Amnesty Illuminates Human Rights Issues

February 13, 2015


“We wanted to start the club because we believe that humans everywhere deserve to be treated decently,” Amnesty club co-president senior Monica Sarp said.

Albemarle’s Amnesty club pursues the same goals as Amnesty International, a “human rights organization dedicated to fighting injustice around the world,” according to co-president senior Monika Grabowska.

“At our meetings, we study and discuss human rights violations around the world,” she explained. “…our Amnesty club this year has decided to focus on women’s rights, prisoner’s rights, police brutality, and poverty.”

“One of the goals of Amnesty International is to ensure that humans around the world are able to exercise the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [an expression of all people’s inherent rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly],” Sarp said.

She added that  “I think it is important for students to get involved in Amnesty because many of us do not realize how lucky we are. There are many people around the world who are deprived of the basic human rights that we exercise every day. By joining Amnesty, you can help make a change.”

The club has participated in various humans rights related events, particularly in response to recent current events, such as Rolling Stone’s controversial account of rape culture at UVa. In December, they attended a vigil for victims of rape and domestic abuse at the University of Virginia, organized by the Charlottesville High School Amnesty Club. “There were speakers from UVa, CHS, and the Charlottesville community,” Sarp said.

“Regardless of the validity of this particular article, it is important to recognize that rape is a problem on campuses across the country,” she said. AHS Amnesty plans to attend “We Are the Line” on March 7, another community-wide event focused on the women’s rights and female empowerment.

On the national level, in light of the recent riots in Ferguson, MO, the club came together to sign an Amnesty International Petition to prevent the lethal use of firearms by police officers and the right to peaceful protest.

Grabowska hopes Amnesty members will “gain a greater awareness of current events and a deeper understanding of other people and other cultures, and become more involved in the community. I think that it is important to protect basic rights and freedoms for everyone.”

Junior Madison Myers thinks “a more international worldview and perspective is important, especially at our age, because we’re developing our worldview and a sense of our environment and what we want to accomplish with our lives.”

She added that “a lot of people feel like their opinions [or] their perspectives aren’t relevant at this point, but I think that’s just incorrect and I think that teenagers can accomplish a lot if they believe.”

The group, which meets in government teacher Julie Strong’s room during club week, encourages “anyone who is interested in human rights issues to reach out to us or attend one of our meetings,” according to Sarp. For more information, contact Grabowska or Sarp or follow the club on Twitter, @AHSamnesty.

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