What is Write for Rights?
Every year around International Human Rights Day on December 10, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a letter or e-mail on behalf of someone they've never met, as part of Write for Rights. Our messages help convince government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion (called "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty), stop the use of torture, commute death sentences, and end other human rights abuses.
Letter writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty International's human rights campaigning and 54 years of human rights activism shows us that words really do have the power to change lives. But volume matters: the more participants in Write for Rights, the more letters and e-mail messages we generate, increasing our influence on government officials.
Last year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world helped send over 3 million messages, and we helped change lives as a result. Moses Akatugba was released from death row in Nigeria. The City of Chicago passed a law ensuring justice for survivors of torture by police. Carmen was released from prison, after being jailed under El Salvador's ban on abortion. Prisoner of conscience Murad Shtewi was released by Israel. And prisoner of conscience Liu Ping, in China, was able to have a visit from her daughter.
This year, with your help, we want surpass 4 million actions and make a difference in the lives of all ten cases. If you're with us, please sign up now!
Here's How Write for Rights Works
- Amnesty looks at our global portfolio of cases, including Prisoners of Conscience, human rights defenders, torture survivors and communities at risk to decide who will be featured in each year's Write for Rights.
- We identify 12 cases where global activism can have a huge impact.
- People like you sign up to organize letter writing events, join events, or write on their own in order to generate as many letters on those 12 cases as possible. Letter writing can happen between the official Write for Rights dates of December 4th to 18th, or anytime between October 1st (when the cases are made public) and December 31st.
- Letters, emails, faxes, and Tweets start arriving at government offices, in prison cells and to families all over the world.
- Change happens. Hope Grows. As messages flood mailboxes, prisoners get better conditions or are released. Human rights defenders are better protected. Torture survivors finally get the reparations that they need to heal. People know that others, worldwide, are taking their injustice personally.
- Participants like you let us know how many letters and other messages you sent on each case, and we share the good news that came about thanks to your activism. Please report your letters by January 15th, using this form!
Write for Rights - also known as the Writeathon - is the world's largest human rights event, but it has humble origins. Twelve years ago, a young man named Witek met a young woman named Joanna at a festival in Warsaw, Poland. Joanna had just returned from traveling through Africa, where she'd seen activists organizing 24-hour events to write protest letters to governments.
Witek invited Joanna to join a meeting of his local Amnesty group. Together, they decided to write Urgent Action appeals for 24 hours, beginning at noon on Saturday. When they emailed their idea to all the other Polish groups, it turned into something much bigger, bringing together activists across the country. Then, their idea went viral.
Witek and Joanna emailed Amnesty offices across the world, and people started sending back pictures of themselves writing letters - by Niagara Falls, in Japan, in Mongolia. It was a spontaneous, grassroots initiative that grew and grew.
Every December since, Write for Rights has inspired thousands of people to write letters to distant governments. Some still do it Polish-style, over a hectic, sleepless 24 hours. No matter where Write for Rights is taking place, it is driven and sustained by Amnesty's grassroots human rights activists.
Over 50 years after the first call to action that inspired our movement, a hand-written letter is still one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. When thousands of people write the same letter, our voices united cannot be ignored, and we help change lives for the better--those of our cases, and our own.