World's largest letter-writing event marks International Human Rights Day on December 10th
On December 10th, thousands of Canadians across the country will join hundreds of thousands of activists in 50 countries to participate in the world’s largest letter-writing event. Write for Rights celebrates International Human Rights Day and the write-a-thon, as it is known has grown tremendously. Last year, participants used their pens or keyboards to send 700,000 letters to governments for people facing human rights violations. There were more than 2,000 events held in Canada alone. Events are held in schools, community centres, faith institutions, cafes and living rooms across the country. They write on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders under threat, and other cases of serious human rights violations. Participation in the event is free and open to everyone.
This year’s global event will have a special urgency, with activists calling for the release of Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who will be presented with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia on December 10th. Liu Xiaobo is a prominent government critic who has repeatedly called for human rights protection, political accountability and democratization in China. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for co-writing Charter 08, a proposal calling for legal and political reform in China.
On December 10th, a delegation of leading human rights advocates will seek to deliver to the Chinese Embassy petitions signed by thousands of Canadians from across the country urging the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo immediately.
Liu Xiaobo is not the only human rights activist wrongfully detained in China. Others are in prison for speaking out in support of Liu Xiaobo and human rights change in China. On December 10th, hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters will write letters on behalf of Liu Xiaobo and a dozen other activists who are wrongfully detained around the world.
Started ten years ago by Amnesty International Poland, Write for Rights is effective. Three of the individuals featured as cases in last year’s event have since been released. Birtukan Mideksa, an opposition leader in Ethiopia, was one of them. Amnesty International supporter sent thousands of letters of solidarity and called on the Ethiopian government to release her. In October 2010, after Birtukan Mideksa was released she said, “Now I am free, I am back to my family and my daughter, I am very elated."
The idea behind Write for Rights is powerful and simple. Participants select one of the cases featured and write a letter either on their own or as part of a group. They write to people in positions of authority, urging them to protect human rights, or write letters of solidarity directly to the people whose rights have been violated. Cases can be accessed at www.writeathon.ca or by calling 1-800-AMNESTY.
Human Rights Day celebrates the day in 1948 when world leaders adopted the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sixty two years later, activists around the world use December 10th, to call for an end to torture, unjustified imprisonment, forced evictions and death threats.
To get involved, visit writeathon.ca or call 1-800-amnesty.
For further information,
Amnesty International Canada
416-363-9933, ext. 332