BY MARY CLAYTONPhoto by Tyler McNally
There are 639 million small arms and light weapons in the world today; and that number is growing.
Alongside other UK groups, Amnesty QUB decided to take action against this global threat and marched to City Hall on 13 March to call on Belfast citizens to support a global Arms Trade Treaty.
The treaty, which will enforce a regulated trade of weapons between countries, is viewed by Amnesty International as an essential component to ending “violent conflict, state repression, crime, and domestic abuse.” (www.amnesty.org.uk)
Equipped with cardboard weapons, placards and a tireless enthusiasm, the students stirred up support and were given a police escort as they marched down Great Victoria Street and into the city centre.
Whilst receiving coverage from local press, the students demonstrated their love of social action and encouraged onlookers to get involved in pressuring the UK government to secure the treaty.
Similar to Amnesty protests in London, the students also enacted a ‘Die in’, in which they feigned death, by lying sprawled in front of City Hall, to draw attention to the severe consequences of unregulated weapons sales.
Tara McEvoy, a student member of Amnesty QUB said: “Both the great number of students willing to demonstrate and the interest generated by the event are proof that the discussion surrounding such a treaty is a vital one. I feel enthusiastic that the march and Amnesty International’s continued efforts to lobby our MLAs and MPs on the issue will have a positive impact on that discussion.”
Over recent years, student protests in the UK have received a lot of coverage; but the severity and impact of this has called on everyone to stand up for human rights.
On 2 April 2013, this call was answered and 154 governments voted to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty. This is an amazing achievement for the twenty years that Amnesty has been campaigning for this chance to put human lives above profit.