Amnesty International is a global movement that campaigns for the internationally recognized human rights that should be respected and protected for everyone. It is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It also financed largely due to member contributions and donations. Their campaigns focus on demanding justice, defending freedom of expression, protecting and defending women’s rights, and campaigning for corporate accountability. It was established in the Philippines in 1987 and currently has presence in major cities including schools and communities in 10 regions of the Philippines.
Sophomore year has mostly been about academics for me, therefore I have not really been active in my extracurriculars. However, when my mom told me of a meeting she would be having, I decided to give it a try and attend. She has always been passionate about working for causes and has been trying to get me and my siblings to join. Since she decided to be very active in Amnesty International Philippines, she thought it would be a good way for us children to learn more about causes and to be more active socially. As a result, the organization has decided to bring its campaign to Ateneo in order to increase awareness so that they can contribute to the global movement.
An introductory meeting was held last February 8, with the participants being students who signed up during the Job Fair (held January 21-23). However, since the meeting coincided with the Senatorial Forum, only a handful attended, myself included. Held in one of the conference rooms in MVP, the venue provided a more personal feel compared to the intimidating feelings that often came with holding an event in a huge venue. It was quite noisy outside as students went to their various extracurriculars but inside the room all of it became a distant echo. As only 6 students arrived, the 3 speakers (plus some kids who tagged along and some students from other schools) decided to leave the chairs around the table instead of pushing everything to the side. The meeting began with an introduction to human rights. What are our rights? Sometimes we get so confused with what is considered right and wrong, that we can’t tell if our rights are being violated or not. This topic eventually led us to AI, why it was formed and what its vision is, which is to see all people enjoy the rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards. With this in mind, they have made it their mission to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending abuses to integrity and the like.
As the meeting went on, we discovered that AI works in many different ways, so that all its members and supporters can be involved. These ways include letter-writing campaigns, protests or even concerts and art shows that center around a given theme in relation to human rights holidays, such as International Women’s Month.
I felt a little awkward initially, since I did not know anyone other than my mom. In the end, I decided to try chatting with the two Japanese girls next to me. After five minutes, we discovered some common interests and eventually got to know the entire room and the diverse personalities within it. I was also curious, because this was the first time I had attended something other than rehearsals or group projects. I was not that sociable to begin, so it was a welcome opportunity to try something different.
As the meeting ended, my mother and I went home, eventually discussing what had happened during the day to my two brothers, hoping to garner their interest about the cause so that they too could take a more active part. I realized that taking a more active role in the discussion helped formulate a clearer view of our goals, and what we wanted to gain out of the talk. When we merely observe, we hear the words but we don’t necessarily take them to heart. As a result, participating in the talk made joining this organization more concrete, like I really want to do something to help instead of merely joining for the credit. Instead of just facts, we find the reasons as to why they are that way. Instead of just interviewing or having surveys, we got different opinions of people instead of a summary of the general idea. As a result, we can see things from different perspectives. However, the questionnaires and the interviews would just be supplementary because it would go into more detail if done one on one. Having a key informant helped a lot because it provided more inside knowledge about how the organization worked, as opposed to an outsider point of view, where we would view their traditions and ideals as foreign. There would also be a lot of blanks, which we would have to keep second-guessing.
“Amnesty International Philippines.”Amnesty International Philippines. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. < http://www.amnesty.org.ph/ >.