Mens et Manus in Prison
ESG Seminar (SP274):

Political Prisoners:
Personalities, Principles, & Politics

Synthesis Exercises (Week 10)

In groups of 2-3 people:

Bearing in mind the topics and cases we have studied so far, build a framework that can be used to compare the following: (1) How are civil and political rights defined in various countries and/or political systems? What variables would you include in a comparative framework? (2) How can individual "political prisoner" cases be compared? Suppose we have to rank a number of cases according to how "serious" they are, what variables should we consider? (20 MINUTES)

Discuss as a group. (15 MINUTES)

In pairs:

Compare two specific cases using the framework you built above. If possible you should each use the case you are examining in your final project. If you don't know enough about that case yet, please use one of the cases we studied together in class. (20 MINUTES)

Discuss as a group. (15 MINUTES)

Here's a case involving a hypothetical political prisoner:

Transylvania is a small, ethnically divided country. The Trans are the majority group and control the political system, while the Syls, 30% of the population, are largely poor and have less access to education and power. In the western part of the country, where many Syls live, there is a separatist movement that (in its own words) "uses violence only because the government uses violence against innocent people." Rem, a Syl, is a sophomore on scholarship at Massachusetts State College (MSC). Rem goes home for the summer but does not return in the fall: in late August, the Transylvanian government announces that it has captured 250 Syl terrorists — Rem's name is on the list.

In four groups:

  • Family: Formulate a detailed plan to obtain Rem's release (outline steps you intend to take and resources you'll need);
  • Amnesty International: Draft a petition that concerned people can send to the Transylvanian government;
  • Mass Media: Write an outline of a front-page article on the subject (you may list questions you want answered);
  • Friends at MSC: Plan an event to raise awareness about Rem's case and to help in any way you can.

Discuss as a group. (20 MINUTES)

Last modified on Monday, April 22, 2002 at 1:17:23 PM EDT