LETTER: Watertown Chapter of Amnesty International is Disbanding

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After 28 years of advocacy, the local Watertown / Belmont Group of Amnesty International is disbanding. The group, AI Group #365, held its Chartering Ceremony on April 26, 1988 with a small but dedicated core group that grew over the early years.

Their first prisoner of conscience case was Naser al-‘Ali, a 28 year-old engineering student at Damascus University, who was jailed for being a member of the Party for Communist Action, a group that was prohibited in Syria. He was released in 1995, after 13 years of imprisonment and 7 years of the local group’s steadfast efforts on his behalf.

AI #365 has had a long run with consistent leadership and a growing newsletter mailing list of concerned citizens who regularly send out action letters on behalf of men and women around the world who follow their conscience in the face of adversity. There is a never-ending need for advocacy for the sometimes voiceless but brave individuals who sacrifice their lives standing up for human rights.

After many rewarding years, the group has made the difficult decision to discontinue their efforts as a group. Though the mailing list has grown so that they can expand their influence through letters to officials around the world, the core group of individuals who meet to discuss cases, plan strategies, and organize events has contracted over the past several years. The disbanding does not mean the members will not stay involved with Amnesty International.

Increasingly, people worldwide are taking action on-line through Amnesty’s websites: www.amnestyusa.org and www.amnesty.org Amnesty International continues to be a strong global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights. The group’s hope is that this will always remain true.

As English labor lawyer Peter Benenson, who founded Amnesty International in 1961, said in his reaction to the imprisonment of two Portuguese students for allegedly “having drunk a toast to liberty”:

Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government … The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done.

The Watertown / Belmont group is proud to have been a part of this remarkable movement to act in the face of human rights abuses. Their hope is that all members will continue the fight beyond the group by making a commitment to taking ‘x-number’ of actions per day, week, or month on-line. It is a small commitment compared to the great sacrifices being made by human rights defenders in every country around the world – it requires but a few clicks of the mouse.

The charge is to Click On!! Continue the fight!

The group plans to hold a final meeting to honor the work that they have done and the work that is still to come! For more information on this meeting email info@amnesty365.org


Fran Yuan & Susan Kuder

One thought on “LETTER: Watertown Chapter of Amnesty International is Disbanding

  1. What an enormous privilege it has been to have a local Amnesty International group making participation so easy by choosing political prisoners to sponsor and sending us all the information needed to write letters to the oppressive governments that hold them. We appreciate all the work and sometimes artistry (those wonderful groups of old stamps) of the organizing group in sending us the forms to send in and creating events and publicity. I vow to continue by going to the AI website and getting letters out each month. It is the least we can do for an irreplaceable group. If any of you have energies to spare, write to info@SustainableWatertown.org –we are doing local organizing and are still in the building phase as organizations go. We can only hope for a run like local group #365 of Amnesty International. Thank you.

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