Armed with pens, keyboards and a passion for human rights

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. © Amnesty International

A New Year’s message to activists from Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

As a new year begins, I’d like to celebrate some of the things we achieved together in 2013.

We are still counting the tweets, good old-fashioned letters, SMS messages and petition signatures, but it is already clear that hundreds of thousands of people in up to 80 countries took part in our biggest global campaign event, Write for Rights, in December.

Amnesty activists in Togo take part in Write for Rights 2013 – our annual, global letterwriting campaign. © Amnesty International

Armed with pens and keyboards, we challenged the authorities to release prisoners of conscience, tell the truth and set injustices right.

Time will tell what impact our actions will have. The wheels in the machinery of power can turn slowly. But it’s important to remember that as soon as you send that email, that fax, that letter, it becomes part of something much bigger. When hundreds of messages start arriving at a prison, those in charge know we are watching them. And the person inside that cell knows that while they wait for the door to open, we wait with them.

The release of Yorm Bopha in November - imprisoned in Cambodia for defending her community’s housing rights – was a huge encouragement for everyone who had appealed on her behalf. Bopha herself thanked Amnesty’s supporters directly for campaigning alongside her. Our work goes on to make sure her sentence is quashed.

Activism can be a long game. The new Arms Trade Treaty agreed by world leaders last April illustrates this. It took 20 years of hard work and concerted action by the entire Amnesty movement and our key partners to get there. But we did it. Since then, 115 countries have signed up to it and more will follow. Our work to make sure the treaty creates real change in people’s lives has already started.

As 2014 begins, many challenges lie ahead. Human rights continue to be violated on a massive scale, from Syria to the Central African Republic. From bearing witness by documenting and mapping violations, to campaigning and lobbying for change, we are clear that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. There will be truth and justice.

Thank you for being a part of Amnesty International – together, we are making a significant difference.

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 3 million supporters, members and activists. You can locate your national Amnesty office, or find out how to join us as an international member, using this drop-down menu.

Posted in Arms Trade, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Control Arms, Human Rights Defenders and Activists, Individuals at Risk, International Justice, Syria | 7 Comments

  1. Laura K. says:

    ..thanks for the work

  2. Abhiram Roy says:

    Amnesty International’s Fact Based Advocacy, Human Rights Based Approach and Extra-ordinary changes by ordinary people .. is the biggest strength…

  3. Jean Woolmington says:

    I want to be part of this……haven’t known much about Amnesty International since I was a student but time now to writ those letters ……..thank you for all your work, year in year out.

  4. Anthony Tuemler says:

    By supporting and taking action with Amnesty International it makes me feel like a participant instead of just an observer of the world.

  5. Uday shankar bora says:

    Violation of human rights from the perspective of international law is a major concern today. I am not bound to follow the international law but the state is and they should.

  6. Sanjay Hingorani says:

    YES Together we Have Raised our voice Against the Violations & Will Continue.. …too Congrats & Thanks to all the Activists…. .

  7. Jean Woolmington says:

    Continuing to pray that Bopha will be secure in her release and that she may have good health and wisdom so that her work may go from strength to strength

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