"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Pen IS Mightier Than the Sword


It's true; the written word is a powerful tool.

Amnesty International tells of Sami al Hajj, a sudanese cameraman, who was held at the infamous Guantanamo resort for SIX years without a single charge being filed against him. Worse - He was beaten and tortured, and in desparation he started a hunger strike, and nearly died as a result.

Thousands of people wrote letters on Sami's behalf during Amnesty International's Global Write-a-thon, and as a result, Sami was released and reunited with his family. As I write this post I am looking at a photo of Sami. As I look into his eyes I try to imagine what he must have felt as the days, weeks, months and years slipped away from him as he tried to remember his wife, Asma and his son, Mohammed. You can learn more about Sami's story here.

There are countless prisoners of conscience being held against their wills around the world, and yes, even in the United States. Amnesty International organizes regular letter writing campaigns throughout the year, but also sponsors a major annual Global Write-a-thon once a year. It was last year's write-a-thon that led to Sami's release from Guantanamo!

YES - Our letters DO make a difference. Click here to read about the many successful letter writing campaigns. But even though our letters do not always result in freedom, they always give people hope and remind them that they are not forgotten.

This year's Write-a-thon is going on right now, and is shaping up to be the biggest yet. Even our local high school's Amnesty International Club is participating. You can help make it a success, and bring hope (and maybe even freedom) to prisoners of conscience. Click here to sign up for this year's event, and then click here to find cases needing our letters. Then, start writing!

While you are at Amnesty's Website you can also check out the Freedom Writers Network , which focuses each month on three different cases of victims of human rights abuses. They also have an Urgent Action Network that focuses on cases involving immediate and life threatening human rights violations.



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