Going silent to make a statement

By Kaori Inui

Students at St. Thomas University went silent Thursday, while they were in their classes, seeing their friends and having meals.

Instead of opening their mouths, they carried pens and notepads to communicate.

An event called Day of Silence took place for the first time at STU. The Amnesty International Fredericton organized it to raise awareness of people who aren’t able to speak up for themselves around the world.

“I found it was hard not being able to communicate,” said Amanda Greer, one of hushed participants.

All participants wore bright red arm bands. They played charades in silence in the middle of the day, then watched a movie about torture, and closed it off with breaking silence.

Although Greer did not break her silence until midnight of the day, she says she overlapped herself with a lot of people in the world who aren’t able to speak for themselves.

“They were silenced and we were silencing ourselves,” she said. “I would say I have no idea what that’s actually like, but it definitely made me feel lonely and I’m sure they feel lonely when they are silenced and unable to communicate.”

Emily Peiffer is a third year student at St. Thomas and also a chair of the Amnesty International Fredericton.

Peiffer said one of the major things that the Amnesty does is working with prisoners of conscience, who are imprisoned, threatened or prosecuted because of their peaceful expression of their beliefs.

To raise awareness about the wrongfully imprisoned and money to the situation, Peiffer says they needed the understanding of the campus community.

“I hope that lots of people on campus knew what was going on and what that meant,” Peiffer said.

She went on to say that being silent made her realize how much power and speech are associated.

“I think that was the biggest parallel that people who are in the situations where they might be prisoners of conscience are powerless, and speech is associated with power,” Peiffer said.

“It’s fascinating to me how connected speech and communication are, and how difficult it is to disassociate those two things and make you communication be through acting or be through writing.”

This was the first Day of Silence on campus, but Peiffer wants to make it an annual event and keep raising awareness of human rights violation.

She also said the Amnesty would keep going on with the letter writing campaigns, which is one major thing they do, for many ongoing problems around the world.

“People don’t necessarily realize how important it is to create political pressure based on just normal people, just citizens getting together and forming groups that can pressure the government to do the right thing, to do the just thing in many situations.

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