Amnesty Celebrates Rights Day
More Than 750 Signatures Collected for Letter Campaign
The Harvard-Radcliffe chapter of Amnesty International commemorated today's International Human Rights Day by collecting more than 750 signatures yesterday on petitions for prisoners in Brazil, Turkey and Mexico.
Undergraduates, graduate students, tourists and high school students at Harvard for the Model United Nations conference signed the petitions, which call for investigations into the imprisonment of specific political prisoners.
"We're not asking for unconditional release, because in most cases, not all the information is in," said Laura T. Meyer '98, who tabled at the event. "We're asking that these people have access to lawyers and their families."
Gathering signatures was not the group's only aim, however. Its members said they also wanted to raise awareness about the group and its activities.
The letter-writing campaigns are often successful, said Zeeshan H. Saidi '96, president of the Harvard-Radcliffe chapter.
"We hear about prisoner release" regularly, he said. Recently, four teachers in Turkey were released after that country's government received letters from Amnesty chapters all over the world, including Harvard's.
According to David W. Harrison '97, the petitions grew out of letters written by the group during its weekly meetings.
Students tabling stressed that the petitions were not general but intended to help specific prisoners-a single prisoner in Turkey, and groups of prisoners in Brazil and Mexico.
This is the first year the group has tabled, but its members were pleased with the amount of interest, Saidi said.
"It has been really successful," he said. "We'll definitely do it again."