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)
On 28 January 2021, the Peshawar High Court denied Idris Khattak’s appeal to be tried in a civilian court and confirmed that the hearing will take place in a military court. There is very little information that has been shared with his lawyers or family as to where that case stands, with military courts in Pakistan notorious for shunnning transparency, due process and human rights. His whereabouts remain unknown; however, it has been recently disclosed that the espionage charges relate to a meeting between Idris and a diplomat in June 2009, well over a decade before his abduction.
Yang Hengjun was scheduled to stand trial in January 2021. However, the reasons of the delay have not made known to the public, and his trial has been delayed by three months. Detained for more than 24 months, Yang continues to deny all allegations of espionage and has endured countless hours of interrogations and extremely stressful conditions. With uncertainty around whether he will have regular access to consular representatives and his lawyer, there are concerns that Yang might be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
Prisoner of conscience Hamed Gharehoghlani is suffering from symptoms that precede dangerous epileptic seizures due to the authorities’ persistent refusal to provide him with specialized health care and medication. He appealed his sentence of 14 years and one month imprisonment to the Supreme Court on 24 January 2021. He must be released immediately and unconditionally.
On 19 January 2021, arbitrarily detained journalist Solafa Magdy told a judge that she has been subjected to physical violence and other abuse inside prison on several occasions. When her family saw her last on 27 January 2021, she appeared frail and unable to walk unassisted, raising further concerns about her health and wellbeing.
Saudi woman human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced to a prison term of five years and eight months on 28 December 2020 following a deeply unfair trial by the Specialized Criminal Court. She was convicted for defending women’s right to drive and calling for an end to the patriarchal male guardianship system. Loujain al-Hathloul, a prisoner of conscience, has appealed the sentence. Amnesty International urges Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her and ensure her conviction is quashed.
On 2 February, a court in Russia ruled to imprison prominent anti-corruption and opposition activist Aleksei Navalny for two years and eight months for “violation of probation terms”. Tens of thousands join regular protests in his support, and thousands have been arbitrarily detained and subjected to ill-treatment. Aleksei Navalny mush be freed immediately and unconditionally.
AILING PROFESSOR ARRESTED AFTER CANCELATION OF BAIL Professor Muhammad Ismail, 66 and an Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience, was arrested on 2 February 2021 after his pre-arrest bail was canceled at his bail confirmation hearing at an Anti-Terrorism Court in Peshawar. Charged with “terror financing” because of the organization his daughter, human rights defender Gulalai Ismail does, he is at risk of a lengthy prison sentence. Professor Ismail recently tested positive for COVID-19, which his family says has weakened his health significantly, exacerbating the risk to his wellbeing if he is sent to jail. Amnesty International calls for all charges against Professor Ismail to be dropped unconditionally and for his immediate release.
Steven Tendo is a 35-year-old pastor and asylum-seeker who fled from torture and other human rights violations in Uganda and requested asylum in the USA in 2018, where he has spent over two years in immigration detention. He was at risk of being deported back to Uganda, but global mobilization stopped his deportation on 7 September 2020. He has compromised health due to diabetes and inconsistent and inadequate medical care. He is now detained during a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. We demand authorities immediately release him on parole while he continues to fight for the right to seek asylum.
Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, a former legal advisor at the Prime Ministry who was dismissed following the 2016 coup attempt, has been missing since 29 December 2020. His family suspect him to have been abducted and subjected to enforced disappearance and all their efforts to locate him since have been in vain. The authorities have denied that he is in official custody. Turkish authorities must promptly investigate to determine the whereabouts of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit and urgently inform his family.
Chinese human rights defender Yang Maodong (better known by his pen name, Guo Feixiong) has been unreachable since the morning of 29 January. He began an indefinite hunger strike at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on the night of 28 January after the Chinese authorities prevented him from leaving the country to visit his critically ill wife in the US, saying that he was suspected of “endangering national security”. With no communication from him, there are grave concerns about his situation and well-being.