Fighting against human rights violations and advocating for change is the goal of Elgin Park Secondary students who are writing letters for others’ rights to be restored.
The annual letter-writing campaign by Amnesty International has garnered global recognition. It has become a way for individuals to call on government officials to release wrongfully incarcerated people or write letters of solidarity to people who have had their human rights stripped from them.
At the end of the month, Elgin Park Secondary students will participate by supporting 10 people from around the globe who are facing persecution and injustice.
“We are writing these letters because no one deserves to have their human rights removed. We care that the governments who are responsible for such atrocities are held accountable for their actions,” said Kate Hwang, the school’s 17-year-old student council president who is organizing the event.
“Take for instance, Zineb Redouane was killed by a tear gas grenade by a police officer upon opening her window during a protest. We need to stand up for these people and demand change. People face injustices every day, and we, students at Elgin Park, choose not to be idle but act — and realize that our words have power.”
While the day is typically observed on Dec. 10, Elgin students will write their letters early, on Nov. 28-29.
Hwang became interested in the campaign when she began working with Amnesty International in June 2021. This led her to become a member of Amnesty Canada’s National Youth Strategy Working Group.
“Last year, we actually held it in a smaller capacity due to COVID, and it was both an inspiring and empowering experience — that is why I decided to bring it back this year as a school-wide event through a student council event, in hopes that more students will support this amazing cause,” Hwang said.
Although the event was on a smaller scale last year, the school was a part of freeing Bernardo Caal Xol, a Guatemalan teacher and environmental activist who has since been reunited with his family.
More information about the campaign can be found at writeforrightselgin.weebly.com/