Jeremy Irons today (1 Nov) urged people throughout the UK to send a message of solidarity and hope to men, women and children around the world whose rights have been denied as he helped to launch Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign.
Write for Rights – which runs from 1 November to 31 December – successfully connects men and women, young and old in the UK with people elsewhere who have been wrongly imprisoned, at risk of harassment and intimidation for carrying out human rights work, and to family members seeking justice for their loved ones. It also enables supporters to call upon the authorities for a protection of their basic rights.
Jeremy Irons has taken action on behalf of Hakamada Iwao, a 76-year-old Japanese man who has been on death row for the past 44 years – the approximate length of Irons’s acting career. Amnesty considers Hakamada to have received an unfair trial and recent new forensic test results disclosed by Hakamada’s defence team found no match between Hakamada’s DNA and samples taken from clothing he is alleged by the prosecution to have worn at the time of the crime. Hakamada’s lawyers believe the results may strengthen his appeal. Amnesty is urging the Japanese government to stop the execution of Hakamada.
Jeremy Irons said:
“The basic freedoms afforded to me which have enabled me to have a successful career have been bitterly denied to thousands of others around the world. People like Hakamada Iwao who’s spent 44 years of his life on death row after an unfair trial. That is a cruel injustice. Hakamada has had no idea if each new day will be his last before he is dragged from his cell and hanged.
“We can, and must, use our rights to call for the enjoyment of basic rights of others around the world. Just five minutes is all it takes to stand up for someone around the world who so desperately needs to know that others care. Please take five minutes to be part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign.”
Fifteen cases are highlighted in this year’s Write for Rights Campaign. They include residents of Kenya’s Deep Sea settlement, a slum situated in Nairobi, who are at risk of being forcibly evicted from their homes, Young Women for Change – a grassroots feminist movement in Afghanistan and Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman – a 49-year-old woman who is fighting for justice after Egyptian soldiers attacked her while she attended a large protest near Tahrir Square in December 2011. Picking up a pen and paper is just one way in which supporters can take part in Write for Rights this year. Other actions include leaving a comment on a blog post for Syrian activist, Anas al-Shogre who was arrested in May 2011 and has been held incommunicado ever since, and also taking a photo action in solidarity with the imprisoned Pussy Riot duo.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“Write for Rights is such an important and effective campaign for Amnesty. Not only does it remind the recipients of the cards that thousands of people are aware of their plight and are standing in solidarity with them, it also sends a worrying signal to the authorities who see the number of messages being delivered to these men and women at risk that the world is standing up with them, and for them.
“Daily thousands of human rights defenders and ordinary men, women and children are put in situations where no one should be – without their freedoms, and without their rights. It is important that those of us who are able to exercise our rights come together to ensure others can enjoy their rights as well.”
For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/write