SBA Senate approves new law school student organization in last meeting of semester

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor

Buckley, a first-year law student, said she was raised in Hong Kong before coming to D.C. and while working in a U.S. State Department program, met an Uyghur who was sentenced to hard labor in 2016 when he went back to China.

Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 12:53 p.m.

The Student Bar Association Senate held its last senate meeting of the semester Tuesday, approving a new student organization to advocate for Uyghur ethnic minorities in China.

SBA Sen. Pavan Patamalla, the sponsor of the bill, presented two leaders of the organization to speak on behalf of the new organization, the Uyghur Human Rights Initiative. Joel Taubman, a co-founder of the organization and a first-year law student, said he came to GW Law to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination, which drove his interest in forming the group with his co-founder Kelly Buckley.

Chinese officials have been conducting a strategy of detaining ethnic minorities before any crime is committed and placing them in mass detention camps for forced ideological training, the Associated Press has reported.

“We are here as law students, with access to faculty, with access to the legal world in many ways, and our goal with this organization is to use that edge to advance the wider legal knowledge and understanding of this issue and how it impacts legal fields,” Taubman said.

He said the organization had a “successful” event last week moderated by Donald Clark, a research professor of law and the club’s faculty sponsor. Taubman added the organization also had a body meeting during which they created a preliminary board of four members, plus two additional appointed members.

Buckley, a second-year law student, said she was raised in Hong Kong before coming to D.C., and while working in a U.S. State Department program, she met an Uyghur who was sentenced to hard labor in 2016 when he went back to China.

“The People’s Republic of China has been rounding up millions of ethnic minorities including the Uygurs, innocent people to spend years in prison and internment camps, and the torturing includes waterboarding, sexual abuse and psychological abuse,” she said.

This story has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Buckley is a first-year law student. She is a second-year law student. We regret this error.

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