Submitted by AIUSA Western Regional Office
Amnesty International is proud to announce Hamzah Latif as the winner of the first annual Ladis Kristof Memorial Fellowship for Organizing and Activism. Not unlike Ladis Kristof himself, Latif has, at a young age, already been exposed to a bevy of international experiences which ultimately led him to call the United States home. While Ladis Kristof faced a daunting gauntlet in post-war Eastern Europe, Latif grew up moving about the Gulf States, from Qatar to Pakistan, with his family. This formative time prompted him to consider such dichotomies as living in overtly oil rich nations but witnessing poverty and mistreatment of working class immigrants.
Latif, now a junior at the University of Michigan – Dearborn, is focusing his education on Women’s/Gender Studies and Psychology as means of understanding and ending domestic violence. During his time at UM – Dearborn Latif has kept himself busy climbing the ranks in the Amnesty International student group he leads, fundraising, and planning events for his community revolving around human rights activism. One salient example of his work, which echoes his chosen major, is the International Women’s Rights and Violations Exhibit which he organized and chaired. This exhibit, shown museum style, was a great success with over 350 visitors. The event focused on the scope and breath of women’s issues throughout the world – from violations of women’s rights in the United States, to honor killings in Syria. Over 15 country-specific issues were represented, and the impact of this event inspired emotional responses from attendees that led them to take action for women’s rights.
As Ladis Kristof once said, “If man has been able to create the arts, the sciences and the material civilization we know in America, why should he be judged powerless to create justice, fraternity and peace?” Indeed, Latif, along with the nearly three million Amnesty International activists worldwide, sympathize with this insight. It is clear that Latif’s dedication to Amnesty International’s mission will be a strength for the Western Regional Office to draw upon this summer when he begins his eight-week residency as a Kristof Fellow. Jane Kristof, Ladis’ lifelong partner and long time Amnesty member, played a key role in the selection of the inaugural Fellow that will honor her late husband. In light of Latif’s selection, Jane notes, “Out of an outstanding field of candidates, Hamzah Latif was the unanimous first choice. His commitment and talents will surely advance the cause of human rights and thus honor Ladis’ memory.”
Latif will be honored at the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) and 50th Anniversary Celebration on March 18-20 in San Francisco. For more information about the AGM, go to: http://www.amnestyusa.org/agm.