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Human smuggling continues to be an issue in the United States. However, there is little dialogue about the growing problem. The Weber State University Amnesty International Club is looking to combat this disconnect by offering students the opportunity to discuss the issue of human smuggling in an open forum on Friday.
According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, which is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there were nine new media releases on trafficking in February alone.
“The club streamlines information,” said professor Stephanie Wolfe, faculty member for the club. “It gives students a few key points to focus on so they are not so bombarded with statistics of human rights. Anyone who is interested in human rights and wants to stand for injustice should join Amnesty International.”
Wolfe emphasized that students can make a difference by joining the club, which she said is a good way to allow students to voice their opinions and be heard.
“We bring up issues that we want to advocate for and do it in a way that makes it easy for students to comprehend without being overwhelming,” she said.
The club has several events scheduled for this semester. At the end of March, it will hold a conference about the Rwandan genocide that occurred in the 1990s. More information about WSU Amnesty International Club events is available at www.facebook.com/pages/WSU-Amnesty-International/264998736997228.
Amnesty International (www.amnestyusa.org) began in 1961. A lawyer named Peter Benenson learned about two Portuguese students who had been put in prison for speaking out on behalf of freedom. Benenson wrote an article called “Appeal for Amnesty 1961,” which launched a worldwide campaign to focus attention on the rights of all human beings. Amnesty International was meant to be a “permanent international movement in defense of freedom and opinion and religion.”
Since it began, Amnesty International has focused on a variety of issues dealing with human rights, focusing on five specific areas it has have named its priority campaigns:
Immigrants’ Rights are Human Rights — This works for changes at state and national levels to ensure the human rights of immigrants in the U.S. are respected, protected and fulfilled.
Immigrants at Risk — In countries around the world, people’s lives are threatened because of who they are or what they believe. Amnesty International puts protecting individuals at risk of human rights violations at the heart of their work.
Security with Human Rights — This campaign works to ensure security for all by breaking the cycle of terror and torture between armed groups and states.
Abolish the Death Penalty — Amnesty International is working toward the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. It aims to end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias.
Demand Dignity — This campaign works to end human rights abuse that imprisons people in poverty. These abuses affect the full spectrum of human rights, like the rights to health, housing and freedom from discrimination.
Students at WSU have the chance to learn about what the Amnesty International Club focuses on. Sierra Thomson, an early college student studying languages, said she had not heard of the club.
“I’ve never seen any information about Amnesty International, but I’m concerned about issues dealing with prejudices,” Thomson said. “Attending meetings would help me learn more about the cultures I will be studying as I work toward my degree.”
Wolfe said Amnesty International is open to all students.
“Injustice doesn’t just affect one major,” she said. “Anyone and everyone can join. Students on our leadership board have a variety of majors. Human rights are issues for everyone.”
Julie Ikeda, the student president of the WSU Amnesty International Club, said her favorite thing about the club is the interaction with like-minded students.
“I would encourage other students to join because they have the ability to,” she said. “There are students currently in other countries that do not have this right.”
The WSU Amnesty International Club will also provide free pizza and a screening of the movie “Taken” for attendees of the event, which will be held in the Shepherd Union Building on Friday, 6-9 p.m.