Thursday, December 27, 2012

Write-a-thon for Human Rights

On Sunday afternoon, December 16, Steve Ahlquist and I participated in the 25th annual Amnesty International Write-a-thon for Human Rights hosted by the First Unitarian Church of Providence. The event was held from 1:00-5:00. Folders were provided containing profiles, letter templates and blank paper for handwritten notes.

Volunteers wrote letters of solidarity to prisoners of conscience and to authorities appealing for the release of these prisoners. Other letters called for the investigation of harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, torture, rape, disappearance and murder of human rights activists.

Appeals for the release of prisoners of conscience were sent on behalf of political activist Nabeel Rejab (Bahrain), opposition Youth leader Zmitser Dashkevich (Belarus), human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (China), secularist writer Arzhang Davoodi (Iran), and the members of punk-rock collective Pussy Riot (Russia).

Letters calling for the investigation of crimes against activists were sent on behalf of Women's Link Worldwide (WLW) Program Director Mónica Roa (Colombia), The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), Sudanese activist youth group Girifna ("We're fed up") and LGBTI activist Noxolo Nogwaza (South Africa).

Letters of solidarity--but not to authorities--were requested for Missouri inmate Reggie Clemons in a case of prosecutorial misconduct.

There was a tremendous sense of community among the Unitarians and their guests, and some momentary fanfare over the arrival of Congressman David Cicilline and Senator Jack Reed. The predominant mood was a sense of commitment to positive action. I encourage anyone who can to participate in such events in the future whenever possible.

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