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)
Kelly Gonzalez Aguilar, a 23-year-old transgender woman, fled Honduras when she was 12 years old because of violence against her based on her transgender identity. US immigration authorities detained her in August 2017 and she has been locked up since while she awaits the results of her asylum claim. Kelly Gonzalez Aguilar, a 24-year-old transgender woman, fled Honduras when she was 12 years old because of violence against her based on her transgender identity. In August 2017, she traveled to the USA where US immigration authorities detained her while her asylum request was in process. She feared becoming infected by COVID-19 because of the inadequate measures taken by authorities to protect detainees and staff from the virus. On 14 July 2020, immigration authorities released Kelly from detention.
On 26 June 2020, a federal judge in the USA ordered immigration authorities to release all children from family immigration detention facilities, which the judge declared were “on fire” with COVID-19. Authorities must comply but release all families together to protect them from the pandemic while maintaining their family unity. The alternative – releasing the children but continuing to detain their parents – would constitute family separation, a practice that in some cases can constitute torture under US and international law. We demand authorities release all families together. The judge-imposed deadline for authorities to act is 7 August 2020.
Anti-discrimination NGO workers Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze and Wu Gejianxiong remain incommunicado since being detained on 22 July 2019. Cheng Yuan’s wife learned from prosecutors on 10 July 2020 that an indictment was issued in the case on 24 June and that the three now await trial on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”. As the authorities have provided no additional information about the indictment to members of the three men’s families or family-appointed lawyers, there are fears that these human rights defenders could be tried in secret. Without access to families or lawyers of their choice, they remain at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
On 23 April, the Mexican government suspended funding for different programs to attend the COVID-19 pandemic, including that of the Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Women Shelters (CAMIs). The government had not been transparent about how these cuts could affect other programs that support and care for women victims of violence. On 14 July 2020, the Ministry of Interior announced publicly that the austerity measures would not affect the budget of the programs addressing women’s rights and violence against women.
Unknown individuals, wearing police-type clothing took four Garifuna activists, Alberth Snider Centeno Tomas, President of the Board of Triunfo de la Cruz on behalf of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), Suami Aparicio Mejía García, Gerardo Mizael Rochez Cálix and Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez, members of the OFRANEH, and a fifth person, Junior Rafael Juárez Mejía, from their homes on 18 July 2020. They have been missing since then. The Secretary of Security ordered a search operation, but their whereabouts remain unknown. We demand authorities determine their whereabouts, ensure an independent, effective and impartial investigation into the case, and bring those responsible for their disappearance to justice.
On 19 July 2020, the West Bank-based Palestinian forces arrested 19 anti-corruption activists during a peaceful protest held in the city of Ramallah. While three were released, 16 of these activists have been charged, 10 of which remain in detention. All 10 are on hunger strike in protest of their detention. Authorities must immediately drop all charges and release these activists. Their next court hearing is on 5 August 2020.
22-year old Facundo Astudillo Castro went missing on 30 April 2020. Police arrested him in Mayor Buratovich in the Province of Buenos Aires for violating the COVID-19 quarantine imposed by the State at the national level. Contradicting police accounts and other testimonies lead to a presumption of responsibility by the police officers involved. On 2 July his family filed a federal complaint to start investigations into Facundo’s disappearance. Facundo is still missing. We demand authorities determine Facundo’s whereabouts, ensure an independent, effective and impartial investigation into the case, and bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice.
The Russian Military Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Crimean Tatar human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants on 25 June. They are all prisoners of conscience, sentenced to lengthy prison sentences on trumped-up charges and following unfair trials, and must be released.
After being in detention since October 2019, José Daniel Ferrer García was sent to house arrest in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, on April 2020, after a trial where he was convicted and sentenced to four and a half years. Although no independent monitoring or international press was allowed during his trial, in a country where irregularities in due process of law in cases related to freedom of expression have been documented for decades, he is now back with his family. We will continue to monitor his case.
On 30 May 2020, teacher and activist Badal Abdulbaqi Aba Bakr Barwari was released on bail. On 16 May 2020 armed members of local police as well as security forces arrested him in Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, without a warrant. He was charged with “the misuse of electronic devices” for his role in organizing peaceful protests through social media platforms. While the charges related to Badal Barwari’s freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have not been dropped, no court date has been set.