This year Write for Rights, Amnesty’s flagship human rights campaign, champions youth activists who are taking on the world’s biggest crises
“This year Write for Rights, Amnesty’s flagship human rights campaign, champions youth activists who are taking on the world’s biggest crises,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“From those campaigning for climate and environmental justice, to those challenging inequality, poverty, discrimination and political repression, young people have emerged as a powerful force for change who deserve the world’s support.”
Every December people around the world write millions of letters, emails, tweets, Facebook posts and postcards for those whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights event.
Amnesty International is hoping to break last year’s Write for Rights record of nearly six million messages of support for activists and individuals from 10 countries whose human rights are under attack.
Youth activism in the spotlight
From those campaigning for climate and environmental justice, to those challenging inequality, poverty, discrimination and political repression, young people have emerged as a powerful force for change who deserve the world’s support
Youth activists have played a prominent role in major protest movements and human rights campaigns during 2019, such as the Fridays for Future climate strike movement founded by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, as well as protest movements in many countries around the world.
Write for Rights 2019 features youth human rights defenders and individuals from in Belarus, Canada, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines and South Sudan.
Launching two days ahead of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, a day to promote children’s rights, several of the featured activists had their rights violated as children.
They include José Adrián, who was 14 when he was brutally beaten by police on his way home from school in Mexico. He is now demanding reparations for his treatment and for the police to stop arbitrary detentions in the state of Yucatán.
Among the other cases are:
- Grassy Narrows Youth, a group of youth activists from an Indigenous community in north-western Ontario who have suffered one of Canada’s worst health crises. Their community has been devastated by 50 years of mercury contamination of their fish and river system. The Grassy Narrows youth are urging the government to address the mercury crisis once and for all, including by providing specialized health care and compensation for all;
- Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder, two volunteer rescue workers from in Lesvos, Greece, who face up to 25 years in prison for their humanitarian work helping spot refugee boats in distress;
- Yasaman Aryani, who defied her country’s discriminatory forced veiling laws and now must serve 10 years behind bars. Amnesty is campaigning for her immediate release;
- Marinel Ubaldo, a youth activist from the Philippines who is urging her government to declare a climate emergency and protect future generations from the devastating impacts of climate change after her home was destroyed by typhoon Haiyan.
“The Write for Rights campaign epitomizes the ideals that Amnesty International was founded on – it’s about individuals helping other individuals. We are urging people to get behind these incredible young people who are campaigning for justice, equality and freedom,” said Kumi Naidoo.
“As we know from our work over the past five decades, writing letters works. Not only can it help free prisoners of conscience, but it makes a huge emotional difference to the people we support and to their loved ones.”
Monica Benício, the partner of Marielle Franco, a local politician in Brazil who was killed last year and was featured as part of the last Write for Rights, said of the campaign:
“It helps me to get up in the morning and see some meaning, knowing that there is this big global network of affection.
“All these demonstrations of love and affection are helping us to mobilize, to demand justice, to pressure for investigation and above all to fight so that there will be no more Marielles.”