By: Jessica Marvin/Co-editor in Chief
Founded by British lawyer, Peter Benenson in 1961, Amnesty International is an organization which fights for human rights worldwide. The organization does work on a variety of issues, including police brutality, the death penalty, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Since their founding, Amnesty International’s campaigns have had a massive impact on the world. According to their website, tens of thousands of people who were imprisoned for exercising their human rights, have been freed thanks to the organization’s efforts. However, Amnesty International had humble beginnings. In fact, it started as a letter writing campaign to free two Portuguese students who had been unjustly imprisoned. This letter writing effort soon became the core of Amnesty International, bringing us here: the fifteenth annual Write for Rights campaign.
Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Report for 2015 showed that at least 156 human rights activists were either killed or died in detention. This report also showed that at least 61 countries imprisoned citizens for just exercising their freedoms.
So, what can the everyday citizen do to help? The Write for Rights campaign is a good place to start. As part of their initiative to free unjustly imprisoned people, Amnesty International calls on people to write two letters (per cause). One, to one of the many people or groups who have been locked up worldwide for defending their rights, and the second, to their government, urging them to release the unfairly detained.
People interested in getting involved can do so by joining a letter-writing party near them, organizing their own, or participating individually. Though you can write year-round, the due date to be counted by Amnesty as part of their campaign is Monday, January 15th.
To find out more about the campaign, visit Amnesty International’s website.