Journalist Jeremy Paxman pokes fun at his tough-speaking persona in a new video released yesterday by Amnesty International to promote its annual Write for Rights campaign.
The news host shows off his acting talent in a tongue-in-cheek sketch about people’s forgotten ability to use a pen and paper in the digital era. The 60-second-long video aims to prompt viewers to send letters of support to individuals around the world who are suffering human rights abuses.
Each year, Write for Rights sees millions of people send messages of solidarity to individuals facing human rights violations, or write letters putting pressure on those in power to stop the abuses being committed.
Jeremy Paxman said: “Very soon, children will face the post-Christmas ‘thank you letter’ ordeal, when hapless parents try to get them to show some appreciation – or even a semblance of manners – to remote aunties.
“But there are letters that we can all write to people we don’t know personally, which are even more important.
“Imagine being imprisoned or tortured simply because of what you believe. It happens all the time.
“Amnesty International has discovered that letters from other human beings not only bring comfort to those being persecuted, but – if enough of us do it – they can also persuade governments to set people free.
“Letter, text, tweet or email, it only takes five minutes. Help to change a life. Write a letter.”
Paxman has joined high profile individuals and celebrities, including Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Vanessa Redgrave, Anish Kapoor, Vivienne Westwood and the Kaiser Chiefs, who are supporting this year’s campaign and have written letters to individuals suffering human rights abuses. Their messages are just a few of the more than
300,000 letters that have already been written by people around the world as part of the campaign this year.
During Write for Rights 2017, which runs throughout December, people across the UK and around the world are writing letters, signing petitions and organising events supporting 14 cases, including:
- 10 human rights defenders in Turkey – including the director of Amnesty Turkey – who are facing a 15-year jail sentence because of their human rights work;
- UK immigration detainees, who are held in detention centres for an indefinite amount of time, usually in terrible conditions;
- Shackelia Jackson, whose brother was gunned down by police in Jamaica in 2014, and is now leading the fight against police killings in her country;
- and Ni Yulan, who has defended Beijing residents against forced eviction for nearly 20 years, despite state surveillance and physical attacks.
Letters written during previous Write for Rights campaigns 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 more than 40 years.
Last year, more than 152,000 people across the UK took part in the campaign. This year nearly 24,000 messages from people across the UK have already been written.