Amnesty Letter-writing marathon - On your marks, get set, GO!

Shi Tao - Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience

The Amnesty International Letter writing marathon kick-started in Poland today at 12 noon and will finish up at the same time tomorrow. I participated in last year's event here in Warsaw and despite the shitty venue, a yuppie-cafe with super expensive chocolate muffins and not a fair trade product in sight, it was a fun-loving and educational affair for all involved. Amnesty Poland claimed that during last years event over thousands of letters to prisoners of conscience were written worldwide last year to human rights defenders.

As someone who spent a little time in jail (just 6 weeks) I can't emphasise enough how valuable it is to receive a letter from a friend or stranger when your locked down for over 3/4's of the day in a 4m*4m cell. It keeps the guards fearful that if they give you hassle then someone will be knocking hard on the prison gate. It also helps win the admiration of fellow prisoners who can very often identify with the anti-war, anti-imperialist, environmentalist issues that activists often do jail time for.

So get off the computer and write with your hand for a change. A list of Amnesty's-supported prisoners can be found here.
Or if you are lazy and don't like links then please keep reading:

According to Amnesty International a "prisoner of conscience" is someone imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. The term was coined by Amnesty International's founder, civil rights lawyer Peter Benenson, who launched Amnesty International with an appeal on behalf of six prisoners of conscience.

Chinese journalist Shi Tao is a current prisoner of conscience. He used his Yahoo! email account to send a message to a U.S.-based pro-democracy website and as a result authorities used his email account holder information (supplied by Yahoo) to sentence him to 10 years in prison.
Send a message to the Chinese gvt.


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