Kelowna residents are looking to make a difference around the world.
On Thursday, December 10th, the 12th annual Write for Rights will take place. Write for Rights is a world wide initiative organized by Amnesty International where people from countries throughout the world gather to do two things. First, they write letters to governments around the world asking prisoners of conscious be freed, torture be stopped, missing people be investigated and many other similar things. Secondly, they write letters of support to prisoners of conscious and human rights defenders.
Peter Kerr is the secretary for Amnesty International in Kelowna, and he has been involved with Write for Rights ever since it began.
“Lots of people have been freed, or their sentences have bee reduced,” Kerr described of the results the annual initiative. “When governments get a lot of mail like that, they usually respond. Not always, some governments don’t respond. It depends how hardline they are, but it’s been very effective. There were 3.2 million messages sent last year, from I think 143 countries. It’s been very effective.”
The Kelowna chapter has traditionally seen about 20 people show up to write letters, which last year resulted in 112 letters sent from Kelowna. The recipients of the letters re chosen beforehand by Amnesty International, and no experience or registration is required, participants simply need to show up. As a 12 year veteran of the Write for Rights, Kerr has received a few responses from governments, which lets him know he’s making a difference.
“It’s great when you get a reply, even when it’s just an acknowledgement of the letter,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s an explanation, or sometimes they say, ‘Since you’ve written, we’ve freed this person.’ It’s not often, most cases you don’t hear at all and some contras you won’t ever hear from, but some countries tend to respond.”
The Write for Rights will take place from 7pm to 9pm at room H-115 at Okanagan College.