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Amnesty to erect walls outside of dining halls

Dustin VonHandorf | Tuesday, December 9, 2003

The Notre Dame branch of the Amnesty International social action group will construct a wooden wall in front of each dining hall today in response to rising tensions in the Middle East, prompted by a wall erected between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.

AmnestyND did not initially plan to call attention to the tensions, said its president, Teriss Conterato, but decided to go ahead with the event due to the rising media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In addition to the increasing media coverage, Conterato said AmnestyND is concerned with the issue “because of the actions of both Israel and Palestine. Israel said that the wall is a security barrier, but it violates so many international treaties and is cutting off human rights. People can’t get to water or the workplace.”

The goal of AmnestyND in erecting these structures, Conterato said, is to increase awareness of the conflict among the Notre Dame community.

“We want to educate people about the crisis,” Conterato said. “If they want to ignore it, that’s fine. We hope to get a pretty positive reaction [to the wall]. We’re hoping people realize we are trying to give as objective of a view as possible.”

AmnestyND wanted to bring the issue forth in a physical nature, instead of just merely posters, Conterato said. “[A wall] is large and eye catching, so why not?”

The walls, which are made out of four-foot-by-eight-foot pieces of plywood, will be painted with the phrase “Stop the Wall,” and will be covered with posters that highlight the crisis.

Contertato said that the walls will be built in the high-traffic areas in front of the dining halls to draw extra attention to the cause.

Portions of the wall were constructed on Sunday, and were to be brought to the dining halls to undergo final assembly Tuesday morning.

The date of the event is particularly significant, timed one month after Amnesty’s annual International Day of Action.

Conterato said that the group also wanted to make sure that the event took place during the fall semester, before students and faculty leave for Christmas break.

Amnesty aims to educate people about the current events and issues in the world. The group focused this year specifically on the death penalty, the prison system, domestic violence and the situation in Liberia.