Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. In simpler terms, it is an organization that works to improve human rights around the world. Amnesty International’s mission is to conduct research and generate action to end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated. Club leader, Mo Pro teacher Amanda Craven said, “It is a group that works with helping to bring awareness to human rights violations around the world.” There are more than 2.2 million members worldwide in more than 150 countries.
Among many other things, Amnesty International takes action to stop violence against women, oppose torture, combat terror, protect rights of refugees, and abolish the death penalty. This is achieved by public demonstrations, letter writing campaigns, human rights education, email petitions, and direct lobbying.
At WHS students interested in this idea and the protection of human rights have started their own club, Amnesty International. The club meets once a week usually on Thursdays at 6:45.
Craven says the goal of the club is to, “Motivate people to fight for a change when it comes to human rights violations.” She also says the best thing about advising the club is, “Seeing students passionate about people they have never met and taking on a topic they are truly interested in.”
Connor Swenson (12), who joined the club last year, had a personal experience that made him want to join. “At a seminar presented at my old school, Benilde-St.Margarets, I learned about the Rwanda genocide in 1993 where 1 million people lost their lives in just 100 days. This had a powerful effect on me and is one of the main reasons I joined the club.” Swenson also says, “It’s also nice to meet other real people with interest in global issues, especially human rights and to have meaningful conversations with them.”
Amnesty International started in the 1960s when two Portuguese students were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for raising a toast to freedom. Peter Benenson of Great Britain heard this story and called for an international campaign for amnesty, calling people everywhere to protest against imprisonment of men and women for their political and religious beliefs.
If you would like to get involved in Amnesty International you can donate money at http://www.amnesty.or/en/donate, go to their home page and work with Amnesty International by volunteering, or join the club at Wayzata High School.