This is the How To guide for the Write The Wronged action on the Rhythms App. To get early access to the app sign up here.
Across the world people of all faiths and none are being imprisoned simply for what they believe, in violation of their basic human rights. We can make a difference by writing to make wrongs right. This How To guide explains:
- How to write directly to a person who is being wrongly imprisoned
- How to write to an official and pressurise them to change how they are treating victims of human rights abuse
Why should I do it?
- Prisoners of conscience come under unimaginable pressure, sometimes including torture, to renounce their beliefs. A letter of encouragement and solidarity can be the difference that enables a person to stay strong and keep faith.
- Your letter, combined with others from all over the world, can lead to a dramatic improvement in the situation of a victim of human rights abuse. Depending on who you write to, it may help to put pressure on the officials to change how they are treating a large amount of the victims. It can result in torture being stopped, access granted to doctors or lawyers, death sentences being commuted, disappearances’ investigated, and prisoners released. Amnesty International estimates that letter writing makes a substantive difference in approximate one third of case. Apart from anything else, writing on behalf of a prisoner of conscience can bring the victim hope and strength when they are being wronged.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide are campaigning on behalf of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who has been held in an Iranian Prison since 2009 when he was arrested because of rejecting Islam and becoming a Christian. Since then he has now been faced with execution. According to Amnesty International if he is willing to renounce his faith then they will release him from death row.
You can write to Paster Yousef directly to show your solidarity and to encourage him.
What do I write?
- Words that will strengthen and encourage him. It can be hard to know what to say to someone in such a difficult situation so give it a bit of thought – but don’t worry too much. Better to say something than nothing at all.
- Pray for them, and tell them what you have prayed for
- As Pastor Yousef is a Christian prisoner of conscience, why not include scripture that will lift them up?
- You can tell them a little bit about yourself, so they can be encouraged that it is a wide amount of different people who are writing to them
What should I avoid writing about?
- Do not make any political comments or criticisms in your cards or letters – this can lead to backlashes and jeopardise the victim further
- Refrain from making any criticism of any other faith
- Don’t mention any organisation such as CSW, Tearfund, Amnesty International, Open Doors or Release in your card as this could be counter-productive
- There is no need for you to include your own address on your card or letter
Or you can write to the Iranian Embassy to ask for his release.
What do I write?
- Ask the Ambassador to forward your appeal to the Iranian Government as a matter of urgency
- Express your concern over the latest developments in Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s case. These can be found on the internet, by searching his name
- Ask that that the Iranian courts will acquit Pastor Nadarkhani of all charges, in accordance with Iranian and international law
- If you are unsure then check out the sample letter/email below and use it as a guide:
- Letters should be brief, factual and polite. Take special care not to sound aggressive or offensive. Write in a natural style. Keep letters factual and to the point
- Be positive – make a clear request and write as if the reader is open to reasoned argument.
- If you are writing on behalf on an individual case, give the full name of the prisoner or the individual/s at risk
- Say a little about yourself if you want to – for example something about your occupation or background to show that all kinds of people everywhere are concerned about human rights.
- Write in English unless you can get an accurate translation.
- Letters can be hand-written or typed.
- Use a conclusion that encourages a reply. For example, ‘I look forward to hearing from you’.
How do I find out about other people I can write about?
It is generally harder to find people to write to directly than it is to find people to write on behalf of. But with a bit of good foraging online you can find what you’re looking for.
Check out Amnesty International’s website to find out about many more wronged people for whom you can write. To get more involved, become part of Amnesty’s Urgent Action Network and join an international community taking regular action with resources to help you write.
Use your freedom to write for those who are having their rights taken away from them!