BY TUMA HAJI
This past Tuesday, a handful of Drake students took part in the letter-writing campaign, hoping to influence issues they felt passionate about. The issues ranged from police brutality in Jamaica and murder of journalists in India to discrimination in Finland against transgender individuals.
Across the globe, many human rights violations are committed against people every single day, and a petition of advocacy can help their struggles be heard, acknowledged and resolved. Amnesty International, a non-profit organization based in London that focuses on addressing human rights issues, attempts to advocate for victims of human rights violations by encouraging citizens of the world to write letters to various governments or jurisdictions to petition for justice in cases of people who are wrongfully accused, detained or murdered.
According to their official webpage, the premise of Write for Rights is that their global letter-writing campaign can change someone’s life.
“Every December, Amnesty supporters across the globe will write millions of letters for those whose basic human rights are being attacked,” reads a post on the site. “They are people like you, continuing a long tradition of writing letters to right some of the world’s biggest wrongs.”
First-year students Runal Patel and Sarah Ball, the organizers behind the event, wanted to bring the event onto campus to encourage Drake students to speak out against human rights abuse.
Patel said he’s passionate about Amnesty International, commending the influence the letters have in bringing about justice and change.
“The great thing about the letter writing campaign that Amnesty has come up with is that, with Write for Rights, every year one of the cases is resolved,” Patel said. “These letters have an impact and there’s multiple cases where the letters that were wrote and the situations that were trying to be resolved were resolved … it has a tangible impact.”
Lillian Moravek, a first-year student who cares about protecting the environment, attended the event with hopes to influence environmental policy. She’s written for Amnesty International before and aspires to be a human and environmental rights lawyer. Moravek felt that the campaign fit well into her life goals.
“I just find it to be a very personal way to do something, and you can decide to write to a professional or a government official, or you can decide to just write a letter of solidarity with someone who’s going through something like this,” Moravek said. “It’s very much up to the person, and I think that writing letters in solidarity to the person is a very special experience because you never hear back from them, but, I don’t know, being able to write something very personal to someone, just giving support to them, is a very unique experience.”
Godfried Asante, associate professor of rhetoric, media and social change, gave a speech about the “necessity of these kinds of events and to bring awareness to a lot of human rights violations” in America and abroad. Asante said Write for Rights is “stepping in the right direction of where we’re supposed to go but also take further action to think about what else can I do than be an observer in these kinds of events.”
Patel added that the letter writing campaign is “so imperative, and I think that it’s a great way for people, especially on Drake’s campus, to try to influence the affairs of the world by doing something as simple as writing a letter.”