Amnesty International (AI), established in 1961 with a focus on human rights, has grown into a worldwide organization. One of its initiatives is the “Write for Rights” event which takes place around Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.
Twenty years ago a young Polish woman approached the AI Co-ordinator in Warsaw, Poland with an idea that letters of protest – many letters of protest – could have an effect on authorities in situations where human rights were being abused.
In a 24-hour marathon the AI- sponsored group sent out 2326 urgent appeals on behalf of “prisoners of conscience” whom they had never met.
Thus was born the annual campaign now officially known as “Write for Rights”. It has become the world’s biggest human rights event. Last year 4,500,000 letters, tweets, and signed petitions went out from individuals and groups in 171 countries and territories. These appeals called for justice for people who had been imprisoned, tortured, even in some cases “disappeared” for speaking, writing, or demonstrating peacefully against human rights abuses in their community or country.
Such global participation gives hope to victims in whatever situation they find themselves; and it stands as a stern reminder to government and prison authorities that the world is watching.
The Rimbey AI Group has, for a number of years, participated in the “Write for Rights” event by hosting public writing sessions, and preparing letters and cards for signing. This year we will be writing letters; but due to the restrictions related to COVID-19, we will not be providing a public letter-writing setting. However, we invite anyone wishing to “speak out” against the incarceration, deprivation, separation from family, and/or torture of people who are being held, often without a trial, just for standing up for their rights, to stop in at the Rimbey Library. A prepared letter of appeal are one of this year’s cases will be available for signing between Dec. 7 and Dec. 15.
Those wishing to know more about this campaign may go online to writeathon.ca where there are 10 cases of individuals whose situations need the attention of the world. There is information outlining the plight of each, and instruction as to the wording of letters, and where the letters should be sent.
Florence Stemo Rimbey AI Group