Why Appeal?

 
In the People's Republic of China as well as in many other states worldwide, the right to freedom of opinion only exists in theory.
 
 
 
A Vietnamese police officer after the destruction of a tent-church. Photos unwanted.
 
 
In numerous countries worldwide systematic torture is common. Shutting eyes only helps the torturers.

 

A Chinese State Security Officer in plain clothes - in Australia.

The experience shows: Human rights work does help!

It helps because unjust regimes and despots are not keen to be exposed as such in front of a worldwide audience- the reason for this not only being human vanity, but also economic interests.  Many states are willing to go to great lengths in order not to risk a damaged reputation. Once glossing over, denial and covering up fails to work, and considering public pressure remains strong enough, even most one-party dictatorships will be prepared to allow for small changes, even if only for appearances' sake. As minimal as some changes may appear to be on a global scale- for the people affected by them they often mean the end of torture, the regaining of their freedom or even the rescue of their life.

Keeping an eye on dictatorships pays off.

The Since its establishment in 1972, the ISHR has attended to several thousand non-violent conscience prisoners. Even though not all prisoners for whom the ISHR pleaded were released from prison ahead of time, the number of those who were is nonetheless very high. Others sentences were eased or they received better medical care. A large number of these "small" successes can lead to a noticeable improvement in a country in the mid and long-term. An example of this is the socialist Republic of Vietnam, where thousands of political prisoners were being abused and tortured in camps up until the beginning of the 80s. The Communist party still rules Vietnam, but not least due to international protests have the methods of reign given way to more subtle means. The number of people being abused has seen a considerable decline.

Each and every person counts.

As a result of appeals and direct letters to prisoners, these often receive less severe sentences, better medical care, and other privileges or at the best they are released from prison early and/ or are deported. According to those concerned by them, these actions do not have a negative effect on the parties involved.

One cannot imagine the effects torture has on its victims. If as a result of all the work only one life can be saved, if only for individual the abuse comes to an end, thus winning back his or her hope and dignity, if only one person regains their freedom- then all the work will have been worth it.


Human rights work is an "endurance sport"

Not always do appeals turn out to be a success- e.g. in the case of executions. In other cases it can take years before noticeable improvements can be seen. But the greater the international attention, the more the authorities of unjust regimes will contemplate whether the loss of image abroad is growing larger than the intimidating effect inside the country. Therefore human rights work can also have a positive effect on those who have not yet been arrested. Documents from the former East-German secret service also have shown that pursuing human rights issues is a worthwhile cause. They point out how defensive a totalitarian regime like the GDR felt after documents concerning the conditions in their prisons had been published. These documents further show how embarrassed the GDR leadership was once their scheme of repressing people wanting to leave the country became public knowledge. The peaceful revolution in the GDR is the best evidence that even action taken by simple citizens can lead to great achievements.  Join in!