Amnesty International fighting abuses, one petition at a time

Despite being in exile for three years, Edward Snowden has been brought back into the news for his whistleblowing of U.S. surveillance tactics, and Amnesty International has been petitioning for President Barack Obama to pardon him.

Carmel High School students, like the ones in the Amnesty International Club at CHS, frequently respond to global issues such as the Edward Snowden dilemma.

The official CHS Amnesty International student group, headed by club president Sam Campione and co-advisers Whitney Grummon and Kay Vetter, promotes human rights and outreach across the globe.

“It is an international organization that pulls together thousands of small chapters of people who all work to free political prisoners,” Grummon explains. “Most of the people who are in jail that Amnesty would be working to free are there because they spoke out against their government or are victims of basic human rights violations.”

This year, junior Campione has taken the lead of the club and has high hopes for its future. He envisions the club doing outreach programs, community events such as a movie night and fundraisers to send money to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization. Fundraising is high on his agenda for the club.

“It’s really great because a little bit of your effort makes a big change,” Campione says.

Currently, the club is still relatively new and less well-known—Amnesty International has existed for a mere six years at CHS.

“By the end of this year I would like to just be a sturdy student group so that next year we can hit the ground running and keep going,” Campione says.

The advisers encourage members to be independent and corroborate, and they help facilitate discussion by answering questions and giving the students a voice.

A testament to the club’s independence is how the club president approached the former North Monterey County educator by himself to pilot the club, without knowing of Grummon’s previous experience. Grummon has been advising the club at CHS for five years and has 10 years of prior experience, while new adviser Kay Vetter is starting her first year with the club.

According to Campione, Amnesty International is meant to expose injustices worldwide and help people become more active in what they do and why they do it.

The long-time adviser agrees: “The goal is going to be focused on education, letting other students know what [Amnesty International] is and also letting them know about the abuses…that are happening across the globe.”

Over 7 million supporters take part in the grassroots organization’s pursuits. At CHS, the club utilizes letter writing campaigns in their pursuit to free political prisoners who are in need of support.

The Amnesty International Club is holding strong at around 20 members, but has yet to meet this year. Members plan to meet Fridays at lunch in Room 21.

-Ellie Alto