SUCCESS STORIES

“I would like to note that after the letters of support from the activists, the attitude of the administration of the penal colony to me changed. The staff of the colony began to treat me with more caution, and I was transferred to easier work." - Erkin Musaev, 2014 Write for Rights Case. Erkin is a former Uzbekistani government official and UN employee who was tortured and wrongly imrisoned after being accussed of spying for an unnamed NATO member state in 2007. He was released in August 2017.

"I started receiving some letters from AI members. It was the first flicker of light in my dark days. I truly believed AI will do all it can for my release. Only after my release, I was amazed to know the magnitude of AI's work for my release. I felt privileged to be part of the global letter writing campaign in 2013-2014. All those activities are beyond my wildest imagination."- Dr Tun Aung: 2013 Write for Rights Case. Dr Tun Aung is a Muslim community leader and medical doctor who was imprisoned for trying to prevent communal violence, was released January 2015.

"I want to thank with all my heart for the number of letters that have been sent to me. They give me courage and encouragement, to continue fighting. I ask that you help me to seek justice so that I can live in peace and tranquility." - 2016 Write for Rights Case, Maxima Acuna. In 2011 Maxima Acuna and her family were accused of the unfounded criminal charge of land invasion. After 5 years of proceedings the court ruled there was no reason to continue pursuing the case against her.

“Amnesty International is a symbol of human rights and freedom, not just in Azerbaijan, but everywhere in the world. I am grateful for all the hard work done by your organisation and other organizations which fight for freedom in Azerbaijan." "I did not feel alone, I knew people believed in me"- Jabbar Savalan: 2013 Write for Rights CasePrisoner of conscience Jabbar Savalan was pardoned and freed within days of letters arriving in Azerbaijan following the 2011 Write for Rights

Thank you to the more than 15,000 Amnesty International supporters in Canada who signed petitions and sent letters and tweets calling for Muhammad's freedom! 2015 Write for Rights case Muhammad Bekzhanov was wrongly sentenced to 11 years in prison in Uzbekistan in 1999 for his political action and journalism, after being tortured into confessing to "anti-state crimes". Just before his release in 2011 his sentence was extended for another 5 years in prison, he was released in January 2017 after 17 years in prison.

“When I feel I am left with no hope or will to fight, I'll get a letter out and it will inspire me and a light of hope appears again. The confidence in myself and ability to change something returns!” - Ihar Tsikhanyuk, 2013 Write for Rights Case. Write for Rights participants took at least 172,439 actions for Ihar Tsikhanyuk in 84 countries. Ihar was beaten by police when he tried to set up a LGBTI rights organisation, in Belarus.

“When I [received] all these letters saying that I’m not alone, it [made] me feel great. And I think, yes, it’s true, I’m not alone. They really are supporting me.” - Yecenia Armenta, 2015 Write for Rights Case. Yecenia was imprisoned for 4 long years, after being tortured in order to force a confession that she killed her husband. As part of Write 4 Rights 2015 over 300,000 actions were taken on her case urging the Mexican Government to drop the charges and release her. This activism helped shift public opinion and media coverage, and pressured the government; she was acquitted and released in March 2016.

“Every letter, every visit, every word has strengthened us and reinforced our determination in this long but just struggle for freedom and democracy.” - Yves Makwambala, 2015 Write for Rights Case. Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala are prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned in March 2015 for their role in pro-democracy activism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After 170,000 people stood up and asked for their release, they were freed in August 2016.

A History of Letter Writing

Every year around International Human Rights Day on December 10, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a letter or e-mail on behalf of someone they've never. Our messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion (called "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty), stop the use of torture, commute death sentences and end other human rights abuses.

Letter writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty International's human rights campaigning and 54 years of human rights activism shows us that words really do have the power to change lives. But volume matters: the more participants in Write for Rights, the more letters and e-mail messages we generate, increasing our influence on government officials.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world helped send over 4.6 million messages, and we helped change lives as a result. Individuals whose cases we've featured also tell us that the burst of activism generated by the campaign helps to inspire and encourage them as they continue to struggle for justice. 

This year, with your help, we want surpass 5 million actions and make a difference in the lives of all of the cases. If you're with us, please sign up now! 

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS

  • Amnesty looks at our global portfolio of cases, including Prisoners of Conscience, human rights defenders, torture survivors and communities at risk to decide who will be featured in each year's campaign.

  • We identify cases where global activism can have a huge impact, right now, and share them with Amnesty activists.

  • Amnesty grassroots leaders sign up to organize events and actions - or write on their own - on behalf of the cases on December 10. 

  • Letters, tweets, emails, faxes, text messages and petitions start arriving at government offices, in prison cells and to families all over the world.

  • Change happens. Hope grows. As messages flood mailboxes, prisoners get better conditions or are released. Human rights defenders are better protected. Torture survivors finally get the reparations that they need to heal. People know that others, worldwide, are taking their injustice personally.

Amnesty receives updates about the kinds of actions people are taking and the ways in which it is making a difference. Every year, we better understand how Write for Rights changes lives

Write for Rights is the world's largest human rights event, but it has humble origins. Twelve years ago, a young man named Witek met a young woman named Joanna at a festival in Warsaw, Poland. Joanna had just returned from traveling through Africa, where she'd seen activists organizing 24-hour events to write protest letters to governments.

Witek invited Joanna to join a meeting of his local Amnesty group. Together, they decided to write Urgent Action appeals for 24 hours, beginning at noon on Saturday. When they emailed their idea to all the other Polish groups, it turned into something much bigger, bringing together activists across the country. Then, their idea went viral.

They emailed their idea to all the other Polish groups, and it turned into something much bigger, bringing together activists across the country," explains Grzegorz Zukowski, from Amnesty Poland. Then, their idea went viral.

Witek and Joanna emailed Amnesty offices across the world, and people started sending back pictures of themselves writing letters - by Niagara Falls, in Japan, in Mongolia. It was a spontaneous, grassroots initiative that grew and grew.

Every December since, Write for Rights has inspired thousands of people to write letters to distant governments. Some still do it Polish-style, over a hectic, sleepless 24 hours. No matter where Write for Rights is taking place, it is driven and sustained by Amnesty's grassroots human rights activists.

And it still has real grassroots appeal: "The main power behind the marathon are the local communities and groups," says Grzegorz Zukowski from Amnesty Poland, "The school groups write more letters than anyone else. Our record is held by Bircza, a small town with only 1,000 inhabitants. In 2011, they wrote 13,000 letters." 

Over 54 years after the first call to action that inspired our movement, a hand-written letter is still one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. When people from across Canada and around the world write the same letter, our voices united cannot be ignored. So don't stop here, or with your letters. During Write for Rights 2017, recruit others to join or host an event or plan a creative action to engage your community. Whatever you do, let us know how you're taking action for human rights!

Back to Home Page