The Moose Jaw chapter of Amnesty International hosted its two-day Write for Rights event at Java Express Sunday and Monday.
“We’ve asked people to come and sign petitions that will go to the heads of state in various countries in order to protect the people whose lives are at risk right now,” said Janet Kilgannon, a spokeswoman for Amnesty in Moose Jaw.
“We find that, very often, when our letters start arriving in these countries, the conditions for these people ... are alleviated,” she added. “We know that the work we do is successful in very many cases, and we continue to do it for that reason.”
The Write for Rights Campaign is an annual, global endeavour by Amnesty International in which individual groups host events that urge members of their communities to sign petitions in support of various human rights causes around the world.
Though there are petition letters for nine different causes this year, the Moose Jaw chapter is focusing specifically on the persecution of Columbian indigenous peoples as the result of natural resource extraction operations by corporations — including Canadian corporations.
“What has happened is a number of Canadian resource extraction companies — mining and logging companies — are very active in Columbia, and they’re forcefully removing 34 different tribes of indigenous people from the lands in order to take them over and mine resources,” said Kilgannon.
“As a result, these people are dying. They’re dying in the transfer, dying in their new places, or dying before they are relocated,” she said.
“Our campaign is to ask Canadians to become involved in preventing these abuses,” added Kilgannon, “and allowing (these peoples’s) voices to be heard.”