By: Joanna Beach
BuildOn, with help from Bassick High School’s chapter of BuildOn, held an event for Write for Rights on Saturday, Dec. 1. Around 20 members of Bassick High School’s chapter, around 20 Sacred Heart University students, and the BuildOn staff were in attendance.
Write for Rights is a campaign that addresses human rights issues of prisoners of conscience. These are individuals who have peacefully shown discontent with their country and have been imprisoned because of it.
“It is meant to bring to light many issues such as LGBTQ rights, police brutality, and environmental issues to people in power with the intentions that these people will make changes,” said junior NaCyla Wiley, a member of BuildOn.
The global organization behind this campaign is Amnesty International. According to the website, “Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights.”
As stated on their website, the event is held because “our letters, words and actions will put pressure on authorities to take immediate action, so that those who abuse and torture will be brought to justice. And those unjustly imprisoned will taste freedom once again.”
The event consisted of writing letters to people in power to release selected individuals who were chosen to write about. Throughout the day there were also events and interactive activities for people to participate in.
“Each year Amnesty International chooses 10–12 cases to write on behalf of. This year, we wrote on behalf of 10 women human rights defenders who are under threat.” said junior Jillian Towne, president of BuildOn.
Another activity at the event was writing postcards to the women who had letters written on behalf of them. “This was to let them know that they are not alone, and that we are fighting for their release or safety,” said Towne.
There was also a room where refugee bags and welcome kits were being made, along with a human rights activity. “Students each read a human right that they picked from a pile and said if they believed this was a right everyone had in our country or around the world,” said Towne.
“Being an international campaign, the concept is to flood these officials with so many letters that they are forced to face the issue and come to the realization that people care and are seeking change,” said Wiley.
The goal of this event is for the people in power to receive these letters and be persuaded by them to release these chosen prisoners. It has shown positive results in the past.
The website mentions that, “Every year, real change happens because of your letters and actions. People wrongfully imprisoned are released. Torturers are brought to justice. And people in prison are treated more humanely.”
“The letters and postcards get sent to Amnesty International and from there, they send them out to the government officials and the women we wrote on behalf of,” said Towne.
BuildOn held this event because BuildOn’s mission is “to help break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations worldwide,” said Wiley. “With a target on social awareness and activism, it was decided this would be a unique event to tackle the issue of breaking unfair perpetual cycles of injustice.”
“It allows those who have the ability to freely voice their opinion appeal on the behalf of people who have been stripped of theirs,” said Wiley. “It also allows for the advocacy of individuals who have been denied basic human rights everyone should have the ability to enjoy.”
“It was an extremely fun and successful day here at Sacred Heart!” said Towne.
Wiley believes that it is important to act and stand up for those people who are being discriminated against.
“In believing in something greater than yourself and standing up for what is right regardless of what others may think we can begin to make a real change,” said Wiley.