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 Writing Marathon

Each year, Amnesty International organizes a writing marathon during the International Day for Human Rights. This year, UCR student Thanawat Thomas took part in the writing campaign, as he himself has experienced what it is like to have your freedom taken away. He shared his story with the PZC. While the original article (in Dutch) can be found here, you can read an English summary below. 

"Thanawat Thomas knows what it is like when the government of your country just takes away your freedom of expression. He has experienced this himself. So of course, he participated and volunteered at the MIddelburg edition of the Amnesty International Writing Marathon.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old student from Thailand wrote four letters to four heads of government. In the letters he pleads for the release of political prisoners and the protection of threatened activists. The writing marathon by Amnesty International was held in De Drvkkery and in the Zeeland Library.

“I am studying at UCR in Middelburg. Here in the Netherlands, I have the freedom to say, write and do what I want. You sometimes forget how important that is” says Thanawat Thomas

"In May, a commemoration and protests took place in Thailand due to the military coup in 2014. I supported the protests on Twitter, then my Twitter account was blocked by the intervention of the military government. I have rectified this via Twitter. It shows how fragile the military government is, how far it goes to preserve power "


Thomas studies politics and law at UCR and wants to go to London next year to study human rights. “My father works at the at the United Nations and because of that, I have lived abroad a lot. Even in countries where human rights are not self-evident. I feel a strong need to fight for equality”.

Amnesty International has standard letters that can be signed, but Thanawat prefers to write his letters himself. "I start politely, because I do not want a president or head of government to immediately throw the letter in the trash because of an insult. I write about my personal feelings towards human rights and I emphasize that a leader must make a strong commitment to this. This is followed by going into the situation of the human rights activist for whom I write. So yes, it is a polite letter, but without compromise on the content”.

One of his letters is about Pavitri Manjhi in India. She was threatened by two companies after she protested against the removal of land by those companies. "Companies ensure economic growth and people's incomes, but that should never be at the expense of the land ownership of individual people and human rights."

Returning to the country where he was born and has only lived for three years to fight for better human rights, yes, that would be 'interesting', says Thomas. "It is a great opportunity to live and work in the middle of that development. For the Human Rights Watch, the UN, or perhaps for Amnesty International”.

Writing Marathon

The Amnesty International writing marathon resulted in 935 letters and 4 cards in Middelburg this year, reports Frans Vijlbrief from Amnesty International's Working Group on Walcheren.