Amnesty International is a non-partisan, global grassroots organization dedicated to sustaining the individual's human rights in the face of governmental power and abuse. Amnesty International accepts no funding from governments and operates as a citizen organization. Its credibility stems from its accuracy, impartiality, and effectiveness. At its London headquarters Amnesty International accumulates and evaluates information about human rights abuses around the world. In recognition of this work, Amnesty received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.
In addition to its program on behalf of Prisoners-of-Conscience (those imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their human rights), AI's Mandate calls for fair and prompt trials for political prisoners as well as an end to torture, "disappearances," and executions. Amnesty condemns abuses by all sides in armed conflicts, including non-governmental entities. The other half of Amnesty's work is education--based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
WSU chapter of AI sponsors Human Rights Week which has brought to campus such prominent figures as Nien Cheng (author, Life and Death in Shanghai), Jose Ramos Horta (Nobel Peace Prize Recipient), Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Hudson Riverkeepers Project).
In November 2005, Rev. Carl Wilkens, the only American to stay in Rwanda throughout the 1994 genocide, highlighted HRW. He protected Seventh Day Adventist orphanages with both Tutsi and Hutu children. In 2006, HRW presented “Darfur Diaries” about the contemporary genocide in Sudan as well as poet and human rights lawyer Tom Jones. The 2007 event highlighted a panel from the WSU Muslim Student Association discussing Islam, and “A Soldier’s Walk for Peace” by Utah Vet, Marshall Thompson. The Human Rights Week Hunger Banquet employs a lottery that determines whether participants eat a First World (multi-course) meal, or a Third World (rice and beans) meal. “The America I Believe In” week has featured Utah’s Brig. Gen. (Ret) David Irvine, a noted critic of torture policies that violate international human rights standards.
We meet every other Wednesday for 1 hour to plan activities and write letters on behalf of Prisoners-of-Conscience such as Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist in prison for publically releasing a governmental directive to downplay the 15th anniversary of the Tiennanmen Square crackdown on democracy demonstrators.
Our current co-leaders, Ryan Jessen and Colby Bone, have attended the Amnesty Western Regional Conference in 2007, and the AI Leadership Training Workshop in 2008.