Answer the call to defend people under immediate threat of grave human rights abuse.
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)
An inmate at Camp Jail, with a prison population of 3,500 people, in the provincial capital Lahore tested positive for coronavirus before being transferred to a medical facility. However, even as provincial high courts issued directives to release vulnerable, under-trial and elderly prisoners, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended all bail orders. Prisons in Pakistan face massive overcrowding (jails in Pakistan have a capacity of 57,742 but currently house 77,275 inmates), with limited hygiene supplies and insufficient access to healthcare. Forcing inmates to practice social distancing would be impossible, given the overcrowding, drastically increasing the potential for the virus to spread. Pakistani authorities must protect the health of all prisoners and should urgently consider measures to reduce the prison population. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centers could become hotspots for the transmission of coronavirus.
On 24 March 2020, leader of the opposition Algerian political party, Union Démocratique et Sociale (UDS), Karim Tabbou was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (around 405 USD) for trumped up charges of “incitement to violence” and “harming national security” in relation to a speech he gave, in a video published on the political party’s Facebook page, where he peacefully criticized the role of the army in politics. Tabbou has been held in prolonged solitary confinement since his arrest in September 2019.
On 8 March 2020, 81-year-old Palestinian national Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari and his son Dr. Hani al-Khudari (48 years old) were brought before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), Saudi Arabia’s counter-terror court, in a mass trial on trumped-up charges under the counter-terror law. They have no legal representation. Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari requires adequate medical attention and treatment for cancer.
Alain Lobognon, a member of parliament of Cote d’Ivoire and founding member of the political party Generations and People in Solidarity (GPS), is being detained in Agboville Prison, in south-eastern Cote d’Ivoire. He was arrested in the capital, Abidjan, on 24 December 2019, and charged with ‘publishing false news, undermining public order and the authority of the state’. He is in need of medical attention.
Nikolai Makhalichev was detained on 21 February in Haradok, northeast Belarus, and is now at imminent risk of extradition to Russia. As a Jehovah’s Witness, he is facing unfounded charges of “extremism” in Russia, and years in prison if convicted. He will also be at risk of torture and unfair trial. Nikolai Makhalichev should be immediately released and granted international protection.
Azerbaijani human rights defender Elchin Mammad was arrested on 30 March and has been detained since under trumped up charges, after publishing a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Elchin Mammad should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Domoina Ranabosoa has been held in inhumane conditions in pre-trial detention in Antanimora prison, Madagascar, since 10 March. She is charged with ‘corruption of minors under the age of 21’, accused of having a same-sex relationship with her girlfriend, a 19-year old woman. Since her incarceration, Domoina Ranabosoa’s physical and mental health have deteriorated. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is not allowed to receive visits from her lawyer or visitors, and her trial date has been postponed to an undetermined date.
A new case filed under the draconian Digital Security Act against Bangladeshi newspaper editor Shafiqul Islam Kajol, three hours after CCTV footage shows his last known whereabouts raises further fears of an enforced disappearance. Bangladesh authorities must launch an urgent investigation to determine his fate and whereabouts, release him if he is in their custody and drop all cases against him.
Vladislav Sharkovsky and Emil Ostrovko were imprisoned in 2018, both at the age of 17, for a minor, non-violent drug offense. Like many young people in Belarus, they should not be in prison in the first place. Their health is poor, and with the spread of COVID-19, they and many prisoners face a growing risk.
On 26 March, journalist Mamane Kaka Touda was released after being detained for three weeks in Niamey Prison, Niger, for publishing a post on social media regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 infection in Niamey Reference Hospital. He was given a three-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay one franc as symbolic compensation. His lawyer has appealed the sentence.