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Belleville group Write for Rights

By Julia Lennips [4]

BELLEVILLE – In a world filled with emails, tweets and instant messages, the act of writing letters remains an important tool for protecting human rights in countries around the world.

Just ask a group of Belleville residents.

Amnesty International [5]’s Belleville Group 111 [6] is taking part in Write for Rights, [7] an annual event taking place on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day. 

Amnesty [8] is an organization concerned with human rights globally.

Members will write letters to prison officials, government ministers, and dictators across the globe on behalf of human rights advocates, in the hopes of helping imprisoned or tortured individuals. In some cases, people have disappeared or were killed for doing human rights work.

The public is invited to sign a card, write a letter, or sign a petition for the particular cases [9] that are being highlighted. Last year 70,000 messages were sent from Canada, and 390 of those were from Belleville.

Anthea Weese, a volunteer with Belleville’s Amnesty International group, says since she retired she told herself she would be a part of the campaign.

“I know that I’m just one person, but together with all the people worldwide who are writing each month, that makes it tens of thousands of letters going to one prisoner, and they know the eyes of the world are watching,” she said.

This year there are 10 different cases that people will write letters for. One of the cases is for Vitalina Koval, who was attacked for standing up for LQBTQ+ rights.

Weese says writing letters for the 10 cases can be the next step towards getting justice for these different people.

“I think it’s important to write these letters because we need to stand up and bark when things are not right and there’s so much not right in this world,” she said. “There are so many areas where things are topsy-turvy where the values are not in the right order.”

She says people can feel helpless when we can’t step in and help others.

“By doing something like saying to the relevant authorities ‘no we don’t agree, no we’re not going a long with this,’ it does make a difference. It does get attention. It does get noticed, and if they continue on their own way they can’t say that it wasn’t brought to their attention. I feel like I’m doing something, so I don’t feel so helpless with the state of the world,” she said.

This year’s event will take place between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Bridge Street United Church in Belleville.