|Last December, members of Amnesty International
at HPU joined with thousands of others across the country to
send messages of hope to human rights defenders, prisoners of
conscience, and all, around the world, who had been imprisoned
solely because of their beliefs, identity, religion, or ethnic
Tables were set up at Fort Street Mall and at
the Hawai‘i Loa campus where students could address these
holiday messages of hope to prisoners of conscience in Uzbekistan,
the United States, Syria, Zimbabwe, and Belarus. Altogether,
about 250 cards were sent.
For HPU students, the most popular prisoner of conscience was
Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia Castillo, of the Florida (USA) National
Guard. Castillo objected to the abuse of Iraqi detainees before
that abuse became public, and is now imprisoned because of his
stand on the basis of conscience against it.
Sending a message of support to a prisoner of conscience gives
us an opportunity to use our own freedom and good fortune in
the service of others,” said Amnesty International at HPU
former President Therese Svensson. “Furthermore, we know
from former prisoners who have received cards from AI activists
that these simple cards provided them with a powerful ray of
hope during their imprisonment,” Svensson said, adding
that the club was grateful to Jean Kirschenmann, assistant professor
of English as a second language, and her colleagues and students
for their help with Human Rights Day.
According to Amnesty International, at least six of the prisoners
of conscience featured in the holiday Card Action were subsequently
released from prison.