Rick “Biskit” Roth

Local Group Member of AI Group 133, Somerville, MA. Former Group Coordinator, former Area Coordinator Steering Committee
Cambridge, MA

Why did you become an activist?

I became an activist when my first daughter Hope was born, I attended with her when she was two months old. I believe that part of being a parent is to try and make the world a better place.

What skills has Amnesty International provided you in fighting for human rights?

The major skill I learned that ordinary people can make a difference in the world.

What has inspired you to become a part of the human rights movement?

I am continually inspired by the folks who we work on behalf of, human rights defenders around the world.

I once met Phuntsok Nyidron a Tibetan nun held in Chinese prisons for all but one year from age 14 to 30. Her confinement was in horrible conditions and yet when she came out she told us that “when I see the efforts made on behalf of Tibetan human rights by non-Tibetans” it makes my imprisonment worth it.”

If someone can endure that type of suffering, I figure I can write some letters and organize some events for them.

Why is it important now to continue to fight for human rights?

There will be no human rights in this world without our fighting for them.

What are you doing to stop policies like the Muslim Ban?

We recently organized part a day of protest in New York City called “Get on the Bus.” One of the protests highlighted two cases of individuals in danger due to the Muslim ban. We had hundreds of people protesting outside the US Mission to the United Nations.

How can we combat hate and xenophobia in our local communities?

We need to confront it when we find it and speak out. We also make an effort to truly cooperate with other groups on our communities and get out of our own comfort zones to do it. After 9-11 there was a hate crime in our community and a Muslim owned business had their windows broken. We were able to raise all of the money to replace the windows by soliciting small donations from other business owners and in the process were able to engage folks on issues of racism and intolerance in our town.