Friday, December 09, 2011

Write for Rights: Human Rights Day Dec. 10 - Amnesty International

We see it on the news every day, many people in the world have their rights violated regularly, in fact many are brutalized, despite peaceful intentions.

On December 10th, the world writes for rights. Click here to read cases to write for.

Across Canada individuals and communities will be gathering on Human Rights Day to call for justice, and write words of encouragement, solidary and hope to defenders around the world, locked in the struggle for universal rights.

This is one story to write about, and demand peoples' rights:

NORTH KOREA: Demand the closure of an inhumane prison camp

“An estimated 50,000 men, women and children are currently held in Yodok political prison camp in North Korea.

Yodok is one of six known camps in the country. They hold about 200,000 political prisoners and their families without trial or following grossly unfair trials. Prisoners, including children, are tortured and forced to work in dangerous conditions. The combination of hazardous forced labour, lack of food, beatings, inadequate medical care and unsanitary living conditions results in chronic illness. Many prisoners die in detention or soon after release.

The North Korean government denies that any political prison camps exist, even though satellite photographs and testimony collected by Amnesty International from former guards and former prisoners confirm their existence.

The government imprisons officials perceived to have performed their job inadequately, critics of the government or the ruling family, and people suspected of engaging in “anti-government” activities, including listening to TV or radio broadcasts from South Korea.

All the camps have “total control zones.” Prisoners in those zones are rarely released. Babies born in total control zones are imprisoned there for life. Yodok’s “revolutionary zones” imprison people who the government believes have committed less serious offences. Prisoners here serve up to 10 years before release.

Executions take place in Yodok both in public and in secret, by firing squad or hanging. Inmates can be executed for stealing food or for breaking other prison camp rules.

Family members of those suspected of crimes are also sent to Yodok. This system of “guilt-by-association” is used to silence dissent and control the population through fear. When Oh Kil-man requested political asylum in Denmark in 1986, he was forced to leave his wife and two daughters behind. The government sent his family to Yodok in 1987 after Oh failed to return to North Korea. Oh received letters from them in 1988 and 1989, and photographs in 1991. He is the only person known to have received this kind of information from inside the camps. A former prisoner claims that authorities later moved Oh’s wife and daughters to Yodok’s total control zone.

Please write to North Korea’s leader.

Start your message with Dear Chairman.
Describe who you are and what concerns you about the conditions in Yodok prison camp.
Ask him to release all prisoners of conscience held in the camps, including relatives held on the basis of “guilt-by-association,” and to close Yodok without delay.
Call on him to end all executions and abusive forced labour, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in Yodok and in any prison camp in North Korea.

Address your message to:
Kim Jong-il
Chairman, National Defence Commission
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Postage: $1.75

Please send a copy to:
Note: Your copy will go via the Amnesty office in Geneva for forwarding to Ambassador So-Se Pyong. Please make no mention of the Amnesty office in your letters or emails.

UN Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Geneva
H.E. Mr. So-Se Pyong
C/o Yodok Action
Amnesty International

22 rue du Cendrier – 4th floor
1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Postage: $1.75

Here are a few FAQs about Write for Rights:

What is the main goal of Write for Rights?

The purpose of the Write for Rights is to mobilize thousands of people around the world on Human Rights Day. The main goal is to use the power of letter-writing to help bring about the release of people who have been wrongfully detained and to influence world leaders to protect individuals or people whose human rights have been denied.

Who can participate?

Everyone who is interested! You do not need to be a member of Amnesty International to participate. Amnesty welcomes all those who are keen to keep shining the light on human rights. Whether you plan to participate as a letter-writer, event organizer, or sponsor, we’d like to think that the world would be a better place if everyone was a member of Amnesty International.

Does letter-writing work?

Yes, it does! Amnesty has found that your letter-writing efforts have led to positive results in approximately one-third of the cases. But we’ve also learned that it takes persistence: some countries can be more responsive than others; and some high profile individuals, such as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi have been repeatedly arrested.

Check out some of our good news stories.

No comments: