We’re hoping to educate more people about the work of Amnesty and of human rights defenders and to mobilize support”

Each year the Northumberland chapter of Amnesty International Canada honours Human Rights Day on 10 December by participating in the national Write for Rights campaign.

Before Covid-19 this meant that churches, service clubs, unions, schools and shops across Northumberland would host Amnesty volunteers for a discussion of human rights issues around the world. The public would then be asked to sign letters or petitions in solidarity with human rights defenders.

This year things are, as with much else in the world, working a little differently. But even so, Amnesty Northumberland is committed to bringing the struggles of human rights defenders to the attention of Northumberland residents.

“Amnesty Northumberland recognizes that, if anything, the pandemic has made life more difficult for human rights defenders. Many are prisoners of conscience being held in high-risk environments. Infection or the threat of infection has just added to their suffering” says Amnesty Northumberland Chair Kathy Toivanen.

“So this year rather than cancelling our Write for Rights efforts, we’ve moved online. We’re hoping to educate more people about the work of Amnesty and of human rights defenders and to mobilize support for defenders under threat or in prison.”

Using its supporters’ e-mail list and social media Amnesty Northumberland will be encouraging Northumberland residents to read about the struggles of four (4) selected human rights defenders and to spend a few seconds sending a protest message in support of each.

This year’s selected (from a sadly very long list) human rights defenders are:

Germain Rukuki, Burundi, was arrested for “rebellion & threatening state security” and sentenced to 32 years for his work with the NGO Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture.

Jani Silva, Colombia. Co-founded the Association for the Integral and Sustainable Development of the Amazonian Pearl. Her life has been threatened since an oil company acquired exploration and drilling rights in a forest reserve.

Idris Khattak, Pakistan. An expert on enforced disappearances, he has documented human rights violations for Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. He himself was “disappeared”. Eventually the government revealed that he is in their custody but not revealed where.

Nassima Al-Sada, Saudi Arabia. Campaigned for women’s rights and for an end to the laws requiring “male guardianship”. She is presently in jail.

Go online to https://www.facebook.com/Amnesty-International-Northumberland-Chapter-1728999434036621/

#northumberlandamnestyinternational, #humanrightsday, #december10, #writeforrights

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