a research project looking into the evolution and discriminatory application of anti-sodomy laws in the United States. She has also served on the boards of PILF, WLA, and BLSA; volunteered for LAAB and Street Law; externed at Bet Tzedek to help low-income seniors; and worked as a research assistant for Professor Ariela Gross to examine American conservative narratives about race.

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in political science and English from Stanford University, Pamukcu worked as a Center for Progressive Leadership Fellow at the Wallace Global Fund. In the Women's Empowerment Division, she worked on the issue of female circumcision, which included working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to research a situation analysis report and to attend the United Nations Global Consultation on Female Genital Mutilation.

"Most of my work experience is in social justice. My previous two summer jobs were at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley and the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, where I pursued public service through the nonprofit and government sectors. I also have extensive experience serving victims of domestic violence through organizations such as Break the Cycle and Pro Bono Project, which taught me the skills to compassionately serve clients who have experienced trauma and emotional distress."

Seepan Parseghian

Seepan Parseghian

The descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Seepan Parseghian, 3L, understood from an early age the meaning and impact of genocide. "Throughout my life, I have advocated for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and prevention of future crimes against humanity." He has done so by protesting at the Turkish consulate on April 24, writing newspaper op-eds on human rights issues, and organizing events for the student body in college.

"Throughout my life, I have advocated for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and prevention of future crimes against humanity."

While at Stanford University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in political science, Parseghian led a youth-run charity that raised funds to purchase educational materials for schools in border villages across the former USSR. He led a team to the villages to assess the needs of the schools and ensure that the supplies reached them.

He later returned to the Caucasus with $25,000 in research grants, a tape recorder, and the curiosity to investigate nationalism, which he had learned was a source of conflict and mass atrocities from Bosnia to Rwanda. In addition to archival research and interviews with policymakers, generals, scholars, refugees, and NGO activists, he created a peace education class for the children of conflict refugees and internally displaced persons "to help break the deleterious cycle of ethnic hatred from generation to generation."

Shannon Raj

Shannon Raj

Shannon Raj, 3L, first became interested in genocide and international criminal law as an undergraduate working with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. As an intern under the US Ambassador for Management Reform, she regularly observed Security Council meetings, including sessions on the situation in Darfur.

"The stalling, bureaucratic nature of the Security Council discussions did not comport with the urgency of the humanitarian crisis I saw in that summer's headlines, and as the days dragged on. I became less and less optimistic that meaningful action would be taken by UN diplomats to fulfill the post-Holocaust promise of 'never again.'"

For the past several years, Raj has traveled to South Africa to work with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation ("the IJR") and South Africa's Legal Resources Centre in Durban.

She wrote her thesis on the United Nations' record of response on genocide since the 1948 Genocide Convention, and became fascinated with the structure of international criminal tribunals, the impact of the procedural designs, and the reconciliatory function of the judiciary for post-conflict communities.

For the past several years, Raj has traveled to South Africa to work with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation ("the IJR") and South Africa's Legal Resources Centre in Durban.

"I worked for an incredible lawyer on a class action on behalf of Durban's poorest workers, traders in a traditional market in the city center that Durban wanted to demolish ahead of the World Cup and its corresponding tourist influx. It was an invaluable opportunity for me to combine working on a meaningful human rights issue in another country's legal system with learning to work directly with clients at a poverty level it pains me to remember. Further, to take part in South Africa's legal system, which involves so many undercurrent issues of post-conflict tension and reconciliation, was an experience I will never forget."

Raj earned her undergraduate degree in political science and economics from UCLA.

Brian Rifkin

Brian Rifkin

Brian Rifkin, 3L, believes that the International Human Rights Clinic will deepen his understanding of social justice issues and areas of law he plans to focus on in his career. "This clinic perfectly matches my interests, and requires work I am yearning to do. I am interested broadly in the possibilities for positive social change presented by international human rights law."

"This clinic... requires work I am yearning to do. I am interested broadly in the possibilities for positive social change presented by international human rights law."

- Brian Rifkin, 3L

Topics of genocide and state-sponsored mass violence have been present in his life since an early age. Rifkin grew up hearing stories of the Holocaust and was continually reminded that as a Jewish person he had a special responsibility not to ignore similar crimes committed in his time. "From family, friends, and teachers I grew up hearing stories of the Holocaust and was instructed often of my special responsibility, as a Jew and as someone lucky enough to live in a place of relatively limited racial, ethnic and religious violence, not to ignore, and thereby allow, similar crimes committed in my time. This clinic gives me an opportunity to do work in which I strongly believe."

Rifkin majored in international relations with a focus in global security. He has studied international and intra-state conflict resolution, particularly justice for victims of human rights abuses. "One class I particularly enjoyed was international conflict resolution. I became interested in the crisis in Darfur, attending talks on campus and participating in a Washington D.C. march to encourage federal officials to pursue justice in the region." Before entering law school, Rifkin spent a month in immersion language courses in Nice, and then worked at Latham & Watkin's Paris office as a paralegal.

Rifkin earned his undergraduate degree in international relations from Brown University.

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