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Student Action Network Committee Elections 2021

The Amnesty Student Action Network (STAN) committee are at the forefront of student activism in the UK, leading campaigns and representing thousands of Amnesty students.

Each year, the STAN committee are elected by our student network. Each affiliated Student Group is eligible to vote in this year's election. 

Please read all the candidate's answers, and watch all candidate videos, before deciding your group's vote in consultation with your committee and/or members. You can vote for up to 8 candidates.

Voting will close at 9am on Monday 10 January. 

If your group needs to affiliate, please email a completed form by Thursday 10 February (1 month after voting closes).

If you have any issues with your vote please email students@amnesty.org.uk

Fill out my online form.

 

Alba Andrés Sánchez

University of Edinburgh

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Hey! Hi! I’m Alba and my pronouns are she/her and I am a fourth-year International Relations student at the University of Edinburgh. I got involved in social justice from a young age through feminism and women's rights. For context, I come from Spain, a country with high rates of gender-based violence and sexism and many of my close ones have experienced this firsthand. My interest in protecting human rights also developed by witnessing police brutality during protests in Catalonia. Within my degree, I have also enjoyed learning about social justice and systematic oppression through gender studies, feminist theory, and post-colonial theory, and many more! However, when I joined my university’s Amnesty International society was when I truly learned the most about human rights and social justice; especially, LGBTQ+ rights, refugee rights, intersectionality and activism, and the Stop Killer Robots campaign:)

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

-Make students aware that Amnesty International does not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, or any kind of discrimination; ensuring that university societies are safe spaces with zero-tolerance policies to such behaviours. Furthermore, we need to remove the white saviour complex in our activism and prioritise voices from the communities we advocate for as guidance for our activism within university spaces.

- Make students aware of the flexibility of Amnesty International in regards to what issues students can campaign around and how they do so.

- Put a focus on mental health while campaigning. This would focus on making students aware that they should take breaks from activism to prevent activism burnout. While further reinforcing that students can/should take a step back when academic responsibilities are overwhelming. This can be facilitated through the incorporation of a Wellness Officer in university committees.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

During the past 2 years, I have been highly involved in the SKR campaign and have seen firsthand how UK universities dismiss student-lead campaigns while continuing to partner with unethical companies. I can firmly say that experiencing this has made me want to continue working towards achieving regulation for autonomous systems within universities. The first step in organising my community is to raise awareness through informative talks so people can be educated on why these issues are important and that we as a collective have the power to potentially change them. Secondly, I would organise a group in which we would assign roles according to our best attributes and decide the line of action in a democratic manner. This would enable community members to participate proportionally to their commitment. Underpinning all of this, I would also ensure that my community is a safe space to try to achieve social change.

 

Anne Scholz

University of Edinburgh

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

My best friend came out to me as trans when we were 15. This changed nothing in the relationship between us but I became very aware of how discriminatory the world was for trans and gender non-conforming people even before I realised I was non-binary myself. He faced dead-naming, misgendering and other discrimination by his peers and teachers, to the point where we got involved in activism to improve his situation and that of other queer students. Following the founding of a pride society, we advocated for gender-neutral bathrooms, changing rooms and as well as non-discriminatory language in lessons and were able to implement a neutral changing room just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. These victories, even just in our school made me hopeful that activism is able to accomplish changes in society, and I widened my activism to environmental justice, LGBTQ rights and my local group of Amnesty International.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

I care a lot about accessibility for people from different backgrounds. Student activist groups can still improve upon making events, and material for campaigns more accessible. This is why I advocate for providing materials for student campaigning in different formats (videos, reading materials in different lengths, audio sources), making the Amnesty UK website more accessible as well as giving student groups across the country resources to improve accessibility for their fundraising activities, talks or campaign meetings (e.g. financial help, mobility access, but also access for international students that just start to learn about what activism in Amnesty entails). This goes hand in hand with an improvement of communication between student groups (where STAN has even more potential to start campaigns e.g. especially catered towards Scotland or Wales) as well as between Amnesty and the Student Groups, which would help to create a larger network of student activism across the country.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

The issue that affects me currently the most is the issue of monetary privilege in education in the UK and globally. Access to higher education is a privilege in itself, but also students that pursue university education do not have an equal playing field. After finding a community of people affected and in solidarity, I would organise meetings to discuss measures that would improve our situation now on a university level. This could be more time for coursework to account for time spent in a job or long-term monetary support by the university. It is important for anyone to have access to these meetings, especially if people want to participate that are not yet enrolled. The motions can be brought to the student council and the university administration/board through campaigns like open letters and petitions. It could also be helpful to widen the campaign to a national and international level.

 

Annika Kapp

University of Glasgow

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

My activism journey started when I was fourteen. My friends and I noticed that our school had a huge problem with discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Homophobic and transphobic slurs were common, and often seemed to come from a place of ignorance. My group of friends and I thus decided to take action, to try and educate our community. We organized a series of presentations for the different year groups which explained the concepts and terminology of sexuality and gender, and highlighted the devastating effects of discrimination on the LGBTQ+ community. It was a challenge to persuade teachers to give us their time, but we succeeded and repeated this project two years in a row. This was my first experience of tackling a specific problem in my community. Working on it with my friends who were also passionate about the issue gave me a huge sense of empowerment.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

Two barriers to participation we noticed in our university society are the limited number of seats on our committee and the perceived large time commitment. Thus, we introduced subcommittees. They are open to everyone and each support different committee roles in their work. This enables anyone to participate, even if they cannot commit a lot of time or only want to become active with specific campaigns. Another idea are collaborations with the Student Council and other student societies. Joining SC events or adding our own event to their larger campaign reaches many students who have never heard of Amnesty. Attending these events also gives them an insight into our work before making any commitment. Thirdly, we regularly hold open committee meetings, which we advertise on our social media and in our newsletter. These meetings are open to any student interested in our society’s work and who has ideas to contribute.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

As someone with lived experience of mental illness, mental health - specifically in the context of university - is an issue that I'm very passionate about but also frustrates me. Acknowledging the structural problem and lobbying universities for more mental health support funding is indispensable, but the existing system can be improved, too. What I think is needed and can be established through community organising are systems supporting struggling students in accessing existing resources and advocating for themselves. This could e.g. be a buddy-system where students experienced with the university's support system help those newly navigating it. They could offer guidance and, what I think is vital, check-in with the students throughout the process. Struggling makes reaching out for support already much harder, so someone following up if you did make that phone call to the GP or attended an appointment, could mean the world to someone who is struggling.

 

Athina Bohner

University of Glasgow

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Having been raised by parents who immigrated to Germany from Eastern Europe, I felt an urgent sense of responsibility to support asylum seekers settling into Germany in 2017. In order to help refugees practice their German skills, I volunteered at a language café in my neighborhood of Hamburg. I remember a particularly touching conversation I had with a woman from Syria and her two young sons. She told me about the fear and heartbreak she experienced while fleeing the civil war by boat. To this day, I think about the cheerful little boy, aged 5, who told me that “all he wants is for everyone to be alive and be friends”. In response, I organised an awareness campaign about child refugees around the world in collaboration with UNICEF Hamburg and Plan International. Looking back, I think those emotional conversations with refugee children truly sparked my passion for human rights.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

In order to improve student involvement in Amnesty, I would implement a comprehensive feedback survey and reflect upon students’ direct comments and suggestions. Moreover, I am interested in fostering stronger bonds between the Amnesty International UK university groups by arranging virtual meetings between them and supporting joint campaign events. Additionally, I think the STAN committee can enhance student engagement with the organisation by regularly recognising students’ activism achievements with the aim of further empowering their incredible progress. For instance, we could showcase Amnesty uni groups on a monthly basis, as well as promote their ongoing campaigns. Furthermore, I believe it is crucial for the committee to continue communicating with groups to ensure that all content is fully accessible and inclusive of everybody. Lastly, I would continuously emphasise the significance of wellbeing for student activists as a STAN committee member, since it is imperative that we look after our mental health.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

One of the social issues that get me most agitated is gender-based violence, which includes sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, child marriage, sex trafficking and femicide. According to WHO, 1 in 3 women are subjected to GBV in their lifetimes and that is utterly unacceptable. I believe that ending this serious violation of human rights is one of the most crucial tasks our generation is facing, which has shaped my approach to social activism. By organising educational campaigns to raise awareness about gender-based violence, such as Amnesty International’s Let’s Talk About Yes, we would shed light on the ‘taboo’ topic of rape culture and consent. Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to create safe environments for people of all genders within our communities by challenging gender discrimination and believing survivors. Internationally, I would encourage us to support women’s organisations and apply pressure on governments around the world to act now.

 

Chiara Genotti

University of Stirling

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Hello! My name is Chiara, I'm 21 and I am an Italian student at the University of Stirling, studying International Politics. My parents have always been very interested in human rights and justice, however, I would like to spend some words to talk about my grandfather. I have admired my grandpa my whole life, he was very woke and participated in many demonstrations, especially those demanding fair rigths for workers. It is safe to say that he was the one person to introduce me to the world of social justice and rights. Indeed, I then took the streets myself and demonstrated for what I believe must be changed in the system.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

Being the secretary of my student group in Stirling, how to improve student involvement is something that we think about a lot, expecially because we would like to grow as a group. In my opinion, a better targeted approach should be introduced. This way a higher number of campaigns will be more visible to students and youngsters. Moreover, another good way of getting students involved would be allowing them to share their stories and experiences. Also, another way would be to organize more conferences and events which students can participate to.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Among the several issues I am passionate about, child rights and refugee rights are the ones that I am more interested in. The first thing that can be done is definitely educate asa many people as possible on the issues, especially on the ones that are not very popular in the medias. Making some posters or flyers to hang them around or to hand them to people can be helpful to educate the community. Another thing that can be done is surely organizing workshops or demonstrations, so that the members of my community could take part and make the world a better place, starting from there.

 

Laura Gent

Newcastle University

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

I don’t have a specific story to tell but, I have always loved food, not really in the way it tastes but in meals and making food and sharing it with the people around you. I study nutrition and am interested in the way food nurtures us. But the production of food has been co-opted by systems that are destroying our bodies, our planet and tearing us all apart. This injustice is what fuels me to be involved in human rights. And I suppose my goal would be for more people to see something as day-to-day as the breakfast they are eating as a political action that can make a change.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

I think the louder an amnesty society is on campus and the more room they take up leads to more engagement from everyone. As a STAN member I would empower and encourage the student groups to do as much as they possibly can, and to be creative in their actions. I think if a group can put on an event that’s totally out of the box it can make a big difference on getting human rights talked about on campus. For example, in Newcastle just before COVID we had the idea to bring a boat on campus and decorate it with placards as a metaphor for climate change, it was such an exciting action to plan although because of COVID it never happened. I think the key is getting a message out there and getting people talking about it.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

The lack of right to food legislation in government and the prevalence of food insecurity around the world. I think a good way to highlight this issue is to show the link it has with gender inequalities. In developing countries over half of the rural workforce are women and girls but they are also the people who are most at risk of being hungry. Climate change and corruption exacerbates these issues further. I’d organise an action on campus where Amnesty had a stall giving out small amounts of food for free, and ‘free for all’. But when men come up to the stall, they will be refused the food and given a flyer to speaker event being held that evening on the topic of gender inequalities and food security. The goal of the event would be to advertise the speaker event and to highlight the issue in a memorable way.

 

Leah Ennis

Queen's University Belfast

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

When I was a member of my city’s youth council in Germany, I got to meet a person who had fled their home country of Syria, where they were a practising pharmacist. Although they were highly qualified, spoke German very well for such a short time and were ready to start working as a pharmacist again, they had to get a second-level education as they lost all their documentation and proof of qualification in the war. Despite all of these experiences and setbacks, they were remarkably optimistic and positive about starting and leading a different life and being an active member of the youth council. Ever since and especially after starting to study International Relations and Conflict Studies, I have become more engaged with issues of human rights relating to migration, critically studying domestic politics as well as foreign policies.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

I think Amnesty could create more targeted posts for students on social media, focusing on issues that students are particularly interested in, e.g. free education, abortion rights and climate justice. Further, apart from the individual student groups at each university, there could be a national campaign about activism working together with universities to create initiatives and training for students while launching an Amnesty ‘tour’ with talks taking place at different universities over a few weeks. In general, however, we have noticed at our Freshers’ Fair that interest in Amnesty often comes from the individual. So, encouraging those who already have some interest in this work may be most effective. Further, as some students can feel disconnected from Amnesty as a big organisation, making students feel more connected and engaged could improve this.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

I am particularly interested in refugee rights and migration, crucially in the context of climate migration and its implications for the future. When I attended this year’s National Student Conference, I found great value in listening to panel discussions, expert opinions as well as personal stories and experiences. I would organise this rather educational dialogue for my community while campaigning for Northern Irish politicians to pressure Westminster to improve the rights of asylum seekers, who are denied the right to work and often do not have adequate access to essential services, and crucially to stop/change the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill. Further, discussions about ‘integration’ seem necessary when this term is often understood to mean assimilation, although issues of re-traumatization and fear of reprisal of people who are asked to share their experiences with the community, and the ‘white saviour syndrome’, must be recognised.

 

Lilli Duberley

New College of the Humanities

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

While I was in Secondary School and Sixth form I felt very cut off from the rest of the world, as though I could have very little impact on the world. I was also very closeted at this time and had to constantly correct others language towards queer people, which didn't help. I felt a strong affinity towards the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously denying my own queerness. So when I saw an ad to be a part of Amnesty International's Rise Up! program I finally felt as though I would be able to make an impact. Travelling up to London and being in a space with some other queer people made me feel confident in my own plans for campaigning. I then started to plan my campaigning around improving education around LGBTQ+ issues in school. This way the students would not be the people correcting their teachers and their peers.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

After talking to some of the current Student Action Network Committee it appears that there is a lack of participation from some current Amnesty student groups. On a smaller scale as Societies Officer at my own University, participation has been an issue for our own societies. All University students have been badly affected by the pandemic and so their idea of student life is very different to that of previous years. I would plan to improve student involvement by addressing the current Student groups first. By providing them with ideas of what they can do in a world that has changed so drastically, that they have had little opportunity to experience. One of the ways I would do this as a student in London is to create a dialogue between the current Student Groups in London, that have largely been working independently of each other.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Predominantly Feminist and LGBTQ+ issues, since they both affect me directly. The best way I can now organise community action is in my own university. I am the Disabilities Representative for my University's LGBTQ+ Society and the Vice President of the Feminist Society, I have access to student emails and issues that I would like to change. Namely, getting free period products on campus and normalising the use of gender-neutral language by the staff. The societies and I already have plans to get these issues changed and we have the support of our societies. At the intersection of these issues, transphobia is most likely the thing that gets me the most agitated. Thus, making feminist spaces, safe spaces for trans people is a major issue I want to organise community action around. More widely I would like to give my community the ability to address these issues confidently and independently.

 

Mariam Tzannatos

London School of Economics 

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Two people who were instrumental in shaping my interest are UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Philipo Grandi. During their week-long visit to Lebanon, I job-shadowed them during their meetings with other UN officials, government and civil society members, and refugee camps. Their work exposed me to the complexities of policy-making and finding the balance between human rights and politics. Another individual who fueled my interest is civil rights veteran and contemporary and friend of Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Levy. In 2018, I attended the summer program at Columbia University on Law and Social Justice where he concluded the course saying “he has passed the torch to us”. His words, combined with the experiences of the program where we worked extensively with social advocacy practitioners and the US District Attorney on how the law can be used as a tool for social change.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

As a Student Volunteer Ambassador at LSE, I am actively involved in finding new ways to promote volunteering opportunities on campus and increasing student engagement on campus. In addition, being the Volunteer Director for Amnesty International Society at LSE, I was in charge of promoting the Write for Rights Event. These experiences taught me significant lessons that I plan to leverage to improve student involvement in Amnesty. Some ideas I have to improve involvement would be getting speakers who have built successful careers around working with Amnesty to show people that successful careers and working in such sectors. Having given a TedTalk on resilience as a young Arab woman and the importance of social advocacy, I saw how my talk was able to inspire and increase students’ interest in causes. This showed me how effective speaking to other students can be as a method to get them interested.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Growing up in Lebanon, I experienced the 2006 war in Lebanon, witnessed the influx of one million Syrian refugees in 2012 and the passage of even more to Greece, where I visited regularly. Then living out the fallout of the Arab Spring sparked curiosities about the conditions that led to such helplessness, hopelessness, and poverty. These experiences made me aware to the plight of Arabs and the community around me. My first step was volunteering in a school for Syrian refugees. This exposed me to a struggle they faced with was transitioning to the Lebanese school system, which inspired me to set up a literacy program to help ease their transition. The project was a pilot project with 50 people and to fundraise for it I did a half-summit for Mount Kilimanjaro. The success of this project would inspire me to set up something similar and on a greater scale.

 

Poppy Skelton

Newcastle University

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Like many of us, learning about the Climate Crisis whilst growing up was infuriating and an issue that felt like I couldn't just sit around and wait for someone else to solve. I refuse to accept that a wealthy minority will dictate a system that has the potential to jeopardise the safety and sanctuary for the people of our planet - particularly those who have contributed the least to the issue! I'm a student of History and I focus my studies on the history human injustices and how activism has brought about positive change to create a more equal and happier world for all - I do this to help keep motivated and inspired. I very much believe in the power of the individual and even more so in the power of all of us working together to make the world we live in safer and happier for everyone.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

Growing up in a working class area has shown me how important activism is for those facing economical hardship but also that human rights organisations often don't have many people from working class backgrounds represented in their membership. I would like to extend outreach to working class students to get a more diverse student body involved - I feel like I would be very good at doing this due to my personal background and the area and school I grew up in. Being part of the University Amnesty International Committee has shown me that some people don't feel as confident getting involved with activism, perhaps due to the nature of pandemic, I organised some workshops with my Amnesty team at university which helped us work together better and to be more confident in our approach to activism and would like to carry on doing this.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

The narratives surrounding the current 'refugee crisis' and the treatment of those people who seek refuge in the UK upon their arrival is something that I am extremely frustrated by and driven to change. I'm doing a dissertation project on the role of music in helping to integrate people who are forced-migrants into local communities and how music can be used as a tool for giving a voice to people who are marginalised. I want to work together to ensure that these people are seen as people and that they offer a great diverse range of experiences and personalities that absolutely cannot be grouped into one under the label of 'refugee'. I want to help protect the rights of these people who are facing terrible insecurity and prejudice particularly after the introduction of the new Nationality and Borders Bill which looks like it will jeopardise their sense of safety further.

 

Raina Singh

University of Exeter

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

At the age of 13, my mother and I returned to the UK, when I was faced with the sudden passing of my father. We had to quickly adapt to a new country with no family. I remember soon after my mother had injured her back during the Christmas break, and had to be taken to A&E. I accompanied my mother in the ambulance and we remained in A&E, my mother on the trolley and I sitting by her side, left unattended to for the entire night. It was only the next morning that a doctor came and sent my mother back home without any treatment or examination done. This spurred my interest and made me get involved in human rights and social justice through my University’s Amnesty International Society. I strongly believe in equality for all regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

To improve student involvement in Amnesty, students need to feel connected to the issues and campaigns affecting our society and the world. Students need to be able to visualise the long term effect on themselves and their loved ones. By explaining how a particular human rights matter would affect them and what would happen if they choose to act positively, through various social media platforms, this would create a domino effect whereby students would feel as though they have actively done something to change the society and world in which they live in. Also, in this way they are more likely to get other students involved. For example, if a student signs a petition, we need to show how that petition would impact the issue positively and push for change rather than seeing a ‘thank you for signing’ message.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Women’s rights is an issue which I hold close to my heart as I believe that all women and girls should be able to live without the fear of domestic and sexual violence and discrimination, should have access to education and proper healthcare and should be paid and treated as equals in society. I would organise community meetings where individuals can be educated on the issues women face in the world today and what they can do to help. Brochures would be distributed with phone numbers to different helplines. Also, my community in collaboration with the local MP and council can host an awareness week for Women’s Rights. Further, I would organise to have fortnightly drop-in sessions so that anyone being abused can seek help. I would encourage communities to band together and protest in favour of more being done to protect women and girls in our society.

 

Rebecca Tyler 

University of Liverpool

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

Being from a BAME community I have always understood social injustice, from experiencing daily microagressions and learning about the racial discrimination my grandparents faced during the Windrush generation, I have always been extremely passionate about wanting to stamp out any form of inequality in society.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

From my experience most students want to imagine in human rights, however there is always confusion in how they can actively participate- I think social media engagement for students is key, perhaps amnesty can launch weekly or monthly online/ virtual events such as poetry writing or a drawing competition (themes trying to tackle a different human rights violation each week) for students that are advertised across social media platforms this would create a new wave of accessibility.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Social depravity and inequality, for example the current anti-homeless architecture that has recently been introduced in many cities across the UK. To organise a community I think apart of mobilisation requires education and then action, again social media is a good tool for this. This would help break down stigmas and create a conversation in which people can come together to support a common cause.

 

Rona Jamieson

University of Leeds

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

One of my first memories about getting involved with Amnesty was writing to inmates on death row one December with my Dad. I remember being so cross that these men in America were going to die just because of the crime they may or may not have committed. I then attended Glastonbury festival and felt a sense of achievement standing on the Amnesty stall, spreading awareness for the Amnesty campaigns from 2010. These early memories have fuelled my love and passion for fighting human rights now and ultimately influenced everything I do now. .

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

I want students to be more involved with what Amnesty do as they make up such a big part of the community and could be used in crucial to reach other people, who may not otherwise get involved. I want to improve the relationship between the student reps and the general student societies as it can sometimes feel like they are being left out due to not being on committee. Protest and change works best in numbers and the student involvement can really motivate that. I would improve the relationship by using the student reps as more of help point and hopefully creating more region wide campaigns, like the one I was a part of this year with the North East.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

I am very passionate about two issues: Trans rights and stopping the Uyghur genocide in North West China. Trans rights just simply aren't up for debate and shouldn't be regarded as an opinion, they are true identities. I would continue the work of the I am who I say I am campaign and put more pressure on Universities to be more accommodating for trans students rather than just a gender neutral disabled bathroom, this just simply isn't good enough. When it comes to stopping the Uyghur genocide in China, the key thing with this is raising awareness for it as not enough people know the atrocities that are happening in that region. I would organise speakers and more education on Uyghur culture so that we can add to the pressure being put on China to stop. An effective way to do this would be a public stunt.

 

Simran Kapoor

London School of Economics 

Tell us a story about yourself or someone else that made you get involved with human rights and social justice.

I visited Delhi, India on a family holiday. I was incredibly distressed at the sight of homeless people, in dire physical conditions, scrambling for food. Of course I see homelessness in London, but the widespread levels of poverty in India are far more noticeable and many of whom have been forgotten about due to caste, gender or age. Under COVID-19, the disparities between the rich and poor in India has been even more obvious. I have close family living in India under such circumstances. After contracting the virus, they were unable to get medical attention. People lying on hospital floors, people being too scared to leave their house. Without the wealth to pay for medical care, my family were left to their own means, as a majority of India’s population are. Such stories within my own family encourage me to get involved with human rights and social justice.

What ideas do you have to improve student involvement in Amnesty?

I am doing a MSc in Human Rights, so of course, I have heard and am familiar with Amnesty International. However for those not aware of or do not think about human rights, will not understand the work of NGOs, in particular Amnesty. It is so important for students to be involved with activism, even through simply just acquiring knowledge. In my opinion, the most useful way of improving student involvement in Amnesty is by appealing to individual, small-scale and more local problems impacting students’ rights. Only by doing this will students see the great work that Amnesty does and be involved in bigger issues. This can be achieved through hosting talks at universities/schools or participating in student protests. It can also include commenting on human rights issues within universities and schools.

What issue gets you agitated, and how would you organise your community around it?

Poverty due to governmental policy or social exclusion is an issue which particularly agitates me. To be precise, this includes policies which affect people due to race, gender, disability or age. Working at the Citizens Advice Bureau, I see how easy it is for people to get lost within the system and people who are so unaware of their own rights. To organize my community around it, the first thing to do is to make people aware of the problem. This includes door to door engagement with the community, making public announcements in the local newspaper or organizing talks at workplaces/educational settings. Then it would be about actively making a change. This could include signing petitions or getting the community to write letters to the local MP. It is also about individuals changing their attitudes towards one another and promoting unity.