“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

Coastei community in Romania receives some good news and shares words of thanks to Amnesty International letter-writers who spoke out against their forced removal from their homes. Amnesty International members wrote over 1.8 million letters on December 10th, for people like Claudia and her son (pictured below), during the world’s biggest human rights event, Write for Rights. And our efforts are getting results …

Thank you very much to everyone for the letters that have been sent to the mayor, and also for the letters of solidarity that we received. We feel very much supported and we have confidence that with your support from around the world we will succeed. We do not give up because we know we have so many people that are standing by us in the fight for justice. We are really touched to know that people from all over the world are thinking about us and have written to us. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
-Claudia, from the Coastei Road community in Romania, pictured with her daughter

GOOD NEWS! On February 13, the new Minister of Regional Development, Liviu Dragnea, met with delegates from Amnesty International, the European Roma Rights Centre, and Fundaţia Desire. He said that the meeting was a strong signal that there is a desire from within the Ministry to resolve the issue of access of Roma communities to housing. The Minister committed to creating partnerships on technical, financial and conceptual aspects with local authorities to address the issues. The Ministry also signaled it was open to cooperation with NGOs. Amnesty International and the other NGOs welcome these commitments from the Ministry.

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters on behalf of the Coastei community!

Two years ago, 350 people from the Coastei community in north-western Romania lost their homes when they were forcibly evicted by local authorities. They were not given any written or detailed communication or sufficient notice – the evicted families were only told  that they needed to move themselves and their belongings within two days!

Amnesty members responded in a big way, when supporters from 80 countries wrote letters during Write for Rights on International Human Rights Day, calling for justice for those who had lost their homes. Members in Canada also wrote 150 messages of solidarity directly to those from the former Coastei Road community.

More words of thanks to Amnesty International letter-writers

In Canada, nearly 30,000 participants wrote persuasive letters to authorities on Human Rights Day, urging an end to human rights abuses. Many also chose the option of writing letters of hope and solidarity directly to the people featured in our actions. These are some of their words of thanks, upon receiving letters from Amnesty International supporters …

Yolanda Oquelí, Guatemala
“Its the most beautiful thing I’ve received in my life! I’m going to frame them. There are some drawings from children of 8 and 9 years old that are so pretty!”
Prior to Write for Rights, Yolanda Oquelí was the subject of one of Amnesty International’s ongoing Individuals at Risk actions, after she was shot for speaking out against a proposed mining operation in Guatemala. Following our campaigning in the fall, authorities responded by providing her with protection, but activists in her community continue to be the subject of violent attacks.

Geng He, wife of Gao Zhisheng, China
“Following a Letter-Writing Marathon (‘Write for Rights’) organized by Amnesty International at the end of last year and the international community’s actions, the family of the Gao Zhisheng was granted a second prison visit on 12 January of this year. It is a small improvement, but it could not be achieved without the international community’s concerns and the effort and support from the membership of Amnesty International, for which my family and I feel most grateful.”
A prominant lawyer in China, Gao (pictured with his son) remains detained for his human rights work.

Taghi Rahmaniosa, husband of Narges Mohammadi, Iran:
“Your organization has always been a great support for me and I say that as someone who has spent 14 years of my life behind bars. My wife, Narges Mohammadi and I, as human rights activists, have always been warmed by Amnesty International’s dedication to promoting human rights. For me, Amnesty International is the symbol of an organization that wants human rights for all people. An organization that, free from any political affiliations, urges governments and other entities to respect human rights.”
Narges, pictured here, is an Iranian women’s rights activist and a mother of 5-year-old twins who was sentenced in April 2012 to six years in prison on charges related to her human rights work.

Luis Evelis, Indigenous people at Risk, Colombia:
“Your letters and expressions of concern about this grave emergency can help prevent Indigenous Peoples from being wiped out. So that we don’t lose these cultures, their wisdom; entire Indigenous Peoples, human beings.”
Amnesty International Canada is raising the profile of the threats to Indigenous peoples in Colombia through a photo gallery that is touring the country. During Write for Rights, many schools in Canada got involved in writing on the pressing issues: teachers at Mount Royal Collegiate in Saskatoon and Beaverlodge Regional High school in Beaverlodge, Alberta, for example, got their students involved and sent in packages full of dove messages to President Santos. Children as young as 5 prepared dove images and adults wrote thoughtful solidarity messages.

Dinebari David Vareba, from the Bodo community, Nigeria:
“I think this solidarity, I would say, is the highest we have had…. assisting the Bodo people to actually have a better situation in the disaster which they had. I am so impressed by first of all, Amnesty International organizing this, for inviting us.”

In 2008, two consecutive oil spills, caused by faults in a Shell pipeline, resulted in thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, a town of 69,000 people in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. No proper clean up has ever taken place. The Bodo community had some recent good news, when the court of the Economic Community of West African States ordered the Nigerian government to punish oil companies over pollution.  But pressure is needed to make sure that the government adheres to this judgment.

In an inspired act of generosity for Human Rights Day, Christian & David from Nigeria’s Bodo community, wrote messages of support to people who lost their homes in the Coastei community in Romania.

Read more good news stories from Amnesty International’s human rights work.