Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home: Safe and Sound With No Arrest Warrents

Catchy title? No worries, I didn't cause too much trouble today at my FIRST PROTEST. Today was commpeltly exhilariting and inredibly eye opening.

This rally was in culmination of my week of working with the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition. For the past couple of weeks, I have been going to lectures and workshops, learning about that atrocities of torture. Then, on Thursday, I lobbied with other students and toruture surviors on Capitol Hill for torture awareness and abolition.

I have heard some of the saddest stories ever this week; I will not relate most of them here for they are alarmingly too many too relate. As I typed that last statement, a rock formed in my stomach. I should have had to write that, but it is unfortunaly true.

Going into these appointment, I knew in the back of my mind that I may not get responses that I felt were satisfactory, but I was not going to let that stop me. At the end of my lobbying day, I knew that I hadn't single handedly changed anyone's mind, but the most rewarding part was listening to the torture surviors' reaction to the meetings. They agreed that this is a long battle that perhaps needs hundreds of lobbying days and rallies, but these survivors were simply estatic that they were able to talk to someone in the government. They were so touched that someone cared enough to schedule 20 to 30 minute of their day to listen to their stories. Getachew, one of my lobbying partners, reminded us students that they could never voice their complaints in their country.

It was here in this moment that the saddness and disappointment of the week turned around into joy.I could see in Getachew's eyes that he was so elated to actually raise his voice, something that he has long been denied.

Today in Lafyette Park outside the White House, I heard even more stories of atrocities, not only from our own rally group, but from other groups that gathered in front of the White House. It broke my heart to hear their stories and to see pictures of loved ones back in Ethiopia, Syria, or Libya. I would get really angry thinking how many Americans turn a blind eye to their cries and how they are easily brushed aside by the government. But as everyone gathered in peaceful protest, I was also reminded that these people are finally exercising their voice, the beauty of being in America. But who is listening?

These individuals all have a voice. And if no one else will listen, I will.

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