Working With Amnesty International

Hey guys, it’s Michelle! I haven’t posted on here for a while: school got in the way and I got sick too, but I’m back now! This fortnight we’ll be talking about charities and as you can guess from the title, I’ll be discussing Amnesty International.

Last year, in my senior year of secondary school, I had to do something we call ‘profielwerkstuk’ in The Netherlands. You could call it a big essay you have to write, but you can also make for example a documentary. It’s basically a big project and you must do a lot of research.
Anyway, for my ‘profielwerkstuk’ my friend and I worked with Amnesty International and the Dutch Resistance Museum here in Amsterdam on a project called ‘Geen Nummers Maar Namen’ (No Numbers But Names). This project led to an exhibition about political prisoners, mostly those from the Second World War, but also about three recent cases. One of those cases is Raif Badawi, who you may have heard about in the news. Raif is a blogger like us Feministas and wrote down his thoughts on the situation in Saudi-Arabia and the freedom of speech (or lack of in the case of Saudi-Arabia and sadly many other countries). Soon Raif was arrested and now he’s still in prison, and if the government gets their way he will be in there for ten more years. To make matters even worse, he was also sentenced to 1000 lashes. He has already received the first 50, the rest are postponed until further notice. This doesn’t mean that he won’t get them though, he could get them anytime.

To me, and hopefully to all of you as well, this is just ridiculous. Raif Badawi is a good man who just wants to make a change, but because the government is so terrified of losing their power they torture an innocent and kind man. There are so many things I’d love to tell you about Raif, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.

As you’ve probably already guessed, my friend and I worked on Raif’s case. We researched all that we could, talked to experts and mailed with Raif’s wife Ensaf, to write a short biography and help with the exhibition. During this time Amnesty International helped us as much as they could, but of course they were really busy. What I found incredible was that everyone was so cheerful and joking around at their headquarters, while they deal with horrible stories like Raif’s all the time. Everyone was just so friendly and helpful, it was very inspirational to me. This project also showed how hard Amnesty works to help people and though I already admired them before, my respect for them grew so much more during this time. I wish I could donate to help them, because I find their work incredibly important, but sadly I don’t have the money to do so right now. I do know that once I’ve graduated, have a proper job and a stable income, I’ll try to donate, even if it’s only a little amount, every month.

If you want to help, but don’t know how, here are Amnesty’s five ways to help Raif and here are all the petitions you can sign. If you can and want to donate to help Amnesty help Raif and others like him, visit the Amnesty website for your country.

Michelle is an 18-year old book and writing blogger who blogs at The Writing Hufflepuff, where she also talks about personal things and other interests. You can also tweet her at @writingbadger.

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