For Amnesty International’s upcoming 50th birthday, members of the Wollongong Group will be picnicking on Saturday, 28 May at Brighton Beach, Belmore Basin, Wollongong. The group warmly welcomes anyone interested in becoming a member to come along with their picnic lunch and join the taste of freedom.
Please contact Jane Cipants at janecipants[at]hotmail.com for more information
To celebrate 50 years of championing human rights around the globe, Amnesty International is calling everyone to the table for a Taste of Freedom. Amnesty International is inviting restaurants across the nation to join in on Saturday 28 May by hosting a candlelit Taste of Freedom evening.
Respected chef, restaurateur and ambassador, Christine Manfield, said, “My restaurant, Universal, will be showing its support by lighting the candles on 28 May. We’ll be joining our diners in raising a toast to freedom and taking a simple action to support Amnesty International’s cause.”
‘Taste of Freedom’ ambassador and patissier, Adriano Zumbo, said, “Amnesty International’s candle logo represents a beacon of hope to those denied justice all over the world – what better way to celebrate 50 years of defending human rights than over a candlelit dinner with friends and family.”
Claire Mallinson said, “On 28 May, by registering your restaurant, theming the evening with candlelight and raising a toast to freedom you’ll be part of a global celebration of human rights.”
For more information on how to get involved and register participation visit www.tasteoffreedom.com.au
By registering an event restaurants get promoted on the event website, receive a free supporter pack of materials to help promote the event and a suggested toast script.
ABOUT THE WOLLONGONG GROUP
The Wollongong Group was established in the early 1970s as one of the first action groups in NSW. For 40 years, through monthly meetings, letter writing, hosting events, erecting stalls, and standing vigils, the group has continuously campaigned to increase local awareness about human rights issues.
Shocked when she heard Anna Maria, a Sydney woman’s sister, had been imprisoned without charge or reason by the Argentinean authorities, Virginie Schmelitschek, of Amnesty International Australia’s Wollongong action group, began a tireless journey to take action.
Between 1955 and 1982, Argentina was suspended in political repression. Described as a “Nation in Deadlock”, the country was governed by military rule desperately fighting a war against urban guerrillas. During this time, a method of controlling Argentina’s highly literate and particularly large middle class was through random arrests and kidnappings, which paralysed the people with fear because they could not fathom the reasoning behind the “disappearances.” The civil war resulted in the “disappearances” of up to 30,000 persons.
On 11 November 1976 Ana Maria Mohaded was taken. Using the tenuous link to her boyfriend, a member of the anti-government Monteneros group, the Argentinean authorities arrested the 20-year old university student and threw her in a maximum security prison. During her imprisonment, she was isolated and denied visiting family and friends.
Upon learning of Ana Maria’s plight, Virginie and the Wollongong group dedicated themselves to a letter-writing campaign. They wrote more than one hundred letters to the Argentinean authorities and to Ana Maria, keeping her hopes and spirits alive.
“Each of my letters would be written three times; I would write in English, send it to her sister who translated it into Spanish, then I would copy that and send it off to Ana Maria,” said Virginie.
Virginie’s letters became a source of comfort and companionship for Ana Maria. “Above all the things you are telling me like the things about your kids, above all the daily things, the most important thing for me is the fact that I can write to you and you are writing to me,” wrote Ana Maria in a letter to Virginie. Ana Maria was finally released seven years after she had first been arrested.
Virginie and Ana Maria’s tale shows how the steadfast dedication of ordinary people can create extraordinary results. Helping secure Ana Maria’s freedom was part of the journey, but the real support was Virginie’s constant and unbreaking letters. Their story is a taste of freedom.
“No matter who you are or where in the world you live, there’s one thing on which we can all agree: nothing tastes as good as Freedom,” says Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia.
Winn, Peter, “Weavers of Revolution: The Yarur Workers and Chile’s Road to Socialism” (1987) The Americas; Vol 43, No.3, p.374
Taylor, Julie, “Agency, Trauma, and Representation in the Face of State Violence: Argentina” (1998), Speech delivered at the Latin American Studies Association
Daniels, Alfonso, “Argentina’s dirty war: the museum of horrors” Telegraph. Retrieved on 2011-04-05