Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.3

October 9, 2003


Amnesty International busy on campus

by Mia Shelton

“The world is run by people who show up. If you don’t show up, don’t expect anything to change,” warned Ezra Winton, one of the executives at Amnesty Concordia, the campus chapter of the well-known human rights organization.

Amnesty is busy on campus this year exposing students to a wide variety of human rights issues, and lighting a fire under an already politically aware student population.

The group is running a biweekly film series called Cinema Politica. Movies from around the world explore themes such as imperialism, commercialization and inhuman work conditions. “There are a lot of good films about social justice,” Winton said.

More than 100 people attended last Thursday’s screening of Lumumba, a true tale of corruption and murder in 1960s Congo.

The growing support on campus has members ecstatic, including Celeste Côté. At the end of last year, Amnesty had about 300 members, but now it’s around 500. Côté sees Amnesty’s role as showing people where to start if they want to become active, by introducing them to the issues.

After the first film, the Russian anti-war epic Come and See, Amnesty recorded 50 hits on their web site and a few dozen members were added to their mailing list. Perhaps the biggest event coming up this month is the screening of The Corporation, a documentary from Mark Achbar, the director of Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent . Achbar will be at Concordia on Oct. 17 to screen his film and lead a discussion.

On Jan. 22 there will be a human rights expo in the mezzanine, highlighting cases in Africa and Latin America, and using art, dance and other creative outlets. Travesty Theatre, a local theatre group, may perform their version of Macbeth. Winton is also planning to build an isolation chamber where students can experience the effects of solitary confinement.

Amnesty Concordia works with the regional branch of Amnesty International and respects the apolitical stance of its big brother, using letter writing as their core activity.

Every month the group meets at Café L’Utopik, 552 Ste. Catherine St. E., and handwrites letters to governments and organizations they feel abuse human rights. Anyone who wants to contribute is greatly appreciated.

They also have a table in the mezzanine every Monday afternoon, offering information to students. Open meetings are held every Thursday night in Room 103 at 2020 Mackay St.

The passion of Amnesty’s members is evident in their long hours and dedication. “We’re here because we love it,” Winton said.