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)
Mohamed Benhlima is an activist, former military official and whistle-blower who exposed the corruption of high-ranking Algerian military officials online. He sought asylum in Spain but the Spanish authorities refouled him to Algeria in March without due process or evaluation of his asylum claim. The Algerian authorities imprisoned him in El Harrash prison in Algiers before moving him to El-Blida military prison where he is awaiting completion of investigations and trial on several cases before the military and civil courts. He was sentenced to death in absentia, while still an asylum seeker in Spain, on charges of espionage and desertion.
Mohamed Imaam Mohamed Imran was 20 years old when he was detained, on May 9, 2019, under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Three years after his arrest, the now 23-year-old has still not been charged with an offence, and the state has yet to provide any evidence of him committing an internationally recognizable crime. Mohamed Imran must be immediately released, or promptly charged with recognizable offense, in accordance with international standards.
On March 27, 2022, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly approved a state of emergency in response to reports of a spike in gang-related homicides. Since that time, more than 25,000 people have reportedly been arrested, and the human rights of the population are gravely under threat. Amnesty International calls on President Nayib Bukele to take all necessary measures to put an immediate end to human rights violations occurring in the context of the state of emergency, and to design public security strategies that guarantee fundamental rights.
Human rights lawyer and China’s labour rights advocate Chow Hang-tung was charged for “inciting subversion” under the new National Security Law on September 9, 2021 and faces potential 10 years’ imprisonment. At the time of being charged, she was the vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance), the organizer of the annual Hong Kong vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown since 1990. Chow Hang-tung was exercising her fundamental human right of freedom of expression through peaceful means, and charges against her must be dropped and they must be released immediately.
On April 25, 2022, civil society leader Osman Kavala who has been imprisoned on pretrial detention since November 2017, was convicted for “attempting to overthrow the government” and sentenced to aggravated life in prison; his seven co-defendants each received a sentence of 18 years, allegedly for aiding Osman Kavala and were immediately remanded in prison. Amnesty International calls on the Chief Prosecutor for the Istanbul Regional Appeals Court to support and not to oppose any application or request of Osman Kavala, Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, and Hakan Altınay all currently in prison while they appeal their unjust convictions.
Huang Qi, founder and director of Sichuan-based human rights website “64 Tianwang”, has had no access to his family since 2020, and his health has significantly deteriorated and is at risk of worsening further. It has been reported that Huang has not been able to access proper medical care recently especially during the period when the pandemic has intensified in China. He has also been unable to access the account where his friends and family deposited money for him to purchase additional supplies. Detained since 2016, Huang was able to see his mother only once on September 17, 2020 through a video call. The authorities must ensure that Huang has access to immediate and proper medical care and allow him to speak with his family and lawyers of his choice.
Clarence Dixon, a 66-year-old Native American man, is scheduled to be put to death in Arizona on May 11, 2022 for a murder committed in January 1978. He has a long history of serious mental disability, including paranoid schizophrenia, predating the 1978 crime, and impacting his 2007/8 trial. A recent psychiatric evaluation concludes that he does not have a rational understanding of the reason for or reality of his punishment, which would render his execution unconstitutional and in violation of international law. Amnesty International is urging the Governor to stop this execution and to commute Clarence Dixon’s death sentence.
On March 15, 17, 18, and 21, 2022, five prison guards entered the cell of Sahrawi activist Mohamed Lamine Haddi, beat him with batons and cut his beard against his will. This came after he declared his intention to go on hunger strike to protest his prison conditions and denial of medical attention. Visits by his lawyer and family have been banned since March 2020. He has been held in solitary confinement since 2017, when he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in the unfair “Gdeim Izik” mass trial.
A recently published bill seeks to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks, or when a doctor determines that the fetus is viable, with the only exception being if the pregnant person’s life is in danger. According to international law, any restrictions on access to abortion must be human rights compliant. We call for urgent objective public hearings and meaningful human rights scrutiny of this bill.
Algerian journalist, Merzoug Touati, sentenced to one year in prison and a fine for Facebook posts denouncing deplorable prison conditions of another detained activist, started a hunger strike on March 29, 2022, to protest his detention conditions and demand a transfer to a prison close to his official residence in Bejaia, Algeria. As the prison administration disregarded his hunger strike, Merzoug Touati did not receive any medical care until suffering sharp kidney pain which required his transfer to a hospital. His health has significantly deteriorated according to reports from his family. He must be released immediately and unconditionally.