Why We Write #4Rights

December 5, 2012

Loneliness is creeping in.  You’ve pushed beyond the limits of exhaustion.  Your bones ache and tears have dried to your face.

You can’t go on like this. 

Then, the letters arrive.  At first, just a few.  Then, day by day, they grow.  Soon, beautiful messages scrawled on colorful paper and decorative cards fill your world.  These are letters written by people in nearby cities and far away countries.  They are messages of support and solidarity, hope and inspiration, and strength and motivation from people you don’t even know.  They are messages written to both you and those who have imprisoned you.

At that moment, you realize that these aren’t just letters – they are life lines.  You feel free again.

Today, we officially kick-off Write #4Rights, our annual Global Write-a-thon.  This is the time of year we ask you, our supporters, to build upon Amnesty’s now 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives.  We’ve selected 10 powerful cases of groups and individuals who could use your support in the form of a letter.  Please take the pledge to write a letter and possibly, save a life.

Any friend of Amnesty International can tell you what we mean when we talk about “the power of the letter.”  It has driven our work from the very start.

When our founder, Peter Benenson, heard that two students from Portugal had been jailed for drinking a toast to freedom, apathy was not an option.  Instead, he put pen to paper.  He asked readers of The Observer newspaper’s editorial section to write and mail letters to governments on the behalf of prisoners of conscience like these two Portuguese students – at the time, a truly groundbreaking concept.

He certainly didn’t know it then, but that editorial would become the foundation for the greatest human rights movement in history – Amnesty International.

Today, we continue to revolutionize how we write for human rights.  We tweet, we text, we email and we post.  These tools have become essential to building momentum, amplifying our message and strengthening our impact.

Even though our toolkit for effective human rights advocacy has grown, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compares to the power of the letter.  Year after year, we see the proof.   From the release of an Azerbaijani blogger jailed for posting on Facebook to winning freedom for a journalist sentenced to hard labor for criticizing the Sri Lankan government, these are the results we see when together, we put pen to paper and write for rights!

Won’t you join us?  Take the pledge now to Write #4Rights.