Each year, the world’s biggest human rights event just gets bigger. Write for Rights 2019 was no exception, with people writing millions of messages that transformed the lives of young people worldwide.
They came in their dozens, hundreds, even thousands. They were students, parents, teachers, friends – ordinary people who took a moment to tweet, type, draw or write a message of support for someone they’d never met. They did this an astonishing 6,609,837 times as part of Amnesty’s 2019 Write for Rights – an annual letter-writing marathon that has become the world’s biggest human rights event.
What’s astonishing isn’t that people wrote all those messages – although that, too, is incredible. No, what’s astonishing is the difference those messages made to the lives of the young people we supported in 2019. Here are just some examples of how your words changed lives.
Magai’s death sentence was quashed
Magai Matiop Ngong was only 15 when he was sentenced to death in South Sudan. But thanks to the amazing support of people like you, his death sentence was revoked in July 2020. People around the world took an incredible 765,000 actions, including writing letters and tweets, calling for Magai’s life to be spared – and it worked. “Thank you so much. I have no words. You have no idea how my heart is filled with happiness,” said Magai.
Healthcare win for Grassy Narrows Youth
For decades, the Grassy Narrows Indigenous community have been suffering the effects of mercury poisoning in one of Canada’s worst health crises. The youth of Grassy Narrows have been particularly affected, and have been at the forefront of the fight for a healthy future for their community. After years of delay, a $19.5 million (CDN) agreement to build a care facility was finally signed on 2 April 2020 – a victory for the people of Grassy Narrows. “We are joining hands around the world to combat all the injustice,” said Crystal Swain of Grassy Narrows.
Yasaman’s sentence substantially reduced
In 2019, Yasaman Aryani was sentenced to 16 years in prison for handing out flowers to train passengers while unveiled. In February 2020, her sentence was substantially reduced, thanks in part to the more than 1.2 million messages written worldwide for her freedom. We won’t stop until she’s free.
It’s not just a tweet
So, what can a tweet, postcard or signature really achieve? As it turns out, LOADS. With their words, supporters unleashed a wave of warmth and solidarity across the globe for the young people we featured last year. Those words helped comfort people in distress. They also helped amplify these young people’s calls for justice, in some cases persuading leaders to step up and do the right thing by them.
Write for Rights is kicking off again. This year, we’re standing by people around the world whose basic human rights are being attacked. These people need you to stand by them. If you have any doubts, read what activist Marinel Sumook Ubaldo (pictured) has to say. She’s a young climate change activist from the Philippines who featured in Write for Rights 2019. Marinel testified at an inquiry launched by a human rights body which eventually declared that fossil fuel companies could be held responsible for human rights harms linked to climate change – a world first.
“Write for Rights made a huge difference to the way I see my activism. It boosts me to believe more in myself. I have realized that, indeed, there is power in numbers,” said Marinel.