“That’s human rights!” Margaret Morgan had been visiting with a friend and was being introduced to family pictures when her friend, Esperenza (not real name), pointed to a few individuals and said they were “disappeared.” Disappeared is a term Amnesty International (AI) helped make popular in the human rights field. It refers to loved ones who were/are kidnapped, stolen, or imprisoned by the government or rebel groups (largely in South American countries). Margaret shares this story with me to help me understand the value of having others speak-up about the injustices experienced by political prisoners all over the world.
She spoke to me on her birthday—she is 85 years young!—about her life, her work with Amnesty International and her work with ADAPP.
One of it’s early members, Morgan joined Amnesty International before it came to Canada—while it was just beginning in London. “My husband was a very principled man and I always felt that if we were living in Russia or elsewhere, he would have been jailed” such an honest answer for a lifelong commitment to an organization that demands justice for those whose rights have been violated. She recalls Peter Benenson and other AI members providing heart medicine for a polish prisoner and smiles “funny I just sent some money for heart medicine to a Singapore political prisoner.”
In addition to her many activities she still finds time to sit on ADAPP’s board as the President of the Board to directors. She spoke to me about the Cause—you get to watch the video below!—and highlighted the value of generating support. “We need money,” she told me candidly. The board is working on a charitable status application, but that will take years and she is uncertain how ADAPP will keep going without substantial funding. It is sobering thinking that an organization like ADAPP could be kept from operating , what will happen to all those political prisoners jailed because they are demanding their cultural and linguistic rights. True there are several Iranian human rights groups, and some are effective, but they do not speak to the core of the issue: an inherent racism that keeps minorities marginalized and oppressed. Iranian Government jails, tortures, and sometimes kills its citizens for things we non-Iranians take for granted.
Many of us know about the Green Movement, Iranians filling up streets demanding fair elections. The Green Movement gained international prominence thanks to Western coverage. However, three years before little was reported on hundreds, thousands of Iranians who also flooded city streets demanding justice from their government. These Iranians were from the Azerbaijani region…and their ethnic group is not in power. Is that why they matter little to the Western media? (One does acknowledge the time period of the elections fueled the intense media coverage, compared to a cartoon crisis.) Human rights are about making others see the error of their ways and working to help stop injustices. It is also about making us care about others far, far away. Supporting groups like ADAPP is a way to do this. And Margaret is working to get this message out.
As she walked away from our coffee shop, she prods me to follow-up on some ADAPP ideas I mentioned, saying nothing ventured anything gained— sage advice from one who always ventures out on behalf of those who cannot.
The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
(Perennial/Harper Collins, 1989)
Posted By Adepeju Solarin
Posted Aug 19th, 2010