Write for Rights Starts Today

Ihar Tsikhanyuk

Ihar Tsikhanyuk

Your voice has power! Today is the first day of Write for Rights, the annual Amnesty International campaign that’s one of the largest human rights events in the world. From today until Dec 17, activists all over the world will be writing letters on behalf of 12 individual prisoners of conscience. It’s one last push to effect change and to let governments know that human rights abuses won’t be tolerated. The world is watching, and today’s case involves LGBTI rights and the need to respect those rights as valid human rights that are non-negotiable.

Today’s Case: Ihar Tsikhanyuk

Ihar Tsikhanyuk is an openly gay man in Belarus who, in February 2013, was at the hospital being treated for an ulcer. While there, two police officers came and asked him to go with him. Tsikhanyuk complied, where we was verbally abused and physically beaten by several officers at the police station. They taunted him for being gay and threatened more violence. When they returned him to the hospital, he asked staff to document the injuries and hospital staff refused. This event took place one month after he tried to register the Human Rights Center Lambda, a non-governmental organization that supports the rights of LGBTI people in Belarus

Tsikhanyuk and other LGBTI individuals have been abused by police in Belarus, as well as founding members of the Human Rights Center Lambda. Those who beat Tsikhanyuk have never been held accountable, while other LGBTI individuals and affiliates with the Human Rights Center Lambda remain at risk for violence. We can help change this with a letter to the Belarussian government.

Sample Letter

Generalnyi Prokuror
Alyaksandr Koniuk
Generalnaya Prokuratura
ul. Internatsionalnaya 22
220030 Minsk
Belarus
Dear General Prosecutor:
I write to you out of deep concern for Ihar Tsikhanyuk, a human rights activist from Hrodna who advocates for equal rights and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. In February 2013 police questioned, beat, verbally abused, and threatened Ihar Tsikhanyuk, one month after he attempted to register Human Rights Center Lambda, an LGBTI non-governmental organization (NGO).
I am disturbed that, nearly a year later, no progress has been made in holding the officers responsible for abusing and threatening Ihar Tsikhanyuk accountable. In this environment of impunity, he and other activists connected to Human Rights Center Lambda remain at risk of further threats and abuses due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and their continued LGBTI rights activism.
I urge you to initiate a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the ill-treatment and threats that he suffered at the hands of police officers in the October District police station in Hrodna. I call on you to ensure that those responsible are subjected to disciplinary and criminal proceedings as appropriate and to see to it that Ihar Tsikhanyuk is protected from further ill-treatment and humiliation.
As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Belarus has undertaken a legally binding obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all those on its territory without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. I thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Sincerely,
[Your Name]

We Have Our Own Write for Rights Event

If you’re not going to have much time throughout the holidays to write letters, then please just take an hour out of your day to join the chapter at its own Write-a-Thon event. From 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Dec. 7, we will be at the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood writing letters in person as well as providing sample letters for patrons to sign on their way to eating in the restaurant. If you don’t want to sit and write letters with us, then you can also come and sign the sample letters while also having a glass of beer. Help us reach our goal of 200 letters! Below is additional information regarding the event:

Who: Our Amnesty International chapter and anyone else who wants to do something good for someone else this holiday season.

What: To write letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience worldwide

When: Saturday, Dec. 7 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Schlafly Bottleworks – 7260
Southwest Ave.@ Manchester. Maplewood, MO 63143

Why: Because people need our help and we can make a difference, and because it’s fun

How: Just show up and enjoy great company, food, and beer (food and beer not free). We’ll provide the paper, pens, and pertinent information on each of the cases.

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