WRITE FOR RIGHTS
Friday, November 13, 2020
Every year, millions of individuals write letters, sign petitions and organise events. And it works! People are freed, justice is served, and the world becomes a better place. Every action counts, and these people need your help. Act now
Join the campaign and change a life today
When we all act together, we are more powerful. That is the driving force behind Write for Rights, Amnesty’s global campaign and the world’s biggest human rights event.
The people you are helping today want to make the word a better place. They are demanding justice, and human rights for all. Many have been imprisoned, disappeared and attacked.
Every year, millions of individuals write letters, sign petitions and organise events. And it works! People are freed, justice is served, and the world becomes a better place. Every action counts, and these people need your help. Act now.
Take action and protect their rights today:
- Pakistan: Where is Idris Khattak?
Talia is desperately searching for her father. A human rights researcher, he was disappeared in Pakistan in November 2019. Join others in asking: where is Idris Khattak?
Talia describes her father as selfless, loving and generous. The 55-year-old was often found in his backyard, tending to his garden and talking to his chickens. But he is also a dedicated human rights researcher, investigating enforced disappearances in Pakistan for organisations like Amnesty International.
In a cruel twist of fate, he too was disappeared in November 2019. A witness describes his car being intercepted, and a black sack being thrown over his face.
His daughter, Talia, decided to campaign for his whereabouts. Backed by Amnesty International, and supporters like you, public pressure worked. In June 2020, Pakistan authorities did something very rare - admitting that Idris was in their custody.
They still won’t reveal where – Talia still hasn’t seen her father, nor has a lawyer. The authorities say they are charging him under the Official Secrets Act. If convicted, he could face a lengthy prison term or even a death sentence.
“My father is not a casefile. He is a human being. We deserve answers and he deserves the protection of the law.” Talia Khattak
Activism works. You can help re-unite Talia with her father.
Call on Pakistan authorities to:
- Release Idris Khattak, unless there is sufficient and credible evidence that he has committed an internationally recognized offence, where he is remanded by a civilian court and is promptly granted a fair trial in line with international law and standards.
- Grant him access to a lawyer and his family.
- Saudi Arabia: Free Nassima al-Sada
Nassima is in prison for her work defending women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She goes months without seeing her children or lawyer. Sign the petition now to demand her freedom.
Nassima has dedicated her life to campaigning for human rights, including the rights of women and minorities in Saudi Arabia. She has bravely campaigned for an end to the male guardianship system and the driving ban on women. She risked her freedom to demand freedom and equality for everyone in the country.
In 2018, the Saudi authorities arrested Nassima for her human rights work. She was held in solitary confinement for a year and was often not allowed to see her children or her lawyer for months at a time. While Nassima and other prominent Saudi activists have been locked up for their work defending human rights, the authorities of Saudi Arabia have been trying to whitewash their violations with announcements reforms like the lifting of the driving ban in 2017.
Nassima keeps a plant inside her prison cell; it is a reminder of the gardening she loved to do when she was free. She has given her freedom so that others can enjoy theirs. Now she needs our help. With enough public pressure we can get Nassima released.
Take action and call on the King of Saudi Arabia to free Nassima now.
To King Salman of Saudi Arabia to:
Immediately and unconditionally release Nassima al-Sada and all women human rights defenders and activists detained for their peaceful human rights work; and
Drop charges against Nassima al-Sada and all WHRDs and women activists on trial for their human rights work.
- Algeria: Free Khaled Drareni
Khaled has been jailed simply for covering protests in Algeria. Write to the Algerian authorities to demand his freedom now.
Since 22 February 2019, mass demonstrations have taken place every Friday across Algeria calling for political reform. This movement, called the Hirak, succeeded in ousting president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and continued calling for “a complete change of the political system.”
The Hirak movement has created hope for positive change in Algeria but it took the courage and bravery of independent journalists like Khaled Drareni to make the stories of Hirak known to the outside world. Khaled played a critical role in analyzing, documenting, and livestreaming weekly mass protests on his widely followed social media.
Khaled was arrested on the 7th March while covering a protest. He was later released, then again arrested on 27 March and has been locked up ever since. His arrest and imprisonment signal an escalation in the crackdown on freedoms in Algeria and are a major blow to Algerians’ hopes for reform. Khaled Drareni should not be in prison for covering a protest. It is crucial for the future of human rights in Algeria that he is set free.
On 15th September Khaled was sentenced, on appeal, to two years in prison for “incitement to unarmed gathering” and “harming the integrity of national territory”. We must now call for Khaled’s release.
Sign the petition and demand the release of Khaled Drareni now.
We know that if enough people take action in support of Khaled that we have a chance to set him free, every action counts.
- Malta: Demand justice for the El Hiblu 3
In Malta, three youths risk life in prison for their roles in helping fellow asylum-seekers escape torture. Call for justice for The El Hiblu 3.
In March 2019, three African teenagers (aged 15, 16, 19) boarded a crowded rubber boat, fleeing Libya. Along with 108 people, they were rescued by a cargo ship, El Hiblu.
Ship captains have a legal duty to rescue those in danger at sea and take them to a safe destination. Libya is not a safe destination. The experiences refugees and migrants face there are well documented: arbitrary detention, torture, rape and exploitation.
The rescued people were promised they would be taken to safety in Europe, but as time passed, they realised they were being taken back to Libya. They began to panic, horrified at the prospect of returning to the torture they had escaped.
“People started crying and shouting: ‘We don’t want to go to Libya!’, ‘We prefer to die!’”
Knowing he spoke English, the chief officer of the ship asked the 15-year-old boy “What can I do to get them to calm down?” The boy replied: “Don’t take us back to Libya”.
The ship turned around and set off for Malta. The three youths helped the chief officer by interpreting his words to the rest of the rescued people, calming the panicked passengers.
But media and politicians spun the story, accusing the three boys of ‘hijacking’ the El Hiblu, and the Maltese army stormed the ship. The three youths were disembarked in Malta in handcuffs, despite the police testifying that the crew were in control, no one was hurt, and nothing was damaged.
The youths are seen by many as heroes. Regardless, they now face life changing charges.
Call on the Maltese Attorney General to:
Drop all charges against The El Hiblu 3 and close the case before trial
- Turkey: Demand Student Pride Defenders are acquitted
Students peacefully celebrating LGBTI+ PRIDE in Ankara, Turkey were met with police brutality and charges of “unlawful assembly”. They must be acquitted.
In 1996, students at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, formed a group to ensure that the university is a safe space for LGBTI+ people and to advocate for their rights.
Against the backdrop of increasing homophobia in Turkey, METU students have marched through their campus each year to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI+ people.
“We have to understand what Pride means to people. At Pride you get be yourself, your full self. That’s an important feeling and it has a healing power.” Özgür Gür
But in 2019, the university banned the Pride march on campus and called the police on the students. As they peacefully sat on the lawn, students were met with pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. Several were injured, many detained.
Recently, an administrative court has overturned the university’s unlawful ban. Yet 18 students and one academic are on trial for “unlawful assembly” and “failing to disperse despite being warned”. No one should be convicted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Sign your name and remind the Minister of Justice
That the 18 METU students and the academic on trial must be acquitted
To ensure a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force by the police on campus and police officers found to have acted unlawfully are brought to justice
- Myanmar: Release young poet from prison
Paing Phyo Min is serving six years in prison after performing satirical poetry criticizing the military in Myanmar. Expressing your ideas freely should not be a crime. Call for his immediate and unconditional release.
The Peacock Generation are a group of young people known for performing Thangyat, a popular Myanmar traditional art form which fuses poetry, comedy and music. It uses humour and satire to comment on social issues. Public performances of Thangyat were banned by the military between 1998 to 2013.
In 2019, 22-year-old Paing Phyo Min and other members of The Peacock Generation performed Thangyat in several areas in Myanmar. In these performances, which were also shared online, they criticised the authorities, including the military. For freely expressing his views through art, Paing Phyo Min is now serving a six year prison sentence in an overcrowded prison which is potentially at risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“I feel like Thangyat is a symbol of Myanmar democracy. We can express what we want and convey what the public want through this art form.” Paing Phyo Min
Public pressure is vital to reform repressive laws and release Paing Phyo Min and all individuals behind bars solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.
Urge the Myanmar authorities to:
Immediately and unconditionally release Paing Phyo Min and others imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
- Chile: Demand justice for Gustavo Gatica
Gustavo was blinded after he was shot by the police during a protest in Chile. Take action to demand justice now and guarantee that this won’t happen again.
In November 2019, amid widespread concern over rising costs of living and inequality, people across Chile came out in protest demanding “dignity”. The world watched as millions demonstrated their yearning for change in the country. But they were met with excessive force by the authorities, and police officers loaded their guns with metal and rubber ammunition.
On the 8th November, Gustavo Gatica, a 21-year-old student of psychology and an avid fan of music and photography joined the protests. Police fired into the crowds aiming at the upper body of protesters, and Gustavo was shot in both eyes. He was blinded permanently.
Even after enduring these injuries, Gustavo hopes that his blindness will help the world see what is happening in Chile; “I gave my eyes so people would wake up.”
On the 20th August the National Prosecutor formally charged an officer with the attacks and injuries suffered by Gustavo and opened an investigation against him. Thanks to the actions of the people supporting Gustavo, we are one step closer to justice. Now we need to push for those in command of the police officers to be held to account.
Take action now and demand justice for Gustavo Gatica and guarantee that this won’t happen again.
Call on the National Prosecutor, Jorge Abbott Charme, to investigate the criminal responsibilities of the commanders involved in human rights violations during the period of social unrest, particularly those suffered by Gustavo Gatica. Demand the government undertakes a comprehensive police reform to Carabineros to avoid this from happening again.
- Colombia: Protect environmental defender Jani Silva
Jani Silva is an environmental defender who, despite threats to her life, continues to fight for the conservation of the Amazon ecosystem and for the rights of hundreds of peasants (campesinos).
Jani Silva is helping you breathe. Yes, you. Despite attacks, she fights to protect the Amazon ecosystem. She knows its importance - the water, forests and wetlands there produce oxygen that allows the whole world to breathe.
“Let us not only think about our children, but also about the families of others; let us not only think about our own country, but also about other countries. Let's think about all those who need us.” Jani Silva
Colombia is the most dangerous place in the Americas to be an environmental defender. People like Jani, who defend the Colombia’s rich eco-system and those who live within it, are attacked, persecuted and killed every day. Jani faces threats from illegal groups, the military, drug traffickers and multinational companies.
Despite this, she is up at 5.30am each day, working with hundreds of campesinos in her community on a range of crucial projects from reforestation to youth empowerment.
Take a deep breath.
To keep breathing, we must protect our planet. To protect our planet, we must protect people like Jani Silva.
Call on the President of Colombia to:
Ensure that Jani Silva and the colleagues she work with, have access to a collective protection plan
- South Africa: Demand justice for Popi and Bongeka
On a Friday night in May 2017, two young women were brutally murdered, sparking outcry across South Africa. Their killers have still not been brought to justice. Take action to end the impunity now.
On the 12 May 2017, 24-year-old Popi Qwabe, and 28-year-old Bongeka Phungula, hailed a minibus taxi heading for a night out. The two talented young students were not heard from again. Following a frantic search at hospitals and police stations, the terrible truth was discovered. Popi and Bongeka had been shot dead and dumped by the side of a road. They may also have been raped.
Two men were arrested in connection with the murders but were released due to a lack of evidence. Forensic evidence reports have never been released and the families of Popi and Bongeka believe that the police investigation was full of mistakes because of corruption and lack of will.
It has been three years since Popi and Bongeka’s deaths, and despite national outcry when it happened, nobody has been brought to justice. According to the government of South Africa, a woman is killed every 3 hours and in cases where women are killed, the justice system too often fails them.
As calls to tackle gender-based violence in South Africa gain momentum, we must demand an end to impunity for gender-based violence. With enough support, we can get justice – for Popi, for Bongeka, and for their families.
Sign the petition and demand justice for the deaths of Popi and Bongeka.
Demand a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into the deaths of Popi and Bongeka in which all evidence is gathered in a constitutional manner and submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.
- Burundi: Free Germain Rukuki
Germain Rukuki has risked everything to campaign against torture in Burundi. Because of his human rights work, he is serving a 32-year prison sentence. Take action now and demand his release.
Emelyne recalls the moment when her husband was taken away. They were woken up in the early hours of the morning on 13 July 2017 by heavy footsteps and banging on their door. Dozens of security officers stormed into their home, while the rest blocked the streets outside.
Germain was arrested in connection to his previous work at a local organization called Action by Christians for Abolition of Torture (ACAT-Burundi), which had been shut down by the government. On 26 April 2018, he was found guilty of “rebellion”, “threatening State security”, “participation in an insurrectional movement” and "attack on the authority of the State" and sentenced to 32 years in prison.
He is currently in the massively overcrowded Ngozi Prison, which puts him at a high risk of catching Covid-19. He is forced to share a cell with 120 inmates, with only two showers and two toilets. Since 2015, many other human rights defenders, opposition leaders and journalists have fled Burundi and those that have remained have faced threats and reprisals. Germain has appealed the decision of the court; we must call for his release.
Sign the petition and demand Germain is released unconditionally now.
On 17 July 2019, an appeal court confirmed Germain’s conviction, but on 30 June 2020, the Supreme Court set aside the appeal court’s decision and ordered that the appeal should be heard again.
Write for Rights.