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Write for Rights: Global letter writing movement stands with victims of human rights abuses

Amnesty International launches flagship Write for Rights campaign to help people facing human rights abuses around the world

Millions of letters and emails will be sent to support these individuals and urge authorities to end injustices

‘While sending a letter may seem like a small gesture for any single one of us, the collective action of many of us has the potential to transform lives’ – Sacha Deshmukh

Amnesty International is calling on people across the UK to take part in its flagship letter writing campaign, Write for Rights, in support of individuals from around the world who have been persecuted, jailed, or facing human rights abuses for standing up for their rights.

Taking place across November and December, Write for Rights will see people around the world send millions of cards, emails and social media posts of solidarity to individuals whose fundamental rights are being threatened or denied, while urging those in power to put a halt to the abuses.

This year, the global Write for Rights campaign will focus on 10 cases of individuals and communities from across the world who are facing human rights violations, including:

  • Rocky Myers, a Black man, has been on death row in Alabama, USA, since 1994. A nearly all-white jury convicted and sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of his white neighbour. The trial judge overrode their decision and imposed a death sentence - a practice now outlawed in Alabama. No evidence linked Rocky to the murder, except for a VCR stolen from the victim, which he maintains he had found abandoned in the street. In 2018, Rocky and others on death row were given 30 days to choose if they wanted to die by nitrogen gas asphyxiation or by amended lethal injection protocols. Rocky chose the former, and his execution could be reset as soon as the new protocol for execution by nitrogen gas asphyxiation is finalised and ready to be implemented, which is expected by the end of this year.
  • Rita Karasartova, a Kyrgyzstan-based human rights defender who works for the Institute of Civic Analysis - a human rights organisation and thinktank. Rita was arrested in October 2022 for joining group of activists who objected to a border demarcation agreement with Uzbekistan. After the group called for a public assembly and formed a committee to oppose the agreement, Rita and others were charged with attempting to violently overthrow the government, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. Rita is now under house arrest and a strict curfew.
  • Ahmed Mansoor is a human rights defender and previously won the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015. Ahmed has documented human rights abuses in the UAE since 2006, until he was arrested in early 2011 and March 2017, he was given a 10-year prison sentence. He has been held in solitary confinement since the beginning of his detention, and continues to be denied a mattress, access to books, and to be permitted to go out in a yard.
  • Justyna Wydrzyńska is a reproductive rights defender in Poland and is one of the co-founders of the Abortion Dream Team, an activist collective campaigning against abortion stigma and offering advice on accessing safe abortion in Poland, where abortion laws are among the most restrictive in Europe. In March 2023 Justyna was convicted to 8 months’ community service for helping a pregnant woman to access abortion pills in Poland, setting a dangerous precedent in a country where abortion is almost completely banned.

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Amnesty International UK, said:

“Write for Rights is an annual moment when millions of people from around the world come together to speak with a shared voice about human rights abuses around the world. While sending a letter may seem like a small gesture for any single one of us, the collective action of many of us has the potential to transform lives. 

“The individuals we are highlighting this year live very different lives in very different places, but sadly what unites them is that their fundamental rights are under attack. 

“We encourage as many people as possible to join in Write for Rights 2023 and create a powerful collective voice standing with these brave human rights defenders and together with them against the injustices that they face.”

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign

Write for Rights dates back to the origins of Amnesty International in 1961. In the organisation’s early days, Amnesty campaigners wrote letters of support to individuals facing human rights violations. Now, Write for Rights is Amnesty’s flagship campaign, running every year to raise awareness about individuals whose rights are being seriously threatened.

Last year’s Write for Rights saw:

  • Over 5.3 million actions worldwide – of which at least 234,801 letters and cards were solidarity actions.
  • Letters were sent from around the world, from Zimbabwe to Hong Kong.
  • Amnesty’s International Secretariat digitally collected almost double the number of digital actions from 2021.
  • In the UK alone, 68,000 online actions were taken.

Click here to get involved in Write for Rights 2023.

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