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 4 October 2020, Mohammed al-Sulaiti, a Qatari citizen, was arbitrarily detained after vocally criticizing his government on Twitter. This is the second time he has been arbitrarily detained, having spent five months in detention in 2018 with no charges. He was then put under travel ban with no legal justification. After protesting the ban on Twitter, he has again been detained without charge.
Since 8 October, Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes. They have been met with excessive use of force by the army and police forces. On 20 October, at least 12 peaceful protesters were reportedly shot dead when the army opened fire on thousands of protesters calling for an end to police brutality as part of the #EndSARS movement. The authorities must immediately end the killing and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters across the country.
Yana Antonova, a pediatrician and a woman human rights defender from Krasnodar, southern Russia, was convicted on 2 October of “participating in the activities of an undesirable organization” and sentenced to 240 hours of community service. Yana Antonova has committed no crime and has faced prosecution, since March 2019, solely for her peaceful activism. She is appealing her conviction.
Azimjan Askarov, a human rights defender and artist, died on 25 July in prison in Kyrgyzstan after showing symptoms of COVID-19. Azimjan Askarov spent ten years jailed on fabricated charges in retaliation for his human rights work.
On 2 October 2020, five activists who were charged for “unauthorized gathering” were granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) by the Ipoh Magistrate. The charges stemmed from the activists’ participation in a peaceful picket on 2 June 2020 by a government hospital cleaners’ union against a cleaning services company. During the picket, they called out the alleged unfair treatment of union members and insufficient personal protective equipment for cleaners.
On 30 August 2020, the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) interrogated lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer over unfounded charges, including "joining a terrorist organization", as part of a recently opened case (No.855/2020). Mohamed el-Baqer is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his human rights work.
Siberian shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev was released from psychiatric detention on 22 July after his defense team succeeded in their request for a psychological and psychiatric examination on 21 July. Aleksandr Gabyshev was targeted for his open criticism of the authorities and spent more than two months arbitrarily deprived from his freedom.
On 11 October LGBT+ activist Victoria Biran was released after two weeks in detention. Victoria Biran was detained on her way to the Women’s March in Minsk on 26 September and sentenced on 28 September to 15 days of administrative detention for intending to exercise her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
One month after his release, pro-democracy activist Oumar Sylla, alias Foniké Mengué, has once again been arrested and arbitrarily detained. He was riding a motorbike with a friend to mobilize protesters on 29 September when he was arrested by police officers in plain clothing in Matoto municipality in the Guinean capital, Conakry. He refused to follow the police officers because they failed to present an arrest warrant. Nevertheless, they brutally carried out his arrest which resulted in him sustaining injuries to his hand and finger. He has since been held in Conakry prison on fabricated charges. Oumar Sylla is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Azerbaijani Turkic activist, Abbas Lesani, arbitrarily imprisoned in Ardabil prison, Ardabil province, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by an appeal court after a grossly unfair trial. The appeal proceedings were presided over by a judge who had filed the charges against him in his previous capacity as prosecutor. In July 2020, the Supreme Court rejected his request for a judicial review.