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Write For Rights: The Power of Words

Filed under: Activism, Local Interest

AV’s human rights correspondents, Kimberly Balicki and Sarah Bishop, send in this correspondence:

It has been 63 years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights has been adopted. Since that time, there has been a collective awakening of nations towards making human rights a reality in both word and deed. Little by little, we have seen racist laws repealed, social stigmas removed, sexism addressed, civil rights secured and egregious acts of violence against minorities deplored.

As Secretary of State Hilary Clinton noted earlier this week, “[I]n most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities.”

For over 50 years, Amnesty International has been a staunch supporter of human rights around the world. To achieve this, Amnesty relies on members and volunteers to take action in their local communities through campaigns, educational demonstrations, vigils, lobbying and letter-writing. We are encouraged to come together, to work with and for one another at a local level in order to accomplish change nationally, internationally and globally. We are called to recognize injustice and act without ignorance as a defense.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of individuals participate in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon, the world’s largest human rights event and just one of the ways that Amnesty International campaigns against injustice. The impact of this campaign can be felt in through the words of Sanar Yurdatapan, a former prisoner of conscience in Turkey: “Your letters and cards are like bombs when they drop into the offices of ministers and government officials. When the cards and letters arrived into our barracks they were like rays of sunshine. We need the sunshine.”

With that sentiment and in solidarity of the 50th Anniversary, members and supporters of Amnesty are hoping for their biggest turn out yet—and here in Buffalo, we plan to do our part.

On Saturday, December 10, beginning at 1pm, an open event will be held at the office of Buffalo First! (910 Main Street, Buffalo). Members of the Buffalo community are encouraged to come together to write letters addressing a range of issues, including freedom of expression, women’s rights, abolishment of the death penalty, LGBTQ rights, corporate accountability and a demand for justice in crimes against humanity.

In recognition of Madame Secretary Clinton’s remarks on Human Rights Day 2011, in which she addressed the need to ensure equality and dignity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, we will be highlighting the work of local organizations, advocates, and resources that work to support the LGBTQ community in Western New York. And, thanks to the generosity of Positive Approach Custom Screen Printing & Fashion, a limited edition “Write For Rights” t-shirt will be printed and sold for $20 with proceeds given to the local non-profit organization of the purchasers choice to support the work of furthering human rights locally. For more information on this event or to purchase a shirt, please contact Sarah Bishop at: thinkbuybe@gmail.com.

So, this Saturday, bring a friend, stationary, and come ready to write for rights.

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