Welcome to Amnesty’s Write for Rights (‘W4R’) activist toolkit. In it you’ll find everything you need to join in with the Write for Rights 2022 campaign. This year Amnesty’s global letter-writing marathon is all about the right to protest, featuring 13 people whose lives have been negatively impacted by governments’ crackdown on this precious right.
Check out the W4R Activist Resources page for all of the 2022 case materials, including posters, case cards, petitions, QR codes, and activities for each case.
What is Write for Rights?
Sometimes a letter can change someone’s life. That’s the idea behind Write for Rights, our global letter-writing campaign. Twenty-one years ago, a small group of activists in Poland decided to run a 24-hour letter-writing marathon for 10 December – Human Rights Day. The idea took off and today, Write for Rights has grown into the world’s biggest human rights event.
Every December, supporters across the globe write millions of letters, cards and tweets, and sign petitions for those whose basic human rights are being attacked. These supporters form a vibrant community of people like you, continuing a long tradition of writing letters to right some of the world’s biggest wrongs.
Real change happens because of your letters and actions. People wrongfully imprisoned are released. Abusers are brought to justice. And people in prison are treated more humanely. Read all about our wins here.
This year we’re throwing our might behind people who have been or are being persecuted because they engaged in a peaceful form of protest:
After expressing his concerns about climate change on Facebook, Bangladeshi engineer and activist, Shahnewaz Chowdury (he/him), was detained in inhumane conditions for 80 days, without trial. If convicted he faces many years in prison.
In September 2020, single mother and hairdresser, Dorgelesse Nguessan (she/her), attended her first-ever protest in Cameroon. During the peaceful demonstration, she was arrested and held in terrible conditions. She has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Self-taught Black Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (he/him) was arrested after speaking out against a dystopian law seeking to silence and censor artists. Sentenced to five years behind bars, he remains in a maximum security prison without access to proper medical care.
Zineb Redouane (she/her), an 80-year-old woman, was hit in the face and killed by a tear gas grenade. Nearly four years later, an investigation into her death is still ongoing, and no one has been charged or suspended over her killing.
Determined not to let the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown be forgotten, Chow Hang-Tung (she/her) encouraged people on social media to light candles in their memory. She is now serving 22 months in jail and facing further imprisonment for her peaceful activism.
In 2018, after attending peaceful protests in their hometown, Vahid Afkari (he/him) and his brothers Navid and Habib were arrested, held in solitary confinement and tortured. In September 2020, Navid was executed in secret. Since then, Vahid has been held in solitary confinement and denied access to healthcare, fresh air, telephone calls and family visits.
Nasser Zefzefi (he/him) was sentenced to 20 years in prison for calling for change in his region struggling with poor healthcare, education and employment opportunities. Tortured whilst in custody and forced to live in terrible conditions in prison, Nasser’s health is deteriorating significantly.
As trans women, Yren Rotela (she/her) and Mariana Sepúlveda (she/her) have been fighting for their rights for years, including being able to change their legal names and obtain documents that match their gender identity. Yet, they’ve been bullied, physically attacked and prevented from speaking out about the issues they face in their daily lives as trans women in Paraguay.
Along with dozens of others, Aleksandra Skochilenko (she/her) has been detained for criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She has been harassed by detention centre employees and her cellmates. If she is convicted, Aleksandra faces up to 10 years in prison.
After leading an anti-government protest in Zimbabwe, Cecillia Chimbiri (she/her), Joanah Mamombe (she/her) and Netsai Marova (she/her) were arrested, abducted and allegedly tortured, including by sexual assault. To date, no one has been held accountable for their terrible trauma. The women have been charged with faking their own ordeal and face years in jail.
First Nations communities are on the frontline of the climate crisis in Australia. Two Torres Strait Islander men from the Guda Maluyligal Nation are taking a stand: Uncle Paul Kabai and Uncle Pabai Pabai have launched a historic legal action against the Australian Government for its failure to adequately reduce emissions and protect their islands and culture from climate change. Check out our Climate Justice Activist Toolkit for more info.
How does Write for Rights work?
- Friday 7 October – Launch of the Write for Rights 2022 Activist Toolkit
- Thursday 13 October – National Write for Rights Campaign Launch (recording & slides)
- Thursday 20 October – Write for Rights in Schools Online Workshop
- Monday 7 November – Get Active: Intro to Write for Rights Activism webinar
- Saturday 10 December – Human Rights Day!
- Tuesday 31 January – Deadline for offline actions
- Mid-February – Handover Events in Canberra
Join an online community of passionate Write for Rights activists! Case updates, upcoming events and training opportunities will be shared in the Write for Rights group in the Members Community, in our National Activist Facebook group and in the #w4r2022 Slack channel. Please contact email@example.com to be added to Amnesty’s Slack workspace.
Check out this interactive map to find events near you:
Want your event added to the map? Submit it through the Host an Event form!
Organise your own Write for Rights event!
Increase your impact this year by organising your own Write for Rights event! From stalls to film screenings, from letter-writing marathons to webinars, Write for Rights is a great time to come together to take action and celebrate a year of human rights wins. As always, please submit your event through the Host an Event form so we can add it to the interactive map above and provide additional support and resources.
You can organise a general Write for Rights event or focus on a case that particularly resonates with you and your group and create an action that aligns with the issue or the activities that characterise the case. For example, Chow Hang-Tung has a clear connection with candlelight vigils, so why not organise candles and lights and host a vigil in your community! Another example is Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara; Luis is passionate about arts and music so perhaps your event could incorporate local artists and musicians – it could even turn into an exhibition about protest.
Further, we are incentivising people to write solidarity letters to our cases as well as letter-actions to decision-makers and/or targets. Past Write for Rights cases have stressed how important it was for them to receive and see the support of the international community. Use these solidarity cards to write your message of support!
Human Rights Day
The theme of Write for Rights this year is Protest, and the importance of safeguarding our right to protest across the world and here in Australia. Human Rights Day, 10 December, is a peak moment for our Movement and this year we would like for our activists and groups to organise a Write for Rights action on the day and share it with us. Be creative and bold (and let us know if we can help you out in pulling it together). We are advising people to use the theme of protest to organise actions, rallies, demonstrations, lightshows, stunts, events or vigils.
Chow Hang-Tung Photo Action
Throughout Human Rights Week (5 Dec-10 Dec) activists across the Asia-Pacific are encouraged to share photos, images and hand-written messages to show solidarity with Chow Hang-Tung and Hong Kong protesters. You can participate by taking a photo of yourself or your action group in a key location in your home town holding signs and/or candles. Our suggestion for the sign is a quote from Chow herself: “To say I’m not afraid would be a lie, but I’m not so afraid I dare do nothing”. Feel free to get creative though: involve your cat if you have one (Chow loves cats!) or take photos that connect with the theme of protest. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe taking a photo you can write a handwritten message for Chow or draw something and take a photo of it. You can then share your photo or message on the online message board Padlet:
- Go to this link on your browser/phone. You will land on an orange page called Asia-Pacific Solidarity Wall with Chow Hang-Tung.
- Click the add (+) button at the bottom of your screen.
- A pop-up window will open. You can add a title and some text (optional).
- To add your photo or image of solidarity choose one of the media file options to add to your post. Some of the attachment options include images, documents, links, videos, and drawings.
- You can use the three dots on the side of your post to edit it at any time. You can also choose the colour of your post background.
- Once you have added the content to show your solidarity post, click “publish”. An admin will approve your post and it will appear on the wall (anonymously) for Chow and other activists to see.
Inspiration from previous years
In 2021, the VIC ALC celebrated Amnesty’s 60th birthday and W4R with a project called #LightUpYellow – they arranged for major landmarks across Victoria to be lit up in yellow on Human Rights Day. The Rainbow Network held a webinar with Vira and Anna from Sphere NGO, one of the 2021 W4R cases.
These are just a few examples to get you started. Be creative, and think of a fun and engaging way to take action for Write for Rights in your community! If you have any questions, please reach out to the Organising team at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’d love to help! If your group has done something creative and impactful for Write for Rights in the past, please share it in the National Activist Facebook group or in the #w4r2022 Slack channel to inspire others.
- Check out the W4R Activist Resources page to find: case cards, posters, petitions, QR codes, template letters, solidarity cards, and more!
- Use our handy Events & Tactics Checklist when organising your Write for Rights event or action!
- Watch the recordings of the 2021 W4R training sessions on Building Partnerships (recording), Digital Skills and Tools (recording / slides), and Recruitment and Retention (recording / slides) or skill up via our online training modules.
- Here are some key messages and lines of response you can use when discussing the right to protest!
- 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 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!
Write for Rights in Schools
Attention all school teachers, Amnesty club convenors and activists interested in visiting a school this year: Write for Rights is a great way to introduce and explore human rights in the classroom and teach your students how they can take action for and show solidarity with people whose rights have been wronged, no matter how old or young they are!
Click on the button below to order the W2022 W4R 2022 School Pack for your class. This is a physical pack which contains one generic and one case-specific human rights education (HRE) activity and hand out materials, making fighting for the rights of others easy and real. The pack also includes an Amnesty folder, poster, pens, stickers and a reply paid envelope to send back the letters and solidarity messages participants will write, so we can forward them to the targets, include them in the handovers in February 2023 and keep you up-to-date on the impact of your actions! The deadline for ordering the school pack is Sunday 11 December 2022.
Engage the media
Raise awareness of how your group is challenging injustice by reaching out to the media:
- Send a media release
A media release is a relatively old-fashioned way to reach journalists in the most efficient way possible. 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 a headline. Here’s a template for a W4R media release to get you started. Then 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 the release up 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. Check out this piece on the Bendigo action group in the Bendigo Advertiser for inspiration.
Need support with writing, editing or disseminating your media release? Get in touch with our Media Lead Dan at email@example.com.
- 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.
For more information watch the recording of our W4R Media Training here.
Let us know how it went!
- Please fill out the Event Evaluation Form to let us know how your event went—evaluations enable us to report on events, recognise your work and address any issues.
- Share your pictures and success via the National Facebook group for activists.
- Send all your letters and petitions back to the Sydney action centre at: Amnesty International, Locked Bag 23, Broadway NSW 2007 OR scan and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post them to the target, include them in the handover in February 2023 and ensure that your solidarity messages are delivered!