IHS Fight For Rights

Emma Lombara, Journalist

What is Amnesty International? I bet most students have never even heard of it. Amnesty International is a global human rights group that began in 1961. The goal of the club is to protect people’s rights for people who can’t do it themselves. The founder of the organization was Peter Beneson; he was a British lawyer. He started it when he was outraged when two Portuguese men were jailed for raising a glass to freedom. He wrote an article to spread the word that people can unite to help fight for justice and freedom and the article blew up. Since then the organization has made serious headway. The club is now up to 7 million people around the country, and in 1977 the club won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to help human rights. Recently, Lilly O’Connor decided to bring this group to IHS with Mrs. Smith’s help (history teacher); she started the Amnesty International Club at IHS.

The club supports people and helps them with their rights through education and training. This club involves every issue present in society: from small issues to world problems. The group exposes the true facts whenever abuse happens. Their goal is to make this world a place where human rights are enjoyed by all. Before O’Connor created this club, I personally never knew what Amnesty was. I had heard about it, but never completely understood their goals. Some kids in Ipswich are very isolated from the world and everything that is going on around us. Lots of kids are uneducated and misinformed.  They brought the club to the school to show the kids what’s going on in the world and to show them they can make an impact on the issues.

I got the chance to interview Lilly O’Connor and Mrs. Smith, and asked them why they think the club is beneficial to our school. When I asked Lilly what Amnesty meant to her, she said, “to protect human rights internationally, and raise awareness for people who don’t have a voice.” She agreed that it is important in our school because Ipswich is a bubble with little diversity, and many kids are sheltered from international issues because they don’t necessarily affect them. When she started the club, she decided that one of the main goals would be to educate students at our school.

When interviewing Mrs. Smith, I also asked what amnesty meant to her. She responded, saying “I think it’s beneficial because a lot of students don’t know a lot about human rights violations around the world. There is a Global Studies course, but not a lot of kids take it. It is good for kids who are hands on and want to help.” Global Studies is a class that covers international issues, and it challenges students to be leaders who face the issues. While interviewing Mrs. Smith, I found out that she was in an Amnesty International Club while in high school. The main focus of the club was getting Nelson Mandela out of jail.

It is a great club with a great cause! More people would join if they knew more about it. What is happening right now in the world can be gruesome; more people will want to act if they knew how. This club will educate us on all the issues and show us that even if these issues aren’t happening in our town, it doesn’t make them not our problem.

Lilly O’Connor, President of Amnesty International