Thank You For Participating in the 2012 Letter Writing Marathon!

final reportAmnesty International has issued its report on the results of the 2012 Letter Writing Marathon, and the Central America CoGroup would like to thank everyone who helped make it a success! 500,000 people across 77 countries took almost 2 million actions on 12 cases. Three of the cases featured groups and individuals in Guatemala and Honduras.

Back in January, I wrote a blog entry asking you to write letters to Guatemalan authorities urging them to protect Rosa Franco, a mother who has faced numerous death threats during her 11-year struggle for justice in the murder of her daughter, Maria Isabel. In response to all of the letters she received from activists around the world, Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti made a public commitment to support the investigation of this case. She also pledged to take further action on the broader issue of the widespread violence against women in her nation.

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Welcome Back Laura Ling and Euna Lee!

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two US journalists who had been held by North Korean officials since March on charges that they had entered the country illegally to document human rights conditions, were released by the North Korean government subsequent to a visit by former President Bill Clinton and released. The world witnessed an emotional and long-awaited reunion early this morning on the runway of Burbank airport in Los Angeles as the two journalists returned home to their families. After being in prison for 140 days, Laura Ling embraced her husband Iain Clayton tightly as Euna Lee reunited in tears with her husband Michael Saldage and her 4-year-old daughter, Hanna. For a video of the reunion, click here.

As our several previous posts have explained, Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested while filming footage on North Korean refugees for California-based TV media venture Current TV. They were later found guilty of illegally entering the country and sentenced to a 12-year sentence of hard labor, consisting of 10 years for “hostile acts” as well as an additional 2 years for illegal entry.

It is clear that the North Korean government requested the visit from former President Clinton, though the details of their agreements have yet to be revealed. According to BBC news, former President Clinton plans to brief President Obama’s National Security team on the visit. President Obama allegedly praised Clinton for his “extraordinary humanitarian effort” in the case of these journalists. After the reunion with their families on the runway, the two journalists spoke briefly to the press about their experience. Laura Ling tenderly shared, “The past 140 days have been the most difficult and heart-wrenching times of our lives.” They also expressed ‘surprise’ at the release. For a video of this, click here. Thanks to everyone who took action on their behalf!