Amnesty International Advocates Locally, Sees Success Globally

Ms. Alexandra Anderson

Amnesty is one of CVUs most established clubs, working in tandem with the international organization Amnesty International, whose central mission is to combat human rights violations globally. From events such as Write for Rights, where students write letters to foreign or domestic leaders about injustice, and the annual Eastern Regional Conference in Boston, Amnesty gives students a platform to create genuine change.

Katherine Riley, CVU Amnesty Advisor for the past 19 years, is a passionate advocate for Amnesty and its goals. “The mission as a whole is to bring to light social injustices, human rights abuses around the world,” she explained. She is emphatic about the necessity of high schoolers involvement in global issues, stating, “at the highschool level there’s an opportunity to raise awareness about injustice and also bring to light the reality for students that their actions can make a difference.” Due to its connection to the larger organization, the goals of the individual branch can be realized by joint forces globally, giving students the satisfaction of inciting real and genuine change.

Image Courtesy of Amnesty International

Sabine Foerg, a CVU junior and member of CVU Amnesty, has been an active participant since her freshman year of high school. Through attending the Northeast Regional Conference in Boston two years in a row, as well as volunteering for several CVU actions throughout her time in the club, Foerg has witnessed the impact CVU Amnesty has created and contributed to. “You make viable change,” she said, citing the past accomplishments of the club.

“There are at least ten cases where our students worked on behalf of an individual, as well as thousands of people around the world, and then that person has been freed,” Riley explains. “I consider those successes connected to our group.” This December, Amnesty’s biggest action took place. Write for Rights, a global letter campaign that reached almost six million letters in 2017, is where activists send letters to foreign governments demanding the freedom of a wrongfully imprisoned citizen. These prisoners of conscience, those who were imprisoned for activism, journalism, or any form of self-expression, have been freed in the past due to this action.

Fueled by passionate students and the larger ambitions of the organization, the club is always seeking to grow. Lily Michalak, a CVU junior and three-year Amnesty member, believes fully in the clubs mission. “We fight for human rights,” she said, saying she joined Amnesty originally because she “liked to make the world a better place.” Foerg agreed, stating passionately, “definitely join, and come with an open mind and ready to work hard, and help people.” The club’s central goals are centered around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which leads them to tackle everything from the death penalty to wrongful imprisonment, from Iran to El Salvador to Norway.

Amnesty International meets on Tuesdays at 7:30, in the Snelling core.