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Write for Rights

    February 25, 2021

    On or around December 10th, International Human Rights Day, Amnesty International supporters around the world take part in our biggest global day of action, Write for Rights, in solidarity with individuals and communities whose human rights have been denied.

    Despite the challenges with COVID-19 restrictions, thousands of supporters across Canada made their voices loud this year. They organized an incredible 206 virtual and household events or took action on their own, and sent more than 75,000+ letters, emails, solidarity messages and tweets from Canada alone! 

    You're already changing lives - thank you! Here are some recent updates from Write for Rights 2020, as well as one from 2019: 

    December 19, 2020
    Bob Mertens with his son Tucker and Alex Neve

    In the South Shore of Nova Scotia, people gathered virtually this December 10th to write letters in memory of Bob Mertens. As part of the annual Write for Rights campaign, they wrote more than 250 letters in support of people whose human rights have been violated. Many people were writing for the first-time, all in honour of Bob.

    Bob Mertens was a beloved father, husband, and community member in Pinehurst, Nova Scotia. He was also beloved by the Amnesty community in Canada and around the world.

    As Amnesty’s outgoing Secretary General Alex Neve told LighthouseNow, “[Bob] embodies the very essence of universal human rights; that we all have a shared responsibility to stand up to injustice and work for a better world, and we each have our own gifts to bring to that struggle. Bob makes us all better for being in our lives and he will be sorely missed.”

    December 08, 2020

    Members of Amnesty Canada's National Youth Action and Advisory Committee (NYAAC) share their thoughts on the cases from Write for Rights 2020. It's not too late to sign-up, you can register your event or sign-up as an individual here. Also, be sure to check out the collaborative Spotify playlist you can use as background music in your virtual events and the #W4R Influencers who are sharing content across their social media platforms!

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    December 07, 2020
    8 of 10 Write for Rights 2020 cases

    Every year, on or around December 10th, International Human Rights Day, people from across Canada and around the world write millions of letters, emails, tweets, Facebook posts and postcards for those whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights event: Write for Rights. Last year, we took 6.6 million actions together. 

    Why do we do it? To ensure that those in power keep their promises and are held to account for human rights violations. Secondly, acts of solidarity and compassion from all over the world can change lives. Here’s what Magai Matiop Ngong, a teenager who was freed from death row in South Sudan this past summer, had to say about the support he received last year: “To Amnesty activists, tell them that I am so happy and grateful for what they have done to me and my family… I'm so blissful and blessed to have them as a support for my life and freedom.” 

    November 30, 2020

    Write for Rights is underway and some of Amnesty's incredible youth activists will be sharing content on their social media platforms from Dec 1-10 that you won't see anywhere else! Follow them on the platforms below to check-out what they're up to!

    Instagram: @thefunkystoic

     

    Instagram: @rachelk_lim

     

    November 13, 2020

    Can writing letters actually change things? We know it can. That’s why we run the biggest human rights event in the world every year. 

    Write for Rights 2020 is fast approaching – and we’re excited to have you on board. If you haven't already, sign up at www.writeathon.ca >> 

    Thank you for joining our growing community! We need your help to amp up the volume and get as many people to participate in Write for Rights as we can because more letters mean more power. Social media is a fantastic way to get your message out far and wide.

    Here are some ways you can take the lead online:

    October 28, 2020

    By Jani Silva*

    My name is Jani Silva and I’m a campesina, or small-scale farmer, from Colombia. I’m 57 years old and I work in the Perla Amazónica Farming Reserve Area in the southern region of Putumayo. Ever since I was little, I’ve always followed my convictions and always defended what I believe in. This is why I’m fighting to preserve the Amazon and its biodiversity.

    Today I face death threats, for defending our territory, the environment and our way of life. The armed groups in the region want to control our crops, our land and our communities.

    We’ve also faced oil drilling that affects our territory, destroys sensitive biological corridors for the protection of Amazonian species, and has drastically changed the lifestyle of our campesino communities.

    Despite all the obstacles and difficulties that we confront, we’re convinced that our struggle is just and necessary. Humanity must understand that we are all life, that we are water and that to defend the Amazon is to defend the life of present and future generations.

    October 20, 2020

    By Gustavo Gatica* 

    My life changed completely on Nov. 8 last year.

    That day, Carabinero officers—members of the Chilean National Police—shot me in both eyes, leaving me completely blind.

    Why did they shoot me? For exercising my right to protest.

    Before that day, I was an ordinary student from Santiago, studying psychology, playing basketball, riding my bike and playing the bass.

    That day, I was participating in a mass social demonstration, part of a wave of protests that began on Oct. 18 2019 to change a system that is based on inequality. The protests started due to an increase in the price of public transport, but that was just the trigger after decades of injustice. We took to the streets to change that, to demand more equal access to health and education, and better pensions.

    September 02, 2020
    Nasu Abdulaziz and Moses Akatugba at an Amnesty Nigeria Write for Rights event, December 10, 2019

    Last December during Write for Rights, the world's biggest human rights event, Amnesty supporters took more than 6.6 million actions in solidarity with young people facing injustices head on — to support them, give them strength and make it possible for them to continue to dare where adults in authority are failing. 

    So how have your words changed lives since then? Read on for updates from last year's cases, and watch for news about Write for Rights 2020 in the coming weeks!

    Grassy Narrows Youth, Canada 

    August 31, 2020
    "Thank you so much. I have no words. You have no idea how my heart is filled with happiness." - Magai Matiop Ngong 

    We campaign. We write. We advocate. And news like this is what we work for: 18-year-old Magai Matiop Ngong has been removed from South Sudan’s death row! 

    Before his life changed forever, Magai was a 15-year-old high school student. He loved running and singing, and had ambitions to be the president of South Sudan so that he could help people when he grew up.  

    But his dreams came to a sudden end in 2017 when he was convicted of murder. Magai's cousin had argued with a neighbour. When the neighbour got a gun, Magai did too. Magai fired warning shots into the ground, but one of the shots ricocheted and injured Magai's cousin who later died. Magai faced trial without a lawyer and told the judge that he was only 15 and tried to explain that the killing was an accident. But the judge sentenced him to death by hanging. "The feeling is not good at all," said Magai. "To be informed that you are going to die, I am not happy for that..." 

    April 06, 2020

    The people of Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishnabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) are now one step closer to justice. More than 50 years after untreated mercury was dumped into the English and Wabigoon Rivers, causing widespread mercury poisoning and loss of cultural traditions, the community has finally signed a deal with the federal government for a mercury care home.  

    In 2017, the federal government committed to building a mercury care home for community members suffering from the impacts of mercury poisoning. After years of delay, a $19.5 million dollar agreement to build a care facility was finally signed on April 2nd. This agreement is an important step forward for justice, but long-term funding for the operation and services of the facility still needs to be secured.  

     

     

     

    February 19, 2020
    Students from Amnesty International at York joined Toronto's biggest annual Write for Rights event at the Centre for Social Innovation.

    Thanks to you, Write for Rights 2019 was our biggest campaign yet! In December and beyond, more than 8,500 people across Canada gathered at 367 public and private events in homes, schools, cafes, places of worship, workplaces and more, to send 78,000+ letters, emails, petitions, cards and tweets in solidarity with the young human rights defenders we supported this year. Around the world, Amnesty International supporters took more than 6.5 million actions - our highest total ever! Check out photos from across Canada and around the world.

    January 24, 2020

     

    We are a collection of stories. As a writer, I try to capture narratives in a way that suspends time while still staying within its boundaries. Some have told me that it is difficult to create new stories, that the current ones have already been reused, and that they are tired of reading. But on a chilly December afternoon, I wove through the narrow streets of Toronto and joined a group of people who care, love, and treasure the numerous narratives still beating on this planet.

    I stumbled into the registration area, a few minutes shy of 1 pm. Strings of fairy lights and quiet bright lamps illuminated a set of posters on issues such as unjust sentences, unreasonable jail terms, and tragic deaths. Flash. A photo: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Flash. National Youth Organizers showing support for cases that resonate with them. Flash. Flash. Flash. These moments must be remembered. I vow to help people remember.  

    December 27, 2019

    The youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation are demanding the Canadian government keep its promises to finally address the mercury crisis in their community. Because of government inaction for 50 years, generations of young Indigenous people have grown up with devastating health problems and the loss of their cultural traditions like fishing and time on the land.

    To help amplify their urgent call, the youth-led campaign for mercury justice was one of the focal cases of last month's global Write for Rights campaign, marking the beginning of a year-long campaign to mobilize Amnesty members and supporters in Canada and around the world. Grassy Narrows youth were one of ten global cases focused on young human rights defenders leading the charge for change in their communities. More than 400,000 letters of support from around the world called for justice for Grassy Narrows and contributed to the successful signing of an agreement to build a mercury care home. 

    Highlights from the Write for Rights 2019 campaign:

    December 17, 2019

    My name is Nora Sneaky. I’m 15 years old and I’m from Grassy Narrows. Grassy is the only home I've ever known, and it’s a home I love. Grassy teaches me so much: it teaches me about the land, animals, and our Anishinaabe culture. But being from Grassy Narrows has also taught me that life can be unfair at times.

    From 1962 until 1970, a pulp mill dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon-English river upstream from my community. That mercury still sits in the river to this day and it has come with many health effects like numbness, difficulties breathing and standing, inability to feel in areas in the body, muscle weakness. The list goes on and on. Most often it affects people physically, but it also affects people emotionally and mentally. I myself suffer from migraines, depression, anxiety, and other things that come with the effects of the poisoning.

    Because of mercury, I grew up with a lot of fear in my life, and this fear only grew as I got older and learned more about the impacts of mercury.

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