This year has been tumultuous. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved that human rights have never mattered more. Leaders across the world have pushed the norms of human rights to their limits, and people power will be the alarm to remind the world that human rights continue to be fundamental.
That is why, this year, Write for Rights will be our biggest event to date. We will be raising our collective power to push for fundamental freedoms and liberty. It is time to show world leaders both at home and overseas, that we are watching their every move.
“I often feel overwhelmed and powerless when I think about all the problems in the world. The Write for Rights campaign has given me a way to make a difference. It may just be one letter, one signature, but together with thousands of others, my words have the power to change a life. Last year I wrote a letter for the 15-year old Maga Matiop who was on death row in South Sudan. Around the world 765,00 people took action for Magai and on the 14th of July 202 his death sentence was lifted!”– MJ, Activist leader
“Thank you so much. I have no words. You have no idea how my heart was filled with happiness.”– Magai, 2019 Write for Rights case
What is Write for Rights?
Write for Rights is a moment when Amnesty’s global movement of ten million people in more than 170 countries comes together as one to take action and challenge injustice.
Every year, real change happens because of these actions. In 2019, millions took action for Yasaman, a women’s rights activist imprisoned in Iran, and her prison sentence was dramatically shortened. Your actions also meant the Canadian government finally signed an agreement to build the care facility that the Grassy Narrows desperately needed decades after they were devastated by mercury poisoning.
Together we are powerful enough to change the world. When everyday ordinary people like you challenge injustice we move closer to a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.
2020 has seen communities band together in a way we’ve never witnessed before. During Write for Rights we can band together once again to challenge injustice and to make a difference in the cases below.
- 18 students including Melike and Özgür are on trial for participating in a Pride sit-in at METU university. METU have partner universities in Australia including QUT, RMIT, and Monash.
- Women’s rights activist Nassima has been detained since July 2018 in Saudi Arabia.
- In Colombia, Jani protects the environment and rights of those living in the Amazon. Defending the territory has had terrifying consequences for Jani. She’s been followed, intimidated by gun-toting thugs, and threatened with death.
- Journalist Khaled is serving a 3 year sentence for covering protests and police violence in Algeria.
- The El-Hiblu 3 face life in prison in Malta for saving the lives of fellow asylum-seekers in the Mediteranian.
- Paing is in prison for performing satirical poetry critical of the Myanmar military.
- Gustavo was blinded after being shot by police during protests in Chile. Noone has been held responsible for his injuries.
- In May 2017 Popi and Bongeka Phungula were murdered, sparking outcry across South Africa. Three years later, their killers are still free.
- Human rights defender Germain had been sentenced to 32 years in prison in Burundi. He has never seen his 3 year old son.
- Several states and territories in Australia have no legislation banning conversion practices, harmful practices which tell LGBTQI+ people they’re broken.
Theory of Change- How Do We Win?
1 – Research and advocacy
Amnesty International research teams work with people, and the families of people, who face human rights abuses around the world. Our experts do accurate, cross-checked research into these abuses and produce reports, raise awareness in the media and directly lobby governments to do the right thing.
If there is a chance that mass mobilisation can make a difference for someone, they are chosen to be part of the Write for Rights campaign.
2 – Mobilise
Through the power of collective action during Write for Rights, Amnesty activists send a strong message to stop human rights abuses. When we mobilise, our movement can make a real difference in people’s lives.
This collective action includes holding events, writing letters, signing petitions, sending tweets and even talking to the media to raise awareness and make a difference. The more we mobilise, the more difference we can make.
3 – Show Solidarity
As part of Write for Rights, Amnesty activists and supporters around the world send solidarity messages to each and every case. Solidarity messages bring hope to people and when they arrive in huge numbers, they show the authorities that the world is watching.
3 – Delivery
We’ll deliver the signatures of everyone who takes action in Australia to Embassies in Canberra in February 2021. Millions of other actions will be delivered, at the same time all around the world, pressuring the people who have the power to make change happen and make a difference.
“I believe in the power of a pen – with Amnesty I’ve seen countless individuals at risk whose lives have been freed and saved from unjust detainment or persecution. Let’s pick up a pen: together, we can write to right wrongs.”
– Jawoon Kim
Let’s Get To Work
We know that 2020 has presented us with some barriers to our activism, but we have developed a variety of options for you to get involved and contribute to human rights impact.
You can create a candle and contribute to a powerful display when we handover our collective actions in 2021.
If you can’t hold an event in person you have the option of hosting your own online event, or joining one of the 10 days of activism events.
If you can host events within your region or community please follow these Covid Safe Guidelines and comply with your state’s rules and recommendations. You can host your own event and write letters and sign petitions.
Light for Rights Creative Action
This Write for Rights we want to get creative! Whether you have half an hour, half a day or more you can make a difference for people suffering human rights abuses.
Decorate a candle at home or create an origami candle with the name of the Write for Rights case you are supporting. Make it as colourful and inventive as you like! Invite friends, families or colleagues to take part, or make the creative action part of your event. Take a picture or a video of yourself with the candle and share on social media. Make sure you use the hashtag #W4R20 and tag @amnestyoz.
Decorate a candle at home or create an origami candle with the name of the Write for Rights case you are supporting. Make it as colourful and inventive as you like! Invite friends, families or colleagues to take part, or make the creative action part of your event. Take a picture or a video of yourself with the candle and share on social media.
Join us for our National 10 days of Activism
Now more than ever, we need solidarity. So, Amnesty as a national movement is coming together for 10 days of exciting mass mobilisation.
Starting December 1st, we will kick off a series of nightly online events for the following 10 days. Every night will focus on a different Write for Rights case, with different ways to get involved and make a difference for that case. Think panel discussions, poetry, music and the space for you to connect with other Amnesty supporters and activists from across the country.
These events have been developed by and will continue to be led by our incredible activists! Interested in hosting one of these national nights? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. *Please note that we have very limited places. The hosts for each night will be determined and supported by our Activist Strategy Group – made up of some of our impressive activist leaders.
Host your own online event
On top of joining or hosting an event as part of our National 10 days of Activism, you can also host your own online event.
Things are different this year with Covid-19, but hosting your own online event is one way to take part in Write for Rights and make a difference during these difficult times!
As always, please submit your event via the Host an Event page. Our supporter care team will be in contact with you and provide you with options for support.
Things to consider: Is this event for your action group? Or your local community? Depending on your audience, there might be different ways to approach your event.
Here’s some tips and tricks for hosting an engaging online event:
- Get to know the cases and read the case cards.
- Keep an eye out for the 10 days of activism schedule, via the activism planner if you or your group want to attend any of these webinars, you may want to plan your online event on another day.
- Do you have the support from your group or network to help you run this event?
- What support do you need to use zoom?
- Make a plan
- Register your event through Amnesty’s online Host an event form.
- Book and secure your entertainment, whether this is speakers, musicians, or any other amazing ideas you might come up with.
- Schedule in a time for people to write a letter/sign the petition during or before/after the event. Or, think about another call to action idea like Light for Rights creative action
- For promotion
- Our incredible Activist Communications Team is here to support the promotion of your event. Fill out this brief and let them know the support you need.
- Plan your tech
- Here is our How-to-Zoom guide with all of the ins & outs of using Zoom.
- Are you involving people from affected communities in organising this event? If so, it might be worth brushing up on the How to be a genuine ally training module.
- Can you partner with other groups to host this event?
- What will draw people to your event? Will it be an interesting speaker, an exciting musician or poet?
- Who is your likely audience?
- What format is best suited for the message you are trying to get across?
- Get Ready
- Revise the How-to-Zoom guide (or instructions of your chosen platform).
- Prepare materials, notes or questions so you have them handy during the event.
- Send your attendees reminder emails or post reminders in the Facebook event (1 day and 1 hour before the event). Make sure your attendees have the link to access the online event.
- Test your camera, microphone, lighting, and backdrop.
- Check your internet speed.
- Do a full test run on the platform of your choosing.
- Acknowledge country, welcome your audience and enjoy your time!
- Have one person available to help attendees who are experiencing technical issues or have questions during the event (via chat, email or the Facebook event).
Host an in person event!
You can still run a W4R event if you are allowed to run in-person events in your community! You can:
- Hold smaller letter-writing events with friends and family, just like the Manly group are doing because they can’t hold their usual fun event. They have set a target of 150 letters!
- You can also organise a creative candle event with friends to raise funds for Amnesty – and write letters for cases while you’re together. You could charge people $10 – $20 to take part in your candle making event, those funds will help us make $10,000 to campaign for human rights
- Hold a letter writing and candle decorating stall at an outdoor market or festival (you can even sell pre-decorated candles or get people to make their own at the stall).
- Organise a film screening online and get attendees to write a letter before the screening starts.
- The options are endless!
Let us know if you’re hosting an event, as we can provide extra support for you.
- We can send you letters, petitions, t shirts, pens and badges
- We can provide you access to our professional QR code account so that you can set up your own trackable QR codes linked to the petitions you’re using
- If you need help setting up a zoom meeting/would like access to our professional account, just ask us.
Please just add these into the hosting an event form so the supporter care team can fulfill your resourcing requests.
This event template could be useful for you and your group when planning your event. You can follow the same steps as for an online event, just consider you will be running it in person, so you might need to think of other items such as venues. Follow this guide to make sure your event is COVID safe.
Use the media to get your message out
Reaching out to the media raises awareness of how your group is challenging injustice.
Send a media release
A media release is a relatively old-fashioned way to reach journalists in the most efficient way possible. Here is a template media release you can use, or you can generate your own. To write a media release, use the inverted pyramid – give all the important information in the first paragraph, and add details in subsequent paragraphs. You have to compete for the journalists’ attention, so you should always begin with what is new and with a headline.
Then you can send it to all the relevant media outlets and journalists in your area – TV, radio, online, and newspapers. Always copy in the general contact email address just in case. Send the release about a week before your event.
Follow up the release with a call a couple of days before the event (make sure your event doesn’t coincide with a major deadline for the media outlet). You may want to convince the journalist, in the nicest possible way, why the community would want to know about the event and what the journalist can capture at the event – they’ll want interviews, pictures, and video.
Write a letter to the editor
A letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a way for the paper to hear from its readers about issues in the community or the wider world. The key, as with the media release, is that you have to really compete for the editor’s attention, so you need to make the letter compelling. Here are some tips on how to write a compelling letter to the editor.
List your event
Listings are an extremely easy way to drum up interest in your event. There are a wide range of listing websites which give you free listings. You simply need a blurb about your event, all the details of how someone can be involved, and an image to go with it.
Let us know how you went!
- Share your pictures and success via the National Facebook group for activists!
- Let your local ALC know how you went, and fill in the feedback form, so we can continue to support your events to the best of our ability.
- Send all your letters and petitions back to the Sydney action centre at: Amnesty International, Locked Bag 23, Broadway NSW 2007, and we’ll post them to the targets, or for solidarity letters to the case.
- Some countries aren’t accepting international post because of COVID-19 so we will hand over your letters as part of our Embassy delivery in 2021 for those countries.
- If you would like your candle to be included in a visual display outside Embassies during our handover in Feb 2021, post your candle to us at Amnesty International, PO Box 1028, Civic Square, Canberra ACT 2608.
- Check out the activist resources page to find;
- Casecards, posters, petitions and template letters for all 11 cases
- Blank letters to write your own letter to a target or solidarity letter, and more!
- Skill up via our online training modules!
- Keep track of upcoming opportunities via your Activism Planner.
- How to make your Virtual Event inclusive.
- Here are some suggested documentaries related to our 2020 Write for Rights cases:
- Saudi Women’s Driving School – This 2019 documentary tells the story of the brave women who defied Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving and successfully overturned this unjust law. Tragically, 10 of these women were arrested and branded as traitors in the state press due to their activism. One of these women, Nassima has been in prison with no access to a lawyer for over 2 years.
- Benim Çocuğum (My Child) feature documentary focuses on the parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in Turkey, and their preparation for the climax of the documentary, the Istanbul LGBT Pride Parade.
- Campaigning for human rights can be difficult. Burnout and vicarious trauma can happen and it’s important to keep a look out for the signs in yourself and your friends. You can check out our Sustainable Activism & Self Care guide and workshop which you can find here. It examines how we can better take care of ourselves as activists and what you can do to make sure your activism is sustainable!