“We would hope, in an ideal world, that after this event, Cornell students would feel inspired to speak out and to write to lawmakers to end mass incarceration as we know it in the United States,” said Chris Elliott ’20.
On March 13, Irvin McCullough of the Cornell Republicans authored a well-reasoned letter advocating for the repeal of Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Rule and challenging the student-led campaign urging Cornell to make conflict mineral-free purchasing decisions. His myriad assertions deserve responses. Contrary to McCullough’s claim that conflict-free initiatives have increased militia-led violence, evidence-based assessments attest to their achievement of the opposite outcome. According to reports from the Belgian research group IPIS, the implementation of Dodd-Frank’s conflict mineral regulations has coincided with most paramilitary-controlled mines becoming entirely conflict-free. A cluster of 41 civil society groups in North Kivu recently joined a total of 101 Congo-based human in unequivocally condemning the possible suspension of federally mandated conflict mineral audits, saying that the eastern Congo has U.S. government mandates to thank for increased security in the region.
Christopher Hanna ’18, a co-facilitator for the organization, said Trump’s “vicious campaign-season rhetoric” and “horrific platform” pose a serious threat to human rights and the lives of many Cornell students.
The exhibit was part of the Week of Action — which aims to raise awareness about the obstacles refugees face — and was erected on the quad Wednesday, featuring flags from Palestine, Syria, Sudan, Iraq and Somalia.
Mohammed al-Ajami, a student at the University of Cairo who was arrested by Qatari security forces in 2011, was pardoned and released by the Emir of Qatar following a letter written by Amnesty International Cornell and Cornell Organization for Labor Action earlier this month. Christopher Hanna ’18, the co-president of Amnesty International Cornell, said that while he considers the letter drop just one part of a larger movement, it speaks to the power of collective action on matters of international justice. “Our letter-drop served a small but important role in rapidly ramping up press attention and public pressure for al-Ajami’s release, ultimately resulting in the Emir of Qatar’s decision to issue a pardon,” he said. “Altogether, this testifies to the power of coalition-building and human rights activism.” The letter was given to acting President Michael Kotlikoff, requesting that he pressure the Qatari government to release poet Ajami from prison.
Ajami received a 15-year sentence in February of 2013 after he was tried for unknown charges. He had previously been arrested for writing poems insulting the then-ruling Emir of Qatar and supporting the Tunisian revolution that began the Arab Spring, according to the letter.