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 May Hungary’s President signed a new law adopted by parliament on 19 May and whose Article 33 bans legal gender recognition for transgender and intersex people in violation of their human rights. Hungary’s Commissioner for Fundamental Rights must now urgently stop this law by requesting a review by the Constitutional Court. If the Commissioner fails to act quickly, the ban will be a flagrant attack on transgender and intersex people’s rights and will legitimize an increase of attacks and hate crimes against them.
Walter Barton was executed on 19 May 2020. He was on death row in Missouri, USA since 2006 for the 1991 murder of a woman and always maintained his innocence. He faced five trials before being convicted and sentenced to death. Expert opinion and evidence, never heard by a trial jury, counter key elements of the prosecution’s theory which led to Barton’s conviction. The 19 May execution was the first in the USA since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. We will continue to urge authorities to end the use of the death penalty and stop any future executions.
Since April, Maltese authorities have transferred asylum-seekers rescued in the central Mediterranean to private vessels used for coastal tourism and, under the pretext of COVID-19, have been holding them for days on those ferry boats off Malta’s territorial waters. The situation on board is becoming unbearable as the boats are not suited for long stays. Maltese authorities should end their arbitrary detention and immediately disembark them in Malta, ensuring they can apply for asylum and access adequate reception.
On 23 May 2020, Ebrahim Ahmed Radi al-Moqdad was released from Jaw prison. His co-defendant in the case, Jehad Sadeq Aziz Salman, was released earlier on 18 March 2020. The two were aged 15 and 16 respectively at the time of their arrest on 23 July 2012. They were later convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment following an unfair trial.
On 22 May 2020, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra extended strict measures to tackle COVID-19, including lockdowns and curfews until 30 June. Impacted by these measures, many vulnerable people, such as Venezuelan refugees, were left unprotected, are not able to pay their rent and are being evicted from their homes. A lack of protection of people’s right to housing in the government’s COVID-19 response puts Peruvians and Venezuelans at heightened risk of violations of their rights to housing and health. We call for urgent protection measures for refugees and people living in poverty.
On 2 May 2020, 27-year-old Tunisian blogger Emna Chargui shared a Facebook post that she found on social media of text that imitates the verses of Quran to make fun of the COVID-19 situation. The text is void of any incitement to hatred or violence. It is intended to be funny and it even includes a call for staying home and washing hands. Emna now faces up to three years in prison for this post. On 6 May 2020, the Court of First Instance in Tunis charged her with inciting hatred between religions through hostile means or violence and "offending authorized religions" under articles 52 and 53 of the Tunisian Press Code.
Retired doctor Gulshan Abbas has not been seen or heard from since 10 September 2018. Suffering from multiple chronic diseases that require consistent monitoring and regular treatment, there are serious concerns for her wellbeing. While her family believes that she may have been sent to a “transformation-through-education” facility, they have never received any official information about Gulshan Abbas from the Chinese authorities.
On 16 May 2020, armed members of the Asayish and local police entered the home of teacher and activist Badal Abdulbaqi Aba Bakr in Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and arrested him without a warrant. He is being charged with “the misuse of electronic devices” for his role in organizing peaceful protests through social media platforms and remains detained. His family are unable to visit him due to COVID-19 measures and they have not been able to contact him directly. Badal has only seen his lawyer.
On 18 May 2020, prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah – who has been arbitrarily detained since September 2019 at Tora Maximum Security Prison 2 ended his 36-day hunger strike in protest at the renewal of his detention in a hearing he was not allowed to attend. Human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer’s pre-trial detention was also renewed for 45 days in his absence, denying him the right to challenge his arbitrary detention.
Mahira Yakub, a Uyghur who worked in an insurance company, was indicted for “giving material support to terrorist activity” in January 2020 for transferring money to her parents in Australia. According to her sister, the money was transferred in June and July 2013 to help her parents buy a house. Mahira Yakub’s aunt and uncle have also been indicted on the same charges and are currently released on bail. Detained since April 2019, and without access to family and legal representation, there are grave concerns for Mahira Yakub’s condition and wellbeing, especially as she suffered from liver damage during a previous detention.