In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution (The Socialist Podcast) Heather is joined in the studio by Georgina Shanley. Heather and Georgina go back a while in their mutual fight to stop the pipeline development in the Pinelands Region. She is here today to talk about an Amnesty International Event concerning the Uyghur people
What is an activist?
Georgina has been an activist for most of her life. She feels we are all born with the sense of fair play as human beings. What makes an activist different is that they are someone who steps out from their stationary position and takes an action. It is just that simple and just that profound. By her definition, Georgina became an activist when she stood up to a bully on her playground field back in Ireland. She stepped into the world of organizing, by organizing her classmates to challenge the bully. Sadly, she encountered a roadblock many activists do. People who say they are going to be there for you, don’t always show up. She continued by herself, and although her tactics have evolved a lot since primary school, her first “action” was a success.
In her clash with the bully, Georgina needed to take dramatic action. Sometimes you do need to take more direct action, even as a peaceful person. At the Pinelands Commission, activists are often accused of being rude. Georgina asks what is a little rudeness in comparison to destroying a UNESCO protected biosphere. It would be great if we could all be polite, but when commissioners refuse to learn from the science presented, then stronger tactics must be employed.
Ms. Shanley was a nurse by profession, so it was an easy transition for her to human rights activist. The bottom line for her is helping people who are in pain. 26 years ago, she joined the local chapter of Amnesty International, and has since then become the group coordinator. She feels everyone has something to give, no matter what your situation may be. Georgina doesn’t think of herself as anyone special. She just has a conscious she acts on, and anyone can do that. Even children can have an impact. She views it as a privilege to have the ability to stand up for justice.
International Human Rights Day
Amnesty International has 2 big events annually, one commemorating Tiananmen Square and the other Human Rights Day. On December 10th, in 1948 Eleanor Roosevelt organized the representatives from the countries in the UN and “locked them in a room” until they were able to hammer out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document outlines the basic right of all humans to be treated with dignity and respect.
What can you do today?
This episode is being released on Dec 10th, and the local Ocean City chapter is having an event to commemorate human rights. Georgina mentions that no matter where you are, you can honor today. You can simply do a good deed for your fellow humanity. One simple act of kindness can have a huge impact. If you can get to the Ocean City area tonight, there will be an event at the Ocean City public library at 7 pm. Amnesty has arranged Zubayra Shamseden from the Uyghur Human Rights Project to speak on the societal and cultural decimation of the Uyghur people.
China’s Other Tibet
In 1949 the East Turkestan region was taken over by the Chinese government. The government has been pushing to colonize the region since then. In 1949 the Chinese Han made up only 6% of the population. Today that number is 40%. The government views the Uyghur culture and identity as proof of disloyalty of the people. One million Uyghur has been forced into concentration camps. The government is even sending Han into the homes of Uyghur families to see if they are speaking their language or practicing their religion, which is Muslim. Amnesty will be highlighting 8 of the women who have disappeared under this regime. This program should be enlightening, and Amnesty will be discussing actions they can take.
Hear from another amazing activist in NJ here