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You Gotta Fight for Your Right (to Party) and Have Basic Rights

In 2017, you would think basic human rights such as freedom of expression, speech, religion, and pretty much the first ten amendments would be available to all with little cost. However, this fails to be the case in over 160 countries, including our own.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve engaged myself with Gettysburg College’s Amnesty International chapter. The club is a local branch of Amnesty International USA and Amnesty International Global. AI is a human rights organization based in countries around the world with the vision and mission to make sure all individuals have their basic rights protected. Stemming off a paper I wrote for my seminar (the same seminar referenced in my article How I Learned Nothing In High School And Everything The Summer Before My Freshman Year), I’ve immersed myself in information about Amnesty International and came up nothing less than inspired.

The organization itself started in 1961 when lawyer Peter Benenson read a case on two Portuguese students imprisoned for a raising a toast to freedom in Lisbon. In response, Benenson wrote a call for action for letters to be written on behalf of the prisoners in order to expose the government for wrongful imprisonment. Benenson’s start of Amnesty International is mimicked by what is today the “Write for Rights campaign.”

At the first Gettysburg College AI chapter meeting, Benenson was touched on briefly, but more so the action the club would take towards the bigger AI effort. Among our initiatives would be Write for Rights, where activists sign letters about current human rights cases to alert government officials. We also fundraise to raise awareness for human rights, educate the public, and maybe (fingers crossed) take a field trip.

While our efforts are small in comparison to the global chapter effort, we hope to contribute the lives saved each year by Amnesty. For more information on the organization and to get involved, you can visit Amnesty.org. As Amnesty volunteer leader Kit O’Connor says, “it begins with you.”

Shameless plug: For any Gettysburg College Student interested in joining Amnesty International, we meet on Sundays at 6 o’clock in CUB 230!



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