By Avalon Amador, Staff Writer
Amnesty International, a human rights group at University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), is gearing up for their annual trip to New York City, where they hope to spread awareness.
Amnesty is an international organization and has been present at UMF for over five years. “The main goal of our group here on campus is to try to raise awareness about different human rights violations around the world,” said Keeley Cronin, President of the club who has been involved since high school.
Group members are encouraged to attend their annual trip to New York, called “Get on the Bus,” which is put on by a local Amnesty group in the state. “The trip brings together high school and college groups from the New England region who rally through the streets guided by the police, to specific embassies of countries which prisoners of conscious are being held. We then protest by yelling and waving posters,” said Jamie McKay, Amnesty Secretary.
By informing others on how individuals have been wrongly accused or imprisoned, the group hopes to influence the way these prisoners are treated and to support their freedom. “We also fight for any human rights issue that group members believe in,” said McKay.
The group looks forward to this year’s trip and hopes for their protest to be successful in raising awareness. “I am super excited. All of the experiences have been wonderful and so much fun,” said Cronin, “It is just great to get out there and go to these rallies to feel like you are making a difference.”
Amnesty has been involved in a variety of efforts for moral justice, including the event Kony 2012 in which they fought for African children not to be forced to become soldiers. “Our group tries to bring different guest speakers to campus, we send out petitions and letters to get our Prisoners of Conscience freed, we have brought Invisible Children to campus several times,” said Vice President Samantha Simmons, who has been involved with the club for over seven years. “We are also looking to join with Love146 Task force to try and bring a guest speaker to come talk about human trafficking.”
McKay has found that this club and the experiences it allows have had a large impact on her personal life. “I would never miss out on an experience like this one, because it has been so life changing and rewarding,” said McKay.
Other members also feel that Amnesty allows ample opportunity for people to get involved, as well as informed, with human rights issues. “[Amnesty] is a way to get involved and learn about the things in the world that should not be happening. It is a way to do what you can to help others who are living in way worse situations then we are here,” said Cronin.
In the past, Amnesty has also been to Washington DC, to attend an Invisible Children event called MOVE: DC and are always looking for new events to take part in. “We are planning on doing a trivia night coming up in April that we will hopefully get some good attendance for, it should be fun!” said Cronin.
The club receives funding through student senate which covers transportation and living arrangements when on trips.
Amnesty International meets every Tuesday night at 6pm in the Ed center lobby, “and are always looking for new members and new ideas!” said Simmons.
For the issues that the group is focusing on, you can go to: http://www.gotb.org/