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Norwegian Human Rights Leader Comes to Rugby

July 12, 2013
Pierce County Tribune

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 22 in the Rugby Eagles Club, Prairie Talks will host Bjrn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a human rights organization based in Oslo. Engesland will talk about Norway's role in promoting human rights and democracy around the world. The Rugby area Sons of Norway lodge will serve treats and coffee following the event.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was founded in 1977. A non-governmental, non-profit organization, the committee bases its activities on the Helsinki Declaration that was signed by more than 35 European and North American states at the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, later OSCE) in 1975. The Declaration states that respect for human rights is a fundamental factor in the development of peace and understanding between states. Engesland started working in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in 1995, and became Secretary General in 1996.

In the last few years the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's international activities have focused especially on the emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The committee works irrespectively of states' ideology and political positions, and concentrates on addressing breaches of the Helsinki Declaration, OSCE documents, and other international human rights treaties. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is politically independent.

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Previous Prairie Talks events have featured Alan Bjerga, agricultural and food security journalist, author, and 2010 president of the National Press Club; Roxana Saberi, journalist, author, speaker, and human rights advocate; and actress Kim Schultz and musician Amikaeyla Gaston, who performed Schultz's new play, "No Place Called Home". The series was started to connect people in north-central North Dakota with people from around the world. Kristi Rendahl, the founder of the series, was born and raised in Benson County and is a graduate of Rugby High School. Prairie Talks has an advisory council comprised of residents of the Rugby area.

Prairie Talks events are intended to engage, challenge, and inspire conversation. Talks are free of charge, but donations are welcomed to help defray expenses. This event is co-sponsored by Bismarck State College's Embracing Diversity Team and, in part, by the North Dakota Humanities Council

Additional information can be found at

- Submitted by Kristi Rendahl



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