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Last year, letters sent by people around the world during Write for Rights helped to improve the lives of people and communities at risk.
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Below are highlights of the successes achieved through Amnesty International's Write for Rights.
Shi Tao - Released - China
Shi Tao was released on August 23, 2013 after his sentence was reduced by 15 months. His case was highlighted in the 2006 Write for Rights and Amnesty's Beijing Olympics campaign, during which there were at least 115,951 signatures collected on a petition calling for his release.
"I am sincerely grateful to your [Amnesty International's] sustained support and attention to my mother and me over these years. The support and encouragement of friends from around the world have helped my mother and me through the difficult and lonely times. I received your letters and postcards but haven't read them all. I will read them one by one. Thank you all."
Inés Fernández Ortega & Valentina Rosendo Cantú - Mexico
Inés and Valentina, indigenous Me'phaa women, were raped by Mexican soldiers in 2002. Instead of taking steps to carry out full and impartial investigations, the military tried to disprove the allegations. After thousands of letters were written on their behalf, the Mexican government finally took responsibility for the rape and abuse of Valentina through two Public Acts of Acknowledgement in 2012.
Mansour Ossanlu - Released - Iran
"In this struggle it is very valuable to get so much support from so many thousands of miles away. This campaigning has also disclosed the repression and made sure that the authorities know that they are being watched by the outside world."
A defender of workers' rights, Mansour Ossanlu was detained in 2007 while returning from a meeting with international trade union colleagues in Europe. He was released from prison in 2011, and is currently residing in the United States.
Birtukan Mideksa - Released - Ethiopia
The leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, Birtukan Mideksa was arrested for protesting the 2005 elections in Ethiopia. After her release, the authorities arrested her again in 2008, imposing a life sentence on her. Following international pressure from Amnesty International, the Ethiopian government released Birtukan in 2010.
Birtukan Mideksa has thanked Amnesty International members, saying: "Thank you for your hard work and your campaigns to secure my release from prison. Your letters, phone calls, and petitions were my protection during the months I spent in solitary confinement. You were my voice when I had none."
Aung San Suu Kyi - Released - Myanmar (Burma)
Activists rejoiced around the world on November 13, 2010, when Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released after years of house arrest.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's best-known prisoner of conscience, spent more than 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. The Nobel Peace laureate had been detained since 30 May 2003 after government-backed thugs attacked her motorcade in Depayin, killing an unknown number of people, and injuring scores. This was the third time she was held under house arrest, having previously been detained from 1989 to 1995, and from 2000 to 2002.
Watch Video: Message from Aung San Suu Kyi recorded after her release.
Femi Peters - Released - the Gambia
"I wanted a laptop for Christmas, but I got my father back - the biggest Christmas present ever. I want to thank Amnesty International from the bottom of my heart for helping, for putting the pressure on the government, for writing letters and demonstrating. I just feel like a kid again, I'm very very happy...It's good to have my dad back." --Femi Peters' son
Femi Peters was arrested after participating in a peaceful protest organized by Gambia's opposition party. His appeal was denied, and he experienced harsh prison conditions and deteriorating health while in detention. Femi was released from prison in December, 2010.
Musaad Abu Fagr - Released - Egypt
Novelist and human rights activist Musaad Suliman Hassan Hussein, usually known by his pen name Musaad Abu Fagr, was held in prison without trial for almost three years, despite obtaining several court orders for his release. Amnesty International considered Musaad Abu Fagr to be a prisoner of conscience, detained on account of his peaceful expression of his views.
He was released from Abu Zaabal Prison near Cairo on July 13, 2010.
Musaad Abu Fagr has thanked Amnesty International for its campaigning for his release, "Amnesty International's support is one of the reasons that I was released," he told the organization, "your messages gave me a sense of solidarity".
Yusak Pakage - Released - Indonesia
In Indonesia, many peaceful political activists in Papua and Maluku have been arrested, detained and sometimes sentenced to long-term imprisonment for attending or participating in peaceful flag-raising events that symbolize Papuan independence. Yusak Pakage had been serving a ten-year sentence for his role in such a peaceful demonstration in December 2004. After many Amnesty International members and activists wrote to Indonesian authorities, Yusak received a Presidential pardon in 2010.
Mohammed al-Odaini - Released - Guantánamo
Mohammed al-Odaini was held without charge by the U.S. government for over 8 years, since the age of 18. Al-Odaini was detained in March 2002 along with several other Yemeni nationals, and sent to the detention camp at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In June 2005 he was deemed suitable for release from Guantánamo. Yemeni authorities stated that they were prepared to take him back, yet he continued to be unjustly detained.
On July 13, 2010, Mohammed al-Odaini was released from Guantanamo and returned back to his home country of Yemen.
Hana Abdi - Released - Iran
Hana Abdi, a women's rights advocate, was released from prison in Iran on February 26, 2009. An Iranian Kurd, she was arrested in October 2007 for her work with Campaign for Equality, an organization that seeks equality for women in Iran. Her three-year prison sentence was happily cut short when authorities freed her in February 2009.
Ma Khin Khin Leh - Released - Burma
Ma Khin Khin Leh, a school teacher and young mother, was freed from prison Burma on February 21, 2009. She was arrested 10 years earlier for allegedly planning a demonstration to protest the deteriorating economic and human rights environment in Myanmar. For this "crime," she was sentenced to life in prison. Following her release in February, Ma Khin Khin Leh could finally return to her daughter, who was only three years old when her mother was first arrested.
Bu Dongwei - Released - China
Bu Dongwei was arrested in 2006 for possession of Falun Gong literature and assigned to "Reeducation through Labor". During his detention, his family knew little about his whereabouts or medical condition. Four months before the scheduled end of his imprisonment, he was released in 2008 after international campaigning shed a spotlight on his unjust imprisonment.
Watch an inspiring video of Bu Dongwei and after his release.
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