Write for Rights: How to increase the impact of your letters

By Camille Roch

Write a letter, change a life. Ahead of our global campaign Write for Rights, we released a new educational resource to help make sure your letters get the most impact.

Today we launch the Write for Rights campaign, our annual letter-writing marathon that brings together thousands of Amnesty International supporters and activists around the world.

Your letters - or emails, SMS messages, tweets, posts or photos - make a difference. By showing your solidarity to victims of torture, prisoners of conscience, people facing the death penalty and other human rights violations, it helps us to put pressure on authorities, and over the years has resulted in life-changing impacts for many.

Paraskevi Kokoni, a victim of racist attacks, receives letters and gifts from Amnesty International supporters following Write for Rights 2014, Greece 2015 © Amnesty International

In 2015, Moses Akatugba from Nigeria who had been wrongfully sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was 16 was granted full pardon. In 2013, Yorm Bopha, a jailed activist in Cambodia was released after supporters wrote 253,000 letters to the authorities.

This year, your voice can help push for change for Albert, Zunar, Yecenia, Fred, Yves, Costas, Waleed, Maria, Teodora, Phyoe Phyoe, Muhammed, Saman, Rania and her children, whose basic rights are under threat.

To make sure your words have the most impact, we designed an educational pack to introduce you to the cases of these 12 individuals and communities.

To the many people around the world, who have taken us into your lives, your hearts… and have taken the time to write to me, and the Louisiana State officials, you have no idea what a source of strength and courage you have been in my darkest moments!
Albert Woodfox (USA)

What’s in the education pack?

This resource, available to download in English, French and  Spanish, is designed for young people aged from 13 and upwards. It contains five activities to raise awareness on the individuals featured in the 2015 Write for Rights campaign.

Each activity consists of practical exercises on how to effectively send a letter to a public official, write a message of solidarity, or plan an awareness raising campaign.

It also contains letter templates and details about the cases - including information on key rights and ideas for actions - that can be used in preparation or during the campaign.

This resource is for human rights educators, teachers, peer educators, youth workers and leaders, everyone who is working with and introducing human rights issues to young people,” says Annette Schneider, Manager at the International Human Rights Education Centre who developed the resource. “It not only helps people make a difference for the individuals featured in the campaign, but also enables young people to get an understanding of human rights, develop skills, build awareness and inspire them to take action to defend their rights and others’.”

I remember that suddenly [Raif] started to cry out of joy: ‘Ensaf, how can I thank all those people who supported me; I want to thank them one by one.’ All words of appreciation are not enough to thank the people who took action. Raif knows all your names and where you’re from. From inside his small and dark cell he sends you all his greetings and wishes… we thank you from our hearts.
Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia)

How to use the education pack

A group of teachers, activists, educators and students have used the education pack to run activities at a workshop organised by Amnesty International Poland.

We asked Martyna Markiewicz, Activism Coordinator and Coordinator for Write for Rights at Amnesty International Poland, who facilitated the workshop, how this resource contributes to the Write for Rights campaign in Poland:

“Education is a crucial part of activism, that’s why having educational materials that are comprehensive and also inspiring for people is so important. Write for Rights is organised in more than 500 places in Poland, so the materials have to be produced in a way that they are really easy to use and adaptable to different circumstances. This resource is exactly like that. I have no doubt it will increase both quantity and quality of actions taken during the letter-writing marathon,” said Martyna.

Participants at the workshop explore the cases of Waleed, Albert and Zunar, Klimontów, Poland, September 2015 © Amnesty International Poland

After the workshop, participants expressed how focusing on the cases of Waleed, Albert and Zunar helped them relate to their stories and build motivation for taking action in the campaign.

“These activities are great to learn about the mechanisms of Write for Rights and the people we are campaigning for this year,” a participant told Amnesty International Poland.

Participating teachers also reported that the short format of the activities makes it easy to develop discussion on human rights with students in one lesson: “It opened my eyes and my mind to new possibilities connected with Write for Rights. I will definitely use the resource when working with students,” said the teacher. 

Amnesty International’s global letter-writing marathon runs from 4 to 17 December.

In the 2014 Write for Rights campaign, over 3 million actions were taken by hundreds of thousands of people in over 200 countries and territories around the world.

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Where to learn more about the Write for Rights campaign