The impact of our actions

11 November 2014, 17:04 UTC | New Zealand
An art display made by the students at Waitaki Girls' High School as a part of Freedom Challenge. © Amnesty International
By Dayeon Lee - Year 13 Student Leader at Westlake Girls High and the Student Leader for the School's Amnesty International Youth Group.

A couple of months ago in August, the Westlake Girls High School Amnesty Youth Group participated in the nationwide “Stop Torture” campaign in protest against the imprisonment of the Azerbaijani human rights activist group, N!DA.

To take a stand alongside N!DA, our school had events running all week: on Monday, the Amnesty Youth Group Student Leaders conducted a Walking Petition to gather signatures in support of the efficient and safe release of the N!DA activists; we held a Lunchtime Quiz for the Amnesty Youth Group Members on the Tuesday; on Wednesday, Westlake Girls’ hosted the Inter-school Human Rights Quiz Night; a Westlake Girls’ alumnus who supports Amnesty and has worked for the United Nations came as a Guest Speaker and presented to students on Thursday; and “The Amazing Race for Freedom” took place at lunchtime on the Friday afternoon.

The announcement just last month that two N!DA members, Shahin Novruzlu and Bakhtiyar Guliyev, were pardoned by the Azerbaijani government produced an empowering feeling throughout our whole Youth Group and fellow participants. It was great to hear the news that the government had taken an important step in the right direction to provide justice for this group and also the realisation that we had played even the most minor role in this achievement.

In many ways, being a young teenager in New Zealand does set limitations. We do not necessarily have the power to delve right into the action and most of us are not in a position to physically go and free these activists or tangibly resolve other human rights issues. However the released N!DA activists are just one example of how all our actions, no matter how large or small, contribute to create a bigger, louder and more impactful force in our world. Sometimes these actions are enough to raise awareness and sometimes raising awareness is enough to keep the media spotlight on important issues and sometimes this spotlight creates enough pressure on local and global leaders to make positive changes.

For these reasons, I believe it is so important to always try to do what we can to help. It is also incredibly important to not forget about the positive changes and triumphs that we work towards achieving in this world that we share!

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