Nelson Amnesty is holding its annual Write for Rights campaign Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Submitted

Nelson Amnesty is holding its annual Write for Rights campaign Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Submitted

Amnesty International Write for Rights relevant during the pandemic

Nelson Amnesty will host the annual event Dec. 12 at the Nelson Public Library

Submitted by Amnesty Nelson

The local Nelson Amnesty group is inviting the community to join the annual Write for Rights campaign. This global letter writing event identifies people and communities at risk of human rights abuses worldwide, and who need solidarity and justice right now.

Last year, more than 6.6-million messages from 200 countries were sent on behalf of those facing human rights violations.

There will be a variety of ways to participate this year. You can:

• Email the local group at Write4rights2020@gmail.com between Dec. 7 and 14 for information about the five cases the Nelson group will focus on and receive template letters and instructions.

• Come to the Nelson library on Dec. 12 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a 15-minute visit to sign template letters and petitions or to pick up information to complete at home.

• Deliver letters completed at home through the Nelson library book drop open 24 hours a day before Dec 14.

Dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has turned out to be a dangerous year for hundreds of millions of people. But for people who are being denied their basic human rights and who have lost their freedom, the threat of the virus has only added to their experience of detention, deprivation and threat to life and health.

Among the five cases, the Nelson Amnesty group is highlighting is the case of Nassima al-Sada, a prominent human rights activist who has been detained in Saudi Arabia since July 2018 for her peaceful advocacy work. Nassima is one of several human rights activists who campaigned for women to have the right to drive and to carry out their daily lives without the permission of a male “guardian.”

Another case in need of critical attention is that of Jani Silva, who has faced death threats in Colombia for advocating to protect the Amazon’s unique biodiversity and the rights of those living in the Amazonian Pearl, a campesino farming reserve in Putumayo. Jani’s work placed her at odds with the Ecopetrol oil company, which obtained a license to operate in areas overlapping with the reserve. Since the license was transferred to the Amerisur oil company in 2009, at least two oil spills have poisoned the water sources that local communities depend on.

The three other cases include an Algerian journalist, a Pakistan researcher who has worked for Amnesty International on cases of disappeared persons, and a Turkish couple working on LGBTQ rights.

“When hundreds of thousands of people around the world get together and send a clear message demonstrating they support a person or group whose human rights are being violated, the impact is huge. It gives people the strength to keep going.” says Judith Fearing, Nelson Amnesty International member.

“It also sends a message to those who are violating human rights that they cannot keep their crimes secret because the world is watching. Every letter, email and petition signature chips away at the problem.”

Write for Rights will look different this year with COVID-19 restrictions, but the impact of your action will be just as powerful. Your voice is essential to ensure that our support is felt more than ever in these difficult times.

Join us for Write for Rights 2020 online from Dec. 7 to 14 and at the Nelson library on Dec 12.

For more information, contact Judith Fearing at 250-551-4456.