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Thursday, 18 December 2014 06:23

Medicine Hat College hosts Amnesty International-inspired Write-A-Thon

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The Medicine Hat College Human Rights Public Awareness Committee helped the college students connect with the world Dec. 10.

In the B- Wing hall just outside the Vera Bracken Library, the committee co-ordinated the Write for Rights to help celebrate International Human Rights Day Dec. 10 complete with a video display. Committee spokesperson Leigh Cunningham said this was the fourth year, they have done the write-a-thon.
“Write -A-Thon is an easy way to get the college students involved with human rights issues,” explains Cunningham who is the college’s collection and instruction librarian.
The 16-member committee’s role is a way to raise awareness in the college of what’s going on in the world. It’s made up of students, faculty and staff.
“Because there’s so much going on we just wanted the college to be a party to that,” she added. The college was one of 200 places to host such an event in Canada.
Amnesty International puts out a list of cases and an explanation behind each case.
Then, those who want to get involved can write a letter to the politician who would have some sort of authority or connection to the subject protesting the cases. For example, letters could be sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with different members of his federal cabinet.
The cases can be viewed online at: index.php/cases/.
Cunningham says this year of the 10 cases listed, three of them have Canadian ties. One of the cases listed on the writing campaign was a push from Amnesty International to get the Canadian government to “insist on real action to end violence against indigenous women and girls” in Canada.
“(In the past) we usually get 50 or so. We get them to think about it, and they can either write it right here (at the table set up) or they can write it on their own,” explained Cunningham. “We get students who are aware of some of the international cases from their home country. Sometimes, there is is storytelling from those from other countries. We did work to promote it this year ... but I think people are hearing more about these issues and there is more of an awareness.
“(This year)we collected 40 letters at the college. We did have several people take away the information to write on their own, and several who filled out the online petition.”
According to Amnesty International, Dec. 10 was chosen as International Human Rights Day because on Dec. 10, 1948, “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted at the United Nations by world leaders. A Canadian, John Humphrey, was one of the principal writers of the UDHR. Most international human rights law uses the UDHR as a base ... The purpose of Write for Rights is to  mark International Human Rights  Day by bombarding the authorities responsible for human rights abuses with letters from all over the world on just a few selected cases.”

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