Every year, Amnesty supporters across the globe write millions of letters on behalf of people whose basic human rights are being attacked.
During late 2015 and early 2016, our supporters around the world wrote an astonishing 3.7 million letters, messages, emails and tweets as part of our global letter-writing marathon, Write for Rights.
In February 2016, one of our recent Write for Rights cases, Albert Woodfox, was finally released – 44 years after he was first placed in solitary confinement in the USA. More than 240,000 of you around the world demanded his release and sent him messages of support.
He told us: “Your messages from beyond the prison walls have become an enormous source of strength for me. I would like to thank all of the members of Amnesty International and its supporters for all of the wonderful work they are doing on our behalf.”
It doesn’t end there. More than half a million of you also took action to protect girls and young women in Burkina Faso – and it worked! The Ministry of Justice there affirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating early and forced marriage, and said they had felt compelled to do so after “receiving letters, emails and correspondence from people all over the world”.
Support and solidarity
We know that your handwritten postcards, letters and messages of support and solidarity have also been a huge comfort to people going through incredibly tough situations.
For example, we visited Yecenia Armenta, who is in jail in Mexico after being beaten and raped into “confessing” to her husband’s murder. We passed on more than 8,000 of your letters and messages: “When I receive all these letters saying that I’m not alone, it makes me feel great. And I think: ‘Yes, it’s true, I’m not alone. They really are supporting me.’ It’s exciting to think that there are people who still care about the rights of other people – and they don’t even know me.”
We also spoke to Phyoe Phyoe Aung, a student leader currently jailed in Myanmar for her role in largely peaceful protests: “Receiving letters gives me real inspiration for what we are doing. I have begun to notice that the world is watching and cheering us – we are not alone. I thank everyone very much for their support. Although we cannot see the results from the government yet, it can influence their mindset.”
How did Australia help?
Our day in Parliament
Receiving letters gives me real inspiration for what we are doing. I have begun to notice that the world is watching and cheering us – we are not alone.
We took Write for Rights to the Australian Parliament and encouraged over 130 MPs and Senators to get involved. Our Government Relations team received confirmations from several politicians who wrote letters for this year’s Write for Rights.
Write for Rights challenge
For the first time ever, the Asia Pacific combined it’s activist power for the Write for Rights campaign. Australian action groups joined fellow activists from Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan to campaign for Zunar, a cartoonist facing jail time for tweeting in Malaysia and other Write for Rights cases.
As part of events all around Australia, our groups in Parramatta and Mount Druitt ran a seven-day Write for Rights challenge, encouraging supporters to write a letter for one of our cases every day for one week.
Street Art for Rights
Internationally renowned street artists E.L.K., Kaff-eine and Adnate used their passion and creativity to make and celebrate human rights change for women around the world.
In Sydney and Melbourne these artists created two stunning murals of women who have featured in the campaigns this year and in the past.
E.L.K. worked on a stunning mural of Teodora in Bondi Junction, Sydney.
Write for Rights is not simply about creating change in one month. The power of Write for Rights is in starting that initial pressure, which, over months and even years, eventually yields success.
Together, we can show the world that pens and keyboards are mightier than the sword.