Staying silent is always tricky, especially when you’re forced into it. This state can apply to the second and third floors of the library or to keeping a secret you so desperately want to tell. But it’s fine, because once you leave the library and tell that secret, you feel relief and liberation. This isn’t always a possiblity: Some silences don’t end.
Freedom of speech is an internationally recognised human right, yet so many people around the world are denied it. The Amnesty International Society at St Andrews did a 24 hour sponsored silence in order to raise awareness and collect money for the non-governmental organisation.
The idea of taping your mouth closed for 24 hours (except for food and drink) appears bizarre at first, but the group who dared to endure this activity felt it was the right way to raise awareness. By doing so, those involved experienced the disadvantage of silence in an outwardly visible way, attracting the attention of sponsors and students alike.
Strict censorship imposed on countries such as Burma, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Libya means that citizens of that country do not receive information of events around the world through the media. Often, foreign journalists who enter these countries are subject to violence due the government imposing rules of what they can and cannot write. Nor can citizens express their thoughts and feelings on government regimes, ideas, and implementations.
Catherine Bentley, a member of Amnesty, commented on her vocal lockdown: “It was quite an interesting experience to go a full day without the ability to communicate exactly what we thought and felt, something that so many of us take for granted. As you can imagine, the day didn’t come without its challenges! My personal low point was being stopped by a middle-aged American tourist who pointed at the tape on my mouth, laughed, and asked if I’d been reading too much 50 Shades of Grey. However, while the first few hours passed by quite jovially, the isolation and frustration at not being able to speak freely began to set in. It really made me think about how draining it must be to go through this experience every day, something that so many people around the world have to do.”
The society’s goal was to achieve £200, through this site. They have exceeded their prediction by 131%, raising £263. Donations are still welcome until Thursday, 15th December. The money raised will be going straight to Amnesty International, so please help the society by contributing to these worthy cause.