Yes, we just had our monthly letter writing meeting last week (which was super awesome in case you missed it). But, the St. Louis chapter, and the organization as a whole, is much more than writing letters to foreign governments on behalf of our prisoners of conscience. Yes, that was the organization’s original purpose, but human rights is much more than those imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights.
Amnesty USA is also about tackling human rights issues within our own borders, and putting pressure on our own government to uphold human rights domestically and internationally. Right now, Amnesty International is doing advocacy work on the death penalty, the arms trade, and violence against women, just to name a few. We are one of the few (inter)national organizations taking on these human rights issues at the scale that we are. Right now, this work is very much needed, as there aren’t many others who could take our place if we were to stop on these issues.
Amnesty International is also about human rights issues that other organizations aren’t focusing on, or issues that some might not think of as human rights issues or human rights violations. These include corporate responsibility, forced evictions, and immigration detention. Amnesty can’t be everything to everyone, but at the same time, there’s a lot of folks and a lot of issues that don’t have anyone on their behalf. If Amnesty doesn’t take the reigns and lead in some way, who will?
Our chapter is very much about these issues, and we do a lot more than write letters to foreign governments about people we’ve never met. We are making a push on a local death penalty case, Reggie Clemons, by gathering signatures prior to his hearing in September. Clemons did not receive a fair trial back in 1993, when he was originally sentenced to death. He is the new Troy Davis, and we don’t want him to end up with the same fate.
Amnesty International is about human rights activism, presuming that writing letters isn’t active in, and of, itself. But, we know it is. And, we know that writing those letters is a lot more than what many around the world are doing when it comes to human rights. People may scoff at their success rate, but activism has a higher success rate than pessimism.