Human rights group starts


When Amanda Osborne wanted to join a human rights group on campus, she couldn’t find one that suited her needs.

So Osborne, a sophomore from Joelton, Tenn., started her own.

Amnesty International’s Western chapter had its first meeting Feb. 11.

About a dozen people showed up to learn more about the human rights organization. Osborne helped lead the informational meeting and discussion. Osborne gathered most of her information from the organization’s Web site.

Amnesty International was created in 1961 to help prevent and end human rights abuses. The nearest Amnesty office is in Chicago. The office sent Osborne information on how to write letters to governments regarding prisoners.

Grass-roots campaigns in support of freeing prisoners of conscience, political prisoners and ending political killings and torture are high priorities of Amnesty, according to its Web site.

A prisoner of conscience is someone who is sent to prison because of their beliefs, Osborne said.

Osborne and Amnesty share a belief in the abolishment of the death penalty. She said eye for an eye punishment is not the answer.

“You don’t rape rapists,” Osborne said.

She also said that it is cheaper to imprison a person for life than it is to kill them by lethal injection.

Osborne became interested in forming an Amnesty chapter after not finding what she was looking for in any current student organization.

Every club on campus needs a faculty adviser, so Osborne asked for help from international politics assistant professor Soleiman Kiasatpour.

Western’s Amnesty chapter serves the people of Bowling Green and Western’s campus, Kiasatpour said. Kiasatpour said the Western chapter will try to uphold the 14th Amendment, which is equal treatment before the law.

Nashville freshman Emily Moore shares Osborne’s opinion about a lack of human rights issues being addressed on campus.

Moore said she would like the group to have rallies in Louisville and Nashville along with heightening awareness of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

With Moore on board, Osborne had the five people she needed to establish the club.

A previous chapter of Amnesty at Western created a constitution that Osborne altered.

She said she wanted the organization to have the option to elect officers or create work committees for specific projects.

When the group went looking for ways to help the community, they turned to the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission.

Executive director Linda McCray said that both groups’ objectives overlap.

“Amnesty works on a much larger scale, but our goals are very common,” McCray said.

Osborne achieved one of her goals by establishing the chapter before her 20th birthday. She brought up one of the commission’s current problems at the meeting.

Osborne said McCray told her some of the landlords in Bowling Green were overcharging Hispanics for rent. Osborne said McCray said they had a weak grasp of English and were having to pay $400 per person. Osborne said McCray needed Western’s Amnesty group’s help because the commission is understaffed.

Sevda Yuzbasioglu, a graduate student and former member of Amnesty International in Turkey, participated in the discussion.

“I’m not sure what we can do in Bowling Green, but we’ll see about it,” she said.

Reach Bobby Harrell at [email protected]