Payson, Arizona: Local Group 1101

Payson, Arizona: Local Group 1101

A Local Group is a powerful way for people from all walks of life to come together to advocate for human rights. Local Group members organize and educate local communities to support the release of Prisoners of Conscience and other individuals at risk, and campaign to stop torture, abolish the death penalty, prevent violence against women and work on other human rights issues. Each local group expresses their activism in different ways.

In a small rural town where the very word "Amnesty" carried very negatively charged political connotations that were widely held, the founding members of the Local group 1101 knew they would face many challenges as they sought to raise awareness and educate their community about human rights. From the start they realized the importance of fostering good relationships with key members of the community and with established and respected organizations. They recognized a need for patience and a determination "to meet the community where its members are."

Using the diverse talents of each group member they forged a working partnership with members of the Town Council, including the mayor. This relationship resulted in a formal proclamation by the mayor declaring December 2010 "Human Rights Awareness Month" in Payson. This proclamation opened doors to the group allowing members to organize widespread publicity focusing on human rights and their planned events on the radio, in churches, at local businesses and at a high school.

As a result the group has grown and Amnesty International now has a positive presence in Payson. To the amazement of group members more than 250 letters were written during their Write-a-thon event.

Here's what Carole, the Area Coordinator had to say: "The Human Rights Awareness Month legitimized the group as a non-partisan Human Rights Organization. The community is now more aware and less threatened by the concept of human rights."