Bryan represented at U.S. State Department event
June 29, 2010
Dr. Ron Petitte, professor of politics and government and director of the Center for Leadership Initiatives, was invited to attend the June 14 ceremony of the Secretary of State’s release of the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Also invited were representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the International Justice Mission (IJM). It was a distinct honor for Bryan College to be included among organizations that are actively engaged in the fight against human trafficking. The event was held in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State in Washington, DC.
In attendance with Dr. Petitte were Bryan alumni Valerie Petitte, ‘03, a registered nurse and qualified nurse practitioner, and Stepheny Petitte, ‘09. Stepheny was recently commissioned by IJM to serve as a post graduate intern, working to combat human trafficking in England, an internship that the State Department acknowledged is extremely difficult to receive.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described her department’s report as providing “in-depth assessments and recommendations for 177 countries, some of whom are making great progress toward abolishing the illicit trade in human beings. Others are still doing too little to stem the tide. But behind these statistics on the pages are the struggles of real human beings, the tears of families who may never see their children again, the despair and indignity of those suffering under the worst forms of exploitation. And through this report we bear witness to their experience and commit ourselves to abolishing this horrible crime.”
Dr. Petitte is appreciative, not only for Secretary Rodham-Clinton’s comments, but for her unwavering support of U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking. "She has been a warrior in this struggle,' he stated, "dating back to former President Clinton’s administrations and was foremost among those campaigning for President in 2008 in committing to support the on-going efforts of the U.S. Department of State to monitor and combat human trafficking. This commitment was evidenced by the fact that for the first time since the TIP Report has been published that the United States is monitoring its own activities by voluntarily being included, along with the 176 other countries on report." Dr. Petitte made clear that this struggle requires a nonpartisan effort, one in which all political voices, as well as all religious faiths, must stand together to combat the most horrific scourge known to man since the Holocaust was unleashed in the last century. "Human trafficking," Dr. Petitte described, "is the 21st Century Holocaust."
Bryan's Fight Against Human TraffickingBryan's participation in the fight against human trafficking began in earnest with the April 2007 Commoner Forum, featuring activist and journalist, Christine Dolan, to alert students to the spectre of human trafficking. This forum was followed by a national conference, “Human Trafficking: Slavery in the 21st Century,” hosted by Bryan in January 2008, to which the U.S. State Department sent its representative, Dr. Abraham Lee, a lawyer and former missionary, to speak. In January 2009 Bryan hosted its first international conference, “The Criminal Justice Response to Human Trafficking,” supported once again by the Department of State, as well as by the United Kingdom’s New Scotland Yard, which sent one of its top detectives from the “Operation Maxim Human Trafficking Team” to speak; and IJM sent representatives to work with students.
Bryan will host its second international conference, “International Human Rights: Freedom from Persecution,” November 3-7, 2010, to monitor and combat human trafficking, as well as to highlight abuses that the persecuted church is suffering worldwide. New Scotland Yard is doubling its participation; and the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom is sending Dr. Paul Marshall, noted human rights advocate and author. In addition, the State Department and IJM representatives have been invited once again to participate. Bryan’s students who are part of the nationwide effort to combat trafficking, Students Stopping the Trafficking of People (SSTOP), will lead events on the last two days of the conference. Bryan established one of the first SSTOP chapters in the country shortly after the 2007 Commoner Forum.
The Center for Leadership Initiatives, which sponsors all forum activities and is an integral component of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice, has led these initiatives to monitor and combat human trafficking. By sponsoring these events, Bryan seeks to increase critical awareness and to state unequivocally that “Slavery in our time must cease.” The prophet Micah instructs us as he lays out clearly what our Lord God Yahweh requires of us: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” (6:8). This is our mission; this is our calling. Please, join us November 3-7!