Campus chapter returns after hiatus, presents conference Feb. 19
Concordia’s chapter of Amnesty International is happy to be back on campus and planning a conference featuring the Canadian head of the francophone branch of the organization and a prominent human rights lawyer on Thursday, Feb. 19.
Started in 2011, the chapter went defunct several years later after the staff moved on and there were insufficient replacements.
Since restarting the group last semester, Edith G. Lebel, the president of Concordia’s chapter, has rebuilt it into an organization with some 50 volunteers and a full executive staff. The effort has paid off to the point that they’ll be heading a general assembly in March to vote in future governance. They’ll also be working on simplifying the constitution to make it more flexible for members.
“There’s a lot of clubs at Concordia. It gets a bit difficult to be seen,” she said of the competition for student support. “It’s more about visibility [and] people are really interested in Amnesty—they know the name.”
Lebel calls the talk on Thursday the group’s main event of the year. It is meant to be an informal discussion with the audience featuring two prominent members of the organization: Dr. Francois Larocque, associate professor of Law at the University of Ottawa and the lawyer who appeared before the Supreme court in the trial of Zahra Kazemi, a photojournalist who is said to have died while incarcerated by Iranian authorities.
The second guest will be Béatrice Vaugrante, executive director of the francophone branch of Canada’s Amnesty International, who will be speaking on her career in the fields of corporate social responsibility, poverty, and human rights.
Another topic visited will be that of Amnesty International’s current campaign for Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison on charges of apostasy for criticizing Islam.
Aside from that, the group is busy planning or advertising enough events in the city to make up for its down time.
“For me the purpose of amnesty has always been in terms of raising awareness and making a change,” said Lebel.