Global Write-A-thon 2007 by qcq18314

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									  Activist Materials for Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon
                          December 5-14, 2008


                                                     Contents


Introduction                                                                                                            2

Main messages                                                                                                           3

Pointers for working with the media                                                                                     5

Tips for generating media coverage in activist communities                                                              5

Instructions for pitching your Write-a-thon event to local media                                                        6

Supporting Materials:

Sample media advisory                                                                                                   7

Sample press release                                                                                                    8

Sample Letters to the Editor                                                                                         9, 10




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar      1
November 2008


Dear Write-a-thon participant,

We are happy to provide this packet of materials that you can use to generate publicity in your
community for Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon.

We have included a list of suggested activities to help you and/or your group reach out directly to
the media. While the materials in this packet are geared toward AI groups participating in Global
Write-a-thon events, you can easily adapt the sample materials and suggestions to suit your needs if
you are writing letters as an individual.

The Global Write-a-thon emphasizes the enduring importance of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights by drawing the world's attention to the fundamental rights it enshrines. Activists will
participant in Global Write-a-thon events from December 5 through 14 to highlight Human Rights
Day on December 10.

We hope you find these materials valuable in reaching out to the media in your community. Please
send a copy of any clippings or other coverage your event receives to writeathon@aiusa.org; other
activists can get ideas from and be encouraged by stories of your successes.

To find out more about Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon, please go to our website at:
www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon.

If you have additional questions, please contact Ilona Kelly in the Individuals at Risk Program at:
ikelly@aiusa.org or 202-544-0200 x425.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Media Relations Program Staff
Individuals at Risk Program Staff
Amnesty International USA




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   2
                                              Main Messages
   Main Message #1: Thousands of people are in prison around the world because of their beliefs,
   gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. Many are held without charge or trial. Many are at
   risk of torture or execution. The Global Write-a-thon raises awareness about these human rights
   abuses and empowers individuals to take action against these violations. Below are examples of
   Write-a-thon case summaries, which you can use to excite public interest in your event.

               The military rulers of Myanmar have jailed thousands of people in their continuing efforts to
                crush dissenting views. Most prominent of those detained is Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel
                Peace Prize laureate who has spent 13 of the past 19 years under some form of detention.

               Chinese journalist Shi Tao is serving a 10-year prison sentence for sending an email. He sent
                a message to a pro-democracy website about a government order directing media
                organizations in China to downplay the upcoming anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on
                pro-democracy activists. Police arrested him in November 2004, charging him with ―illegally
                providing state secrets to foreign entities.‖

               Bárbara Italia Méndez was one of 45 women who were detained on May 4, 2006 in San
                Salvador Atenco, Mexico state during a public protest in support of local flower sellers.
                These women were arrested without explanation. Dozens of them, including Bárbara Italia
                Méndez, were subjected to physical, psychological and sexual violence by the police officers
                who arrested them. More than two years later, they are still waiting for justice.



   Main Message #2: Amnesty International’s human rights campaigns, including the Global Write-
   a-thon, have been instrumental in obtaining freedom for tens of thousands of individuals.
   Pressure from letters, faxes and e-mails written by AI activists has helped free more than 44,000
   prisoners worldwide.

               After last year’s Write-a-thon, Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of a youth organization that
                advocates political freedom in Belarus, was released from prison on January 23, 2008.
                Thousands of people across the United States appealed for his release.

               Sami al Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman for the television station al-Jazeera, was released from
                Guantánamo after Amnesty International activists worldwide wrote letters to U.S. authorities
                on his behalf. He was held by the U.S government without charge for over six years.




AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   3
   Main Message #3: People in any community can work from their kitchen tables, personal
   computers or local coffee shops to promote human rights and free prisoners of conscience
   worldwide. Local activists are leading the struggle to defend human rights and save lives. The
   Global Write-a-thon is a great way for individuals to have a positive impact on the lives of
   victims of human rights abuses.

                    Last year, the AI Reseda High School Group in California set its event to the music of
                     the rock band Jaguares, and more than 400 students and faculty signed 448 petitions and
                     letters.

                    In Providence, Rhode Island members of Group 49 organized their 20th annual Write-
                     a-thon. One hundred and fifty people wrote a total of 500 letters. The group generated
                     media coverage, and arranged for appearances by the mayor and one of the state’s U.S.
                     Senators.




AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   4
                                  Pointers for Working with the Media

      Keep it simple. Whether it’s a telephone call, a media advisory or an event, always try to focus
       on the messages you develop for your event. (See ―Main Messages‖ above.) Repeat what you
       want to see in the paper rather than improvising under pressure.

      Localize. Local journalists look for a local angle – stress to them that you represent a local
       Amnesty International group while pointing out that you are part of a global organization with
       more than 2.2 million members.

      Monitor. Become a local media watcher. Watch local television news, listen to local radio and
       read local newspapers with an Amnesty International eye. Analyze which stories work and why.
       Look out for journalists, including columnists, who cover stories that may relate to our
       concerns.

      Contact. Keep a record of contacts you make at local newspapers and radio stations and note
       any journalists who seem particularly interested in Amnesty International’s issues. You will want
       to contact them at a later date when you are holding events.



                         Generating Media Coverage in Your Community
      Look for community event calendars in local newspapers and on television stations’ websites.
       Ask calendar editors to post the time and location of your Write-a-thon event on these
       calendars, so that other community members can participate.

      Invite a local radio or television station reporter to cover your event. (A college or local NPR
       station will probably be the best outlet.)

      Ask an interested newspaper columnist to report on your Write-a-thon event. City desk editors
       may also assign a reporter to cover the event.




    AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   5
         Instructions for Pitching Your Write-a-thon Event to Local Media
A media advisory serves as a “teaser” alerting journalists to a future event:
    Provides basic information: who, what, where, when and why.
    Submit a few days before the event so reporters can plan to attend.

A press release is the news:
    Provides more in-depth information and context.
    Distribute to journalists just prior to or at the event.

A media advisory and press release contain the following elements:
    Headline. (Remember to use a large, bold font – it’s eye-catching!)
    Short description of the event and the issue.
    List of speakers at your event.
    Quotation from a group member working on the issue (if possible)
    The name, telephone and e-mail address of your group spokesperson.
    Short summary of your organization and activities in the last paragraph (press release only).
    Mention of any ―Photo Opportunity‖ (if one exists); send the media advisory and press
      release to the photo editors of local news outlets and to reporters. Try to build in interesting
      visuals to your event – remember to use Amnesty International clothing and banners.
    See examples on the following pages of suggested structure and format.

How to distribute your media advisory and press release:
   A media advisory must arrive at news outlets 3-5 business days before the event; make sure
      that your press release arrives at media outlets 2-3 business days prior to the date of the
      event.
   Send the advisory and press release to the attention of assignment editors, who make the
      decisions about which stories will be covered by an outlet.
   When you send media advisories and press releases to the Associated Press (AP), be sure to
      address them to the daybook editor. News editors at various outlets in your area will review
      the AP daybook.
   ALWAYS make follow-up calls. Call to make sure that assignment editors and targeted
      reporters received the advisory and press release and offer to answer any of their questions.
      Always be considerate of their time. Try to be brief, and call between 10:00 AM and 2:00
      PM, before journalists are on deadline.
   If you would like a listing of local media outlets and their assignment editors in your
      community, please email a request to media@aiusa.org.




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   6
MEDIA ADVISORY
For Immediate Release:                                                                       Contact: [Your name]
[Date submitted to the media]                                                               [Your contact number]


 To Commemorate Human Rights Day, Amnesty International Activists in [Your City] Mobilize for
                                  Victims of Human Rights Violations
      [Your City/School] Amnesty International Chapter Joins Activists Around the World in Global Write-a-thon

[Your town, state] - As part of a global week of action, [Name of Person Leading Effort], representing the
[Your City/Town/School] Amnesty International Group, will host an event for local activists to write letters
to governments worldwide, asking them to protect and release victims of human rights abuses. The group will
[add a brief description of your group’s event]. This event is just one of thousands that will be carried out
throughout the United States and dozens of other countries worldwide.

―The actions of people in our community and thousands of other neighborhoods worldwide will help bring
freedom and justice to someone being mistreated,‖ said [name and title of spokesperson].

Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon commemorates the rights enshrined 60 years ago in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year, thousands of participants from more than 30 countries
worldwide take action on behalf of prisoners of conscience and other individuals at risk.

Amnesty International welcomes members of the media to report on the Global Write-a-thon and the general
public to join us in this event on [schedule/locations of the write-a-thon event]. You can find out more at
www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon.

The [your city/town] Amnesty International group welcomes members of the media and the general public to
its meetings, which take place [detail schedule of meetings].

WHO:             [Name of chief group spokesperson], Coordinator, [city] Amnesty International Group
WHAT:            [Your City/School] Amnesty International Group hosts letter-writing event to aid victims of
                 human rights violations around the world
WHEN:            [Date and time]
WHERE:           [Write-a-thon Event Location]
                                                        ###




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   7
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release:                                                                     Contact: [Your name]
[Date submitted to the media]                                                             [Your contact number]


    To Commemorate Human Rights Day, Amnesty International Activists in [Your City]
                       Mobilize for Victims of Human Rights Violations
   [Your City/School] Amnesty International Chapter Joins Activists Around the World in Global Write-a-thon


 [Your City, State] – As part of Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon on [date], local activists will
appeal to governments around the world on behalf of victims of human rights violations. People in [Your
City] will join with thousands of others in more than 30 countries worldwide in this international event to
commemorate the rights enshrined 60 years ago in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[Name of Person Leading Effort], representing the [Your City/Town/School] Amnesty International Group,
will host the event. [Add a brief description of your group’s event.]

―The people in our community will add their voices to the global chorus of those calling on governments to
respect and protect the human rights of their citizens,‖ said [name of spokesperson].

[Include a short summary of your organization/group and its activities].

Amnesty International letter-writing campaigns have been instrumental in obtaining freedom for thousands
of individuals who are jailed and tortured by their governments. Zmitser Dashkevich is a student and youth
leader in Belarus on whose behalf people took action in last year’s Global Write-a-thon. Zmitser Dashkevich
was freed from prison in January, shortly after the conclusion of the Global Write-a-thon.

One of the cases in the Global Write-a-thon this year is that of [name of case]. [Include information on case
of particular interest to your group].

Please contact [name of spokesperson] for more information regarding this event or go to
www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon.
                                                        ###




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   8
                  Supporting Materials: Letter to the editor template #1

[Name of editor]
[Name of paper]
[Street address]
[City, ST, ZIP]
[Date]

Dear Editor,

As power sharing deals in Zimbabwe remain precarious, ordinary citizens continue to bear the brunt
of the government’s repressive security measures and failed economic policies. Every day the
people of Zimbabwe are denied the basic human rights guaranteed to them in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)—rights to food, clean water, and to live free from violence.
Zimbabweans who speak out against these conditions are frequently arrested and subjected to ill
treatment, harassment and arbitrary arrest.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a human rights movement with over 35,000 members, aims
to empower Zimbabweans through job training, education and civic involvement. In the aftermath
of Zimbabwe’s flawed presidential election in March 2008, WOZA members have become
increasingly critical of the government through their peaceful protests for women’s rights and the
repeal of repressive security laws. Beaten, intimidated and detained, these courageous women
continue to fight for human rights in Zimbabwe.

December 10, International Human Rights’ Day, marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the
UDHR. It is a day to stand in solidarity with and take action for the members of WOZA and other
human rights defenders around the world. Join Amnesty International’s Global Write-a-thon, taking
place from December 5-14, and write letters on behalf of the women of WOZA and other
individuals at risk. Raise your voice with thousands of others to collectively demand human rights.
To register for the Global Write-a-thon, please visit www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon


[Your name]
[Amnesty International, group # or other AIUSA affiliation]
[Daytime phone number, not for publication, just for verification of authorship]




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   9
                  Supporting Materials: Letter to the editor template #2

[Name of editor]
[Name of paper]
[Street address]
[City, ST, ZIP]
[Date]

Dear Editor,

It has been four years since Chinese journalist and poet Shi Tao was imprisoned for exercising his
right to freedom of expression. In April 2004, Shi Tao used his Yahoo! email account to send a
message to a pro-democracy website based in the U.S. One year later, Chinese authorities sentenced
him to ten years in prison on charges of ―illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities.‖

Shi Tao is only one of many Chinese citizens who have been imprisoned and ill-treated for speaking
out against their government. Despite promising to improve its human rights record in the run up to
the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese government continues to harass, intimidate and jail people for
peacefully expressing their political or religious beliefs.

December 10, International Human Rights Day, marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)—the international document that guarantees basic human
rights for all peoples. You can commemorate this important day by joining Amnesty International’s
Global Write-a-thon, where individuals all over the world write letters on behalf of Shi Tao and
others imprisoned for exercising their basic rights.

By sending one e-mail, Shi Tao was able to draw the world’s attention to China’s poor human rights
record. By participating in Amnesty International's Global Write-a-thon events December 5
through 14, you, too, can have a global impact. Speak out against human rights abuses by registering
for the Global Write-a-thon at www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon.



Your name]
[Amnesty International, group # or other AIUSA affiliation]
[Daytime phone number, not for publication, just for verification of authorship]




 AIUSA Individuals at Risk Campaign ▪ 600 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E. ▪ Washington, DC 20003 ▪ www.amnestyusa.org/iar   10

								
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