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Amnesty International UK & The Co-operative Bank - ‘changing the world together’

When we co-operate, amazing things can happen. Now more than ever, we need to work together to fight for a world where everyone’s rights and freedoms are respected.

Our customers have told us that supporting human rights matters to them. That’s why it’s one of the original and longest-standing commitments in our Ethical Policy, and why we’re proud to have partnered with Amnesty International UK for over 25 years.

Together, and alongside our customers, we stand in solidarity with human rights defenders whose rights have been abused and who urgently need your support.

Taking a stand for Write for Rights

Last year, we took part in Write for Rights, Amnesty International’s annual letter-writing campaign. Thanks to our customers and colleagues, The Co-operative Bank contributed 8,500 letters in support of migrant women, young climate change activists, and trans people fighting for equality.

We’re proud to be supporting Write for Rights again this year. While coronavirus can make life feel like it’s on hold right now, the fight for human rights never stops. It’s important not to give into fear or to lose hope. The global pandemic has shown us just how important solidarity is – we can be powerful when we support each other and pull together in a time of crisis.

It only takes a few minutes to write a letter or sign a petition for an individual facing injustice, but your action can have a real impact and even change their lives.

Germain Rukuki: Human rights defender jailed for 32 years

Early in the morning on 13 July 2017, Germain and his wife Emelyne, both NGO workers, were woken by security forces and interrogated. They arrested Germain for peaceful activism in Burundi, and transferred him to Ngozi Prison where he has been ever since. He was later found guilty on sham changes including ‘rebellion’ and ‘threatening state security’. Just weeks after his arrest, Emelyne gave birth to their third son, who Germain has never met.

Find out more about Germain’s case and take action to support him.

METU Pride Defenders: Prosecuted for celebrating LGBTI rights

The Ankara Middle East Technical University (METU)’s LGBTI+ Solidarity Group has organised an annual Pride march on campus since 2011. In 2019, the university’s management told students it could not go ahead, so the Solidarity Group staged a Pride sit-in. The university called the police, who used excessive force, including tear gas, against the peaceful protesters. Eighteen students – including Biology students Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür – and one academic face trial on 10 December 2020.

Ahead of their trial, find out how you can show solidarity and appeal on behalf of Melike and Özgür.

Making the difference with our customers and Everyday Rewards

We pioneer banking that makes a positive difference. Through our Everyday Rewards scheme, our customers can donate to one of five chosen charities. Over the last year, Co-operative Bank customers donated over £90,000 to Amnesty International UK, enabling them to continue their incredible campaigning work, and launch two innovative pilot projects.

We’re incredibly grateful for the generosity and passion shown by our customers to support those in need. Together, we have made – and will continue to make – a real difference.

Establishing The Co-operative Bank’s Colleague Amnesty Group

We are the bank for people with purpose. That includes our colleagues, who share our customers’ passion for values, ethics and human rights. This groundswell of grassroots support led to the formation of The Bank’s very own Colleague Amnesty Group in September 2019.

The group now has over 30 members and continues to go from strength-to-strength, proudly fighting for the causes that matter to all of us.

Empowering young human rights defenders through Rise Up

We know that young people have the power to change the world, but many still face barriers to campaigning. So, in September 2019, Amnesty International UK launched Rise Up – an innovative training programme equipping the next generation of human rights defenders with the skills to campaign on the issues that matters to them.

We were incredibly proud to support Rise Up, and help develop the young change-makers of the future.

A heartfelt thank you

We know that promoting human rights and equality and supporting the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights matters to our customers. And it’s only with your support that we’ve been able to support Amnesty International UK’s incredible work for over 25 years. Thank you.

“On behalf of the Amnesty movement, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to The Co-operative Bank – to each and every one of you – for standing alongside us and supporting us for more than two decades… Together, we have shown that even in the bleakest of times, when the very concept of humanity seems distant, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Thank you so much for making our human rights work possible.” – Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK.