The concept is simple: Take Action, Change a Life.
Urgent Actions ask our community of volunteers to flood the mailboxes, inboxes, phones and social media of authorities when someone is in imminent danger of human rights violations. Your letters, emails, phone calls, faxes and Tweets have helped to halt executions, support human rights defenders and free prisoners of conscience—people jailed solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and identity.
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Urgent Action emails specify the case, local and international government officials to contact, their contact information and suggestions about what to write, say or Tweet. Learn more about writing effective letters and emails.
Are you an educator looking for ways to engage your students in human rights? Find out how your students can show their power through letter writing!
In many cases, your action on these cases leads to better conditions for prisoners and their eventual release. Those individuals at the center of these Urgent Actions often send their thanks to Amnesty International, citing that these messages serve as a source of hope.
“The reason we could resist the ban and move forward was the international support and solidarity by Amnesty International activists around the world. We could not have gone further without your support” – ODTÜ/Student Organized Pride March in Turkey (UA 83.18)
“My case once again showed how important solidarity and attention are in protecting the freedom of speech and human rights. I admire your noble work and boundless courage, dear activists” – Bobomurod Abdullayev, POC from Uzbekistan (UA 232.17)
“I am very grateful for all the support I received while I was in prison. Life in prison was very difficult and I was treated badly, but the support of those who believed in me made me strong.” – Munther Amira, Palestinian Human Rights Defender (UA 26.18)
Iran’s persecuted Baha’i minority are suffering escalated attacks on their human rights. Since July 31, 2022, the authorities have raided dozens of Baha’i houses, detained at least 30 people, and subjected many more to interrogations, electronic ankle bracelets and threats of imprisonment in relation to their Baha’i faith. They have also ramped up confiscation and demolition of Baha’i properties.
On July 15, 2022, lawyers Lilya Gemedzhi, Rustem Kyamilev and Nazim Sheikhmambetov were disbarred in retaliation for their human rights work, defending Crimean Tatar activists against politically motivated charges in Russian-occupied Crimea. Unless this decision is reversed, they will not be able to represent clients in criminal proceedings and in court, nor take new qualification exams for a year. This sends a warning to other lawyers in Crimea, at the time when politically motivated reprisals against activists are on the rise.
On August 9, 2022, the Specialized Criminal Court in the Saudi capital, Riyadh sentenced, after a grossly unfair trial, Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi activist and academic from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a minority to 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban. She was accused, among other things, to “disturbing public order” for using Twitter and retweeting activists who support women's rights. According to court documents reviewed by Amnesty International, she was detained in solitary confinement for 285 days before she was brought to trial. She was also denied access to legal representation throughout her pre-trial detention, including during interrogations. The Saudi authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Salma al-Shehab and quash her conviction.
On August 9, 2022, the Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman rejected the bribery complaints against prisoner of conscience and former Senator Leila de Lima, citing inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies. This dismissal – which comes months after several witnesses retracted their allegations against Leila in relation to her drug-related charges – adds to growing proof of concerted efforts to persecute her and fabricate evidence against her. We call on the government to urgently and impartially review her remaining charges, with a view to dropping these and ensuring her immediate release.
James Coddington, aged 50, is scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma on August 25, 2022. He was sentenced to death for the murder of a 73-year-old friend in 1997. Following a clemency hearing on August 3, 2022, the state Pardon and Parole Board recommended that Governor Stitt grant James Coddington’s request to commute his death sentence. Twenty-four years old at the time of the crime, James Coddington is said to have long been remorseful for his actions and to have broken the cycle of drug dependence that was the context in which the murder occurred and with which he had struggled during and after a childhood of deprivation, abuse, and exposure to drugs from an early age.
Out of the 36 men who remain at the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 20 are cleared for release yet remain imprisoned today. The prison has been open for more than 20 years and over 700 Muslim men and boys have passed through its doors. Many were tortured, all of them detained arbitrarily, and none have faced a fair trial. One of these individuals is Toffiq al-Bihani, who was cleared for transfer out of the facility in 2010 but remains there today. The US government must transfer out Toffiq and the other cleared men and close the facility immediately.
On August 4, 2021, Ali Maziad, a Lebanese national residing in Saudi Arabia, was abducted from his house in the capital, Riyadh by a group of men in civilian clothes. The Lebanese Embassy informed his family three months after his disappearance that he is being detained by State Security. Since then, he has been forcibly disappeared and his family has no information about his fate and whereabouts. Amnesty International urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Ali Maziad, release him and ensure he has access to medical treatment and legal representation.
The health condition of Tawfiq al-Mansouri, one of the four Yemeni journalists detained since 2015 and sentenced to death in April 2020 before the Huthi-run Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a, Yemen, is severely deteriorating as he has been denied life-saving health care by the Huthi de facto authorities. Amnesty International calls on the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately grant him access to health care. Tawfiq al-Mansouri and the three other journalists- Akram al Walidi, Abdelkhaleq Amran, and Hareth Hamid - detained alongside him, must be released and their convictions and death sentences quashed without delay.
On July 15, 2022, a court in Krasnodar (southern Russia) sentenced Andrei Pivovarov to four years in prison for “carrying out activities of an undesirable organization”, under a law that contravenes Russia’s international human rights obligations. Andrei Pivovarov is a political activist, human rights defender and the former director of Open Russia, an organisation advocating for democracy and human rights. On May 31, 2021, he was taken off a flight in Saint Petersburg and arbitrarily detained since. Andrei Pivovarov has committed no internationally recognized crime and has been jailed for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. He is appealing his conviction.
On July 4, 2022, a Misdemeanours Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) convicted Egyptian researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy of spreading "false news" and sentenced him to three years imprisonment. His conviction is based solely on social media posts criticizing human rights violations in Egypt and the state’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Verdicts by ESSCs cannot be appealed. Ahmed Samir Santawy is a prisoner of conscience, who has been arbitrarily detained since February 2021, and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.