Tomorrow is International Justice Day, and the perfect day to make change happen. You could use the day to celebrate major organisations that help ensure international justice, such as the International Criminal Court, UN Human Rights Council, or Amnesty International. Alternatively, you could get involved in the ongoing programmes of these organisations, organisations that are committed to justice not just on July 17th, but every day of the year.
Amnesty International campaigns tirelessly for legal justice for prisoners of conscience, and regularly petitions governments to release such individuals. Currently, Amnesty are campaigning for the release of photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan) from Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. Shawkan’s unjust imprisonment and Amnesty’s commitment for justice on his behalf are proof both that we still need an International Justice Day, and that we have so much power to achieve justice worldwide.
Shawkan was arrested by Egyptian police after they raided a peaceful sit-in protest he was covering on 14th August 2013. This day became known as the Rabaa massacre, in which more than a thousand people died. The Egyptian government has still not addressed or investigated this atrocity.
Of the thousands of horrific stories that make up that day, one is that of Shawkan’s imprisonment. He was arrested at the scene and has remained imprisoned ever since, despite having never been sentenced. In a letter, Shawkan described his situation as a “black hole without fairness and justice.”
Yet all is not lost. In 2016, actions and petitions on behalf of Amnesty International helped release 650 people from unjust imprisonment. Shawkan is treated inhumanely and has been stripped of his human rights, yet he has not lost hope. He wrote, “you keep me feeling that I’m not alone. You all have become my power and my energy and without all of you I cannot go through this.” Add yours the the voices supporting Shawkan through his ordeal by signing Amnesty International’s Petition here. Such actions, though small, have a mighty impact. Thousands or even millions of signatures can bring hope to the oppressed, fear to the oppressors, and, often, move those in power to make change.
By thinking of and taking action for individuals this International Justice Day, you can help demonstrate our collective power to achieve justice.
Find out more about We Make Change and how you have the power to change the world here.
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