NYAAC Members Reflect on Write for Rights 2020 Cases

Members of Amnesty Canada’s National Youth Action and Advisory Committee (NYAAC) share their thoughts on the cases from Write for Rights 2020. It’s not too late to sign-up, you can register your event or sign-up as an individual here. Also, be sure to check out the collaborative Spotify playlist you can use as background music in your virtual events and the #W4R Influencers who are sharing content across their social media platforms!

“Khaled Drareni’s case is one that speaks to infamous silencing efforts that governments are undergoing in order to make the reality in their country seem more positive than it is. Khaled was not doing anything but telling the truth, the truth that the Algerian government decided for themselves. I think this case comes at an interesting time in history as we are battling with COVID-19 and its recovery as well as larger conversations around police brutality and their funding. Khaled needs to be released in order for us to stay informed, but also to ensure that truth before lies and fabrication come before all else. In a world riddled with fake news, it is time that activists join together to free Khaled for him to continue his important and vital work of telling the truth.” – Cass

“Every year leading up to Write for Rights, I am reminded that at the end of November and the beginning of December, we must also acknowledge the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. In these 16 days, we reflect on how far we’ve come, but how far we still have to go to see the elimination of violence against women, part of which includes calling for fair and impartial investigations and a commitment to justice to counter deeply-embedded gender-based violence in societies around the world. This year I hope you join us in demanding justice for the deaths of Popi and Bongeka, and committing to standing up for the rights of women everywhere.” – Roshni

“Birthed from the Stonewall Riots in New York, Pride Parades originated as anti-police demonstrations. Though they remain a time to celebrate the progress made to support the 2SLGBTQ+ community, they also remain an opportunity to seek justice. I’ve had the privilege of organizing my university Pride Parade for two years; to think that the 23 METU Pride Defenders face trial for doing what I have done is abhorrently harrowing. I’ve witnessed some of the most vibrant and powerful demonstrations of humanity at these celebrations, from proposals to families supporting their loved ones. This year remains no different; by writing a letter in this year’s Write for Rights campaign, I can support other students that face significant barriers to their freedom of expression.” – Brandon

“Free speech is a right, not a privilege. Imagine being disappeared for simply documenting an internationally recognized crime.  For Idris Khattak, Pakistan’s leading expert on enforced disappearances, this was reality.  Khattak put himself in harm’s way to ensure accountability for such crimes by the government. We must honor his efforts by demanding justice for him. He must be allowed a fair trial before a civilian court to prove his innocence. Protect a fellow human rights defender.” – Aidan

“One of my earliest introductions to human rights work was learning about Amnesty International’s Stop Torture campaign, which resonated with me so much. Every human deserves to be treated with dignity, free from abuse and exploitation. The El Hiblu 3 case is vital for two reasons; it touches upon the UN’s convention against torture and other cruel treatment, as well as the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which protects refugees and asylum seekers from being returned to countries where they risk persecution. The El Hiblu 3 are courageous youth who are being wrongly accused by the Maltese government with little evidence for a crime they did not commit. Instead, they should be honoured for de-escalating a conflict and advocating for other refugees’ rights not to be sent back to Libya. Please join me in demanding the dropping of all charges against these human rights defenders!” – Fatima

Jani Silva began courageously defending the environment — integral to her community — at the young age of 16 and has unfalteringly continued to do so in the face of great danger. To continually advocate for something, with consistent and imminent danger shows urgency of the issue and the dedication of those fighting for it. Fighting for the basic human right of clean water is an issue that is entirely alienated for most of us. But the Earth is dying, and not only in Columbia; I challenge you all to draw from the bravery of Jani Silva and her fellow ADISPA memories in trying to save their homes. If we want to continue to inhabit this planet, we must be able to freely fight for its protection, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of all. This year, I hope everyone will join me in demanding protection for all ADISPA members and their right to defend the land.  – Anjali

It has been more than two years since Nassima al-Sada last had freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of thought, and freedom to speak. She was arrested in 2018 by the Saudi Arabian government for her ground-breaking work in defending human rights, specifically in gender-based equality. As a someone who empathises with Nassima, I have been following her story since the initial arrest and strongly believe that enough is enough. Although she may be alone, she is surrounded by thousands who believe in her and her message – let her be free and all other women human rights defenders.  – Hannah

Protests have long held the power to shape the way our governments work. To inspire positive social change and advance human rights in countless ways. They remind each individual and group that there is power in solidarity. It is this human right to share views, hold governments accountable, and dissent against injustice, that is taken away from millions around the world, like Gustavo. No person should have to endure physical harm, lose their eyesight, for simply demanding dignity and equality. I urge you all to be inspired by Gustavo’s words, to wake up and join me in defending him. To join me in reminding all those around the world to never be afraid to speak out and stand up for what they believe in. – Shriya