This Sunday is the start of our annual Amnesty International Write For Rights Campaign, and again this year, we are forced to do the campaign with the aid of prepared packages. Bonnie Horton will distribute these packages after church this Sunday, December 5. The packages contain all the information and supplies you need in order to write letters concerning the four cases upon which we are focusing. Those include a teenage boy in Belarus accused of taking part in a violent demonstration when video evidence clearly indicates he was never involved; the young whistleblower in China who alerted the world to the Chinese government’s cover-up of the COVID crisis; a human rights defender in Egypt thrown into jail without a trial simply for doing his job; and an Eritrean teenager, missing for 9 years without anyone making much effort to find her. When you have signed the letters, you can return the package to the church any afternoon the week of December 6–10, bring it back to church on December 12, or call Bonnie (call the church office for contact info) to make arrangements for a pick-up. If you cannot be at church on December 5, but would like to participate in the campaign, please call Bonnie, and she will arrange to drop a package off to you. Thank you for standing up for human rights, because human rights are everybody’s business.
More about the cases
This week I would like to introduce you to the cases we are supporting this year. It is always such a difficult decision choosing from the cases Amnesty presents the ones that we should focus on — they are all so urgent and so heart-wrenching. Our first case is Mikita in Belarus who arranged to meet a friend in a city square only to find a peaceful demonstration taking place there, peaceful that is until the police moved in. The next day Mikita was arrested, beaten with an electric shock truncheon, charged with throwing a Molotov cocktail even though there is video evidence he was not at all involved in the demonstration — well, you can guess the rest. He is now in prison. Oh, and did I mention that Mikita was 16 at the time?
Another teenager we need to be concerned about is Ciham Ali of Eritrea, kidnapped 9 years ago when she was 15 in retaliation for her father speaking out against the government, and never heard of or from again. No one knows where she is and anyone who knows anything about Eritrea shudders at the thought of her in an Eritrean prison where conditions are among the worst in the world. You will be addressing your letter to no less a person than the US Secretary of State, for Ciham is an American citizen, born in Los Angeles, and yet, no American government official has done anything in the ensuing 9 years to find her or secure her release.
Then there is Mohamed Baker who himself worked for the Adalah Centre for Rights and Freedoms in Egypt, a human rights lawyer arrested simply for that reason. There was no trial, but he continues to languish is prison where he is subjected to one cruelty after another.
The case of Zhang Zhan I think will really pique your interest. She is the young citizen journalist in China who first blew the whistle on the Chinese government’s attempt to cover up the newly discovered virus in that country which became of course the Covid 19 pandemic. Thrown into prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” miles from her home and denied visits from her family, she still has the courage to say “Truth has always been the most expensive thing in the world. It is our life.”
This post combines elements that first appeared in the Saturday, November 27, 2021, edition of Tidbits; and that were spoken in church at the November 28, 2021, worship service.