|Lesson Plan: Power to the People
Political power does not rest in the hands of government officials alone. Grassroots organizations like Amnesty International also help shape policy by calling attention to individual human rights issues that officials are reluctant or too busy to address. These organizations often depend on letters from everyday people to prove that the world cares about the plight of refugees and political prisoners.
In this exercise, students contribute their voice to the ongoing struggle for universal human rights. They are encouraged to research an organization to which they will send a letter on behalf of oppressed people in Bosnia, Kosovo or anywhere they choose.
In July 1995, the world's first UN Safe Area became the site of Europe's worst massacre since World War II. That month, the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of the village of Srebrenica and its surrounding region, while a Dutch peacekeeping battalion of United Nations forces helplessly looked on. In the course of the destruction, Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Muslim families and systematically slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslim men in the fields and factories around the town.
1. Ask students to visit some of these Web sites:
A worldwide campaign movement promoting human rights with nearly a million members in 162 countries. Visit its home page to learn how you can join a letter-writing campaign.
Human Rights Watch
A group of regional experts, lawyers and linguists dedicated to protecting victims of authoritarian abuse. Check out its wide range of human rights campaigns and find out how you can participate.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
The United Nations judicial body provides updates on indictments and a wealth of information about legal proceedings.
Women of Srebrenica
Learn about the Srebrenica massacre at a Web site created by people who survived it. Find bulletins, background, testimonies and photos from the ordeal.
Find the latest news about Bosnia from a variety of sources, compiled here daily.
An organization dedicated to aiding the refugee children of Kosovo. Photos and essays are touching, but be warned: Some are quite gruesome.
If these sites do not provide students with material that interests them, encourage them to seek additional resources at the following locations:
AAAS"s Directory of Human Rights Resources on the Internet
Links to hundreds of relevant sites.
An "expert guide" to current and useful info on human rights.
When in doubt, check Yahoo! out.
2. Ask students to select at least one organization that interests them.
3. Before they write their letters . . .
. . . suggest they evaluate their chosen organizations based on the following criteria:
a. Does the organization encourage visitors to submit letters?. . . and ask them to research the subject they hope to address with an eye for the following:
a. What are the issues? Have you examined the situation from as many sides as possible?4. Before they send their letters, allow time for students to share their work with classmates to provide an opportunity to see others, approaches.
5. When they send their letters, encourage them to "cc" us at Thirteen/WNET via e-mail or surface mail. We enjoy every opportunity to see our lesson plans at work.
Interactive & Broadband
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10019
6. Revisit this project at a later date with an eye for news regarding related issues and events.
Putting it all Together
The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for everyday citizens to influence global politics. By showing how students can use the Net to speak out in support of universal human rights, teachers will enlighten and empower the next generation of world leaders.
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