The HRDI and Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (El Salvador) pay homage to Monseñor Romero

Photo of Monseñor Romero tribute mural in El Salvador International Airport“If they kill me, I will be reborn in the Salvadoran people.”
– Monseñor Romero

Photo of Monseñor Romero tribute mural in El Salvador International Airport
Credit: T-Kay Sangwand

Today, March 24, 2011, marks the 31st anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Romero, originally conservative in his outlook, developed a strong human rights conscience as he witnessed the government’s violent and repressive actions against the Salvadoran people as well as the assassinations of his fellow priests who stood in solidarity with them. Romero, too, became an outspoken critic of the government and urged members of the army to follow God’s higher orders and cease their brutal violence against the people. On the orders of the Salvadoran Army, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980 while giving Mass. Soon thereafter, El Salvador launched into a civil war that lasted twelve years. Thirty-one years after his death, the memory and legacy of Monseñor Romero and his commitment to social justice remains strong.

Tejiendo la Memoria Histórica
In honor of this 31st anniversary, the HRDI has posted three short radio programs on Monseñor Romero, produced by our partner, the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (MUPI, Museum of the Word and Image) in El Salvador. MUPI produces a weekly program “Tejiendo la Memoria” (Weaving Memory) that explores an aspect of Salvadoran social, political, or cultural history using the museum’s extensive archival holdings as the basis of each program. Today we are excited to debut three programs that have previously only been heard on the radio waves of El Salvador.

Links to Audio (Note: All audio is in Spanish.)
Monseñor Romero: La Voz de los Sin Voz
(Monseñor Romero: Voice of the Voiceless)
Monseñor Romero Vive! (Monseñor Romero Lives!)
Monseñor Romero y la Amistad (Monseñor Romero’s Friendship)

Each program incorporates audio from Monseñor Romero’s sermons, including material from the day of his assassination. The programs, although a short 5-7 minutes, contain rich insight into the life and work of Romero as told through interviews with his close friends and fellow clergy. “Monseñor Romero y la Amistad” contains an interview with Romero’s close friend Mrs. Santos Delmi Campos who tells us that just a few months before Romero’s death, he entrusted a box of 400 photos of his life to her for safekeeping. Thirty years later, Mrs. Campos donated the photos to MUPI, which formed the basis of the exhibit “Monseñor Vive!

In El Salvador, MUPI conducts the invaluable work of preserving the tangible remains of historical memory and teaching the country’s history to new generations through its exhibits and active outreach to students and youth. The HRDI is proud to aid in MUPI’s educational mission by making its materials available online for the Salvadoran diaspora and beyond.

For more information
Monseñor Romero’s collection of photos at MUPI
El Faro
‘s interview with Alvaro Saravia, a Salvadoran Army Officer, involved in the assassination of Monseñor Romero

The H(uman)R(ights)DI Guide to SXSW

It’s that time of year when the South by Southwest Festival consumes Austin with a plethora of activity around new media/technology, music, and film. There’s something for everyone, including archivists and activists. Here are some highlights to look out for. We’ll be updating this as SXSW progresses, so check back often! (Last updated: Tuesday, March 15)

Also, Colorlines dropped the HRDI a mention in their guide to SXSW! See their list for more recommendations.

Tuesday, March 15
Interactive

Film

  • 6:00pm: Fambul Tok, the Book (truth and reconciliation in Sierra Leone) book signing at Resistencia Books (1801 S. 1st St.)

Music

  • 8:00pm: Benefit: Mama Said Knock You Out: A Night of Women in Hip Hop at the Historic Victory Grill (1104 E. 11th St.)
    Lineup includes: Las Krudas (queer feminist hip hop from Cuba), Invincible (Detroit), hosted by Tiger Lily (Riders Against the Storm), dj t-kay (dublab / KOOP 91.7 fm). Funds raised will train 20 women of color to become DONA-certified Birth Companions (Doulas).  The four-day training will be made available free of charge to participants in exchange for a commitment to make their services as birth companions available at no cost to other poor women of color in our community.  The Birth Companion Project is one piece of MOCR’s broader campaign to increase access to birthing options for poor women of color in the greater Austin area.
  • 11:00pm: Bituaya at Speakeasy (412 Congress Ave. #D)
    “Bituaya is a result of the socio-political and cultural merges experienced by Venezuela today. All the rhythms of the Afrocaribbean come together to embody the urbanity of Caracan hip-hop, mixed with electronica elements…Having a nexus with Revolutionary Latin America, the world-wide Hip-Hop phenomena, and Venezuela’s own Afro-caribbean influences, Bituaya’s music is a completely unique experience.”

Wednesday, March 16
Film

  • 12:00pm: Fambul Tok at State Theatre (719 Congress Ave.)
    “Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice of fambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level — succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals — and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.”

Music

Thursday, March 17
Film

  • 12:00pm: Incendiary: The Willingham Case at Rollins Theatre (701 W. Riverside Dr.)
    “In 1991, Cameron Todd Willingham’s three daughters died in a Corsicana, Texas house fire. Tried and convicted for their arson murders, Willingham was executed in February 2004 despite overwhelming expert criticism of the prosecution’s arson evidence. Today, Willingham’s name has become a call for reform in the field of forensics and a rallying cry for the anti-death penalty movement; yet he remains an indisputable “monster” in the eyes of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who ignored the science that could have saved Willingham’s life. Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama, INCENDIARY documents the haunted legacy of a prosecution built on ‘folklore.'”
  • 5:00pm: Fambul Tok at Alamo Drafthouse (1120 S. Lamar Blvd.)
    “Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice of fambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level — succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals — and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.”
  • 6:15pm: Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour at State Theater (719 Congress Ave.)
    ““WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR” is a concert film that follows the infamous feminist electronic band on their international farewell tour. Covering 20 live performances, the film celebrates Le Tigre’s infectious political dance music while examining the sexism and homophobia of the contemporary pop machine.”
  • 7:00pm: END: CIV at MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop)
    END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations.”

Music

  • 1:00-5:00pm: The People’s Party / Fiesta Popular at MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop)
    Two day festival featuring hip hop and music that speaks of resistance. Lineup includes: Rebel Diaz, Las Krudas, Riders Against the Storm, One Be Lo, Gabi, The Cipher, and more.

Friday, March 18
Film

  • 7:00pm: END: CIV at Resistencia Books (1801 S. 1st St.)
    END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations.”

Music

  • 1:00-6:00pm: Books and Bands at MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop)
    Lineup includes Matt Bauer, Dana Falconberry, Redding Hunter, and more. RSVP on Facebook.

Saturday, March 19
Film

  • 2:30pm: Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour at Vimeo Theater (501 E. 4th St.)
    ““WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR” is a concert film that follows the infamous feminist electronic band on their international farewell tour. Covering 20 live performances, the film celebrates Le Tigre’s infectious political dance music while examining the sexism and homophobia of the contemporary pop machine.”
  • 5:30pm: Incendiary: The Willingham Case at Rollins Theatre (701 W. Riverside Dr.)
    “In 1991, Cameron Todd Willingham’s three daughters died in a Corsicana, Texas house fire. Tried and convicted for their arson murders, Willingham was executed in February 2004 despite overwhelming expert criticism of the prosecution’s arson evidence. Today, Willingham’s name has become a call for reform in the field of forensics and a rallying cry for the anti-death penalty movement; yet he remains an indisputable “monster” in the eyes of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who ignored the science that could have saved Willingham’s life. Equal parts murder mystery, forensic investigation and political drama, INCENDIARY documents the haunted legacy of a prosecution built on ‘folklore.'”

Music

  • 12:00am: Bituaya at Copa (217 Congress Ave.)
    “Bituaya is a result of the socio-political and cultural merges experienced by Venezuela today. All the rhythms of the Afrocaribbean come together to embody the urbanity of Caracan hip-hop, mixed with electronica elements…Having a nexus with Revolutionary Latin America, the world-wide Hip-Hop phenomena, and Venezuela’s own Afro-caribbean influences, Bituaya’s music is a completely unique experience.”

Sunday, March 20
Music

  • 12:00-4:00pm: Benefit: Fire for the People at Workers Defense Project (5604 Manor Rd.)
    Line up includes Rebel Diaz, YC the Cynic, C Rays Walz, The Reminders, Scheme, and more. Funds raised will go towards Workers Defense Project programming which helps win back wages, pushes for better safety conditions for workers, and creates systemic change that empowers the whole community.

Past

Friday, March 11
Interactive

Saturday, March 12
Interactive

Sunday, March 13
Interactive

Film

  • 6:00pm: Party to launch funding for ACT UP! (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power) documentary with directors Scott Robbe, Ellen Spiro and Executive Producer Gus Van Sant

Monday, March 14
Interactive

Film

  • 1:15pm: Fambul Tok at Alamo Ritz (320 E. 6th St.)
    “Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice of fambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level — succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals — and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.”

Preserving the Video Archive of the Free Burma Rangers

FBR Videographer, Monkey (From Prayer for Peace)FBR Videographer, Monkey (From Prayer for Peace)

By: Mark Cooper

HRDI’s launch of the Free Burma Rangers Collection introduces the small, public face of a much larger partnership between the HRDI and the Free Burma Rangers (FBR). The twelve short videos on the site, ranging from five to ten minutes with two half-hour documentaries, total less than two hours of content. But this small selection represents the HRDI’s work over the past two years to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of the over 1,000 hours (and growing) of video documentation created by FBR during the past decade of their operations in Burma.

The partnership between the HRDI and FBR began in 2009 with the goal of digitally preserving FBR’s archival records and documentation, in particular their video materials. FBR trains, equips and supports humanitarian relief teams whose members come from many of the diverse ethnic groups within Burma. Since 1997, over 130 teams have conducted 400 relief missions into areas under attack by the Burma Army, providing aid to internally displaced peoples (IDPs) who have been driven out of their villages by the Burma Army.

Along with medical aid, clothing and educational supplies, each FBR team carries a small, handheld video camera for the purpose of recording the team’s operations, the living conditions of the IDPs, and evidence of human rights violations committed by the Burma Army. With so many teams operating concurrently, FBR produces an enormous wealth of video. To date, they hold over 1,200 MiniDV tapes, most of which contain a full hour of field documentation; few of these tapes have been backed up or digitally copied.

Digital Video Preservation: From Burma to the Archive
The task of digitally preserving FBR’s videos began with working through the quirks of capturing digital information encoded on physical tape media. I experienced this first-hand when I joined the HRDI team in July 2010 as a Graduate Research Assistant, continuing the work begun by my predecessor Nicholas Rejack (Read about his experiences on the project). In July, I traveled to the FBR offices in Southeast Asia, where I worked capturing video and inventorying the collection at my small desk crowded with three MacBook Pros, a tape deck, cameras, stacks of hard drives, and piles of MiniDV tapes to be captured, sorted or cataloged. Over the course of my six weeks on site I captured over 400 MiniDV tapes, totaling 5 terabytes of video.

Even under the best of conditions, MiniDV can be a finicky format. Capturing the same tape on the same equipment can result in often slight, but occasionally large, variations in quality. The challenges grow exponentially when the tapes have been carried through the extreme field conditions in the jungles of Burma, with each new tape seeming to present a new difficulty to resolve.  However, though the format presents its challenges, the preservation process is aided by metadata embedded within every frame of the DV video. Using programs like DV Analyzer from Audiovisual Preservation Solutions, error correction information can be extracted and analyzed to potentially identify whether errors stem from defects on the original tapes or from problems with the playback device. This can inform when performing a new capture could improve video quality, ensuring the best possible copy is preserved. In addition, every frame includes an embedded date and time stamp marking when it was originally shot, allowing for precise creation date metadata and for verifying and narrowing the date ranges written on tape labels.

Though the HRDI team has digitally captured a significant portion of FBR’s video archive, over 750 hours thus far, the challenges of long-term digital preservation do not end after a tape has been captured. Digital preservation is an ongoing process that aims to ensure the preservation of both the files themselves and the ability to read and interpret the information they contain. In this case, it involves not just maintaining the 1s and 0s of the video files but making sure they will continue to be readable in the future. The preservation process encompasses not just storage systems with significant redundancy and error checking, but also the maintenance of detailed technical metadata and ongoing monitoring of format obsolescence and evolution. Anyone who has struggled to find a working floppy drive to open an old document file, only to find the file format is no longer supported by current programs, understands the effect of a break in the preservation lifecycle.

The FBR Collection Online: A Look into the Archive
The online videos, each edited from raw FBR mission footage, provide glimpses into FBR’s video archive. Prayer of Peace: Relief and Resistance in Burma’s War Zones follows FBR teams operating in Karen State, Burma. The half-hour documentary is told through the personal stories of FBR team members and IDPs, including a medic, a team videographer and a father attempting to get medical care for his sick daughter. In Hiding: A Year of Survival Under the Burma Army (contains graphic content) depicts the lives of IDPs in the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Arakan States over the course of 2004-2005. It features documentation of villagers fleeing their homes and living in hiding, the devastating effects of Burma Army landmines, and testimonies from IDPs. The extensive preparation of FBR teams is detailed in Steps to Freedom (contains graphic content), which follows the teams as they train and enter attack areas across Burma.

The preservation of FBR’s complete archival record will be an ongoing project for the HRDI, as FBR continues to generate documentation on a massive scale. Advances in technology, such as FBR moving from MiniDV to file-based video recording, will present new challenges and preservation concerns. However, through this partnership, the FBR video archive will remain secure and provide one means through which the people of Burma tell their own stories, in their own voices. The videos will remain under restricted access to protect the safety of those depicted and not compromise FBR operations. They will be opened to researchers and documentarians at FBR’s discretion, and will be preserved for use by FBR and its partners to bring attention to the situation in Burma.

In Prayer of Peace, the FBR team videographer known as Monkey describes why he wanted to use a video camera. He says, “I started this work in 1998. At that time the Burma Army came and the villagers fled into the jungle. As they fled I took photos with a still camera. When people looked at the photos I couldn’t explain. I wanted the photos to open their hearts. I tried but the photos were not enough. I thought, if I had a video camera it would be better. Instead of me speaking for them they speak themselves.”

Mark Cooper is a second year master’s student at the UT School of Information. He is specializing in digital moving image preservation and recently interned at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Previously, Mark worked as a Producer / Director at Penn State Public Broadcasting, where his projects included feature documentaries on water infrastructure and domestic violence broadcast nationally on PBS.