Write For Rights

December 2, 2011

If you’ve ever scrolled right down to the bottom of every page on this site, down there, you’ll have seen our disclaimer: “despite our name, > kill author is strongly opposed to the persecution of writers.” We’re being a little irreverent with that statement, of course, but it’s not just a joke. Click the link in the footer and you’ll be taken to the main Amnesty International portal. Why? Because authors, along with campaigners, activists, students, teachers, journalists and people from just about every walk of life, continue to suffer human rights violations in many parts of the world (and sometimes within our own countries too).

As with most literary journals, we’re well aware that the vast majority of our readers are also writers. That’s why we’re drawing your attention to Amnesty’s Write For Rights campaign, so you can pick up your pen and do some good old-fashioned writing. With ink. On paper.

From December 3 to December 11 (and including International Human Rights Day on December 10) Amnesty is aiming to hold the world’s largest human rights event. But this time it’s not simply about sticking your name on an online petition or sending off a pre-prepared email as part of a campaign for the release of a political prisoner. They want people to write a physical letter by hand and put it in the mail. It’s not digital, it’s not instant, and so—as a literary journal that believes passionately in the web and has half an eye on the e-book future—we should really hate the idea. The reason we don’t, and the reason we’re getting involved, is because in the 21st century a handwritten letter is a rare item; it possesses a power, a presence and a level of commitment that puts it above receiving just another email.

Amnesty is highlighting fifteen cases for this year’s campaign, covering issues like student activism, freedom of expression, women’s/LGBT rights, indefinite detention, justice and the right to housing. In each case you write a letter to the official in charge of deciding the person’s fate, as well as a more personal message to the prisoner of conscience themselves to show your support and let them know they’re not alone.

There’s Jabbar Savalan, a youth activist from Azerbaijan who was detained by police in February this year after posting a note on Facebook calling for protests against the government. Or Filep Karma from Indonesia, imprisoned in 2004 after raising an independence flag during a peaceful ceremony. But those are just two cases from the fifteen, and each national Amnesty branch also lists a few unique to their region.

We hope you’ll join Amnesty International’s campaign and write one or more letters for these prisoners of conscience over the next week. More details are on the following Amnesty sites: