Human rights group returns to campus

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Ann Stahl, freshman community health education major, and Thisanjali Gangoda, freshman biology and international relations major, reactivated Amnesty International and held its first meeting last night.

Brian Marks | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Students are excited about protecting human rights. This was the reason many gave for coming to the semester’s first meeting of Amnesty International, a student organization that had been inactive since last spring.

More than 15 students showed up to the meeting, many of them freshmen.

A 15-minute film was shown, introducing students to the organization. According to the film, Amnesty International is an impartial human rights organization with 2 million members in 150 countries. The organization focuses on protecting civil, political, social and economic rights.

Some of Amnesty’s campaigns discussed in the film were petitioning for the release of prisoners of conscience, opposing the use of torture, abolishing the death penalty and stopping violence against women.

A group of freshmen are reactivating the group after many of its former members graduated. They had different reasons for becoming involved.

Josh Goran, freshman visual communication design major, said people deserve to have the most basic human rights.

“It’s ironic that a lot of things our country does in defense of freedom is taking away others’ freedom,” Goran said.

Freshman biology major Sarah Lomske said she was interested in issues concerning prisoners of conscience.

She said prisoners of conscience are people imprisoned by their governments, often for opposing governmental stances on human rights issues. She said many prisoners have been released because of Amnesty’s letter-writing campaigns.

Thisanjali Gangoda, freshman biology and international relations major, said she has been involved in Amnesty International activities since high school.

Annie Stahl, freshman community health education major, spent a year in India as part of an exchange program. She said this made her realize human rights don’t exist everywhere in the world.

“Now that I’m back in the U.S., I want to do all that I can to help in the struggle for human rights,” Stahl said.

The group’s next meeting will focus on letter-writing, Lomske said.

Amnesty International will meet every Monday at 7 p.m. in Room 303 in the Student Center.

Contact news correspondent Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].