There is no question that working on Turkish human rights issues in the United States can be frustrating. Most Americans don’t know much about the country and the Turkish diaspora in the U.S. is demographically small and tends to be apolitical. On college campuses, where human rights issues are routinely discussed, violations in Turkey are little known.
It is for this reason that we are particularly grateful to the students of the Amnesty International chapter at St. Lawrence University, the first campus group to “adopt” Amnesty’s campaign to end the criminalization of dissent in Turkey.
St. Lawrence students have a reputation for energy and innovation, so it is little surprise that they have done tremendous work: organizing a lecture that was open to students, faculty, and the wider community and spending hours on the petition drive, which includes tables with wireless laptops, so people can take a minute (all it takes!) to sign the petitions or twitter in support of Amnesty’s campaign. They are also working to recruit additional members for AI-USA’s Turkey Regional Action Network, so Amnesty has people it can call on when there is an urgent action in Turkey.
Amnesty is looking at their work as a potential model for other Amnesty student groups to work on urgent country-specific campaigns like this one. St. Lawrence students have done some remarkable work on this campaign. We are grateful. And we are excited by the new ideas and new energy being generated.
If you are a university student in the U.S. and would like to learn how your campus Amnesty chapter can help in our campaign, get in touch! Turkey’s attacks on dissent have particularly targeted college campuses. It is only appropriate that college campuses also be a center for the campaign for freedom.