Published in Education: journal of the N.S.W. Public School Teachers Federation, Vol. 62, No. 4, 2 March 1981, p. 74.
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon all member countries to publicise the text of the declaration widely. Today, 32 years later, there are countries where trade unions are banned outright. In others they exist but cannot decide their own policies. Hundreds of trade unionists are known to be in prison because they have claimed their rights; many of them have never been charged; some have been tortured, some exiled, some murdered. Despite efforts at the United Nations and in the field of international law, the world is still without official machinery to prevent violations of human rights or to protect the victims.
As an attempt to remedy this situation, Amnesty International was founded nearly 20 years ago. Amnesty International in its work for prisoners of conscience seeks observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly Article 5 (dealing with torture), Article 9 (arbitrary arrest, exile), Article 18 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Article 19 (right to freedom of opinion and expression). Amnesty International has more than 200,000 members in 111 countries; there are a number of Australian groups, including a branch of NSW trade unionists which concentrates its work on the release of politically imprisoned trade unionists and workers throughout the world. Through its London-based research organization, Amnesty International collects and distributes names and relevant information on prisoners of conscience, and the individual groups conduct a paper war, campaigning for the release of their “adopted” prisoners by letter-writing to the authorities in the regimes concerned.
YOU CAN HELP THE PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE. AS AN INDIVIDUAL, YOU CAN DO SOMETHNG. WRITE LETTERS. JOIN AN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL GROUP.
For further information contact: Michael Easson Secretary of NSW Trade Unionists Group of Amnesty International Labor Council of NSW, 10th Floor, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000… OR Harris Van Beek, Amnesty International, NSW Branch, Pilgrim House, 5th Floor, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000…
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE: WINNIE MANDELA
Banning, house arrest, internal exile Minnie Mandela, South Africa, wife of the imprisoned nationalist leader, Nelson Mandela, has been banished to Brandfort, a small town more than 350 kilometres from her home in Soweto, as a result of an amendment to her present five-year banning order, imposed at the end of 1976.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1, Write courteously worded letters to: Hon. Alwyn Schlebusch, Minister of Justice and of the Interior Union Buildings Pretoria, South Africa
2. Join Amnesty International: NSW (Amnesty International) Office: 5th Floor, Pilgrim House 264 Pitt Street, Sydney.
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE: GUATEMALA
The disappeared Demonstrators in Guatemala marching in memory of a number of the 25,000 people who have “disappeared” in that country since 1966. More than 1,000 of them “disappeared” in the first six months of 1980.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Write courteously worded letters to: Exmo. General Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia, President de la Republics de Guatemala, Palacio Nacional Guatemala, Guatemala.
2. Join Amnesty International: NSW (Amnesty International) Office: 5th Floor, Pilgrim House 264 Pitt Street, Sydney…
PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE: GHEORGHE BRASOVEANU
False Criminal Charges Gheorghe Brasoveanu, a Romanian economist, imprisoned following the founding, by a group of intellectuals and workers, of the unofficial Free Trade Union of Romanian Workers (SLOMR) in February 1979. The founders issued a declaration calling for the protection of workers’ rights. Many of the signatories were subsequently arrested, charged with being members of a “parasitical group” and sentenced to up to six months’ imprisonment, Gheorghe Brasoveanu was arrested and said to have been confined soon afterwards to the psychiatric section of Jilava Prison Hospital. It was the fifth time in eight years that he had been subjected to psychiatric confinement for criticising official policies. Later it was learned that he had been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Write courteously worded letters to: Ministrului al Justitiei Ion Ceterchi Bd. Gheorghe Gheorghiu—DeJ 33 7000 Bucuresti, Romania
2. Join Amnesty International: NSW (Amnesty International) Office: 5th Floor, Pilgrim House, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney…