Through the impenetrable darkness of human rights violations, oppressed and marginalised people without voices and every injustice that becomes a catastrophic weight on the shoulders of those suffering indescribable pain, loss and grief – are the activists who work towards enabling the burdened to rise and the voiceless to reclaim their voices. These are their stories…
Back in her high school days, Michelle Hinton, Amnesty WA Refugee Rights Group convenor, would spend her lunchtime writing letters, discussing current human rights issues and having conversations about things that mattered, with her Amnesty group.
Passionate about making a change in the world, Michelle found her feet in her first Amnesty meeting.
“[I loved] meeting this group who were so friendly and welcoming, and so passionate about helping others with their time and actions,” she said.
Refugee rights are very important to Michelle and issues in Australia and globally have inspired her activism work with the group.
“There are so many causes out there that are important and so many groups that need extra voices to help them be heard,” she said.
Speaking fervently about human rights wins that impacted her, Michelle discusses why Peter Greste’s story is important.
“[It changes you, seeing] the footage of Peter Greste hearing the news that his colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were jailed with him, had been released. It’s just such a pure moment, and we want to create more of those.”Michelle Hinton
Michelle has an appreciation for all of those who commit time to Amnesty.
“There’s so much hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes to allow us to do what we do,” she said.
“All of the people involved in Amnesty inspire me; they work so hard and really care about what they’re doing.”
One of the activists that inspire her is fellowAmnesty WA Refugee Rights Group crusader, Ashley Macmillan.
“She devotes so much of herself to activism and maintains such a good spirit,” she said.
Moving forwards, Michelle’s main goal was to increase the reach of the Refugee Rights Group.
“From getting petition signatures, and getting more participants in actions, to influencing more people to care that little bit extra about the awful things that are happening to our fellow human beings” she said.
“Everywhere needs human rights activists. There are people all over the world needing help, and it doesn’t matter where that voice telling them they are not alone is coming from, as long as it’s there.”
The aim of the Amnesty WA Refugee Rights Group is to dispel the myths that surround the refugee debate. The group wish to educate the Australian public on the ineffective, inefficient, inhumane nature of the current policies in place.
Words by Jacqui O’Leary