December is Write For Rights month!
Help us write on these current Human Rights cases!
Every year, during the week of Human Rights Day (10 December), Amnesty International invites its members and the general public to participate in the Write for Rights event, where you write letters on a variety of human rights issues, supporting human rights defenders or protesting prison conditions throughout the world.
We will be writing letters to government officials protesting the abuses to which these people have been subjected. And we will also be sending cards to the prisoners of conscience and activists directly, to encourage them in their struggle! Bring some non-demoninational greeting cards with you if you can.
This year we will be writing for:
- Jorge Lázaro Nunes dos Santos, from Brazil. Two of Jorge Lázaro Nunes dos Santos' seven children were shot to death. He has been struggling for justice ever since. Ricardo Mattos dos Santos, a talented circus acrobat, was gunned down in January 2008 while playing soccer with his friends in the Bahia state of Brazil. In March 2011, the public prosecutor charged three military police officers with his execution. Six years after Ricardo's death, the case still has not gone to trial and no one has been brought to justice. Five years later, his 19-year-old brother Enio was abducted from his home and killed. Almost nothing is known about the context of his death. Every year, thousands of young black Brazilians die in gun related homicides. Hundreds are killed by military police, death squads or militias with links to the police.
- Liu Ping, from China. Liu Ping became an activist at 45 years old when she was forced to retire from her work at the state-owned Iron and Steel Plant. She first advocated for workers' rights, then began promoting various other human rights issues, including anti-corruption activism. As a result, she has been frequently intimidated, beaten, and illegally detained. Now Liu Ping has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for publicly calling on the Chinese government to step up the fight against corruption. She is a Prisoner of Conscience.
- Women and Girls of El Salvador. In El Salvador, it doesn't matter if you're pregnant as a result of rape, or whether the pregnancy is a risk to your life: abortion is banned in all cases. If you have a miscarriage, you could be jailed for up to 50 years for aggravated homicide because the state suspects you of having a clandestine abortion. María Teresa Rivera, a 28-year-old single parent working in a garment factory, had a miscarriage in November 2011. Rather than being treated or counseled, she was arrested and charged. Deeply flawed evidence was presented by the prosecution, yet Maria Teresa was still convicted of aggravated homicide. In July 2012, María Teresa was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment.
- Rampyari Bai & Safreen Khanr, from India. December 3, 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of one the world's most devastating industrial disasters - the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India. Between 7,000 and 10,000 people died within three days after toxic gas containing deadly chemicals leaked from a pesticide plant owned and operated by Union Carbide India Limited. Activists Rampyari Bai and Safreen Khan know the full horror of the disaster. Rampyari's daughter-in-law was seven months pregnant on the night of the Bhopal gas leak. She and her baby died in the hospital soon afterwards. Safreen told us that many children in her community are born with disabilities and deformities. Survivors of the gas leak have never received adequate compensation to cover the full extent of their injuries.
- Moses Akatugba, from Nigeria. Moses Akatugba was sixteen years old when he was arrested under suspicion of armed robbery in November 2005. Soldiers shot him in the hand and beat him on the head and back before taking him to the police station. Moses then spent more than three months in police detention, where he says that police officers repeatedly beat him with machetes and batons. He told Amnesty that they tied and hung him up for several hours, and then used pliers to pull out his toe and fingernails. Last year, Moses Akatugba was sentenced to death for armed robbery, after eight years awaiting trial in prison. The sentence was based only on his forced confession and the testimony of the robbery victim, which was full of contradictions.
- Murad Shtewi, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Palestinian activist Murad Shtewi is an outspoken human rights defender from the Palestinian village of Kufr Qadum in the occupied West Bank. Every week, his community holds a demonstration to oppose Israel's illegal settlements and demand that their main road be re-opened. As a result of his leadership, Murad was arrested in April 2014 and charged with rock-throwing and causing a public disturbance. The majority of Kufr Qadum's lands have been seized by the Israeli authorities for the purposes of building and servicing the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim. The residents of Kufr Qadum and other Palestinians are prohibited from using roads designated for use by Israeli settlers only.
- Raif Badawi, from Saudi Arabia. In May 2014, Raif Badawi was jailed for 10 years. His sentence also included 1,000 lashes, a 10-year travel ban, and a lifetime ban from appearing on media outlets once he is released. What was Raif's so-called crime? Violating Saudi Arabia's information technology law and insulting Islam through the creation of 'Saudi Arabian Liberals,' a website meant for social and political debate in Saudi Arabia.
- Chelsea Manning, from the USA. US Army Private Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on August 21, 2013, after leaking classified US government material to the website Wikileaks. Some of the documents pointed to potential human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law by US troops abroad, the CIA, and Afghan and Iraqi forces operating alongside the US army. Chelsea spent three years in detention, awaiting trial. For eleven months she endured conditions described by a UN expert on torture as 'cruel and inhumane'. These included isolation in solitary confinement - 23 hours a day in a small cell with no window to the outside.
- Darrell Cannon & Anthony Holmes, from the USA. Between 1972 and 1991, Chicago police under the direction of former Commander Jon Burge systematically tortured more than 100 people of color on Chicago's South Side. Darrell Cannon and Anthony Holmes are just two of the survivors of Burge's legacy of racist torture. In May of 1972, Burge and his fellow officers repeatedly shocked Anthony with an electric shock box referred to by the detectives as the "ni**er box." They wrapped the wires around his shackles while suffocating him with a plastic bag. When he regained consciousness, Anthony confessed to a murder he did not commit. His confession kept him behind bars for thirty years. On November 2, 1983, three Chicago Police Department detectives tortured Darrell at a remote site on Chicago's South Side. They pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, pulling the trigger which, at each click, made him think his head was about to be blown off. Like Anthony, Darrell falsely confessed - and spent 24 years in prison on the basis of his confession.
- Hadiya Pendleton, in the USA. Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed at the age of 15. She is one of over 11,000 victims of firearm-related homicides in the United States every year. In 2015, Amnesty International will launch a campaign to end gun violence in the United States.
To read more about this year’s cases, see the Amnesty International website.
Write For Rights: Lakewood, Saturday 6 December
Saturday 6 December 2014
10:00 – 14:00 (10:00 AM to 2:00 PM)
Angelo M. Iacoboni Library
4990 Clark Avenue, Lakewood, California 90712
Sponsored by Amnesty International Group 175 (Long Beach).
Write For Rights! Protest Human rights abuses or cheer up a prisoner of conscience by writing a letter or a card.
Map to location
Write For Rights: Irvine, Sunday 14 December
Sunday 14 December 2014
10:00 – 13:00 (10:00 AM to 1:00 PM)
Irvine United Congregational Church
4915 Alton Parkway, Irvine, California 92604
Sponsored by Amnesty International Group 178 (Irvine) and the Irvine United Congregational Church.
Write For Rights! Write a letter to help a prisoner of conscience.
An RSVP is appreciated but not required. You can RSVP with an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.