Site C Dam subject of Amnesty International Write for Rights

Every year on Dec. 10 Amnesty International celebrates International Human Rights Day with a letter-writing campaign; Write for Rights.

Write for Rights mobilizes millions of people around the world using the power of letter-writing to influence world leaders to protect individuals or communities whose rights are being violated.

The Comox Valley Amnesty Action Circle invites members of the community to join us to write letters on behalf of those whose rights are being violated, not only around the world but also here in Canada. Letter-writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty’s work, with 54 years of activism showing that words have power. Writing letters can save lives. There are many success stories.

This year’s cases

This year Amnesty cases include Máxima Acuña in Peru. Máxima Acuña won’t back down. The Peruvian peasant farmer is in a legal battle with one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines over the land where she lives. She has braved violent harassment and intimidation for refusing to leave, but she’s not going anywhere. We must stand with her and ask Peru to protect her from further violence.

Egyptian journalist, Shawkan, could be sentenced to death.

“It was like a Hollywood movie,” said Shawkan.

Except the bullets were real. The teargas was real. The tanks descending on protests across Egypt were real. And the 1,000 people killed were all too real. The journalist, whose real name is Mahmoud Abu Zeid, photographed the crackdown in Cairo in August 2013. For this he was arrested, tortured and jailed. Egypt must remove all charges and free him.

And here in Canada, the Site C Dam on the Peace River is just one example of how human rights have been pushed aside in the rush to develop energy resources. Indigenous peoples’ rights to health, culture and livelihood are protected in both Canadian and international law.

West Moberley and Prophet River First Nations have challenged the dam in court arguing that their treaty rights have been ignored, but the government has pushed ahead with construction, even though the case is still before the courts.

More than 100 years ago, Helen Knott’s great-great-grandfather signed an agreement with the Canadian government that was meant to protect her people’s way of life. That promise is being broken. The government must withdraw approval for the Site C Dam, a huge hydro-electric project in northeastern British Columbia.

Join us on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, at the Courtenay Library, 300 6th St., 2-4 p.m.  All information and materials needed to write letters in support of these people and communities will be provided. Visit amnesty.ca to read and watch videos about these and other cases, to see Amnesty success stories, and to learn more about Write for Rights.

 

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