Showing Solidarity at Write for Rights

Every year around International Human Rights Day on December 10th, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a letter or an e-mail to someone they’re never met. 

As part of Write for Rights, they write in solidarity to people whose basic human rights are being attacked. This year, we’ll be writing to young people, under the age of 25, who are a leading force for change in their communities, from calling out climate injustice to calling for women’s rights, from tackling homelessness to exposing police brutality.

Why does solidarity matter? 

You might think that writing to a young person you don’t know will make no difference, or that they won’t want to hear from you. But when you’re locked up or in fear for your life for calling out injustice, having someone tell you they believe in you, matters a lot. Whoever you choose to write to, remember that they will love to hear from you. They may feel anxious and alone, and your words will bring comfort and hope to them.

Last year, your messages to Mônica Benício in Brazil made a huge difference after her partner, Marielle Franco, was killed. Marielle was a charismatic local politician and defender of the poorest in Brazil and after she was killed, people worldwide sent over half a million messages demanding answers and justice. The messages you send demanded “Who killed Marielle Franco?” and in March 2019, two ex-police offiers were arrested for her killing. It was a first step towards justice. 

What is solidarity? 

If you google solidarity you might see solidarity defined as:

unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

This is true, however, for solidarity work/ organising to be meaningful and impactful, it should seek to go far beyond just mere support. Solidarity work is work. It can be challenging and humbling. It centers on relationship building with affected or frontline groups connecting with people who are affected by the issue/ struggle.

Important steps in doing solidarity work are: to inform yourself, to take time to reflect, and to be open to be challenged. Some of the material below may challenge your current thoughts or perceptions of solidarity or solidarity work, and I encourage you to seize these learning opportunities.

Read more in Emma-Jayne Geraghty’s blog. 

How do I act in solidarity? 

There are many ways to show your solidarity as part of Write for Rights. Be creative or follow our suggestions below. 

1) Write a solidarity message

For each of the 10 Write for Rights cases, you can write a solidarity letter directly to an invidual or community. 

Write a letter, send a greeting card, or even create some artwork to let these young people know you’re with them. 

2) Support justice for Grassy Narrows

This year, we’re highlighting a case right here in Canada, of youth from Asubpeeschoseewagong (“Grassy Narrows First Nation”) who are fighting for justice in the face of 50 years of mercury poisoning in their community. 

We’ve created special solidarity resources for your to show your support for Grassy Narrows. 

3) Make your solidarity visible

Whether you’re hosting an event or writing with a few friends or writing on your own, make your solidarity visible.

Take a photo of your solidarity message and post it on social media to show your support.

Share the 2019 Write for Rights videos or even project them at your event. 

Gather in a public place to collect solidarity messages or take a solidarity photo somewhere iconic in your town. 

4) Get creative 

There are countless ways to show your solidarity during Write for Rights. Get creative! 

Many of the cases list personal details and interests for each of the young people. Use these details in your solidarity to make it more meaningful.