‘Write for Rights’ is a global letter-writing campaign in order to support those individuals whose basic human rights are being violated. Organised by Amnesty International, it takes place every year around 10 December, which is Human Rights Day.
Drenthe joined this year’s call to stand up for children and young people: the Public Library in Beilen will host ‘Write for Rights’ session, reports De Krant van Midden Drenthe. Those who want to write letters to ten young prisoners, can visit the library on December 9 between 7:30 and 21:30.
Demanding justice for youngsters
‘With all those letters, we hope that the prisoners’ situation will improve: that they will be released, that their tortures will stop or that they will receive protection,’ says Henk Timmerman from the local Amnesty working group. Together with the Humanist Association and several churches, they took an initiative of organising the event to help the ten youngsters. For example, Yasamani Aryani from Iran and Emil Ostrovko from Belarus.
The 23-year-old Aryani was sentenced to 16 years for protesting forced veiling: ‘She dared to speak in public about the freedom to wear the clothes she wants, like no headscarf.’ Another young person, the 17-year-old Ostrovko, was charged with ‘illicit drug trafficking as part of an organised group’ after taking an after-school courier job. ‘He was convicted of a drug crime that the owner of a company is guilty of. Ostrovko serves as a model for thousands of other young people who are also imprisoned for years and have to do forced labour for small crimes that they often didn’t commit.’
Words have power
Letters from millions of people give visibility to the cases, bring international attention and put pressure on decision-makers to take immediate action. It can be not only letters though: petitions, emails, social media posts; photos and postcards add to the ‘Write for Rights’ marathon.
Amnesty International reports that public pressure holds to account governments and companies: ‘Often there is a noticeable change by officials towards these individuals: charges are dropped, treatment becomes less harsh, and laws or regulations addressing the problem are introduced.’
One of the successful examples from the 2018 campaign is the story of a disability rights activist from Kyrgyzstan. Gulzar Duishenova had been advocating disability rights for years, but only after receiving nearly 250,000 messages backing Duishenova, Kyrgyzstan finally signed up to the Disability Rights Convention in March 2019.