Amnesty International unites with new org. STAND: genocide awareness

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Villanova Organizations Unite To Protect Human Rights

Villanova’s chapter of Amnesty International has formed a new campus partnership with student organization STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur), because both groups wish to raise awareness about the civilian genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Senior Tiffany Wagner attended a student run STAND conference at Georgetown University this past summer. Her experience inspired her to start a group dedicated to the cause here on campus: “The genocide is such a human interest issue-I just know that if everyone on campus knew about it, everyone would care.” Over the summer, she wrote to the student leaders of Villanova’s AI chapter, Julia Kalloz and Anna Obergfell, who suggested that they work together for their similar causes. The organizations recruited at the Student Activities Fair, and they have many events planned for this school year. They will hold an awareness campaign at the Oreo, and distribute free green ribbons along with facts about the crisis in Darfur on October 19, 20, and 21.

Also, they plan to display a photo exhibit in the rear of St. Thomas Church. Those interested will be able to sign petitions and write letters to President Bush.

These activities focus attention on the genocide of thousands of innocent Darfurians due to the conflicts between Arabs and Africans. The government of Sudan bombs villages to get rid of the Darfurian people, resulting in close to 400,000 deaths and 1.5 million refugees fleeing to Chad.

The members of AI dedicate themselves to protecting fundamental human rights such as the right to life, liberty and personal security among many others. Founded in 1961, AI has worked on behalf of more than 44,600 prisoner cases of which over 40,248 are now closed.

“When I heard that AI had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for its human rights work, I realized that it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Dr. Joseph Betz, faculty advisor for Villanova’s AI.

AI has more than 1,000,000 members and supporters in over 140 countries. Group actions range from demonstrations and letter writing, to human rights education and fundraising. The organization operates independently from any government, political persuasion or religious creed and concerns itself solely with the protection of human rights in each case.

AI also unconditionally opposes the death penalty on the grounds that execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The organization strives to protect the 30 articles of the UDHR (Universal Declarations of Human Rights). They establish the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all people.

Students wishing to become involved with AI or STAND can attend their weekly Thursday meetings, 4:30 p.m. at the Center for Peace and Justice, or email student organizers [email protected] or [email protected].