Morocco Summer Youth Camp 2019

Last week the annual Amnesty International Youth Camp took place in Marrakesh with 40 young people from Norway, Belgium, Italy, Algeria, the United States, the Netherlands and across Morocco. This week was not only organized for youth, but also by youth who are committed to justice, dignity and the environment. During the youth camp participants shared their experiences and made connections in order to continue our global fight for justice. This year Joy Estevao and Khatra Nur from the Amnesty Student Group The Hague and Leiden represented the Dutch section of Amnesty International.

A reoccurring theme during the youth camp was climate change. Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s #fridaysforfuture we made a video in which we urged governments to take responsibility for climate change and take action towards climate justice. Furthermore, we had a discussion with human rights activist Soufyane Fares about environmental activism. During our talk he also addressed the difficulties he faced as  a non-religious human rights defender in Morocco. Through video we were also able to communicate with Nawal Benaissa, one of the Hirak Rif leaders. She stressed the importance of youth participation in human rights activism and encouraged us to continue our fight.

A statistic we often hear is that 42% of the world population is under the age of 25, yet young people do not occupy the spaces and higher positions necessary to make our voices heard. Through workshops, presentations, actions and meetings with human rights defenders during the youth camp we aimed to change this.  For instance, during one of the workshops we brainstormed on how we can gain and retain youth members. Here we were able to share our experience and knowledge with each other. However, we also looked critically at ourselves through conducting exercises where we would detect our own biases.

Through having engaged with other Amnesty sections we were able to reflect on our own section and how we can improve. Our main take away is that the Dutch ‘youth’ groups are quite elitist as we only focus on university Students of which most study at ‘WO’ universities. Furthermore, our student groups work mostly independently instead of as a collective. Therefore, we believe we should expand and diversify our group, create long term strategy for collective actions and lastly create more youth leadership by advocating for young people in higher positions. Because, as Penelope Halkiadakis from AI USA stated, ‘we are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the leaders of today.’

As you can see the youth camp inspired us to continue and improve our work. We would like to give a special thanks to the AI Morocco section and all the participants this year for the warm welcome and the interesting week. Shukran Jazeelan!