Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I first became involved in letter writing with Amnesty International in my teen years when I heard the story of a young man, unjustly imprisoned, tortured in horrible conditions in India. He was there doing volunteer development work; he was thrown into jail without trial for being a terrorist.
He had immigrated to Canada previously, to Edmonton; his story made the news. It was, in 1988, for me, my awakening to social justice. I joined Amnesty and a letter requesting his release was my first social justice act.
I've since had the pleasure to meet Amarjeet Sohi. He was released. He returned to Canada. He became a city councillor, working to make his city a better place.
He is now an MP in our Federal Government, a Cabinet Minister. He is The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
We had sushi together last summer: me and the person who was, unbeknownst to him, the catalyst of my social justice work and my political awareness. We talked about this and both teared up. I haven't seen him since; I can only imagine how such a massive change of circumstances in a few decades must feel. We thanked each other mutually that day, for what each had done for the other.
I continue to support Amnesty International because there are countless people in prison internationally, held against international law, held without evidence, killed, focus of discrimination. Not everyone will be released. Not everyone will become a major political force. I certainly will not, 27 years after writing a letter, meet each person for whom I have written my support. I don't support Amnesty International for me or the potential of sushi with a lovely man!
Everyone deserves basic human rights. THAT is why I support the work Amnesty International does.