Monday, 28 September 2009

Being human

posted by kathy

I first came across Amnesty International when I was a student. My college adopted a prisoner of conscience in Chile. These were the days of the Pinochet regime and he was a student and anti-fascist. He had been tortured, which was routine in Chile's jails - many supporters of Allende had been killed and others simply "disappeared." Eventually we were told that the prisoner we had adopted would be released if we could find a country to accept him. Of course, we wrote to the home secretary - it was Roy Jenkins, I believe. Britain said no on the grounds that the country was too small. We wrote to other countries. Canada said yes and so did Luxembourg. The student was set free. I don't know what happened to him after that - I wasn't the one writing all the letters but just a member of the college students' union committee. However the events taught me that writing letters could make a difference to someone's life and could even save a life.

Since then, I've occasionally sent cards to prisoners or written hasty emails to governments on behalf of prisoners. I've never managed to do enough. So I was pleased to meet someone involved in Beeston's local Amnesty International group at Meeting on Sunday. The group has monthly meetings in the local library as well as letter-writing sessions in the Commercial Inn. The group is also looking for help in their street collection on Saturday, 10th October. Click here for details of forthcoming of events with contact details. According to the Beeston Express there will also be a letter-writing session in the Commercial Inn from 7.30 p.m. on Monday, 5th October.

If you would like to be involved in Amnesty and don't live anywhere near Beeston, a web-search will help you find either a local or national group. It's possible to support Amnesty as an individual as well as through a group.