The Mid-Maine Global Forum contributes to the local community’s understanding of issues of global significance by organizing and disseminating informed public presentations and discussion. To become a member or be put on our mailing list, email Global Forum
The Global Forum board is planning a full slate of programs for this fall and information will be posted as details are arranged.
All of these programs will be on Zoom, and the programs will be recorded so you can watch them at any time. This reflects the reality of what we face as a society. It does mean that we can find speakers from farther away.
The First Zoom Program this fall!!
Friday, September 25
2020 Oak Human Rights Fellow: Nasim Lomani
Nasim Lomani is a human rights defender and migrants’ rights activist working both in the field and at the political level in Greece and the greater EU for over a decade.
Lomani arrived in Greece nearly two decades ago as a 16-year-old from Afghanistan. Upon arrival, he was arrested and charged with illegal crossing of the Greek border, ultimately serving a two-year prison sentence. During the process of appealing to the court for having his rights as a refugee abused and violated, he learned about the bureaucratic difficulties that all migrants face while on the move to Europe. He joined a number of solidarity groups, such as the Network for Social Support to Immigrants and Refugees and the Migrants’ Social Center in Athens, where he coordinated free language classes and the Athens Anti-racist Festival. He also engaged in solidarity work that included lawyers, human rights defenders, as well as refugees and migrants.
Lomani, together with other solidarians, founded and served as one of the key organizers of City Plaza – Refugees Accommodation Solidarity Space in Athens, where he organized daily life for migrants, managed media communication, coordinated international volunteers, and served as the public representative to researchers, students, and academics.
City Plaza, once one of the largest solidarity migrant accommodations in Athens, was a repurposed abandoned hotel in central Athens that offered people on the move (400 at a time, 3,000 in total and for almost three and half years) the right to live in dignity in the urban space with access to social, economic, and political rights. Lomani lived inside the now-suspended City Plaza as long as it was open, organizing to create international solidarity.
Lomani faces increasing risk, as migration solidarity work and defending human rights in Greece, and Europe at large has been criminalized in recent years. Helping refugees and criticizing human rights violations by authorities is now a major offense by both national and European law. In Greece, this has led to large-scale evictions of refugees and asylum seekers from housing sites and increased arrests and prosecutions of activists.
Lomani has been active in the human rights field since he was a child. The Oak Fellowship will offer some much-needed respite. As the 2020 Oak Fellow, he will teach students at Colby about the Balkan Route, solidarity organizing, and anti-racist politics.
Here’s what he has to say about his activities:
“My name Nasim Lomani and I am an activist on the field of migration, borders and human rights. I have migration background by myself because I am an Afghan, resident in Greece. I work since 2005 with transit refugees coming from different countries of Asia, Middle East and Africa who are trying to reach western and central Europe. Since 2015 I have been very much involved with the refugees movement during the long summer of migration or so called by media or officials, “refugee crisis”. My activist work as part of the collectives I am participating, in Greece and in Europe is always based on the principles of solidarity with people on move, resistance against EU’s anti-migration policies and EU’s militarized fortressed borders, as well as against detention and deportation of asylum seekers back to the war zones. As part of the social movement apart from criticizing the EU’s migration policies, we were/are creating also alternative projects together with the people on the move. Projects like alternative houses, alternative schools etc. This fall I am honored to be the Oak’s Human Rights fellow and I am here to bring all those experiences from the front line of the borders struggles to the Colby’s campus and to the class rooms and to make the connections.”
To register, email the Forum at:
Summer Dinner Program Now Summer 2021
The Linda Cotter Lecture
late July or early August: details will be posted as soon as plans are finalized.
The speaker: Ambassador Dennis Ross
Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Prior to returning to the Institute in 2011, he served two years as special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.
A scholar and diplomat with more than two decades of experience in Soviet and Middle East policy, Ambassador Ross worked closely with Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright. Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In that capacity, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition.
During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Ambassador Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department’s highest award.
A 1970 graduate of UCLA, Ambassador Ross wrote his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decisionmaking, and from 1984 to 1986 served as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet International Behavior. He received UCLA’s highest medal and has been named UCLA alumnus of the year. He has also received honorary doctorates from Brandeis, Amherst, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Syracuse University. Ambassador Ross was named a 2016-2017 senior fellow by Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
Ambassador Ross has published extensively on the former Soviet Union, arms control, and the greater Middle East, contributing numerous chapters to anthologies. In the 1970s and 1980s, his articles appeared in World Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Orbis, International Security, Survival, and Journal of Strategic Studies. Since leaving government at the end of 2011, he has authored many op-eds in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other papers and magazines. In addition, he writes monthly columns for US News and World Report, and the New York Daily News. In addition, he writes monthly columns for the Middle Eastern newspaper Asharq al-awsat.
Ross is the author of several influential books on the peace process, the Middle East, and international relations. His most recent book, co-written with his Washington Institute colleague David Makovsky, is Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (PublicAffairs, September 2019). The book illustrates “profiles in courage” of four Israeli leaders who faced existential questions about the future of Israel: David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon. Ross and Makovsky provide a reminder of the courageous decisions taken by these leaders in the past and calls for yet another courageous decision in the present to preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. Previously, Ross authored Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, October 2015). That book was awarded the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for history. He also co-authored Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking, June 2009) with Mr. Makovsky. An earlier study, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), offers comprehensive analytical and personal insight into the Middle East peace process. The New York Times praised his 2007 publication, Statecraft, And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), as “important and illuminating.”