3,714,141 Thank Yous!

March 17, 2016

LWM 2015 - AI Netherlands. Letter Writing Marathon at the Dutch Office Amnesty International The Netherlands Amsterdam. Every December, to mark International Human Rights Day, hundreds of thousands of people around the globe take part in the world’s largest human rights event: Write for Rights.

Amnesty supporters across the world wrote an astonishing 3.7 million letters, messages, emails, tweets and so much more as part of Write for Rights 2015, the global letter-writing marathon.

From Afghanistan to Zambia, dedicated campaigners, students, school kids and loads of others demanded change on behalf of people and communities suffering appalling human rights abuses. We at Amnesty International USA generated 312,205 of those actions and we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who took part.

Free at last

And it paid off, big time. In February 2016, Albert Woodfox was finally released – 44 years after he was first placed in solitary confinement in the USA. More than 240,000 of you demanded his release and sent him messages of support during this year’s Write for Rights.

Albert Woodfox. © AI USA/Jasmine Heiss
Albert Woodfox. © AI USA/Jasmine Heiss

He told us: “Your messages from beyond the prison walls have become an enormous source of strength for me. I would like to thank all of the members of Amnesty International and its supporters for all of the wonderful work they are doing on our behalf.”

It doesn’t end there. More than half a million of you also took action to protect girls and young women in Burkina Faso – and it worked! The Ministry of Justice there affirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating early and forced marriage, and said they had felt compelled to do so after “receiving letters, emails and correspondence from people all over the world”.

Support and solidarity

We know that your handwritten postcards, letters and messages of support and solidarity have also been a huge comfort to people going through incredibly tough situations.

For example, we visited Yecenia Armenta, who is in jail in Mexico after being beaten and raped into “confessing” to her husband’s murder. We passed on more than 8,000 of your letters and messages: “When I receive all these letters saying that I’m not alone, it makes me feel great. And I think: ‘Yes, it’s true, I’m not alone. They really are supporting me’. It’s exciting to think that there are people who still care about the rights of other people – and they don’t even know me.”

Phyoe Phyoe Aung. Credit: Mizzima News
Phyoe Phyoe Aung. Credit: Mizzima News

We also spoke to Phyoe Phyoe Aung, a student leader currently jailed in Myanmar for her role in largely peaceful protests: “Receiving letters gives me real inspiration for what we are doing. I have begun to notice that the world is watching and cheering us – we are not alone. I thank everyone very much for their support. Although we cannot see the results from the government yet, it can influence their mindset.”

Our next Write for Rights will be held this fall and we will continue to campaign for Phyoe Phyoe Aung and the other cases in last’s year’s campaign. If you haven’t take action on her case yet, please do so at www.amnestyusa.org/phyoephyoe.

And you can write letters, emails and faxes all year round by joining our Urgent Action Network, a group of regular people around the world who take a couple minutes each day or week to help change a life. You can sign up for free here. We’ll leave the final word to Costas, who was badly beaten in a racist and homophobic attack in Greece in 2014: “Write for Rights is one of the most important campaigns in the world, and because we don’t live in a perfect world, it should and must go on. It’s wonderful!

“I am so moved, and I thank you from the depth of my heart – every single person, woman, man or else, that wrote even half a line and contributed to this campaign. Thank you, Amnesty, for bringing light into the darkness.” -Costas, Greece