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September 5, 2002

Civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize
winner speaks at CSUS

Photo of Rigoberta Menchu TumGuatemalan civil rights leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum will talk at California State University, Sacramento at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 18. The event is co-sponsored by the CSUS Multi-Cultural Center.

Like many other countries in South and Central America, Guatemala has experienced great tension between the descendants of European immigrants and the native Indian population. At a very young age, Menchu Tum - a native Mayan - got involved in social reform activities and became prominent in the women's rights movement.

After a guerilla organization established itself in their area, the Menchu family was accused of taking part in guerrilla activities and Rigoberta's father was imprisoned and tortured for allegedly having participated in the execution of a local plantation owner. After his release, he joined the newly founded Committee of the Peasant Union.

In 1979, Rigoberta also joined the Peasant Union. Because of her work as an activist for the native people she also had to flee Guatemala for Mexico. That year her brother was arrested, tortured and killed by the army. The following year, her father was killed when security forces in the capital stormed the embassy where he and some other peasants were staying. Shortly afterwards, her mother also died after having been arrested, tortured and raped.

In 1983, Tum told her life story in the book, I, Rigoberta Menchu which attracted considerable international attention. In 1987, she was the narrator of a film called When Mountains Tremble, a documentary about the struggles of the Mayan people.

"Rigoberta grew up in poverty, in a family which has undergone the most brutal suppression and persecution," the Norwegian Nobel Committee wrote when they gave her the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. "In her social and political work, she has always borne in mind that the long-term objective of the struggle is peace.

"And today, Rigoberta stands out as a vivid symbol of peace and reconciliation across ethnic, cultural and social dividing lines, in her own country and in the world," the committee wrote.

Tickets for Menchu Tum's talk are $20 general admission and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the CSUS Tickets Office at 278-4323 and at at (916) 766-2277. For additional media assistance contact CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.



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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
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