Sit-In and Write-In for International Rights (December 10th)Dec 4th, 2009 | By Erin Fagan Galle | Category: Organizations, Society, Uncategorized
Rita Mahato has been threatened with assault, rape, and murder because of the human rights work she does in her home country.
She is a health counsellor at the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) in Nepal’s Siraha District, and offers support for women targeted by sexual violence. The centre also documents, files, and reports the cases, making it a target for those who have thrown bricks at the building and at staff, who have threatened expulsion of staff from the village, and who regularly harass Mahato for challenging the traditional male suppression of women in their society. The government and police of Nepal currently do not offer Mahato or the WOREC protection, and have chosen not to investigate the violent murders of two women’s rights workers within the past 18 months.
As a young Canadian woman living in my current period of time and circumstance, I am very lucky to have the freedom to exercise my basic human rights on a day-to-day basis without fearing for my life. I cannot take this freedom for granted: in so many places around the world, the act of expressing an opinion or belief—or of simply being different—can incur the threat of violence, persecution, imprisonment, and even death.
For this reason, I am participating in Amnesty International’s 6th Annual “Write-A-Thon.” Thousands of people (14,000 at of the time of writing this article) have registered throughout Canada and the world to write and mail letters in support of human rights on and around December 10th.
The date is not arbitrary—this is internationally recognized as Human Rights Day, and it is the 61st anniversary of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Unfortunately, there continues to be far too many daily violations of human rights.
Letter writing seems like a simple activity, especially since it is an action which most of us do without thinking about it. This makes for a powerful collective action, however, as thousands of letters of support add up and can have impact for both the recipients of the letters and for the writers. The letters and cards are directed particularly to prisoners of conscience, people under sentence of death, human rights defenders under threat because of their work, and others at risk in countries ranging from Nepal to Honduras, and from Egypt to (yes) Canada itself — Amnesty International Canada also highlights abuses directed at First Nations peoples and against women who are vulnerable to violence across the country.
For more information about registering or fundraising in support of the Write-A-Thon, please visit http://www.amnesty.ca/writeathon/. In the meantime, I will write about my personal Write-A-Thon experience after December 10th—I will be attending the public event at Amnesty International’s Toronto office.
Public Write-A-Thon Events
Halifax Action Circle: On International Human Rights Day, we are gathering at the Just Us! Cafe at 5896 Spring Garden Rd (near Robie St.), Halifax, to write 365 letters — one for each day of the year — to speak out against human rights abuses and to support human rights defenders worldwide! Please join us to help make this possible. Your words will not go unheeded!
St. Paul’s United Church: Inviting members of the faith community and the public to write letters after church on Dec. 13th and in the afternoon. The event will be held at 405 Cleveland Ave in Riverview, NB.
Hampton Amnesty Group: We will have an all day event from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at a local law office. Urgent Actions, letter writing tips, coffee, cookies, stamps, and envelopes will be on hand. The event will be held at 4 Centennial Drive in Hampton, NB.
QUEBEC AND ONTARIO
Hemmingford Action Circle: We have planned a public event in our local cafe at 475 Frontiere St., Hemmingford, QC, with live music, during which we will write letters generally & specifically in our focus areas of DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Iran. “Living Gift Festival” will also be represented on that occasion. The event will take place on Thursday, December 10th, from 7:30pm-9:30pm.
Southminister United Church: All are welcome to write letters with us between 2:00pm-4:30pm on Sunday, December 6. The church is located at Bank and Aylmer (opposite the Sunnyside Library), on bus routes #1 and 7. Like last year, there will be a special children’s corner, including sample letters for beginner writers. The event will be held at 15 Alymer Avenue, Ottawa, ON.
Amnesty International Canada (Toronto Office): Amnesty members and supporters in the GTA are welcome in the office from 11Am to 8PM for letter-writing. We will have speakers, refreshments, and shopping opportunities too! The office is located at 1992 Yonge Street, 3rd floor, Toronto, ON.
St. John’s United Church: This event will be held at St. John’s United Church in Marathon, ON (at the corner of Birch & Steedman). This letter-writing event is open to the general public.
Action Circle 87: We invite our community to join us in writing letters at Charlotte Lane Cafe in Shelburne, ON (13 Charlotte Lane). The event will take place on December 10th, from 2-4PM.
Group 162 Cambridge: A display will be set up at The Library & Gallery (in Queen’s Square, Cambridge, ON) from December 7th to 11th. Group members will be present on December 10th from 10AM – 3PM to write letters.
Valleyview Library: the gallery in the local Vallyeview, AB Library (on Main Street) will be set up all day on Thursday December 10th, from 11AM to 7PM, with case files on display. Please drop in at a convenient time to write a letter or two!
Welcome Place: From 7:00 pm -9:00 pm, we are sending greeting cards to people around the world that need our support in defending human rights. Snacks and supplies are provided, everyone is welcome! The event will take place at 397 Carlton, in Winnipeg, MB.
Group 116 Rimbey: An open house with greeting card signing, letter writing, hot drinks and refreshments. The event will take place at 5002-51 St (the Historic Beatty House) in Rimbey, AB.
Community of Christ: An open invitation is extended for anyone to come together, with the resources provided, and write some letters on Sunday Dec 13 at 12:30 pm. The event will be held at 3333 Kaslo St in Vancouver, BC.
Amnesty Group 27: Drop-in letter-writing at the Black Stilt Coffee House at 103-1633 Hillside Ave, Victoria, BC. The event will go from 2-8 pm on Dec 10th, and all are welcome.
Kerrisdale Yoga: Drop in for a free vinyasa power yoga class at 6:15pm. Stay to hear about some human rights issues and write some letters while enjoying some beverages and snacks. The event will be held at 6170 East Boulevard in Vancouver, BC.
Vancouver Group 17: Letter writing, petition and postcard signing and information will all be at this meeting of Amnesty members, friends and members of the public. The event will take place at Mosaic’s conference room (1720 Grant Street, Vancouver, BC) between 2pm-8pm on December 9th.