St. Donat’s Castle/19.1.2008 The flame of change burns throughout the night whenever students of Atlantic College come together each year at the beginning of January to participate in the Amnesty International Letter Writing Campaign. The campaign is organised by the AC Amnesty International activity and has already a long tradition. Some 150 students from over 85 countries come and spend one night, from 8pm to 8am, in the college’s library to express their protest against international human rights violations in thousands of letters send to the powerful and influential in the world.
This year students are writing letters to the Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Rasul Movahedian, urging him to stop the execution of Delara Darabi. Darabi faces execution for a crime she committed when she was underage. However the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights urges states not to impose death sentences for crimes permitted by persons below the age of 18.
Furthermore they call upon the President of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, to stop the “obstruction, harassment, and intimidation of civil society activists”, especially concerning the prisoner of conscience Zmitser Dashkevich. Not only the Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also Bregadier General Avihai Mandelblit, the Military Judge Advocate General of Israel will receive some hundred letters from Atlantic College students. While the Ministry of Health of Congo is urged to provide adequate stocks of essential medicines and medical equipment for women raped by government soldiers, General Avihai Mandelblit is asked to impose a moratorium on house demolitions and forced evictions in the occupied West Bank until the law is amended to bring it into line with international standards.
The student organisers of this year’s campaign, Knut Kitching (Canada), Nabila Abdel-Aziz (Germany) and Izzat Shamroukh (Palestine), see the annual Letter Writing Night as their contribution to the Amnesty International organisation, which was founded in 1961. One of AI’s first action was a letter writing campaign against the imprisonment of two Portuguese teenagers raising their glasses to freedom during a toast. The following active protest of the international community did not only lead to the release of the two Portuguese boys, but also laid the fundament for an international human rights movement that has today more than 2.2 million members. The Amnesty International activity of Atlantic College also plans and realises Street Theatres across the year demonstrating against various issues (eg. Guantanomo Bay, The Wall in Palestine).
The Letter Writing Campaign organisers expect to be able to post around 2000 letters on Monday morning, each envelope containing an appeal to stop human rights violation, an appeal to peace and justice all around the world, an appeal to protect the human.
Valentin Jeutner (Germany, AC06-08)
– United World College Student Magazine –