Amnesty International Executive Director Larry Cox Presents Constitution Day Address

September 17, 2008

larry_coxExecutive director of Amnesty International USA and 1967 Mount Union College graduate Larry Cox spoke to members of the College community in honor of Constitution Day on September 16.

Cox enlightened the audience Tuesday evening with a shocking, critical and underlying issue – policies of the United States that are threatening to human rights.

He specifically focused on Guantanamo Bay, a detention camp in Cuba where suspected enemy combatants have been detained for years without being charged with any criminal act or a court trail.

“Some are guilty,” proclaimed Cox. “Many others are innocent.  They were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Serious attacks on human rights are coming from the United States, a country who praises themselves on being a country that offers unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal.

“These words are about all men,” said Cox. “It’s an attack on our own Constitution. It’s coming from the country we love – it’s coming from the United States of America.”

In 2004, a detention facility in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, where American military personnel were abusing, torturing and humiliating suspected enemy combatants, came to public attention.

“They (these actions) are not denied,” Cox noted.  “Instead they are openly defended by the highest government officials.”

Our Constitution is seen as a symbol of hope for human rights advocates.  If the popular minority doesn’t have rights, no one can be so sure about the rights that they have. Cox poured out to the audience, asking individuals what the Constitution means to them now.  He believes that the United States is not teaching about our own Constitution or our own law, instead Americans are being taught about the ways we have found to get around it. 

In order to find a solution to the problem, we must understand how we got this way.  Cox touched on the national trauma on September 11 and the violations that we have broken over the years.  With the popular upcoming election, Cox believes that there is hope. 
“We have to demand from our government and from the two presidential candidates that a commitment be made to end the system,” he said.  “We have the power to change it – what is being done in our own name.”

Cox concluded by urging others to get involved and to put a stop to cruel and degrading accounts.  An individual can become a member of Amnesty International USA, join other organizations that promote human rights or just make people aware of how he or she stands on the issue of human rights.

“Change comes through social movements,” said Cox.  “I have tremendous faith in the American people.”

This event, held in honor of the federally-mandated Constitution Day, was coordinated by the Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service.

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