Sixteen-year-old Intisar Bakri Abdulgader will bear the punishment of 100 lashes for breaking a Sudanese law rooted in Islam. The crime: sexual intercourse without being married.
Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly faces a 15-year sentence for practicing Roman Catholicism and holding mass in his native Vietnam. Because of his strongly entrenched spiritual convictions, he's already faced two arrests and 10 years in prison.
These are only two of 10 cases Pittsburgh's annual Amnesty International Human Rights Write-A-Thon will focus on this year. For its 17th year, Amnesty will converge on Calvary Episcopal Church to write letters to presidents, ambassadors, jailers, and generals across the world to plead for fair treatment of individuals like Ly and Intisar -- Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and others persecuted in the name of religion.
Amnesty will also hold a candle-lighting service for victims, from Episcopalians to humanists, Unitarians to Buddhists. As the room starts out dead black, the representatives will take turns reading a short speech and lighting one of 10 candles, each illuminating the room more, epitomizing the Amnesty slogan of bringing light to where there was none before.
The bar of 1,000 letters, which was nearly reached last year, has again been set. Says spokesperson Dorothy Miller: "These letters work. They save lives, they save people from torture -- of course the more letters the better."