Letter Writing Guide from Amnesty International

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Letter Writing Guide from Amnesty International

Postby NavnDansk » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:15 pm


Letter writing guide
There are a few simple rules:

Sample letters

1. Always be polite. This rule is essential and invariable. Your aim is to help a prisoner, not to relieve your own feelings. Governments don't respond to abusive or condemnatory letters (however well deserved).

2. Always write your letters on the basis that the government concerned is open to reason and discussion.

3. It is important where possible to stress a country's reputation for moderation and justice, to show respect for its constitution and judicial procedures, and to demonstrate an understanding of current difficulties. This will give more scope to point out ways in which the human rights situation can be improved.

4. Follow strictly the instructions given by Amnesty International in the case in question. For instance if the World Wide Appeal asks you to appeal for medical treatment for a prisoner, make sure that you request this, and not a speedy trial or release which might be appropriate in another case.

5. Never use political jargon. Don't give the impression that you are writing because you are ideologically or politically opposed to the government in question. It is far more effective to stress the fact that your concern for human rights is not politically based in any way, but in
keeping with basic principles of international law.

6. If appropriate, please explain who you are and what you do. Some of our sample letters (below) do this. This indicates that the letter is genuine, and also shows that people from varying walks of life are following events in the country concerned.

7. If you have any special interest or link with the country, it is a good idea to mention this in your letter. For instance, you may have visited it or studied its history. (See sample letter H.)

BE BRIEF. A simple, one-line letter is adequate (see sample letters A and B) and is certainly better than no letter at all. Sample letters C and D might be considered the standard length to aim at where you have nothing special to add. A good rule is not to write more than one page
(ie one side).

Sample letters:

----Sample letter A

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to appeal to you, on humanitarian grounds, to release ......... .

Yours truly,

----Sample letter B

Your Excellency,

I write to appeal to you, on humanitarian grounds, to spare the life of......... presently under sentence of death.

Yours sincerely,

---Sample letter C

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to you, in the spirit of friendship that has always existed between your country and mine, about the plight of ......... who I understand has been detained for nearly three years under the Internal Security Act without any reason being given. If this information is correct, this would appear to violate Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says "No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile". I therefore appeal to you to look into this case urgently, with a view to releasing ......... .

Yours respectfully,

----Sample letter D

Dear Minister,

I write this letter as a Board Member of the Moravian Friendship Association to appeal to you to ensure that Professor ........., a prisoner held in ......... State Prison, is given the medical treatment she requires and an adequate diet. In view of the seriousness of this case, I would ask you to make inquiries to satisfy yourself personally that the conditions under which she is kept in prison are in keeping with the basic standards expected today by all members of the international community.

I would like to add that our Association, whose function it is to promote friendship and goodwill between the peoples of our two countries, has every confidence that the human rights enshrined in your Constitution are fully observed in your country.

Yours sincerely,

----Sample letter E

Your Excellency,

I am a clerk in government service in Sri Lanka, and I also work in a voluntary Buddhist social service organization. I am deeply concerned at the news that ......... has been sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in your country for publishing an article critical of the government. If this is true, it appears to be a harsh and unjust punishment. I appeal to you on humanitarian grounds, and in furtherance of the principle of freedom of expression enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to review this case with a view to releasing ..........

Yours sincerely,

----Sample letter F

Your Excellency,

In my capacity as President of the Women's Institute of Toronto, I am writing to you on the subject of the recent arrest of ......... who is, I understand, in detention under the regulations for the Suppression of Rebellion.

In view of the information available to me concerning this case, ......... is deprived of her freedom in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. May I take the liberty of drawing to your attention the specific violations of the Declaration apparently involved in her case.
Her arrest under the regulations for the Suppression of Rebellion constitutes a violation of Article 9 of the Declaration. She has been held since her arrest without charge (at least as far as is publicly known) and without trial, which constitutes a violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the Declaration.

The only reason which has been given for the arrest of ......... is her role in the legal and legitimate opposition in the public life of your country, not only as a parliamentarian, but as a political worker conducting actions guaranteed the full protection of your Constitution. It therefore appears that the rights proclaimed in Articles 18 and 19 of the Declaration have also been violated.

Motivated solely by respect for human rights, I appeal to you to intervene personally in this case to secure the immediate release of ......... from detention or to grant her the right to an early, fair and open trial.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration,

Yours sincerely,

----Sample letter G

Your Honour,

I am an engineer, and I worked on an irrigation project at ......... where the dam was constructed with the expert assistance of technicians from your country. This was truly a memorable experience. The dedication of your engineers, both to the irrigation project and to the development of your country, was really inspiring. Many misconceptions about your country were dispelled, and we became good friends too. It was therefore with special concern that I came to hear of the case of.........

I understand that he was arrested in November for publishing a book critical of some aspects of the government, and has been held since then without charge or trial in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This matter has been the subject of discussion among my colleagues. If the facts are incorrect, please let me know and I will see that the true version is explained. If, however, they are true, I appeal to you to look into this case with a view to releasing.........

Yours sincerely,

----Sample letter H

Your Excellency,

Some time ago I wrote to you about the case of prisoner of conscience.........I was delighted to learn that ...... has been released and is now happily reunited with her four young children. I do appreciate very much this act of compassion and humanity on your part.

Yours sincerely,
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Postby NavnDansk » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:24 pm

Campaigns : 08/11/2006
Urgent Appeal: Imam Anwar Al Awlaki - A Leader in Need


Reports indicate that Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar highly regarded in English speaking Islamic circles, has been detained incommunicado for the past two months in Yemen and may face torture or ill treatment in custody.

Anwar Awlaki, whilst in the US worked for inter-faith dialogue– working hard to establish a reasoned, nuanced and just form of intellectual dissent in Western Muslims Enabling Muslim communities in western societies to contribute and interact in wider society and contribute to it whilst remaining confident of their Islamic heritage and identity.

Regarding the 9/11 attacks, Imam Anwar was quick to state,

“What has occurred is a heinous crime. A Muslim can have nothing to do with this.” [1]

Imam Anwar was renowned for his justice amongst people, even when Muslim sentiment would seem to be totally against the West; this is typified by one of his statements:

“President Bush has showed the Muslim American community some good gestures. He specifically warned the people from committing any hate crimes against their fellow Muslim citizens, and he visited a Mosque.”


Anwar al-Awlaki is a Muslim scholar who was born in New Mexico, and is a US national. His parents are from Yemen, where he lived for eleven years and received the early part of his Islamic education.
He served as an Imam in Colorado, California, and later in the Washington, D.C. area where he headed the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University. Prior to his detention, he was resident in Yemen, where he was studying Islamic Jurisprudence with prominent scholars, He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University, a M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University and was working on a Doctorate degree in Human Resource Development at George Washington University. He authored many popular audio series including the "Lives of the Prophets", "The Hereafter" and "The Life of Muhammad".

In the early hours of October 17, a Yemeni secret police raid swept up eight foreigners living in Sana'a, under surveillance by the CIA and British intelligence, and at least 12 other men across Yemen. Yemeni authorities insist they dismantled an al-Qa'ida cell and disrupted a gun-running ring to neighboring Somalia.

It was subsequently reported that the key to the raids was Anwar Al Awlaki (identified in the media as 'Abu Atiq') who was arrested six weeks before the October 17 swoop. Media reports allege that 'Abu Atiq' was an associate of two of the September 11 hijackers and a protege of Abdul al-Majid al-Zindani, who the US wants arrested on terror charges. They also make allegations of supposed involvement in a foiled al-Qa'ida plot to bomb oil and gas facilities in Yemen.

He is believed to be held in Central Security Prison in Sana'a. Locals in Sanaa insist, perhaps apocryphally, that the two stories of the complex above ground sit atop eight stories underground, where torture rooms and darkened cells are often used.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have repeatedly raised concerns regarding arrests and detentions by the Political Security Organ in Yemen, which are carried out with total disregard for the rule of law and for Yemen’s international human rights obligations. Amnesty states that, “arrests are carried out without the judicial supervision required by law and those detained were invariably subjected to lengthy incommunicado detention and interrogations, during which some detainees claim that they were tortured or ill-treated. Detainees have also been denied access to lawyers, as well as being denied the opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention before a court.”

For more information about Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, please visit:


Take Action for Imam Anwar Al Awlaki

Write to the US authorities:

* Demand that the state department fulfils their statutory duties and provide consular assistance and clarify where Anwar Al Awlaki is held;
* Demand an end to incommunicado and secret detention; detainees should be held only in officially recognized places of detention with access to family, lawyers and courts;
* Call for human rights laws and standards to be strictly adhered to in cooperation between US security forces and those of other countries, ensuring that torture and ill-treatment, incommunicado detentions and "disappearance" play no part in such cooperation;
* Ensure his rights as a US national are being protected and that his detention is free from torture or ill-treatment

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20520
Tel: + 1 202 647 4000
Fax: + 1 202 261 8577
E-mail: http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_ca ... etary.html

Write to the Yemeni authorities:

* Appeal for the immediate release of Anwar Al Awlaki unless he is to be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and given a fair trial without further delay in accordance with international fair trial standards
* Call on the authorities to respect the rule of law
* Remind the authorities of their obligations under both national and international human rights law and allow Anwar Al Awlaki access to legal counsel, his family and the opportunity to challenge the legality of his detention

His Excellency General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh
Office of The President
Republic of Yemen
Faxes: 009671274147

His Excellency Rashid Muhammad al-‘Alimi
Office of the Republic of Yemen Ministry of the Interior
Republic of Yemen
Telephone: 009671332701
Fax: 009671274147

Write to Islamic organisations:

* Encourage all Islamic organisations in the US to campaign for the release of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.
* Further encourage the these societies in the US to promote the right to a fair trial and the rule of law.

Islamic Society of North America
PO Box 38
IN 46168
Telephone: 0013178398157
Fax: 0013178391840

Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue ,
S.E. Washington
DC 20003
Telephone: 0012024888787
Fax: 0012024880833
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