By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The world’s largest annual human rights event, Amnesty International’s (AI) Global Write-A-Thon, will take place from December 4-18 in schools, coffee shops, community centers, and street corners around the globe.
The Oklahoma City affiliated chapter will hold a Write for Rights event on Saturday, December 5 at Full Circle Book Store, 1900 NW Expressway, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited to participate.
“During the Write for Rights event we will write letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience all over the world,” said John Walters, Treasurer, Amnesty USA-OKC Chapter.
“By taking part in the Write for Rights Write-A-Thon you can help bring about the release of a prisoner of conscience or an end to the harassment of someone standing up for Human Rights.”
Every year, close to Human Rights Day on December 10th, hundreds of thousands of people around the world each send a message to someone they’ve never met to demonstrate their support.
For 54 years, Amnesty International’s human rights campaigns have been instrumental in obtaining freedom for prisoners worldwide through pressure from letters, faxes, and e-mails written by Amnesty International activists.
AI has 3 million supporters who take action each year in this event.
“You are joining your voice with others around the world to demand that the rights of individuals be respected and protected,” Walters said. “You have the power to change someone’s life by simply writing a letter.
“At this event we will also write Christmas cards to all prisoners on Death Row in Oklahoma,” Walters added.
Currently Oklahoma has 49 inmates on death row.
“The Oklahoma Coalition against the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) is proud to participate in this annual Amnesty International OKC chapter project,” said Adam Leathers, OK-CADP spokesperson.
“It is one more way we can let those prisoners on Oklahoma’s death row know that they are not forgotten. I hope with all my heart that it also signals to them that we are working tirelessly to end this travesty of ‘killing people who kill’ to show that killing people is wrong,” Leathers said.
Oklahoma death row inmates Richard Glossip, Benejamin Cole and John Grant were all scheduled to be executed this fall. After a mix up in the drug protocol on September 30, Glossiip’s execution was stayed by Gov. Mary Fallin. The state has now granted an indefinite stay for the three men. Now, AI encourages people to write to these 3 men and others on Oklahoma’s death row.
Tens of thousands of individuals, imprisoned because of their beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, have been released from jail, rescued from torture, or aided in other ways following actions like AI’s Wright For Rights campaign.
From Ethiopia, Mideksa Birtukan is one of those who benefited has from the Write for Rights event.
“Through your work on behalf of thousands of prisoners of conscience around the world, Amnesty International continues to be the conscience of humanity,” said Birtukan.
“You have a hallowed mission to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Your letters, phone calls, and petitions were my protection during the months I spent in solitary confinement. You were my voice when I had none,” Mideksa continued.
The Write for Rights campaign empowers individuals to take action against these violations.
“We will have all you need including the letters and postage,” Walters said. “You just need to sign, and write custom letters on cases you select. But if you can, please bring a book of stamps to contribute to the effort.”
To participate in the Oklahoma City Write-A-Thon, contact John Walters at 405-720-6467. To learn more, visit, .amnestyusa.org