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Amnesty event spreads message of liberty

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Karen Abplanalp

WRITING WRONGS: Grey Lynn writer and photographer Karen Abplanalp will be speaking on the power of the written word at Amnesty International’s Write for Rights event on Monday night.

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Karen Abplanalp was able to make a difference through the written word and now she will encourage others to do the same.

The Grey Lynn writer and photographer will be part of a three-person panel at an Amnesty International event next week aiming to encourage people to speak out on behalf of those whose life and liberty are in danger.

Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign will shine a light on key cases of human rights abuse and remind people that the written word is a powerful tool.

Ms Abplanalp was able to help bring about change when a story she wrote on human rights abuses at a West Papua mine contributed to a New Zealand super fund withdrawing its investments from the mine.

Many people have campaigned for West Papua and Ms Abplanalp was not a lone voice on the issues, but says every effort can help.

"Amnesty approached me to speak at the campaign because of a story I had written about super fund investments in a West Papua mine, and because the story was about human rights it was a good fit," she says.

"It showed how writing can achieve results.

"Part of the problem with West Papua is that it is like a dirty little secret, it has a media blackout and it's sealed off so the public don't know about it but it's in our backyard.

"So it was the old fashioned idea of letting the light in on something and that's the idea of this writing campaign."

She says anyone who sees something they don't like and wants to make an effort against an injustice has the power to do so.

"The written word is a really good way, anybody can go ahead and write.

"The idea that ordinary people can unite and take action to make a difference in the lives of victims of human rights abuses is a very powerful one."

Ms Abplanalp will be joined on the panel by author and graphic designer Sarah Laing and freelance media professional Kadambari Gladding.

The evening will focus on six cases, including Russian punk band Pussy Riot, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, a man who's been languishing in Guantanamo Bay for nine years without trial and an Egyptian woman who was beaten simply for helping someone.

■ What: Amnesty International's Write for Rights event.

■ When: Monday, December 10, 6pm till 9pm.

■ Where: Alphabet City, 71 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden.

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- Central Leader

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