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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize winning, global movement
of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights. According to
their website, they “work to protect people wherever justice, freedom,
truth and dignity are denied.”
Now, this group is coming to the University in the form of a college
youth chapter. But this is not the first time this group was prominent
on campus.
“Amnesty had been a part of the Villanova campus up to a few years
ago,” Yalda Hajavi, sophomore president of Amnesty International at
the University said. “The president of the organization on campus
graduated and there wasn’t anyone there to pick up the pieces.”
Amnesty International is currently the world’s largest grassroots
human rights organization.
They investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public
and help transform societies to make the world a better place.
The mission of Amnesty International is a vision of a world in which
every person enjoys all of the human rights that are recognized in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally
recognized human rights standards.
The organizaton works by way of research, action and advocacy. J.K.
Rowling, author of the popular series Harry Potter, once worked for
the organization and explained it as such, “Ordinary people, whose
personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge
numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet.”
“My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling
and inspiring experiences of my life.”
“Personally, I am very passionate about human rights and advocating
for human rights so this organization became really appealing to me,”
Hajavi said. “I started browsing the Amnesty website to see how I
could get involved with them and when I saw that there is an
opportunity right on campus, I had to get it started.”
Starting an Amnesty International chapter gives students the
opportunity to make a human rights impact in their community while
gaining leadership experience.
At each meeting, the group writers letters to prisoners.
“This offers those prisoners of conscience moral and psychological
support and can really make a difference for them,” Hajavi said.
“Imagine getting a letter from a random stranger that is telling you
‘I am here, and I want you to hold on.’ This support allows them to
keep fighting and throughout the years the letter writing has been
really successful in releasing many prisoners and granting them
justice.”
Some University students were excited to get involved in a well-known,
international organization and start a chapter on campus.
“As an international business major, I always keep tabs on
international conflicts,” freshman Lizzy Urtso said. “Unfortunately
too much if what I have seen involves human being stripped of their
human rights and dignity. This made me want to make a difference. I’m
so excited to resurrect it here at Villanova and we are all working
hard to get more people involved.”
“Amnesty is such an important organization, which helps those who are
struggling have a voice to speak up for themselves and their rights,”
freshman Courtney Morrissette said. “I am so excited to be a part of
Villanova’s chapter, because I feel that with the strong sense of
community that we have here, we can truly make a difference in the
world, and help those who need it.”
“My plans for the future are to expand the group in terms of number of
students and conduct fundraisers for children in poverty, women who
have been exposed to violence, and eventually to bring an Amnesty
representative to campus,” Hajavi said.

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