By Darla Sheldon
The 5th annual Oklahoma State Conference for Amnesty International will be held on Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., at the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave., on the Oklahoma City University campus.
Breakfast and registration starts at 9 a.m. The conference begins at 10 a.m., and lunch will be served from noon – 1 p.m. The event is co-hosted by the local Amnesty Oklahoma Group #238 and the OCU Amnesty Group.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Use Your Power,” will be reflected by focusing on how individuals can use their power to inspire change around the world. Tickets cost $10 per person for the daylong event, meals included.
John Walters, Legislative Coordinator for Amnesty-USA, Oklahoma Group #238 said, “This is a great opportunity for Oklahomans to find out more about Amnesty, the worlds largest Human Rights Organization, and the work that we do on behalf of Human Rights around the world.”
The event’s featured speaker is Matthew Kane, local attorney with Ryan Whaley Coldiron Shandy in Oklahoma City. Kane will speak about “Access to Justice for All in Sub-Sahara Africa: War Criminals Excepted?”
“In practice, the enforcement of the human rights of one individual often comes at the expense of another,” said Kane. “Whose rights do we advocate when such conflicts arise, particularly when one party appears more unsavory?
“This presentation will discuss many of the human rights enumerated in the Banjul Charter, the regional instrument effectuated in large part through the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” Kane said. “And how the Commission will address the case of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.”
Kwoyelo, captured by Ugandan forces in March 2009, was accused of committing multiple crimes against humanity, including murder, but was granted amnesty under Ugandan law, like some 26,000 others before him.
Ordered released by the Ugandan Constitutional Court, Kwoyelo remains incarcerated without prospect of trial.
“A deeper discussion – with Kwoyelo’s situation as a backdrop – reveals the complex challenges facing those seeking to exercise recognized basic human rights in the aftermath of such mass atrocities,” said Kane.
Kane interned with the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He also developed projects for the Memorial Institute for the prevention of Terrorism and the Center for the study of Terrorism and Political Violence relating to the legal aspects of the war on terror.
Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice, promoting human rights and working to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
Morning workshop sessions include Amnesty 101, History of AI and Human Rights Work; Lobbying 101; How to Lobby Your Legislators; and Creative Activism.
Afternoon workshops will feature Reproductive Rights; Individuals at Risk; and Security with Human Rights 201. The afternoon speaker is to be announced.
Currently the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, AI works to investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and helps transform societies to create a safer and more just world.
With more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries, and complete independence from government, corporate or ideological interests, AI-USA works to protect human rights worldwide.
With global headquarters is based in London, AI has established organizations in 68 countries.
Amnesty International USA is the largest country section of the organization with nearly 250,000 members, who work for human rights independently, through national online networks, or with high school, college or community groups.
To RSVP, email [email protected] To learn more about Amnesty International’s Oklahoma’s group, contact John Walters at 405-720-64687 or visit www.facebook.com/amnestyokc.