Students take over Holyrood on human rights day

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Students from Oban High School have had their say at Holyrood as part of a human rights take-over day.

The group of six 17-year-olds were commissioned by Amnesty Scotland to write human rights poems and to present three of them at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Monday – International Human Rights Day.

In the audience at the huge event, marking the the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, was First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and veteran human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, who took time out to pose for a photo with the Oban younsters.

The students’ poems will now be published on the Amnesty website and be recorded for more people to hear.

The pupils were Abbie Wood, Caitlin Cooke, Sarah Lawlor, Niamh Evans, Mikolaj Mojsiej and Kirsty MacArthur.

Kirsty wrote her poem both in English and Gaelic to defend her right to speak in her native language and Mikolaj, who is hoping to go on to study law at Cambridge later this year, said his poem focused on laws that do not always follow human rights.

Other themes they wrote about covered immigration, discrimination and people’s right to be themselves, expressing their individuality, sex or race.

At the conference, human rights ambassador Bianca Jagger warned Brexit could pose a threat to human rights but welcomed an announcement by the First Minister to launch a human rights taskforce.

Teacher Aisling Clark said going to Holyrood with the group was ‘a big thing’ and added: ‘It was fantastic to see them in action. Words are so powerful. In all their poems they really showed the power of the pen.’

The school has been taking part in Amnesty International’s Write For Rights campaign for the past six years and was invited to go to Holyrood after a recent workshop.

Inspired by their Holyrood visit, the group are now hoping to organise a human rights take-over event of their own at Hope Kitchen where they will be encouraging people to come and get involved in Amnesty’s global letter-writing campaign showing support for people whose basic human rights are being attacked.