Under the Knife: Amnesty International strives for human rights

The Geneseo Chapter of Amnesty International rallies in hopes of creating a better world - one free of such injustices as torture, rape, violence and malnutrition.

Members aim to raise awareness in the college population of worldwide human rights violation, with hopes that students are inspired to take action.

The local chapter focuses on writing letters and calling political figures to raise awareness for specific issues of human rights abuses.

"Sexual trafficking is an issue we recently focused on," said sophomore Nicholas Kaasik, president of the Amnesty International chapter on campus. According to Kaasik, between 100,000 and 300,000 youths in the United States are affected each year by this problem.

"We called Sens. Schumer and Clinton regarding relevant legislation that would help protect and rehabilitate victims," said Kaasik.

The organization has many upcoming events, including the Northeast Regional conference this weekend.

"There are several different table and panel discussions related to human rights," said Kaasik. "The discussions establish the direction the conference takes."

In addition to the conference, the club is focusing on organizing another awareness campaign.

"We are organizing an "Imagine" campaign based on the John Lennon song," said Kaasik. "It will be campus-wide, centering around the United Nations Human Rights Day, which is Dec. 10."

As president, Kaasik focuses on maintaining communication between members.

"My main responsibilities are running the meetings and looking for club input and taking the club issues and wishes we would like to focus on and turning them into a reality," he said.

Treasurer, sophomore Cathy Bijur, gathers letter-writing supplies for the club and deals with the budget.

"Nick talks to all of us about what we want to see the club doing," Bijur said.

The group is also looking to collaborate with other student organizations.

"Right now, I'm trying to start a correspondence between Geneseo Environmental Organization and Amnesty International to raise awareness about environmental human rights issues," said Bijur.

Bijur enjoys being a member of the club because it helps to raise awareness for important issues.

"It's a non-partisan group, so it's really rewarding to not be politically affiliated and work for basic human rights issues," said Bijur. "There are not two sides to the issue. It's something that's so basic, but it's one of the most fundamental things you can do and it's proven to work."

Amnesty International holds meetings every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Fireside lounge and encourages new membership.