Published on: Thursday, December 1, 2016 Takoma Park Newsletter

Make it write

By Rick Henry

In a hyper plugged-in world, can there still be value in a hand-written letter?

“Yes and the impact can be so great,” said Randy Marks of the Amnesty International Group 297 based in Takoma Park/Silver Spring. On Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at Capital City Cheesecake, he and other members of the chapter will demonstrate that impact by participating in “Write for Rights,” an annual event sponsored by Amnesty International.

Every year to mark Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, hundreds of thousands of people around the world write letters and sign online petitions on behalf of 12 prisoners of conscience and victims of human rights abuse. Letters generated at each local event are combined together and sent to government officials to help convince them to free the chosen 12.

To learn more about “Write for Rights” and the 12 cases, visit http:// To participate in the event, visit Capital City Cheesecake on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

According to Marks, letter writing has always been a core of Amnesty International’s work, and its power is undiminished. “Now everything is online, which is easier and more efficient, but actually delivering handwritten letters sends a powerful message,” he said.

“The idea is that the volume of cards and letters sent will show the jailers that the world is watching and let the prisoners of conscience know that the world cares what happens to them,” said Connie Johnson, a Group 297 member, who has been involved with Amnesty International for more than 15 years.

By holding the event in a public space, Group 297 hopes to increase participation in the event and visibility for Amnesty International. “We like to hold the event in public, so people see us and learn that there is an organization in their community working on human rights,” Marks said.

The group has held the events at various venues in Takoma Park and Silver Spring over the years, but for the last few years has staged it at Capital City Cheesecake. “Meaghan (Murphy, co-owner of the cafe and bakery) has always been very generous about letting us hold the event,” Marks said.

Both Marks and Johnson say they participate in the event and in Amnesty International because they have a calling for human rights. They hope the Write for Rights event will inspire others to join the cause. “Writing letters and signing cards is something that anyone can do,” Johnson said. “Amnesty International provides all the information needed. We will have materials on hand for anyone who wants to join the effort.”

This article appeared in the December 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.