And so my time has come to leave Amnesty International as a campaigner, I have been involved with Amnesty in Northern Ireland for just short of five years, in a variety of roles. Five challenging, fascinating years which have only confirmed for me the integrity of the organisation and importance of NGOs in the ongoing fight to uphold human rights in our own country. Never has it been more important to support those brave human rights defenders in other countries who selflessly take risks every day.
During my time at Amnesty we have campaigned relentlessly on the use of torture and rendition ( don't you just love that euphemism), Amnesty has been one of a few organisations who have consistently exposed the use of secret prisons, and torture despite the denials by politicians. It seems like everyday a new fact emerges to vindicate Amnesty's position. Sometimes we have taken unpopular positions, but always we have taken in my opinion the moral and consistent position.
There have been too many moments during my time at Amnesty to name all the highlights…but I'll try. Spending the day with Moazaam Begg and listening to him deliver Amnesty's annual lecture. Peter Tatchell, in my opinion one of the bravest human rights defenders in the UK, stirring up a hornets nest with his allegations of King Billy's homosexuality ( I learnt a lot from him about how you shape a news agenda). Listening to Kevin Barry's hilarious and genius short story based on the UDHR at last years poetry event. Watching Tim Minchon at Stand Up For Justice. Working with the amazing young people in the Belfast youth group and the leadership training in Bundoran last year where Dan Jones, Sian and I, lead a procession of young people dressed up as Iranian Women through the centre of Bundoran and onto a beach on a crisp and sunny Sunday morning, to the amazement of the locals, to campaign for Equality for women in Iran. ( I was a little concerned it was all a bit Ken Russell) Pride every year, always a highlight. The freeing of Mirza Tahir Hussein…. as I said too many to mention.
Working with all the fantastic local groups, if I could particularly mention Gerard in Newry who seems to be a one man army, conducting more school speaking in Northern Ireland than any one else. The excellent student group who constantly come up with new ideas and put me to shame and last but not least all my team who have all been an inspirational to work with…you guys set the benchmark high and I always tried and even sometimes succeeded in meeting it.
And so I set off on my new journey with trepidation to work in Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, some would say that I'm good at the conflict bit anyway, lol, but you can be sure that my passion for human rights will permeate every aspect of that work. I'll even write the occasional blog. So until the next time…
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