Tuesday 13 August

Image shows an audience in a darkened theatre
Imprisoned Writers event Sunday 11 Aug 2019 © Sophia Simmill

The Imprisoned Writers Series at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 

Since 1997, Amnesty International in Scotland has shared the voices of writers whose human rights have been compromised - because they have been imprisoned, exiled or executed for exercising their freedom of expression; because they face challenges in practicing their rights in their daily lives; or because they live in a country where their rights are oppressed.

These events, known as the Imprisoned Writers Series, seek to challenge, move and inspire by sharing writing by those whose freedom of expression is threatened or denied. Each day we are joined by four of the visiting authors who graciously volunteer their time to read the words of writers who cannot be at the Festival.

The Imprisoned Writers Series exists to amplify voices – both voices that cannot be heard because their right to speak has been taken away, and also those voices that we may find uncomfortable to hear. Not all of our authors have experienced detention, but they have all had their rights challenged, and have all fought to claim their rights. 

The Kids are Alright

2019 is the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC applies to all children and young people under 18. Its aim is to recognise the rights of children and young people and ensure that they grow up in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity.

196 countries have ratified it, including the United Kingdom. The USA is the only country which has not yet ratified the Convention.

The fact that a country has ratified the UNCRC does not guarantee that the rights within it shall be respected, protected and fulfilled. This can only be ensured when steps are taken to implement the Convention into domestic law, policy and practice.

The Scottish Government has pledged to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law.

The UNCRC guarantees children the right of freedom of expression, and states “this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds”.

Today’s readings reflect on this right to be heard and challenge us to listen to the next generation.

The readings

The letters from Aabla and Tatiana are from 21 remarkable Letters to UNICEF a UNICEF Global Teenager Project.

Adesew Oyinkansola wrote I Am a Child and Don’t Get Sidetracked by the Frivolous Things in Life when she was an 11-year-old student at Yaba College of Technology Secondary School, Yaba-Lagos. She started writing at the age of 6. Her first book of poetry titled Thoughts of a Child was published through a writing contest when she was 8 years old. You can read her poems at face2faceafrica.com

Pinar Aksu is a former child refugee who now lives in Scotland. While her family was seeking asylum in the UK, she was detained in Yarl’s Wood and Dungavel immigration removal centres. She now works as project coordinator and facilitator and is involved with several campaigning groups supporting asylum and refugee rights, promoting integration and opposing racism and detention.

The Fridays for Future movement was started by Greta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden who in August 2018 decided to miss school every Friday and instead protest outside the Swedish parliament until it took more serious action to tackle climate change. Today’s reading is an extract from Greta’s powerful speech to MPs in the UK Parliament in April this year.

Take Action 

If you have been moved to take action by today's readings, you can join the #FridaysforFuture #ClimateStrike on 20 September 2019. Register at the Fridays for Future website.

 

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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.
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