Vince Cable’s grandson is among the finalists in this year’s Amnesty Young Human Rights Reporter Awards.
Sixty finalists have been unveiled across four written categories and two photography categories after the competition saw 2,500 entries from almost 200 UK schools.
The awards are run by Amnesty International UK and supported by SecEd and the Guardian Teacher Network and the six age categories cover key stages 2 to 5.
Young people were asked to write an article or report of up to 500 words on a human rights-related issue, or to submit a photograph illustrating a human rights theme.
It is the first year the competition has had a photography element and photographic entries tackled topics such as bullying, prejudice, racism and homelessness.
Meanwhile, written entries looked at issues including work camps in North Korea, homophobia, as well as the attempted assassination of Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, who is campaigning for global education rights.
Ten finalists have been named in each category and among those in the upper primary-lower secondary photojournalism section is Ayrton Cable, grandson of the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills. His image highlighted the impact that the use of conflict minerals in mobile phones is having on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ayrton, who goes to school at Hampton Court House in Surrey, said: “There is a terrible amount of suffering in the Congo. A fair trade phone would make a huge difference to the nation.”
Mr Cable added: “Ayrton has already developed a reputation for mature and interesting use of film and photography. He was chosen to lead a campaign on animal welfare after he had made a short film on the condition of farm animals and gave an impressive talk in Parliament about it.
“He has now taken on the theme of the dreadful exploitation of the Congo to obtain rare minerals used in mobile phones. Ayrton’s picture of a very glamorous woman (his mother) illustrates the casual way in which we all use the products of this human tragedy.”
The top three winners in each category will be announced on April 3 and invited to a national ceremony later that month. The winners’ work will also be showcased at Amnesty’s annual Media Awards in London in June. Kate Allen, director of Amnesty UK, said: “Photographers and journalists play such an important role in exposing human rights abuses and it is inspiring to see so many children and young people taking an active interest in human rights.”
All 60 finalists will be listed on the competition website at www.amnesty.org.uk/youngreporter
Selected written finalists
The Poetry Motion: By Amy Barr, Coloma Convent Girls’ School, Croydon. Amy’s piece is about the Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami, who received a life imprisonment sentence in 2011 for a reason that has not been made public, but which is thought to be linked to a poem he wrote.
“Although the basis of this charge remains publicly unknown, speculation lies with a few lines of his ‘Jasmine poem’, in which the third-year-student of literature wrote ‘in the face of the repressive elite, we are all Tunisia’, referring to the Tunisian revolution that instigated the wave of demonstrations and wars known as ‘Arab Spring’.”
“Several hearings were held without the poet’s legal representation and his initial statement was tampered with; these procedural irregularities were denied by the Attorney General. It was also alleged that, despite a court order, al-Ajami was held in solitary confinement – unable to see his wife and child for over a year.”
“In a country where freedom of speech is taken for granted, ignorance can lead us to believe that our Human Rights are always upheld, but sadly this is far from true. We are blessed to have been given a voice and freedom to use it. Since we have free choice, we must ensure that others do not lose it.”
Sexuality Rights by Ebrubaoghene Abel-Unokan, Wilson’s School, Sutton: An article tackling homophobia – Sexuality Rights looks at the shocking violence against gay people in Africa, but also emphasises that homophobia is still found in the West as well
“In 36 African countries, homosexuality is illegal; in 25 of these countries, it carries a sentence of imprisonment in jail, a labour camp, or forced exile. In the Sudan, Mauritania and Nigeria, it is punishable by death. Nobody thinks it could happen in this day and age, being killed for something you didn’t choose, something you couldn’t possibly change.”
“We in the West see these countries and we think, ‘oh well, at least it’s not happening here’. If only you knew. While we may not be murdering men and women for their sexuality, under the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy it was illegal for openly gay people to serve in the United States army from 1993 to 2011. Under guidance from the U.S Food and Drug Administration, blood banks are to ‘permanently defer any male donor who has had sex with another man’, a policy which has been in place since 1977.” CAPTION: Powerful: Photojournalism finalists in the awards include (from top) Nancy Cofie, of Charter School in London, who focused on homelessness; Ayrton Cable, of Hampton Court House in Surrey, who tackled the use of conflict minerals in mobile phones; Shannon Goody, of Lagan College in Belfast, who looked at bullying and discrimination