Amnesty International Kicks Off Annual Letter Writing Marathon

Amnesty International
Press Release
Saturday, December 3, 2011

Amnesty International Kicks Off Annual Letter Writing Marathon
Global Write-a-thon, one of the largest human rights events of the year mobilizes action for release of prisoners of conscience and others

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International this weekend kicks off its annual letter writing marathon, Write for Rights, which occurs from December 3 to December 11. Write for Rights is a global event in which people in more than 80 countries will call on governments worldwide to take action on behalf of prisoners of conscience and others whose human rights are threatened. In one of the largest human rights events of the year, Write for Rights participants will also provide messages of hope and support for these individuals at risk.

“Enlisting friends, family and members of their communities to take one simple step for human rights by writing a letter, people around the world will together send a powerful message in defense of human rights,” said Mike O’Reilly, director of Amnesty International USA’s Campaign for Individuals at Risk.

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Last year, more than 600,000 actions were taken on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders and others at risk of human rights abuses. Out of the 12 cases featured by Amnesty activists in the U.S. last year, six people were either released or saw marked improvement in their conditions or treatment.

This year’s Write for Rights actions focus on 15 cases of people at risk of human rights abuses in countries from Bahrain to Zimbabwe, Mexico to North Korea. In Cameroon, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is imprisoned for three years on charges of “homosexuality,” which is considered a criminal offense in that country. College student Jabbar Savalan was arrested by police in Azerbaijan after he posted messages to Facebook that were critical of the government. Fatima Hussein Badi has been given a death sentence in Yemen following an unfair trial.

International pressure has been proven to help bring about the release of prisoners of conscience. Aung San Suu Kyi was released last year by the Myanmar government following campaigning by Amnesty International and others. Su Su Nway, a fellow political activist jailed in Myanmar, was released after her case was featured in Write for Rights.

When novelist Musaad Abu Fagr was released from detention in Egypt last year after his case was featured in Write for Rights, he said: “Amnesty International’s support is one of the reasons that I was released. Your messages gave me a sense of solidarity.”

However, many other individuals remain at risk all across the world. Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is still imprisoned in China for his defense of human rights. The members of the human rights group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are routinely arrested, intimidated, ill-treated and harassed by Zimbabwean police for mounting peaceful protests. In the United States, Christi Cheramie was only 16 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is a violation of international law. Each of these cases are among those featured in this year’s Write for Rights.

Those interested in participating in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights can do so by visiting Amnesty International’s website at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon

A map of Write for Rights events taking place in the United States can be viewed at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/map.php.

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