Students take part in Amnesty International writing campaign to stand up for human rights

Human rights organisation Amnesty International is holding its 33rd edition of Schrijf-ze-VRIJdag (Write-Them-Free/Fri-Day) on Friday. More than 160,000 students in Flanders and Brussels will write letters for people who are unjustly imprisoned or experiencing other injustices.

"Around the world, people are unjustly imprisoned, threatened or treated with inhumanity. On Schrijf-ze-VRIJdag, we stand up for them. Not only in Belgium but all over the world and throughout the year, people write letters to demand justice," Amnesty International explained in their press release.

According to the organisation, one in four letter-writing initiatives, on average, helps improve someone's life or situation by putting pressure on governments to act.

Participating schools will receive customised teaching packages to help students learn about human rights. "It is a day of action that encourages students to apply and defend human rights, helping to realise a just society," a statement from Amnesty International reads.

Giving people a voice

This year, the organisation is focusing its efforts on four people, including Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali, who was sentenced to death in Iran and has been imprisoned there for eight years. Djalali was a visiting professor at the Brussels university VUB.

Letters are also requested for Justyna Wydrzyńska, one of the founders of the Abortion Dream Team in Poland, which aims to break the stigma around abortion. She was sentenced to eight months of community service after giving abortion pills to a woman in an abusive relationship who wanted to end her pregnancy.

Rocky Myers received the death penalty despite a suspicious trial: a key witness declared afterwards that his testimony was false. Rocky has been a prisoner in the US state of Alabama for 30 years with an impending death sentence.

Finally, there is a letter-writing campaign for Maung Sawyeddollah, who had to flee Myanmar in 2017 at the age of 15 in the wake of atrocities committed by the army against the Rohingya community.

The young man, who has lived in Cox's Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh for years, believes Facebook incited hatred and encouraged violence. He is demanding compensation from the parent company, Meta, and wants it to help pay for education projects in the refugee camp.

Amnesty International provides sample letters in both Dutch and English.



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