By Maitri Gupta, Urgent Action member in the GTA.
The Urgent Action Network (UAN) personifies the famous saying the pen is mightier than the sword. It connects a global community of human rights defenders that have, over the years, used their words in letters to protect individuals from human rights violations. In Canada alone, the UA Network writes thousand of letters a year, and I am proud to have joined this community recently. As a Canadian, I have a voice that can be heard. Writing personal letters allows me to convey my message with more effort and therefore, sincerity. Writing to authorities is a powerful tool for accountability. Each time I write, the stories of the people that I am trying to help become more memorable. This is what truly motivated me to take that additional step outside of just signing petitions that I would often forget I had even seen.
Moreover, as a student, I do not always have the financial means to contribute. However, I found that UA Network was a great way for me to get involved in other ways with the incredible work that Amnesty is doing. Even though Amnesty is the largest human rights advocacy group in the world, I am quite fond of their grassroots efforts such as this UA Network. I am grateful to have connected with other Canadians during the workshop, some that have been a part of this Network for decades! It was interesting to hear from them and how they have contributed over time and I am truly motivated to continue with my UA letter writing journey. Despite being a grassroots initiative, the group seminar does a great job of illustrating how the UA Networks around the world all connect. We are a global community, and I am happy that I can engage from right here at home.
A visual illustration of the structure of the Urgent Action Network
Going into the workshop, I expected to learn how to write more effective letters. Although, we did not practice effective letter writing skills, the workshop helped to inform my writing by providing me with background information about the Network and how it came to be. It was fascinating to learn about all the hard work that goes into bringing Urgent Actions to light by the Amnesty team. Emma Jayne and Marilyn do a great job of describing the Canadian arm of the UA Network as well. The workshop incorporates visuals and allows for everyone to participate. It definitely met my expectations when we are interacted with one another because I felt more united with the other UA writers.
Marilyn (Urgent Action Coordinator) tells the story of the very first Urgent Action
Moving forward, I am even more inspired to continue writing and staying on top of all the UAs I am connected with. I would like to put more effort into reading more of the issues to rightfully understand the depth of the human rights situation at hand. I would hope to also connect with other UA writers in the future to inform my writing. If more workshop opportunities arise, I would like to continue participating in the best way that I can. I am eager to attend more in-person workshops, because I think each and every time my passion to write will be renewed.
Urgent Action letter writers in Toronto call for justice!
TAKE ACTION – write a letter to save a life!
REGISTER – for an upcoming Urgent Action online workshop