Note: This is a guest blog post from Amnesty International Canada
Some human rights statistics are staggering:
- At least 360 people were executed last year in Iran, and the government kills thousands every year in China.
- At least 840 people were killed and 6,000 injured mostly by police and security forces in Egypt alone during the “Arab Spring.”
- One-third of the 34 Indigenous Nations in Colombia are at risk of disappearing as a result of conflicts related to natural resources and the war on drugs.
While these figures may paint a bleak picture, there is a ray of hope and progress has been made on certain issues. For example, on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted at the United Nations. Most international human rights laws that have been created since have used the UDHR as a benchmark. Also, 151 countries have signed onto the Convention Against Torture, which came to effect in 1987. Amnesty International was instrumental in pushing for this agreement.
In order to shine a bright light on human rights issues, every year on December 10, the anniversary of the UDHR is celebrated as International Human Rights Day, and Amnesty International supporters worldwide celebrate Human Rights Day by doing what we do best: taking action. The Write for Rights celebration has become the world biggest human rights event – spreading across 80 countries in the world — because it taps into the incredibly powerful human impulse to speak out in defense of others who are experiencing human rights abuses.
This year’s event features Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese lawyer who has been wrongfully detained and tortured to within an inch of his life because he worked to defend religious freedom in China. We are also advocating on behalf of Yolanda Oquelí, a local activist in Guatemala who was shot for speaking out against a proposed gold mine in her community. During the Write for Rights event, you can contact authorities that have the power to set individuals free or give communities protection against further attacks, or you can write a thoughtful message of hope and solidarity to any of the 12 people or communities featured in Write for Rights.
Spend some time on Human Rights Day by being a part of this life-changing effort. You don’t have to be an Amnesty member to participate, and don’t worry if you’ve never written a human rights letter before. Just check us out at www.writeathon.ca and take part in Amnesty’s global letter-writing marathon.
Another way to show your support is to wear yellow on December 10. This year we want people to take notice that we’re supporting human rights. And so that you can’t miss us, we’re lighting Canada’s tallest building, the CN Tower in Toronto, in yellow and spreading our images around the world.
Last year, we wrote more than one million letters! Yet it’s often the one letter that counts. This year, will it be your letter, your email that tips the balance and saves a life?
About Amnesty International: Amnesty International is a global movement of over 3 million people in more than 150 countries working together to protect and promote human rights.