Review: Write for Rights

SELHuG meeting, December 2020

This meeting was held online using Zoom due to the Corona virus. Sam Becker (SELHuG member and host for the evening) said that the purpose of the meeting was to generate interest in the Write for Rights campaign, organised every year by Amnesty International (AI).

AI was established in 1961 with the broad aim of making injustices visible to the world. It achieves this by publishing details about acts of injustice, such as the use of torture and imprisonment without due process, by making it clear to those officials who are carrying out acts of injustice that the world is watching them, and by letting the victims know that they are not forgotten.

Every major country has a national branch of AI and within countries there are many local groups (e.g. the Blackheath and Greenwich Group).

Write for Rights is a campaign established many years ago, for focused work in the months of November and December each year (Human Rights Day is 10th December). Around 6.5 million messages of support were sent out in 2019 and their value has been confirmed many times, especially by victims and their families. Each year AI picks out 10 people who have suffered some form of injustice that they have in common. This year they are people who have experienced threats to their freedom. 

AI has produced an online letter-writing kit. This comprises: an explanation of what the programme is, how it works, why it is needed, short descriptions of the 10 people who are the focus of the year’s attention, a set of sample letters, and the names and addresses of the target recipients. One can either send one of the sample letters as is, or customise it to one’s own sympathies, or write a completely original letter. Although this year’s campaign is now finishing, if you are interested you can find out more here.

Sam ended by listing the actions that a sympathiser might take:

  1. Write a letter of support as part of the Write for Rights campaign
  2. Sign up on the AI website for email updates
  3. Join the AI Urgent Action programme to take action throughout the year

Sam closed by saying that, as a humanist, he feels an obligation to take action to support those who are less fortunate than himself, particularly those suffering injustice. And it’s good to look overseas occasionally rather than focus continually on UK issues.

Review by Tony Brewer