Björn Bremer (Germany, AC07-09)
It was a dark and stormy night and the Atlantic College library – normally a deserted place at this time on a Saturday night – was buzzing. Some 150 students from more than 70 counties assembled in the library in order to take action and defend human rights. Annually the Amnesty International Youth Group at Atlantic College participates in the 12-Hour Letter Writing Campaign in early January.
This year students came to the library from 6.30pm to 6:30am to write letters of protest to five different government as well as letters of support to prisoners of conscience. The letters were sent to governments of the USA, Great Britain, the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As the President-elect, Barack Obama is asked to bring an end to America’s assault on human rights by announcing a timeline to close Guantanamo Bay, and to issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment. Obama is also asked to ensure that no prisoner is transferred to Iraqi custody if the would face torture or the death penalty.
The Foreign Secretary of Great Britain David Milliband is urged to suspend all military exports to Israel in the light of the current human rights abuses by the Israeli army in Gaza.
Furthermore the Chinese Minister of Justice is urged to release the prisoner of conscience Ye Guzhu who was detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, association and information.
In addition the Head of the Judiciary of Iran is asked to drop all charges against Campaign for Equality activists who are connected to their peaceful campaigning for equal rights for women in Iran. He is also urged to end legalized discrimination against women.
Finally the students call the Minister of Justice of Vietnam not to allow the execution of Tang Thi Ba who was sentenced to death on embezzlement, but to abolish the death penalty.
This year Atlantic College students additionally participate in Amnesty’s Annual Greeting Card Campaign by sending individual cards to prisoners. These messages of solidarity are an expression of hope for those in danger for defending human rights.
Student organisers Marion Eele (Great Britain), My Tra Dang (Germany), Shatha Al-Khamour (Palestine) and Björn Bremer (Germany) see the Letter Writing Campaign as an important way to express their objections to international human rights violations. Thousands of letters send to the powerful and influential in the world will remind those that the people of the world do not tolerate human rights violations. There will always be someone protesting.
Apart from the Letter Writing Campaign the Amnesty activity at Atlantic College also plans and undertakes Street Theatres on human rights issues throughout the year protesting against various human rights violation (e.g. The Wall in Palestine, The Rights of Asylum Seekers, violence in Burma)
Tonight however the students were fully engaged to write hundreds of letters. To a mix of music, movies, hot chocolate and cakes students wrote their way to 2000 letters, each of them containing an appeal for peace, an appeal for justice and an appeal for human rights.
-United Wordl College Student Magazine-