Glad you are all liking the new blog. It is mainly George’s handiwork, so well done to him, it looks beautiful. It is a sad day for us now we are no longer editors, but the magazine and the blog will be in capable hands with HRU veteran Rachel Gibbs. As a sign off, I thought I would blog a little on the last campaign of term before Rachel takes over when she comes back from her year abroad and starts doing wild and sensational things on the blogosphere (human rights related, of course).
Yesterday, a strange group of people gathered outside on the Streatham Court lawn. Instead of sunbathing, they went around with paper bullets for people to sign, and suddenly began dropping like flies. Were they mad? Was it some kind of flash mob?
No. Amnesty members are not quite so frivolous. Or if they are frivolous, they do it for a good cause. Yesterday was the day of the Exeter University Amnesty Die In, in support of the Control Arms campaign, a group banner under which various organisations have gathered to call for a bulletproof global arms treaty. This July, the UN will be negotiating worldwide regulation of the sale of arms, a treaty which has been long overdue. But in order to make the law worth the paper it’s written on, the treaty has to be bulletproof; it must protect human rights, be comprehensive, be transparent and be enforceable. July 2012 is the deadline, and Amnesty International under the Control Arms umbrella is calling on the leaders of the world’s arms-dealing nations to step up to the plate and support a truly effective global arms treaty.
Ed Milliband, the Labour Party leader and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats and one half of the coalition, have already publicly announced their support of such a treaty. But Prime Minister David Cameron has failed to join them. Amnesty International is calling on David Cameron to follow his fellow politicians’ lead and sign up to Control Arms’ aims for the 2012 global arms trade legislation. To get his support, Exeter Amnesty International Society staged a die in, collecting signatures on paper bullets, representing the two bullets there are for each person in the world, showing the public’s support for Control Arms’ demands and asking David Cameron follow suit.
But why the fake deaths? To illustrate the human cost of possible failure. One person dies from armed conflict every minute. So every minute, one of our members fell the ground, representing that fact. As one of the people on the floor, I can tell you it was great fun collapsing dramatically to the grass, in some artfully placed pose. After five minutes, it started to get a bit uncomfortable, especially with the sun blazing down on your face. Ten minutes later, we were allowed to pick ourselves off the floor. But for those living in war zones, the death is all too real, and as you read this article, at least one person has already been killed as a result of deregulated arms.
I have to admit, the whole day was great fun. I really enjoyed “dying”, enough to do it three times, screaming more and more loudly each go. But the signatures were what counted, and I’m pleased to say we filled up four cardboard shields with pinned on signed paper bullets, with plenty more signatures left over! We will be sending these to Amnesty to add to the thousands of others collected with Amnesty societies across the UK, who will be sending them to David Cameron to show how far the public is really behind regulated arms.
Talking to people, I found many students on campus genuinely horrified by the facts and figures, and more than keen to sign up. Let’s just hope David Cameron will listen to them. Maybe then such die ins, despite how fun they are, will become unnecessary.