Cambridge University Amnesty International launches 2022 Cage Campaign

Students are protesting the detainment of six activists in China


Cambridge University’s branch of Amnesty International (CUAI) began its 2022 “Cage Campaign” this week. Students sat in cages today (04/02) on King’s Parade to protest the detainment of several “individuals who represent thousands of others” by the Chinese government.

The protest will continue tomorrow (05/02).

While two members of the organisation sat inside a cage, others asked passers-by to sign petitions to “save the six.” The “six” are oppressed minorities and/or activists and journalists “who face sudden disappearance, detention and abuse under the control of the Chinese central government.”

The petitions demand the release of  Zhang Zan, Ilham Tohti, Li Qiaochu, Gao Zhisheng, Rinchen Tsultrim and Chow Hang-tung. The campaign also aims to make people more aware of similar cases of arbitrary detention and disappearance in China. 

Image Credits: Vedika Mandapati

One of the activists being campaigned for, Chow Hang-Tung,  is a Cambridge alumna. She is facing up to 22 months of imprisonment in Hong Kong for hosting vigils in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square protests. More information on “the six”  can be found on the CUAI Instagram account.

Discussing the significance of the protest, Cage Campaign coordinator Gabriele La Malfa and CUAI president Azra Say-Otun said it was a way to “visually symbolise the oppression of human rights around the world.”

We’re showing that we’re remembering and watching the case of these six people in particular, and in the case of such people who risk disappearing behind a veil of secrecy, this is incredibly significant.”

It is also a way to engage with “the people of Cambridge,” they elaborated. “The image of the Cage [has] become so iconic, and allows us to engage with more people on King’s Parade than we would otherwise.”

Image Credits: Akrit Agarwal

The Cage Campaign this year is a return to tradition for CUAI. The group has hosted a similar campaign in Cambridge every year for over 40 years but were unable to do so during the Covid-19 pandemic. The wooden cage in which students sat was first assembled in 1971 and has been used in every cage campaign since.

CUAI members added that through the campaign, the “tradition of actions that [they’ve] taken adds to a sense of solidarity.”

Feature image credits: Vedika Mandapati