Amnesty International holds petition signing

Abby Siu, Staff Writer

 

Augustin Goodman (9) signs petition presented by Phoebe Vo (10) and Daniel Tran (12), Oct. 28. The petition advocated for an increase in United States gun restrictions. Photo by Abby Siu.

The Amnesty International club held a petition-signing event through ActivismX, a three-week initiative that various High School Amnesty International USA groups take part in to bring awareness to different topics, Oct. 28. Westview’s Amnesty International covered abortion, gun control, and “individuals at risk” cases.

During the petition signing, Club President Aiken Wang (12), Vice President Daniel Tran (12), and Executive Phoebe Vo (10) gathered signatures from students for the petitions.

“The International Secretariat, which is the headquarters [for Amnesty International], designates different cases that national branches like Amnesty USA should work on,” Wang said.

The club chose abortion because of the relevance in American politics. The petition fought against policies banning abortion.
An important focus of Amnesty International is upholding human rights. Wang says the lack of gun control in the U.S. violates that.

“We want to put sensible gun restrictions like we see in European nations, where gun crime rates tend to be a lot lower,” Wang said.
Wang talked about a case where an American doctor, a member of Amnesty International, went to Ukraine to help treat gunshot victims from its war with Russia.

“They’re a normal doctor, but they have so much experience with gun violence that they’re used to the chaos [in Ukraine],” Wang said. “In comparison to other countries, [American doctors] have an incredible amount of experience with gunshot wounds. Our doctors are considered war-zone capable.”

Amnesty International also had petitions for “individuals at risk.” These are people who are international political prisoners who’ve been arrested for either their race, religion, or speaking out against something.

“We had one Russian activist who was criticizing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, so he’s been arrested,” Wang said. “We unfortunately do not have a lot of information about how he’s been treated, but we do know several others have been brutally tortured.”

Steven Donziger, an American, who Westview’s Amnesty had a signing for is an Amazon Rainforest advocate in Brazil.

“He was not directly arrested for his political speech; they [arrested] him for contempt by our Justice department,” Wang said. “In that region, a lot of companies intimidate environmental rights activists, and that’s a very concerning fact.”

Amnesty International deals with human rights issues at the national and international level. At the national level, they send the petition to someone like a congressman who then looks over the petition and sees a lot of public support for the issue, such as in the case of abortion legalization.

“If you’re sending a petition to a [person from Congress], they’re probably not going to change their view because of a high-school petition,” Wang said. “We’re trying to show him that if, he tried to go very hard on abortion campaigning [for example], there might be electoral consequences. It makes him aware that large amounts of Americans care about these issues.”

After gathering the amount of signatures that they want, the club sends the petitions to Amnesty International, the organization then gathers them all and sends them out to political leaders who deal with the issues at hand.

“I think it’s important to recognize what petitions are trying to do,” Wang said. “They’re not laws and they’re not trying to change policy. They’re trying to show public support for a specific issue.”