An Interview with the Amnesty International Club


Allison Korn

Amnesty International is an organization that campaigns for human rights.

Zareen Brown, Contributing Writer

Sami Shirazi ’22 and Jamie Durant ’22 are the President and Vice President of the CRLS chapter of Amnesty International (AI). AI is a global organization formed in 1961 focused on human rights. The goals of the organization include “freeing all prisoners of conscience (people imprisoned for expressing their beliefs in a peaceful manner),” prompt and fair trials for all political prisoners, abolition of the death penalty and “other degrading punishment,” ending extrajudicial executions, and working to ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice. AI currently has three priority campaigns: freeing people from ICE detention, addressing gun violence as a human rights crisis, and ensuring that refugees and migrants are able to safely rebuild their lives. 


Register Forum (RF): How did you come to find out about Amnesty International (AI) as a global organization, and what inspired you to start a chapter at CRLS?


Sami Shirazi (SS): I’ve known about Amnesty International for a while, but I think the first time I heard about it was from their work on ending gun violence and the death penalty. I thought that this would be a really good club to start at CRLS because so many kids that I know (and so many people) are passionate about the issues that Amnesty International focuses on. 


RF: What are the club’s great goals?


Jamie Durant (JD): Amnesty International has so many issues (homelessness, food insecurity and climate change were the main issues the club focused on this year) that they are focused on and the goal of the club is just to keep up those ideas and spread awareness about them throughout the school. I also think that Rindge is a really good place to start a club like this because so many people are passionate about the same issues and also want to spread awareness through different events. 


RF: How would you want the goals of AI to be spread across the school or across the city?


JD: I think there [are] so many clubs at CRLS that are similar to Amnesty International in terms of the focus on human rights, ending violence, and fundraising for particular causes. We’d really love to collaborate with clubs like these that focus on the same things as our club. 


SS: Yeah I agree with Jamie. There’s so much we can do at Rindge because the student body is so connected in terms of beliefs and setting up fundraisers. I know that Sisters on the Runway was doing a lot of different projects this year even during COVID to spread awareness about domestic violence, and Club 4 was still finding ways to provide for the local homeless shelters. 


RF: What kinds of fundraisers and activities does the club specialize in or organize?


SS: Well due to COVID, we haven’t had much luck in terms of big group fundraisers because of social distancing and all of that, but we’ve really wanted to get involved in fundraising in Cambridge. A lot of our members participated in the Alewife clean-up a few months ago which was super fun and a good way to get involved with important organizations in the city like Friends of Alewife Reservation. We have also done two food and clothing drives this year where our members collected tons of used and new winter clothing, as well as canned goods and produce.


RF: What was the experience of starting a brand new club online, as well as organizing fundraisers with strict restrictions during the pandemic?


JD: I think a lot of people had that problem as well because it’s such a weird year and even last year we couldn’t do much. We just made sure to send out emails and stuff to people that wanted to get involved, and mostly through word of mouth we got people to join the club. In terms of fundraising, we really wanted to be able to help with the current situation because it’s made things like lack of food and clothing even worse. 


RF: How can students at CRLS get involved in Amnesty International?


JD: I’d definitely encourage Rindge students to read up on Amnesty International even if they don’t join the club, just because it’s an amazing organization to be involved with or keep up to date with. Hopefully next year things will be a little bit more normal and we can do more in terms of fundraising and other events. The goal of Amnesty International as a whole is to spread awareness of human rights issues and provide for those who cannot for themselves, so definitely email me or Sami about joining! Also I’d encourage people to look for volunteering opportunities online because there’s always things we can do. 


Contact the Amnesty International Club Leaders:

[email protected] → Club President

[email protected] → Club Vice President

[email protected] → Club Advisor