Event review: Croydon Amnesty ‘Write for Rights 2014′, Saturday 29th November

By - Monday 15th December, 2014

Croydon citizens send cards with messages of hope to five political prisoners

Image by Amnesty International, used with permission.

Did you see Croydon Amnesty Group in the Whitgift Shopping Centre on Saturday 29th November? Did you stop to send a card to Liu Ping, Ali Aarrass, Alfreda Disbarro, Moses Akatugba or Raif Badawi?

Members of Croydon Amnesty Group had a stall in Allders Square, inviting shoppers to take a few moments out from their Christmas shopping to send a greetings card with a message of hope to five brave men and women who have been imprisoned and tortured without trial, despite doing no wrong.

Shoppers in Croydon rallied to the cause

Croydon Amnesty Group had chosen four shocking and disturbing cases for this event – and the stories which follow are certainly both those things. Liu Ping, Ali, Alfreda and Moses are all victims of torture. At the eleventh hour, Amnesty International sent news of one more horrific case – Raif Badawi, sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes just for setting up a website encouraging political debate. So the Croydon Group added Raif to their list and gave shoppers the chance to send cards to all these five:

  • Liu Ping, a human rights activist in China, tortured after being arrested simply for her links to the New Citizen’s Movement, a peaceful network of pro-democracy campaigners

  • Moses Akatugba of Nigeria was sixteen years old when he was arrested by the Nigerian army, shot in the hand, beaten and charged with stealing mobile phones. He was then handed over to the police who beat him with machetes and batons, tied him up and hung him for several hours in interrogation rooms, using pliers to pull out his finger and toe nails to force him to sign ‘confessions’. He was sentenced to death by hanging and is still on death row

  • Raif Badawi, serving a ten-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia simply for setting up a website called ‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’. He wanted to encourage social and political debate. Instead he has been imprisoned, fined and sentenced to 1,000 lashes – fifty to be administered every other Friday in public during the first year of his ten-year sentence

  • Alfreda Disbarro was accosted by police in her hometown of Manila in the Philippines. They accused her of drug-dealing, took her to the police station and repeatedly punched her in the face and stomach, hit her with a club, poked their fingers in her eyes, forced a mop into her mouth and banged her head against the wall. They also beat her with a wooden stick and a metal bar. She was forced to sign a blank sheet of paper, presumably as a ‘confession’

We were delighted that so many shoppers stopped to write a card with a message of hope

Shoppers in Croydon rallied to the cause and together wrote 63 cards, sending messages of hope to Liu Ping, Ali, Alfreda, Moses and Raif, letting them know that they are not forgotten; that people as far away as Croydon are thinking of them and are outraged by the abuse they have suffered.

Rachel Lindley of Croydon Amnesty Group said, “We were delighted that so many shoppers stopped to write a card with a message of hope. It’s such a simple thing, but we know it makes a real difference. It will remind Lui, Ali, Alfreda, Moses and Raif that they are not alone and give them hope, despite the horrific abuse and injustice inflicted on them. People all over the world know about their cases and are campaigning for them.”

Amnesty reports that some prisoners receive cards by the sack-load because so many concerned citizens from all over the world have written them messages of hope, just as people in Croydon did on Saturday. This sends a strong signal to the prison authorities – people all over the world know and care about the injustices the authorities are committing, and we won’t stop watching.

If you missed the event on Saturday, you can still take part

We’re sending 63 cards from Croydon alone, and there are 280 Amnesty groups like ours in the UK, and Amnesty groups in 150 countries around the world. Many countries take part in Amnesty’s annual Write for Rights campaign – it’s a global campaign uniting people of all faiths (and none), with different political views, nationalities and backgrounds, simply united by a passion for human rights.

Thank you to everyone in Croydon who took part on Saturday, but if you missed the event you can still take part. Simply visit here, where you will find everything you need to send a message of hope to Liu, Ali, Alfreda or any of the other cases.

Together we are powerful and can make a real difference

Beverley Foulkes-Jones, a long-standing member of Croydon Amnesty Group (read her recent Citizen article about the group here) said before this event, “It would be fantastic if as many people in Croydon as possible could put pen to paper or log into their social network accounts and get writing. Together we are powerful and can make a real difference.” It’s not too late – the campaign runs until 31st December, so please visit the Amnesty Write for Rights webpage and send a card today.

For more information about Croydon Amnesty Group, contact  or visit Croydon Amnesty.

Read articles like this – and many more – in our monthly print magazine

Politics, reviews, photography, #Croydon #TechCity, sports and plenty more besides: Our monthly print newsmagazine brings all the most relevant, features, news, opinion and analysis together into a single publication. Written entirely by citizens, it’s the perfect way to catch up on what really matters to Croydon over a drink or a coffee, or on the way to work.

You can find the magazine in venues all over the London Borough of Croydon.

Get your copy today. Write for the Citizen and you may well see your own article next time you pick it up.

Rachel Lindley

Rachel Lindley

Rachel has been a member of Amnesty since joining her school group 20 years ago. She joined Croydon Amnesty Group in 2007 and loves the way it brings local people together to campaign for justice for individuals all over the world. Rachel works for microfinance charity Five Talents in Croydon.

More Posts