‘Twas the night before Human Rights Day...
...and all across the country people have been writing letters for our Write For Rights campaign.
Or writing about us writing letters in local newspapers. We have had a huge haul of those over the last few weeks, including a load of letters about letters on the letters pages.
Tonight, here at our London office we are having a festive fayre with comedians, a choir, mulled wine and mince pies- and it’s free and open to the public, so if you are in the Shoreditch area please drop in. There will also be a writing station where we are inviting people to write a letter for one of the ten people or communities from our campaign.
When I was interviewed about the campaign yesterday on Colourful radio, I was asked if writing a letter really does do anything to ensure people’s freedom. Well perhaps one wouldn’t, but the hundreds of thousands being written in 82 countries across the world stand more of a chance.
The importance of writing letters, was brought home to me last night, by Jack Mapanje, a Malawian poet (and former Amnesty prisoner of conscience) who was jailed for three and a half years after he dared to write poetry that was critical of policies adopted by the then Life President Banda. He was launching a new memoir about his time in captivity, called And Crocodiles Are Hungry At Night.
Jack is a wonderful man who has a hearty laugh and incidentally was my university professor, teaching a module called ‘The Literatures of Incarceration’. He was able to teach, write and laugh over here in the UK, because he was freed and when he was freed he was told by the prison chief:
We have arrested and imprisoned so many people in this country but we have never had so much trouble as we had over you.
Quite a claim to fame, and with that in mind, please join us in making a bit more trouble. It only takes ten minutes. Barely a trouble at all.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.