From 7-16 December hundreds of thousands of people will be writing letters, sending SMS messages and taking action online as part of an Amnesty International day of action to mark International Human Rights Day.
Among those who could benefit from the Write for Rights campaign this year are the residents of Bodo in Nigeria who made a living from fishing and farming for generations until their serene way of life was changed by two major oil spills from a Shell pipeline in 2008.
The land and water around Bodo has been polluted by thousands of barrels of oil, destroying people’s livelihoods and devastating the environment.
No proper clean up has taken place; four years on the land and water remain polluted and unproductive. The damage done to fisheries and farming led to food shortages and rising food prices in the area.
In December 2010, some 76 Coastei Street families, around 350 people, the majority Roma, who had been living in their street in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca for years, were forcibly evicted without adequate notice or consultation.
Forty families were re-housed in inadequate overcrowded housing units on the outskirts of the city, close to landfill and a former chemical waste dump.
Thirty-six of the families were not offered alternative housing, so were effectively made homeless. Some of them built improvised homes with no access to water, sanitation or electricity. The improvised constructions lack authorization and the families live in daily fear of a further eviction.
Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman is still fighting for justice and reparations after Egyptian soldiers viciously attacked her in December 2011, fracturing her skull.
She and a friend were part of a large protest near Tahrir Square when they saw a group of soldiers beating a young woman and removing her clothes.
They tried to rescue the woman but soldiers knocked Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman to the ground and an officer shot her friend in the knee.
Soldiers beat Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, continuing even after she lost consciousness. A video of the incident was posted on the internet by activists.
María Isabel Franco was 15 years old when she was raped and brutally killed in Guatemala. Since María’s death in December 2001, her mother Rosa has been fighting for justice, despite receiving death threats from unknown people on several occasions. She has also faced indifference from the authorities.
In 2007, the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman said that María’s case was handled poorly and that the authorities showed a lack of interest in investigating. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has recently admitted María’s case, increasing the pressure on the Guatemalan authorities to act.
Chiou Ho-shun has been on death row in Taiwan since 1989. He could be executed at any time.
He and 11 others were arrested in 1988 in connection with two murders. All 12 say they were held incommunicado for four months and tortured into confessing.
Chiou Ho-shun says he was blindfolded, tied up and forced to sit on ice, electrocuted and had pepper water poured into his mouth and nose.
Following an unfair trial, his 11 co-defendants received prison sentences. Chiou Ho-shun was sentenced to death.
After an unsuccessful appeal in 2011, Chiou Ho-shun asked the court: “I haven’t killed anyone. Why don’t judges have the courage to find me not guilty?”
Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, the executive chairperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) in Tehran and mother of two young children, began serving a six-year prison sentence in April 2012.
She was granted temporary medical leave on 31 July 2012 to obtain medical treatment, including for seizures and temporary loss of vision but could be returned to prison at any time.
The Iranian authorities forcibly closed the CHRD in 2008, and several of its members have been harassed, arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
In 2011, Narges Mohammadi was convicted of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and for “spreading propaganda against the system”.
She has been banned from travelling abroad since 2009.
For more details on these and another six cases go to the Write for Rights page