Human rights advocate putting pen to paper
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Dec 02, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Human rights advocate putting pen to paper

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

Anne Carbert believes in the power of words.

The social justice advocate will be at Festival Marketplace mall on Saturday encouraging people to add their name to a petition or prepared letter, or compose their own message of hope, in support of Amnesty International's "Write for Rights" campaign – a worldwide initiative in recognition of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

The materials will be sent to government officials in countries where there are political prisoners and other people suffering human rights violations. In some cases the letters will even make it into the hands of the people suffering.

Carbert moved to Stratford in August from Toronto. She has been a member of Amnesty International for 22 years and headed up the Amnesty support group at the University of Ottawa. She later studied human rights and equality law at the University of Toronto. Her first involvement with the writing campaign was in 1990. She said she found it to be a powerful and grounding experience to be a part of a grassroots movement with people around the globe.

"It really is the total quantity of letters that makes the impact," says Carbert, who notes the campaign is expected to generate hundreds of thousands of letters.

Carbert will have a display table set up from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the mall. She will be handing out information about the various cases Amnesty is currently appealing.

Some include Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, who was jailed in 2008 for “terrorism” after he criticized the government in a public speech in Sweden; Myanmar community leader Dr. Tun Aung, who was sentenced to 17 years for multiple offences, including “inciting a riot,” after he tried to calm clashes between Buddhists and Muslims; and Mexican housewife Miriam López, who was tortured and raped by military officers, and forced to sign a statement that she was involved in drug trafficking.

Each person who participates in the campaign will receive a candle of hope ornament that highlights a "Write for Rights" success story.

Moving to Stratford, Carbert said she was disappointed to learn a local group supporting Amnesty was no longer active. She's hoping to rekindle interest, starting this weekend.

"My hope is that we can get a small group of people together to meet once a month or every other month to write letters," she said, adding raising public awareness about human rights abuses around the world is another key component of the movement.

Human Rights Day film screening

The Baha’is of Stratford and the Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron are teaming up to screen the award-winning PBS documentary, Beyond Our Differences, at the City Hall auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

The event is in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights and the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The film, which features prominent world and religious leaders who are inspiring change by demonstrating equality, tolerance, and mutual goodwill, will be screened at 7:30 p.m.

Following the film, there will be presentations by area high school students, service clubs, and charities that have taken their own peaceful social action. The evening will conclude with a general discussion and refreshments.

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