UK celebrities have joined more than one million people from around the world who have written letters calling on governments and authorities to end the detention or persecution of individuals, as part of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.
Amnesty’s annual campaign runs throughout November and December and encourages people to write messages in solidarity with a number of individuals whose basic human rights are being attacked. People being supported include those held unfairly in UK immigration detention, an Egyptian lawyer who is being persecuted by the authorities for defending survivors of rape and domestic abuse, and the family of a Bangladeshi blogger who was hacked to death for starting the country’s first LGBTIQ magazine.
More than 1.7 million messages have already been written by people worldwide and high-profile celebrities, artists and musicians have joined their calls.
Actor and writer Emma Thompson said: “It’s vital when one is under threat or attack in prison to hear from people who support us. Writing a letter is a small act with a huge impact. Do it now and feel the love.”
Azza Soliman has dedicated her life to defending victims of torture, domestic abuse & rape. Show her she's not alone, join Emma Thompson in sending her a message of hope: https://t.co/yultarGKnk #WriteForRights pic.twitter.com/yNqVPJt9NB
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 9, 2017
Emma Thompson and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood have written messages to ask the Egyptian authorities to drop their unfair charges against Azza Soliman, an Egyptian woman working to defend victims of rape and abuse in her country.
Read Vivienne's message to Azza Soliman – a woman who risks her own safety & freedom to fight for #womensrights in Egypt. You can #WriteForRights too – send your message for Azza with @AmnestyUK: https://t.co/G8ZqcAaIVy https://t.co/d15jpT2qJQ
— Vivienne Westwood (@FollowWestwood) December 19, 2017
Actor Vanessa Redgrave, artist and Amnesty Ambassador Anish Kapoor and Amnesty Ambassadors Kaiser Chiefs have written to support the thousands of people in the UK who are being locked up in immigration detention centres indefinitely and unfairly.
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 15, 2017
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 15, 2017
Today @vjthedrummer and @curlywand have been writing letters for @AmnestyUK’s #WriteForRights campaign. Thousands of people are locked in UK immigration detention centres – let them know they’re not alone: https://t.co/jAowXJs1OJ pic.twitter.com/fmk5vcrKjk
— Kaiser Chiefs (@KaiserChiefs) December 14, 2017
Actor and writer Stephen Fry has called for justice for Xulhaz Mannan, an LGBTIQ blogger and activist from Bangladesh who was killed in 2016.
Xulhaz Mannan was murdered for setting up Bangladesh’s first LGBTIQ magazine. @StephenFry sent his family this message of hope. You can #WriteForRights too: https://t.co/EzJAqGJs1H pic.twitter.com/SeH2dQaA4h
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 8, 2017
Journalist and presenter Jeremy Paxman – who also starred in a video to promote Amnesty’s campaign – has sent a message of support to Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash who have both dedicated their lives to peaceful campaigning against Israeli settlements in Palestine and now face trial in an Israeli military court.
Issa Amro & Farid al-Atrash have dedicated their lives to peaceful campaigning for justice. Now they both face trial in an Israeli military court on dubious charges. Join Jeremy Paxman and send them a message of support: https://t.co/SRUo3vjfnF #WriteForRights pic.twitter.com/YmbRr3OHOz
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 10, 2017
Quotes from the letters
Addressing the Egyptian authorities to ask them to drop the charges against Azza Soliman, Emma Thompson wrote: “Nothing will be gained by targeting such a wonderful contributor to Egyptian society. I do beg you to act immediately on her behalf.”
Vivienne Westwood also wrote to support Azza Soliman: “Azza Soliman is a world heroine, and we must assume that she’s also a heroine in Egypt, and in supporting her bravery we feel that we’re helping the Egyptian population.”
Stephen Fry, sending a message to the brother of Xulhaz Mannan, wrote: “I read of the savage murder of your brother and it filled me with sorrow and anger. Cut to pieces for setting up a magazine! I send love and support to you and all who are trying to find justice.”
Anish Kapoor wrote to people trapped in UK immigration detention with the encouragement that: “You are not forgotten.”
Write for Rights
Every year Write for Rights makes a huge difference to the lives of people living through abuse, detention or persecution. In previous years, the letters written have:
- helped support Chelsea Manning, the US army whistle blower who was freed in May this year after outgoing US President Barack Obama cut short her 35-year sentence;
- helped push Peru to drop charges against Máxima Acuña who was attacked by the police for standing up to one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mining organisations which was attempting to evict her family from their farmland;
- helped put pressure on the US to release Albert Woodfox, who was freed in February 2016 after being held in solitary confinement for over 40 years.