CONTRIBUTED BY BEN KAHRL
Human rights should be both unalienable and applicable to all, yet around the world, there are many people whose human rights have been violated. Many have even been falsely imprisoned by their governments. But how is any American high school student supposed to change that?
The high school’s Amnesty International Club aims to answer that question. Their upcoming “Write for Rights” campaign offers students a chance to get involved and truly make a difference in the situations of those whose rights have been violated.
According to senior Komal Wasif, a member of the Amnesty International Club, a major goal of the campaign is to educate students within the high school about human rights issues across the world.
“For BHS, the goal is obviously to help these people, but another thing is to show people what’s going on, because lots of people don’t know about these situations,” Wasif said. “For example, until recently, abortion was illegal in Ireland, which isn’t widely known here.”
During the Write for Rights campaign, Amnesty International supporters from around the world speak out against injustice by writing letters to political leaders and the people who they are fighting for, in order to affect change and support those whose rights have been violated.
Social studies teacher Ben Kahrl, who is the advisor for the Amnesty International Club, believes that there are enough students at the high school who are interested in human rights to have a significant number of students participate in the “Write for Rights” campaign.
“I think have gone pretty well in terms of the people who participated. It’s a matter of giving people an opportunity to fight for human rights, if that’s something that they’re interested in, and explore that as a possible activity,” Kahrl said.
Wasif said that last year’s campaign was even more successful than anticipated due to a large number of volunteers.
“I emailed all the people in Amnesty and told them we were doing it and that they should bring anyone that they can… but I was still really surprised by the outcome of all of that. There were so many people that the room was all filled up, and we actually ran out of envelopes for letters to be sent in,” Wasif said.
According to sophomore Zaid Shah, participating in “Write for Rights” is one of the best ways to truly make a difference in helping those who are suffering.
“Everyone wants to help in some way, but there’s a lot of different ways of doing that,” Shah said. “By talking directly to about your issues, you know they have to listen to you and take you seriously.”
According to Kahrl, the campaign does not just help the victims of rights violations. It also allows students at the high school to reflect on their own situations.
“It also gives us a chance to be grateful for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country,” Kahrl said. “I want kids to do it because they find it rewarding, interesting, and gratifying in terms of both being able to help someone, and also being able to reflect on their own lives, and see how fortunate we are.”
Wasif explained that it is also important to remember that human rights are an issue that affects everyone.
“If one person’s rights are being violated, it should be important to you because it could eventually be happening to you or someone you know,” Wasif said. “Just because we’re in America, it doesn’t mean this can’t affect you. If it’s affecting the world, then you should take a part in dealing with it.”