International Human Rights Day: U of R Amnesty group takes part in world’s biggest human rights campaign

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: December 10, 2021 9:00 a.m.

The University of Regina sign is lit yellow to commemorate International Human Rights Day and to raise awareness for human rights injustices across the world.
The University of Regina sign is lit yellow to commemorate International Human Rights Day and to raise awareness for human rights injustices across the world. Image: UAC

International Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as humans - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. 

The University of Regina sign is lit yellow to honour this occasion and to raise awareness for the human rights violations that exist across the world today. 

Every year, the University of Regina’s Amnesty group along with its municipal, provincial, and national partners participate in Write for Rights, the global letter-writing marathon and biggest human rights campaign in the world. Amnesty International identifies people and communities at risk of human rights abuses worldwide who urgently seek solidarity and justice. Volunteers write letters, e-mails, and sign petitions that are typically addressed to the state authorities who have the power to end these human rights abuses. Over the years, the letter writing campaign has helped convince government officials to release people imprisoned for expressing their opinion, stop the use of torture, and end other human rights abuses.

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Write for Rights, the world’s
biggest human rights campaign,
takes place December 10.
Image: Amnesty International

Amnesty International Saskatchewan hosted their own online event on December 7, which featured community leaders such as Parliamentary Poet Laureate and University of Regina alumna Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer, to discuss the ten cases being focused on for this year’s Write for Rights campaign. Members of the Regina and Saskatoon Amnesty groups will also call in to the national online event live from in front of the lit U of R sign on December 10. 

While the pandemic has put most in-person events on hold for the University’s Amnesty group, Amnesty International Regina field worker and U of R PhD student Crystal Giesbrecht says Write for Rights is the perfect way for anyone to get involved. 

“We encourage everyone to get familiar with this year’s ten cases and take some time to participate by writing letters and showing support for these individuals who have suffered for standing up for what’s right,” said Giesbrecht. “It’s an opportunity to unite with volunteers from around the world and to be a part of impactful change.” 

Members of the U of R Amnesty group are active on a wide range of human rights issues, including climate justice, which has a major effect on a human’s right to life, health, food, water, housing, security, and the rights of Indigenous peoples. 

“I got involved with Amnesty International because they are active on the things I care about, including climate activism,” said fourth-year Biology student and U of R Amnesty group co-president, Faraz Khan. “When we started our U of R group in 2019, Greta Thunberg was beginning to gain worldwide attention for her climate activism and it inspired me to make our University community more engaged in activism, which was facilitated through Amnesty International.”

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U of R Amnesty group members
at the 2019 Write for Rights event
at the University of Regina.
Image: U of R Amnesty group

Joining the U of R Amnesty group is an easy way for students to get involved and begin making an impact by defending and promoting human rights at home and around the world. 

“One of the many things I enjoy about volunteering with the U of R Amnesty group is meeting and working alongside like-minded people who share the same interests and goals as myself,” said fourth-year Psychology student, Siham Hagi. “Joining our group is easy and low commitment for those, like myself, who are often busy with school work or part-time jobs, but still want to make a difference.” 

With some members set to graduate this year, the U of R Amnesty group is always looking for and welcoming new members to continue the legacy of activism at the University of Regina. To learn more about Amnesty International and how to get involved, visit Amnesty Saskatchewan’s website

Amnesty International’s activism work aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation, Well-being and Belonging, and Environment and Climate Action areas of focus in the University of Regina’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak – All Our Relations. 

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Well-being and Belonging: U of R’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan Series, Part 4 of 6

Environment and Climate Action: U of R’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan Series, Part 5 of 6