Writing for rights

- November 27, 2008

Dal Amnesty's Write For Rights table last year.

Dal student Samantha Snow believes a simple, handwritten letter can make all the difference in the world.

“When a foreign government official, or even our own Canadian government receives a piece of mail from an ordinary citizen like a university student, you might think that it might not make an impact,” says Ms. Snow, co-president of Dal Amnesty.  “But there are hundreds of thousands of ordinary people just like you and me who are writing to the same government. It is the amount of letters that each government receives that makes our letter writing campaigns effective.”

Last Thursday, a small group of people sat down to write letters and postcards and sign petitions at “Write for Rights” in the Student Union Building. The aim is to bring attention to human rights abuses happening in various countries across the globe.

“This was our first year doing a Write for Rights event like this,” says Ms. Snow, who is studying history and international development. “Nonetheless we got a lot of letters written for the amount of people we turned out.”

The Dalhousie Write for Rights event was organized by the four core members of Dalhousie Amnesty International: Ms. Snow, Danielle Nelson, Rachel Millet and Sahar Yousefi. The campaign focused on writing letters to Chinese government leaders asking them to free Hu Jia, who was imprisoned for peacefully speaking up for human rights issues in China, and on behalf of a women’s social justice group in Zimbabwe which is routinely targeted by police.

Write-a-thons are taking place at various schools, homes and workplaces in 40 countries. Many events take place leading up to December 10, International Human Rights Day. 

“It’s this shared, intensified, global pressure that can bring positive change,” remarks Ms. Snow.

If you were unable to make the event, Amnesty International has online petitions that individuals can sign. And more letters are always welcome.

“If you are someone who has never written a letter before, there are letter writing guides posted on the website,” says Ms. Snow. “And if you are someone who really isn’t into writing letters the old fashioned way, some of the cases offered for this event include an email address. This is a bonus because you won’t have to pay for postage which has recently gone up to $1.60 a stamp!”

For information, see Amnesty International Canada’s Write for Rights.


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