On 10th December Jenny attended a reception in Speaker’s House hosted by Amnesty International to mark International Human Rights Day. The event was a great success with Amnesty activists, school groups and parliamentarians all taking part in the Write for Rights campaign, writing letters and other messages to individuals at risk around the world. As a result of the event, Ann Clwyd MP has secured an adjournment debate on Tuesday 13th December where she will be referring to some of the specific cases from the Write for Rights campaign as well as the wider human rights contexts in some of those countries.
Former Al Jazeera foreign correspondent Sue Turton, who had been charged and tried in absentia in Egypt spoke at the reception. She said: “Locking up a journalist who is asking too many questions can scare others into self-censorship clearing the way for further abuses to be committed with impunity. There has never been a greater need for balanced, well-researched journalism….But those of us who go into conflict and war zones need to know someone has our backs. That someone for (imprisoned Egyptian photographer) Shawkan is all of us.”
Amnesty’s Write for Rights encourages people around the world to send personal messages of support to people behind bars, or whose lives are in serious danger.
Year after year Amnesty sees successes from its global letter-writing campaign. Last year thousands of people across the world wrote messages of support for Albert Woodfox – the longest-serving isolated prisoner. Albert had spent a staggering 43 years in solitary confinement. In February this year, after thousands of letters of support Albert was freed!
This year one of the people Amnesty is campaigning for British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Nazanin was arrested at Tehran’s airport and has been sentenced to five years in prison on unspecified ‘national-security-related charges’. Amnesty is calling for Nazanin’s immediate and unconditional release. Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe attended Amnesty’s human rights reception, where he appealed to MPs and Amnesty supporters to continue to support and campaign for his wife.
Also featured in this year’s campaign are:
- Uighur academic Ilham Tohti – a prominent critic of the Chinese government’s policies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region – who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014
- Annie Alfred – an 11-year-old girl with albinism living in Malawi. Malawi and thousands of people living with albinism in Malawi are in danger of being abducted, mutilated or killed because of erroneous beliefs and superstitions
- Refugees Welcome – following the recent rise in the number of people living their homes because of conflict or persecution, Amnesty is urging the UK government to show international leadership and share responsibility for supporting and hosting refugees