Belfast Telegraph

Egyptian poverty inspired Natasha’s Amnesty success

A north Belfast schoolgirl has come second in a UK human rights competition.

Natasha Kelly has collected the runner-up award in Amnesty International’s Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year competition.

The UK-wide competition reached its climax recently with the unveiling of the 2011 winners at a prestigious ceremony in London.

The competition attracted nearly 1,000 entries from across the UK, with judges including Guardian senior reporter Ian Cobain and Amnesty International representatives.

Children aged seven to 14 were asked to write up to 250 words on a human rights story.

Natasha, a pupil at Belfast Royal Academy, won the Lower Secondary school category for her human rights article called called Revolution in Egypt

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: “Our congratulations go to Natasha and all the winners. It’s been a fantastic competition and we’re proud to be encouraging the next generation of human rights journalists.

“Reporters play a vital role in shining a spotlight on the appalling human rights abuses that happen every day across the globe – issues that Amnesty frequently campaigns upon.”

In Natasha’s essay, Revolution in Egypt, she describes what she found on holiday in Egypt in 2009. “There are many amazing sights but the poverty I witnessed was shocking — people searching through rubbish in search of food and begging on the uneven footpaths.”

She wrote that it was no great shock when she heard the people of Egypt had begun protests inspired by events in Tunisia.

“The people were sick of poverty, corruption, police abuse, high unemployment and rising prices and called for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak after a 30 year reign.

“The Egyptians have a right to peaceful protests – a right which has been breached and warped by the acts of growing violence made by both the police and ‘pro-Mubarak supporters’.

“The people also have a right to freedom of opinion and sharing information, however one of the government's first acts when the protests began was to cut off internet and mobile phone networks to block communication.

“These violations have led to aggression occurring on the side of the Egyptians. The aggravated demonstrators have overturned police riot cars, stoned police and fired shots and the reaction gained was that of teargas and water cannons. An estimated 300 people have been killed.

“Although President Mubarak has said he will not run for re-election when his term ends in September and has made it clear his son will also not run for elections, the Egyptians are not satisfied and continue to protest.”

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