Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do something! Write a letter, sign a petition, eat a cupcake

Tonight from 10-12:30, in Murray-Dodge Cafe, the Princeton University chapter of Amnesty International is having a letter writing event where you can write your own letter or sign pre-written letters addressed to heads of state and governments in countries where human rights are being grossly violated.

The group is addressing 15 particular cases many of which concern women's rights and violence against women. Like the case of Justine Masika Bihamba:

Justine Masika Bihamba is a human rights worker in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As a result of her work as the coordinator of a women's human rights organization, Syndergy of Women Against Sexual Violence (SFVS), she and her family have been targeted by the DRC military. SFVS counselors have regularly been threatened and attacked because of their work.

On September 18, 2007, six army soldiers forced their way into Justine's house while she was away. They tied up her six children at gunpoint and demanded to know where their mother was...The group searched the house. One solider kicked Justine's 24-year-old daughter in the face, breaking her tooth. He then tried to rape Justine's 21-year-old daughter and sexually assaulted her with a knife.

On September 27, 2007, Justine lodged a legal complaint against the soldiers. In the following weeks and months, senior military and civilian authorities promised Justine that justice would be done. One year on from the attack, however, the men have still not been arrested or brought to trial. Justine regularly sees them in the street. They continue to threaten her.

A letter might not seem like much, but they can add up to making an incredible difference in the lives of the individuals and groups we are trying to help because governments do respond to the public international pressure. Please drop by tonight; it can take only a few minutes and there will to be cupcakes from The Cupcake House to sustain you as you write.

The letters will also be on the 100-level in Frist all day today, so you can sign them, as well as a petition encouraging Senator Frank Lautenberg (D. NJ) to sign the Violence Against Women Act.


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