What is write for rights?

It’s amazing to see how letters written by high school students in Montana could make a difference and change the world. Well that is what the Amnesty International club does here at Sentinel. Amnesty International fights for human rights all around the world for people who may have been wrongly accused or unjustly imprisoned everywhere.

It takes each of us
to create this movement
that can make a
difference for people

-KIm Rott

 Kim. Rott is the faculty advisor for the club and she explains one of the clubs motives “to hopefully disseminate Information. Lots of people haven’t heard the term human rights before so it’s cool to at least get out there and at least get those words and vocabulary of high school students.” 

The term human rights can be hard to define for high school students. The club works to educate students so they feel more confident in human rights and can defend them. According to Rott on what the club does each day, “We do at least one action to promote human rights around the world. and we do it through Amnesty International”

Amnesty International is a non-government organization that promotes the basic rights for people all over the world. On Amnesty International’s website they state “We are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion” it is claimed that 10 million common people are fighting with Amnesty all around. It is a global movement with no biased agenda. 

December 10 was International Human Rights Day and our Amnesty International club at Sentinel High School does their best to make the most out of it. The club is a year long thing, yet the spotlight is on that specific day. Members of the club create presentations to educate students at Sentinel. The presentations with Write for Rights have the students at Sentinel choose between the people Amnesty International has selected to fight for, and the students write a letter. These letters are all written towards someone who has the power to help the people who have been wrongly accused.

 It is a very small club and is looking for more members so a great way they go about it is teaching English and social studies classes about Write for Rights. Rott comments, “Every year at Amnesty, we just email all the English and social studies teachers and say, ‘hey if  you like a member to come into your class if it fits in your curriculum we’re doing write for rights’ and the teachers that fit it into the curriculum write back and say ‘I would love to have you!’” The school club takes and reviews all the letters written by students very seriously and gets them mailed to wherever they need to be.

Amnesty International enforces investigators all around the world to research and document any cases with violation of human rights. Rott details “They do super important work to support human rights around the world.” The investigators help bring the cases to light and really start making the change that will eventually get to all the amnesty members. Rott has stated that “Right now there are teams of investigators in… Ukraine. [They’re] in there documenting war crimes that happened…and keeping those documents so when the war ends maybe somebody will  be held accountable for the crimes committed.”Amnesty is also doing a lot of work in Africa by observing and taking action. 

Whatever money is donated is used to bring cases to light and make changes happen. The money is also used to create groups and clubs like the one at our school and according to Rott, the Sentinel club is the only Amnesty International group in our district.

 Amnesty International Write for Rights has done many things that have been super successful. A man from Guatemala named Bernardo Caal Xol was arrested for protecting the Cahabón River. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and only served 3 of those years. Bernardo was released in March of 2022 due to the overwhelming help and support for him by Amnesty International. Many letters were sent by people all around the world demanding Bernardo’s freedom and some of those letters were written by Sentinel high school students. “Every year that is true, but we put that in as an example and maybe the students down the road who wrote in last year would remember ‘oh my gosh I wrote that letter’ and it really does have an impact.”Rott comments. It’s absolutely amazing that students from Montana can really make a big impact on the world and save lives. 

Handling and hearing these horrible issues can take a toll on a person’s mental state. Sometimes it can feel hopeless if you do not see any value in the actions, especially if you can not visually see the change. When asked if this charity work becomes difficult or hard to deal with, Rott explains “…if you think about it deeply… just being a human puts you in that position all the time where we know that there are terrible things happening in the world. If we think about them too deeply we just couldn’t continue on but if we don’t think about them we are all kind of shallow jerks” If humans pretend not to care we lose our compassion and what really makes us humans. She continues,“That’s why I like this club because it keeps us aware that things are going on. It makes us feel a tiny bit of hope and a tiny bit of power. Hope and the tiny bit of power is really important in the face of the tragic things that happened in the world.” If anything, people need hope to continue for the most part when people are faced with hardship or tragedy. 

Mrs Rott explains how powerful our voices can be,“I think they’re like raindrops because a single raindrop doesn’t do much, but if you put together millions suddenly there’s a stream and so I feel like if there are zero raindrops there would be no stream. It takes each of us to create this movement that can make a difference for people”

 If you want to make a difference or would like to fight you can join Sentinel’s Write for Rights club. They meet every Wednesday and would love new members. Amnesty International has been fighting for many decades and continues to support people. With all the trouble in the world anyone can make a change and make the world a better place, be another raindrop in the stream.