By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –During the month of December, members of Amnesty International (AI) around the world will participate in the organization’s Global Write-A-Thon event in honor of Human Rights Day, which is recognized on December 10.
The Amnesty International Oklahoma City Chapter will hold its annual letter writing event on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Full Circle Book Store, 1900 NW Expressway, directly south of Penn Square Mall. The public is invited to participate.
John Walters, Legislative Coordinator for Amnesty USA-OK-Group #238, says that each year, around Human Rights Day, people all over the world come together to write letters, send faxes, use social media, and sign online petitions to help people they’ve never met.
“We hold this event every year in cooperation with the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP),” Walters said. “At this event we write letters on behalf of Prisoners-of-Conscience all over the world and send Christmas cards to all of the prisoners on death row in Oklahoma.”
Write for Rights is Amnesty International’s largest annual human rights campaign. Through the power of collective action, letters and other methods of communication are intended to convince government officials to free people unjustly imprisoned and end other abuses.
“The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty supports the Write for Rights project and expresses its thanks to Amnesty International Group #238 for coordinating it each year,” said Rev. Don Heath, OK-CADP chair.
Currently the state has 47 inmates on death row.
“This project is a thoughtful gesture that lets prisoners on death row know that they are not animals, they are not monsters, they are human beings,” Heath added. “Writing them cards and letters at Christmas time shows them that people care about them and wish them well.”
Started in 2002, Write for Rights has grown into a global letter-writing phenomenon with over 3 million supporters each year.
One of those who benefited from the Write for Rights event is Mideksa Birtukan from Ethiopia.
“Through their work on behalf of thousands of prisoners of conscience around the world, Amnesty International continues to be the conscience of humanity,” said Birtukan.
“Amnesty has a hallowed mission to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied,” Mideksa added. “Their letters, phone calls, and petitions were my protection during the months I spent in solitary confinement. They were my voice when I had none.”
Thousands of people are in prison around the world because of their beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. Many are held without charge or trial and are at risk of torture or execution.
“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,” Walters added.
“You are joining your voice with others around the world to demand that the rights of individuals be respected and protected. You have the power to change someone’s life by simply writing a letter,” he said.
The Write for Rights campaign empowers individuals to take action against these human rights violations.
“We will have all you need including the stationary and postage,” Walters said. “You just need to sign, or 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 AI Write-A-Thon, contact John Walters at 405-720-6467. To learn more, visit write.amnestyusa.org.